THE OFFICE OF
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
~ o ~
March 28, 2008
Following the Trail of Money,
Influence and Arrogance at the
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
By Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter
In 2005, when Hawaii Reporter questioned the spending habits of the Office of Hawaii Affairs’ elected trustees, we were immediately brushed off. Not deterred, we filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests but, in violation of Hawaii’s open government law, we never received a response. Finally with the intervention of the Office of Information Practices, the office that advocates for open government, were told we could get the information for a bargain -- a mere $11,000.
What did we want to know?
We simply wanted to follow the money.
Specifically we asked how much money OHA trustees were spending on travel and what class they traveled in (I knew they traveled in First Class because I was on a flight with several of the trustees to Washington, D.C. and while I went to coach, they went to First Class);
We asked where the trustees stayed while on their trips, for how long and at what cost; and what family members traveled with them and on whose nickel;
We asked how much they spent on advertising for the Kau Inoa campaign to get Hawaiians to sign their blood quantum registry (they sponsor numerous newscasts, most likely to the tune of millions of dollars over the last few years);
We asked how much they spent on parties under the guise of getting signatures for Kau Inoa (we’d heard they spent $60,000 on an elaborate party in Las Vegas and obtained very few signatures in the process);
We also asked how much they spent on lobbying with their D.C. firm and local lawyers, advertising and advocating for the Akaka bill and where the money was going.
In June 2006, Hawaii Reporter was the only news organization to fly to Washington, D.C. to cover the Akaka Bill cloture debate at the U.S. Capitol. Afterward, we were the only Hawaii news organization to attend OHA’s press conference, which followed the press conference by Akaka Bill opponents in the U.S. Senate.
At that press conference, I asked OHA chair Haunani Apoliona why she hadn’t responded to my FOIA requests. In front of other national media and the attorney general, she promised that OHA was working on compiling the information and would get it to me soon. I persisted but she refused to estimate how much OHA was spending on advertising, Kau Inoa and the Akaka bill, and would not answer questions about her personal expenses including her first class travel to D.C. and accommodations.
Funny, Hawaii Reporter never received that information from OHA and the more we pushed, the more OHA began to attack us in their monthly newsletter Ka Wai Ola and in press releases. OHA even sent a photographer to follow me and harass me at an Akaka Bill debate that I covered (but it was no bother -- I felt like a celebrity followed by the paparazzi). Amazing that the money that was supposed to go to Hawaiians was instead being used to pay a photographer to chase me around -- and no one seemed to care. During 2007, we renewed our call for information, but received nothing.
Then in 2008, we published a ZeroShibai.com cartoon -- “Cow Inoa” - poking fun at Apoliona, the Akaka Bill, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Outraged, Apoliona lashed out, issuing a press release that called us “racist” and said Hawaii Reporter is not a real news organization. She, a state elected official -- demanded we pull the cartoon. KGMB TV covered the story, interviewing former Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Crystal Kua, who now works for OHA as its media spokesperson, and she echoed the same sentiments.
KGMB Reporter Lisa Kubota also interviewed me and aired four reports -- all very fair and balanced -- and in each I said the cartoon was a response to OHA’s secretive and arrogant attitude and refusal to reveal any financial information since 2005. I called OHA Hawaii’s most powerful and most secretive state agency and said no media investigate the trustees because they sponsor virtually every newscast on every local news station (KGMB’s Kubota disclosed her station takes money from OHA). I also noted that anyone who challenges OHA is deemed a "racist" (if they are non-Hawaiian) or "radical fringe" (if they are Hawaiian).
We received weeks of hate mail from people calling us all kinds of names for publishing the cartoon -- and several of them wrote to our advertisers trying to get them to cancel their ads. Some of our advertisers were threatened. We traced some of those letters back to recipients of OHA money. The national media covered the story and noted how amazing it was that a state agency was ordering us to pull the cartoon and interfering with the First Amendment.
On March 17, 2008, St. Patrick’s Day, something remarkable happened. During a joint Senate hearing at the state Capitol on the proposed $200 million ceded lands settlement, several dozen Hawaiians for more than 5 hours testified to their outrage over OHA’s representation of them. Their anger was so intense, that the very lawmakers who’d just voted to approve the settlement changed their vote and held the bill. Several Hawaiians said they distrusted OHA and did not believe the agency was representing them. Some called for an audit.
State Senators were surprised by the opposition to OHA and agreed to author a resolution calling for a fiscal and management audit of OHA.
Thursday, the Senate Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs committee heard the measure. OHA trustees came out in strong opposition. State attorney general Mark Bennett, who commonly appears on OHA-sponsored television programs, and testifies for OHA before Congress, came out strongly against the resolution. He accused Senators of calling for the "punitive" audit in retaliation for the piece he authored with OHA trustees in one of the daily papers this Sunday critical of the Senators’ decision to hold this session the ceded lands bill that he negotiated.
But Hawaiians who endorsed the idea of an audit of OHA overwhelmed the moral indignation of OHA trustees and Bennett. Some Hawaiians even asked:
How much has been spent on OHA commercials and television shows promoting the Akaka Bill and Kau Inoa;
What about the Kau Inoa tee shirts -- how much do they cost;
And the parties OHA is throwing under the guise of promoting Kau Inoa, how much do those cost;
How much has been spent on lobbying for the Akaka Bill;
How much are the trustees spending on themselves.
One Hawaiian told Senators that he'd been told it would cost $11,000 to get the information he requested.
Senators on the committee voted unanimously to pass the audit resolution and in fact plan to strengthen the language detailing the concerns of their Hawaiian constituents.
The resolution will go to the Ways and Means committee, and there will be tremendous pressure on the members to kill it there and delay the audit. But the fact is, the tide is turning against OHA and they are now suspect.
In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin blog entry, a writer compared the current climate at OHA to the corruption at Bishop Estate a decade ago -- something I have done publicly as well. That corruption at the Bishop Estate -- which boiled down to trustees taking millions of dollars for themselves and their political cronies -- is well documented in a book called Broken Trust by University of Hawaii Professor Randall Roth and Judge Samuel King.
If history really repeats itself, OHA trustees may find themselves investigated and then ousted as Bishop Estate’s high paid trustees were a decade ago.
The lesson: Hawaii's media doesn't want to challenge the establishment, because, as with the Bishop Estate, it is more lucrative to get along.
Reform and accountability have to come from within the Hawaiian community -- the call for these is getting louder. It seems the depth of discontent is extremely severe.
For more, GO TO > > > Travelgate, Hawaiian Style
January 19, 2008
Millions More Taxpayer Dollars to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs - When is Enough, Enough?
By Garry P. Smith, Hawaii Reporter
Plan B for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is proceeding perfectly.
Unable to get the federal “Akaka Bill” through Congress and the president’s office, so they could secure “federal recognition” and more importantly billions of dollars in land, cash and ultimately casinos, OHA has focused its attention on the more friendly state government and acquired state land and money anyway to form its new nation.
Stating “it’s a good deal for taxpayers,” Gov. Linda Lingle on Friday announced the state settlement for disputed ceded land revenue to OHA of $200 million. The deal includes only $13 million in cash and the rest in vast acreage in some of the most prime real estate in the state at considerably less than market value.
Why would a state agency want so much land while fervently supporting federal recognition that would require the state of Hawaii and the federal government to negotiate the surrendering of 1.2 million acres of ceded lands now owned by all races of citizens in Hawaii to the new Hawaiian Nation?
If the Akaka Bill does not pass Congress or is vetoed by the president as expected, Plan B of OHA will provide a land base for the new Nation of Hawaii. Land is money and power in Hawaii, especially undeveloped prime real estate in Kakaako and Kalaeloa.
Billions of dollars will be made by who ever owns the land and leases it out to commercial development as is all ready being done by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands throughout the state.
As a state taxpayer, I cannot even get a $1 tax rebate from the $700 million surplus of taxes in 2007, and probably not even a penny in 2008, but OHA can get a $200 million.
The governor also wants $100 million for Department of Hawaiian Homelands to build more homes for Hawaiians on top of the $600 million over 20 years all ready being paid by state taxpayers.
This is also in addition to the federal government’s $150 million a year in various programs for Hawaiians. The Federal Communications Commission is providing $400 million in rural fiber optic connections on Hawaiian Homesteads through Sandwich Isle Communications, which has an all Hawaiian Board of Directors including Kamehameha schools trustee Robert K.U. Kihune (VADM, USN, Ret) and Al Hee, Sen. Clayton Hee’s brother.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann paid over $5 million from city taxpayers to buy Waimea Valley and then gave it to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Hawaiians on homestead properties only pay $100 a year in property taxes for the same city services I pay over $3,000 a year for, so that is another benefit not given to the rest of us.
With the billions of dollars already paid out to Hawaiians, the question is why are there still so many Hawaiian homeless on the beaches?
When Gov. Linda Lingle says “it’s a good deal for taxpayers,” I have to ask who negotiated this deal for the average taxpayer? It doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me. How much longer do the taxpayers of the state of Hawaii and the federal government have to pay for racial separatism and when will enough be enough?
Garry Smith is a resident of Ewa Beach who can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com
November 30, 2007
John Waihee IV Arrested
in May for DUI
John Waihee IV is being ordered to appear in court following his arrested in May on DUI charges.
Waihee is the son of former Gov. John Waihee and the Vice-Chairman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The police complaint said he's subject to sentencing as a first offender.
November 29, 2007
By George F. Will, Washington Post
"I decide who is a Jew around here."
-- Hermann Goering in 1934, when told that
a favorite Munich art dealer was Jewish.
Under legislation that the House of Representatives has voted 261 to 153 to foist on Hawaii, Goering's role would be played by a panel empowered to decide who is a "Native Hawaiian" and entitled to special privileges and immunities.
Because there are perhaps only 7,000 "pure" Native Hawaiians, "Hawaiian blood" will inevitably be the criterion, and the "one-drop rule" probably will prevail. Goering would have approved of this racialist sorting-out.
Those designated Native Hawaiians would be members of a new "tribe" conjured into existence by Congress. But Congress cannot legitimately do that.
In 1959, 94 percent of Hawaiians, including a large majority of Native Hawaiians, voted for statehood. Opposition was strongest among Southern Democrats in Congress, who, with the civil rights revolution simmering, were wary of Hawaii's example of multiracial harmony.
Today, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, when accurately described, is opposed by a large majority of Hawaiians and supported by only a bare majority of the approximately 240,000 Native Hawaiians in the state. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka, is a genuflection by "progressives," mostly Democrats, to "diversity" and "multiculturalism."
It would foment racial disharmony by creating a permanent caste entitled to its own government -- the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity -- within the United States. The NHGE presumably would be exempt, as Indian tribes are, from the Constitution's First, Fifth and 14th amendments. It would, Akaka says, negotiate with the state of Hawaii and the United States concerning "lands, natural resources, assets, criminal and civil jurisdiction, and historical grievances."
Reparations? We shall see. Independence -- secession? "That could be," Akaka, 83, has said, depending on "my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
The seeds of this weed were sown in 1993, when Congress passed a tendentious apology for supposed U.S. complicity -- which was neither clear nor essential -- in the peaceful 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani's monarchy by Hawaiian residents.
The novelty of America apologizing for a monarch's fall was followed in 2000 by a Supreme Court ruling overturning a Hawaiian law that excluded everyone except Native Hawaiians from voting in a statewide election for trustees of a state agency. This, the court said, violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws and proscription of racial discrimination in voting.
This ruling raised doubts about the constitutionality of the racial spoils system administered by that agency, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Which is perhaps why Akaka decided the reorganization act was necessary despite what he has called, with weird defensiveness, his state's "perceived harmony."
There are 400,000 Native Hawaiians nationwide who will be eligible to participate in creating the NHGE. Native Hawaiians are 20 percent of Hawaii's population. They are defined as direct lineal descendants of indigenous peoples who lived on the islands before 1893 and who exercised sovereignty then -- an unintelligible provision because the queen monopolized sovereignty. She, however, was more enlightened than Akaka. She did not distinguish between Native Hawaiians and immigrants, who served in her government.
Under President George Washington, the U.S. government's Indian policy was a facet of foreign policy because tribes were considered foreign nations. The Constitution speaks not of native "peoples" but only of "Indian tribes." Akaka's legislation would create a Native Hawaiian "tribe" as a nation within the nation.
Unlike Indians, however, Native Hawaiians' land was not taken by force. They are not a compact community -- they are woven into the fabric of one of America's most polyglot states. They chose to bring themselves under the Constitution by embracing statehood.
Congress does not create tribes; it recognizes them according to settled criteria: Tribes were nations when the Constitution was written and are geographically separate and culturally distinct communities whose governments have long continuous histories. As the state of Hawaii has said, "The tribal concept simply has no place in the context of Hawaiian history."
Virtually all Democrats and a few inexplicable Republicans support this legislation, which will further inflame the ethnic grievance industry. Imagine the lesson that some descendants of Hispanics who lived in the Southwest before 1848 would learn from it. A Republican president would veto it. A Democratic president would sign it -- Sens. Biden, Clinton, Dodd and Obama support it -- but the Supreme Court would shred this plan for different laws for different races. Still, the legislation is an important symptom of Democrats' constitutional flippancy and itch for social engineering.
"One nation, indivisible"? Not for the House majority or the Senate committee that has approved Akaka's mockery of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Washington Post
The Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" ... should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.
March 14, 2007
Ue ka lani, ola ka OHA?
OHA Trustees Claim Ownership of Underground Water
By Andrew Walden, Hawaii Free Press
Thirsty? Get used to it. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) now claims ownership of most of Hawaii’s fresh water.
After months of hearings, the Kauai Springs bottled water company was ordered shut down in January by the Kauai County Planning Commission. The action was backed by OHA administrator, Clyde Namuo at a Feb. 13 hearing to reconsider.
According to the Feb. 14 The Garden Island in a letter to Commissioner Randal Nishimura Namuo states that “the Hawaii Supreme court has found that where surface water and underground water mix and become part of a single system, (traditional Hawaiian) water rights can be protected.”
Surface water is a state “public trust resource” and according to Namuo, part of the public trust responsibility includes maintaining waters in their natural state and allowing Native Hawaiians to exercise traditional and customary rights such as fishing and gathering.
Well water is the source of drinking water for much of Hawaii. Since all underground water comes from surface water, Namuo’s theory -- which places any claim of real or imagined damage to Hawaiian fishing rights above all other property claims -- would extend OHA control to all wells in Hawaii -- control which might pass to a “sovereign Hawaiian government” if the Akaka Bill should become law. The only water which would evade OHA’s grasp is water which falls out of the sky and directly into a catchment system.
Kauai Springs owner James Satterfield operated the company in a 1600 sq foot building located on agricultural land with permits from the county, state and federal governments. When he built the facility, he was not required to obtain special use permits which would be required if the bottling facility were deemed “industrial” rather than “agricultural.”
Jason Donovan of Sustain Kauai explains that all changed when a competing water bottler complained to the Planning Commission. Hawaiian Isles is a major bottled water supplier on Kauai. According to Satterfield’s attorney, Harvey Cohen, Menehune Water, Hawaiian Springs and other Hawaii water bottlers operate on ag land with special use permits and his client is willing to abide by the same rules now that the Planning Commission chooses to require them -- but apparently that is not good enough.
Satterfield’s company has a lease to draw water from a spring on Knudsen Trust land. The pipe transporting the water is owned by Grove Farm. In a Feb. 24 letter to the editor of The Garden Island, Knudsen Toulon of the Knudsen Trust explains the origin of the water: “The water flows from tunnels that were constructed by Koloa plantation and are located on the Ahupuaa of Koloa, which extends from Kahili Mountain to the sea and from Weliweli to Lawai. This area is not ceded lands. It was purchased from the Hawaiians.
“King Lot Kamehameha sold the Ahupuaa of Koloa on May 1, 1863, to Mr. Robert C Wyllie. After Mr. Wyllie passed away, his estate sold the land in 1867 to Mr. Ira Richardson. My grandmother, Mrs. Anne Knudsen purchased the land from Mr. Richardson on March 1, 1872 ….
“The tunnels were dug back in 1898 by Anton Krupp, a manager of Koloa Plantation, for irrigation …. (In 1920) a pipe was installed and the water supplied to plantation employees, as well as Koloa town and Poipu, until the county had wells of its own.
“Mr. Satterfield’s right to operate his small business should be reinstated.”
Speaking at the Planning Commission hearing sovereignty activist Kaiulani Huff said, “Alert everyone they are on stolen land and borrowed land.”
If Huff and Namuo get their way, land previously sold by a Native Hawaiian would have no resale value. Since all land in Hawaii other than “ceded lands” was once sold by a Native Hawaiian or deeded to a Native Hawaiian and conveyed to his heirs, this would in effect result in the abolition of private real property in Hawaii and the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in assets held by thousands of Hawaii homeowners and property owners, including the thousands of Native Hawaiian property owners who have profited immensely from the increasing value of their land since the 1848 “Great Mahele” land distribution or have purchased property since then. In essence, Huff and Namuo are arguing for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom while claiming to uphold Native Hawaiian rights.
But not everyone would suffer. OHA trustees would be in control of all the property and would be free to lease it out to anybody they wish. This would be a very profitable arrangement for them and their Swiss bankers, although non-trustees both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian may not be thrilled at the prospect of returning to serfdom after 159 years.
Speaking to The Garden Island, Satterfield says, “I am going to court. I don’t need those permits.”
TGI Feb 14: http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2007/02/14/news/news05.txt TGI Feb 24: http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2007/02/24/opinion/edit01.txt Kauai Springs website: www.kauaisprings.com
“Ue ka lani, ola ka OHA?” ... is derived from, “Ue ka lani, ola ka honua” which translates as: “The heavens cry, the earth lives.”
Andrew Walden is the publisher and editor of Hawaii Free Press, a Big Island-based newspaper. He can be reached via email at mailto:email@example.com
February 10, 2007
OHA challenge set back
A court rules against taxpayers trying to stop
state funding of pro-Hawaiian activities
By Mary Adamski, Star-Bulletin
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against a group of Hawaii taxpayers who say that the state unconstitutionally discriminates against non-Hawaiians by giving money to programs that only benefit Hawaiians.
The federal appeals court stopped short of dismissing the 2002 lawsuit but overturned its own earlier decision by finding the 14 taxpayers lack legal standing to challenge state funding of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The court sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Honolulu to determine if any of the plaintiffs are eligible "in any other capacity."
State and OHA attorneys said they expect the decision will put an end to the suit.
OHA attorney Sherry Broder said, "I consider this a victory for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and native Hawaiians. The court found in favor of native Hawaiians."
But H. William Burgess, lawyer for Earl Arakaki and 13 others, said "it's not the end."
Burgess appealed the case to the appellate court after U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway dismissed the lawsuit in 2004. In September 2005 a three-member panel of the 9th Circuit reinstated it, ruling that taxpayers could challenge the state for giving general fund money to OHA.
Last May, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a similar case appeared to doom the Hawaii taxpayers' challenge. The high court rejected a lawsuit by a group of Ohio taxpayers who challenged nearly $300 million in state and city tax breaks for DaimlerChrysler AG to build an auto plant in Toledo.
A month later, the Supreme Court instructed the appellate court to reconsider the Hawaii taxpayers' standing.
"Our case is different," Burgess said. "You have to have some specific injury to invoke court jurisdiction. Just because you pay taxes, you can't have a court decide on every state decision. In DaimlerChrysler the plaintiffs didn't suffer injury different from other Ohio taxpayers.
"In our case the plaintiffs have to pay taxes to support racial discrimination against themselves," Burgess said. "They suffer a specific pocketbook injury because not all taxpayers are eligible for the benefits. Taxpayers of Hawaiian ancestry don't suffer any injury because they are eligible for benefits."
"I still think ultimately we will prevail. This is just a bump in the road," he said.
State Attorney General Mark Bennett said, "We hoped the 9th Circuit would end the lawsuit. We're disappointed they continued it for further proceedings. We are pleased that on every substantive issue, the 9th Circuit ruled in our favor.
"We believe it's a short procedural delay. There's no possible basis on which plaintiffs can proceed with this lawsuit."
OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona applauded the ruling but said it underscores the need for federal legislation that provides political recognition for native Hawaiians.
She called for passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, known as the Akaka Bill after its author, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. "It will benefit not only native Hawaiians, but the entire state of Hawaii," she said in a press release.
OHA receives about 10 percent of its $28.5 million operating budget from the state.
The lawsuit originally also named the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Mollway dismissed the agency as a defendant, saying the program was mandated by federal law and that state taxpayers had no standing to challenge federal law.
November 27, 2006
OHA push for Akaka bill
By Jim Dooley, Honolulu Advertiser
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs spent $2 million on its congressional lobbying efforts for the Akaka bill — a third of all money spent by Hawai'i companies, private citizens and government agencies on Washington lobbying since 2003, according to an analysis of public records.
The OHA expenditure was the highest on the list of total dollars spent on lobbying efforts in Congress, outpacing the second highest expenditure from the University of Hawai'i, which paid $561,000 in Washington lobbying fees in 2003-04 under former president Evan Dobelle, U.S. Senate records show.
OHA's Akaka bill campaign was led by high-powered lobbyists with strong ties to both the Democratic and Republican power structures in Washington, including connections at the highest levels of the White House and the U.S. Senate.
Despite spending four times as much on lobbying as any other Hawai'i entity and the political clout of its lobbying team, the Akaka bill — which would establish a federally recognized Native Hawaiian government entity — failed to garner enough support for passage from 2003 to 2006.
The $2 million total in OHA fees does not include $900,000 spent by the agency since 2003 to operate and staff a "Washington bureau," said OHA administrator Clyde Namu'o, nor does it include costs incurred by regular visits to Washington by OHA and other state officials, including Gov. Linda Lingle, to seek passage of the Akaka bill.
And it does not include $120,000 spent by Maui-based private developer Everett Dowling's company on pro-Akaka bill Washington lobbying. Dowling, who has been involved in several development deals with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on Maui, said he spent the money because, "I think federal recognition is important."
Namu'o said he believes the lobbying effort "was worth it" because the Akaka bill was extensively debated on the floor of the Senate this summer for what's called a "cloture" vote, which would have brought the stalled measure to the full Senate for a formal vote.
Sixty votes were needed for cloture and it failed, 56-41, shelving the bill for the remainder of the congressional term.
"Getting to the cloture vote was a major milestone," Namu'o said. "It's the furthest we've ever gotten."
He said the cloture debate "told us exactly what issues there are for the bill by the senators" and "hearing some of those issues and discussions will help Senator Akaka next year" if the bill or a substitute measure is introduced, Namu'o said. The bill may have a better chance of passage now that Democrats are in the majority of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
OHA has refused to disclose detailed records of its Washington lobbying campaign, claiming that because the work was performed by law firms, the records are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
A protest of OHA's refusal to reveal the billing records — itemized accounts of who was lobbied and what expenses were incurred — has been pending before the state Office of Information Practices for more than a year.
OIP executive director Les Kondo said that a formal opinion on the legal issues involved is still being prepared but should be completed soon.
OHA spent $1.8 million on Akaka bill lobbying by a major Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, Patton Boggs, and $300,000 with another D.C. firm, Zell & Cox, which has no other clients except OHA, according to federal lobbying records.
The chairman of Patton Boggs is Thomas H. "Tommy" Boggs Jr., regarded as one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington, with deep family and professional connections to the Democratic Party. When the lobbying contract was signed in May 2003, Boggs was charging $735 per hour for his services, although he told OHA at the time that billing rates were "adjusted" annually.
The other lead lobbyist for OHA at Patton Boggs is Benjamin Ginsberg, an influential attorney for the Republican Party and personal friend of Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and President Bush's closest political adviser. Ginsberg's billing rate in May 2003 was $500 per hour.
Another partner in the firm, Robert Luskin, is Rove's personal attorney and represented Rove during the 2003-05 federal grand jury investigation of the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to news media.
Newsweek magazine reported a year ago that Rove was involved in White House meetings involving OHA and the Akaka bill. The White House declined comment when the magazine asked if there was any policy requiring Rove to disqualify himself from issues connected to the Patton Boggs firm. A spokeswoman said, "All ethical obligations are being met," Newsweek reported.
Boggs and Ginsberg have led a team of some half-dozen lobbyists working on the OHA account, according to disclosure records filed over the past three years in Congress.
The most recent report, filed with the secretary of the Senate Aug. 8, said Patton Boggs received $340,000 during the first six months of this year for OHA lobbying. The agencies that were lobbied during that period, the report said, were the White House, the U.S. House and Senate and the Departments of Interior and Justice.
It was during that period that a last-ditch effort to bring the Akaka bill forward for a Senate vote failed.
During this year's push for a Senate vote on the Akaka bill, Patton Boggs subcontracted part of its lobbying effort to a firm with close connections to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, lobbying records show.
That firm, Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc., was paid $50,000 by Patton Boggs, records show.
Alex Vogel, co-founder of the firm, is former chief counsel to Frist and partner Bruce Mehlman is the brother of Republican Party National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman.
Namu'o said that the firm was brought on board for the OHA lobbying campaign in part because of its ties to Frist. The Akaka bill proponents needed Frist's cooperation to bring the measure to the floor of the Senate for the cloture vote.
Namu'o said the $50,000 paid to Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti came from from fees already paid to Patton Boggs and was not an additional expense to OHA.
Namu'o said the Patton Boggs lobbying contract was "suspended" this summer but may be reactivated once decisions are made on whether to seek reintroduction of the Akaka bill or a similar measure.
Zell & Cox, the other lobbying firm hired by OHA to assist on the Akaka bill, was hired last year under a two-year contract for $150,000 a year.
A partner in the firm is attorney Patricia Zell, a former longtime staffer for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and chief of staff for the committee when it was chaired by Hawai'i Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
Zell retired from federal employment at the end of 2004 and went into business with her husband, Michael Cox, also a lawyer and a longtime Washington lobbyist.
The partnership registered with the Senate as an OHA lobbyist in June 2005 and since then has registered no other clients, according to Senate records.
OHA has had a close working relationship with Zell for years. In August 2004, OHA threw a $37,000 retirement party here that honored Zell for "her steadfast support and work in advancing the well-being of Native Hawaiians" during 23 years of service at the Indian Affairs Committee.
The retirement bash was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and included presentation of some $1,000 in gifts, lei and commemorative photographs to Zell, records show. Tickets that OHA sold for the event brought in $9,000.
Namu'o said Zell is still working actively for OHA in Washington on lobbying tasks unrelated to the Akaka bill. A one-year extension to her firm's contract was signed in May at the same cost of $150,000, although the Zell & Cox billing rate was reduced from $400 to $350 per hour.
PDF: Lobbying in D.C.
History of the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill in the 109th Congress
January 2005 through December 2006
(c) Copyright 2005, Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
On this page is the history of the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (formerly known as the Hawaiian Recognition bill; always known informally as the Akaka bill) during the 109th Congress (January 2005 to December 2006). In the Senate the bill is S.147 as amended; in the House the original version, dormant since it was introduced, is H.R.309
Items are listed in chronological order; therefore, scroll down to the bottom for the latest news.
For a thorough history of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill from its birth in February 2000 through the present, exposing the pattern of stealth and deception in creating the bill and trying to pass it, see: http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/Akakahistory.html
For the complete history of the Akaka bill in the 108th Congress alone (2003-2004), including all versions of the bill's text, and news coverage of political activity related to it (a total of perhaps 200 pages plus links to additional subpages), see: http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/AkakaHist108thCong.html
For a short history focusing on the stealth tactics during the 108th Congress, see: http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/AkakaStealth20032004.html
IN THE SENATE FOR 2005 THE BILL WAS FAST-TRACKED BY SENATORS INOUYE AND AKAKA BECAUSE OF AN AGREEMENT THEY EXTORTED FROM THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP TOWARD THE END OF 2004. REPUBLICAN LEADERS AGREED TO REFRAIN FROM BLOCKING THE BILL DURING 2005 AND TO ALLOW THE BILL TO BE RESOLVED ON THE SENATE FLOOR NOT LATER THAN AUGUST 7, 2005. FOR DETAILS OF THE HISTORY AND CONTENT OF THAT AGREEMENT, SEE THE CLOSING REMARKS AT THE BOTTOM OF http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/AkakaHist108thCong.html
During the years 2000 through 2004, Congressional supporters and opponents of the Akaka bill flew below the radar, fighting through use of subtle parliamentary maneuvers rather than open conflict. In the House, Representative Abercrombie was able to pass the bill in 2000 (when nobody knew anything about it) by placing it on the calendar of non-controversial bills to be passed by unanimous consent on a voice vote under suspension of the rules at the dinner hour when only about ten Representatives were present on the floor. For four years thereafter, the bill was routinely passed out of committee but never came to a vote.
In the Senate, Hawai’i Senator Inouye used his powerful position as chairman or ranking member of the military appropriations subcommittee to hide the Akaka bill in the form of a single sentence deep inside enormous appropriations bills, where Republican opponents then discovered it and forced its removal. Republican Senator Kyl successfully blocked the bill from coming to a vote on the floor by exercising a Senator’s privilege of placing a "hold" on it. During the 106th, 107th, and 108th Congresses (2000 to 2004) the blll never passed the Senate, but always came within a whisker of passing (by stealth) during the final few days of 2000, 2001, and 2004.
But in 2005 things will be very different, at least in the Senate. That's because in 2004 Republican leaders in the Senate were forced to make an agreement to stop blocking the bill in 2005, in return for an agreement from Senators Inouye and Akaka to stop interfering with about two dozen important bills in 2004 by trying to insert the Akaka bill into them. Everyone expects there will be fireworks in 2005 in the Senate.
Because of expectations that 2005 will be a decisive year for the Akaka bill, substantial political maneuvering took place toward the end of 2004 and in January of 2005, before the bill was formally introduced in the Senate and House.
In Hawai'i, the leaders of the state legislature's House of Representatives decided to create a new Committee on Hawaiian Affairs to handle all legislation focused on "Native Hawaiians" in order to be prepared for a smooth transition "when" the Akaka bill passes. Ethnic Hawaiian activist Representative Sol Kaho'ohalahala was designated to be Chairman of that committee (although he then resigned from the House before the House convened in order to accept a different position as Chairman of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission).
Newly elected Illinois Senator Barack Obama (Democrat) spent about two weeks visiting family members in Hawai’i during the Christmas holidays. The Hawai'i Democrat Party hosted a fundraiser at which he was the featured speaker. Senator Obama grew up in Hawai'i, and maintains close ties with family members here. Hawai'i politicians are calling Obama "Hawai'i's third Senator" and expect him to support the Akaka bill and other legislation pushed by Senators Akaka and Inouye.
As the United States Senate was just about to convene in Washington, Senator John McCain (R, AZ) announced he opposes the Akaka bill. His opposition is important because he is the new Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, replacing Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell who retired. Senator Campbell had favored the bill. A committee chairman can sidetrack or kill a bill without even bringing it to a vote. Thus there was great consternation among Akaka bill supporters, who wondered whether Senator McCain would block the bill despite the agreement from 2004 by other Republican leaders who pledged not to do so. In the end, Senator McCain said he would not block the bill if the committee members decide to support it.
All these events took place before the Akaka bill was formally introduced in Congress.
Click on the link below to read approximately 30 pages of news reports about these 3 events preliminary to the opening of the 109th Congress:
(1) Creation of a new Committee on Hawaiian Affairs in the Hawai'i House of Representatives in anticipation the Akaka bill will be enacted into law by Congress;
(2) The visit of Illinois Senator Barack Obama to Hawai'i for two weeks in December and the description of him as "Hawai'i's Third Senator";
(3) Senator McCain's announcement that he opposes the Akaka bill, together with the consternation that caused among Akaka bill supporters (especially because he is the new Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee)
August 31, 2006
FOLLOW THE MONEY
NATIVE HAWAIIAN ECONOMICS
By Bumpy Kanahele
The following mana'o is in preparation to provide an immediate Economic plan to counter federal funding programs which provide the elderly, children, health, housing, education, employment programs and services to the Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) people. The Kanaka Maoli community have the worst social conditions in Hawai'i. In fact, the Kanaka Maoli are the worst economically distressed population in Hawai'i.
Economic Self determination means that the Hawaiian people have an undivided interest in the land and natural resources, but also in the wealth (kala) of our Ali'i, public and private trusts and agencies. Billions of dollars of Hawaiian trust funds in cash are in at least the top three financial institutions today, Bank of Hawaii (BoH), First Hawaiian Bank (FHB) and American Savings (ASB) in which they have benefitted hundreds of billions of dollars in leverage.
If this is so, then hundreds of Millions to BILLIONS of dollars in local Banks now are making tons of money through a 10 to 1 capital leverage formula. We're not talking about service fees and interest rates, these fees are merely "added value" to the Banking business, we're talking about a 10 to 1 leverage of profit-making potential.
OHA is a great example of this leverage, I believe in 1998 to 2000, they had something like 300 to 600 million dollars in First Hawaiian Bank, with their "capital leverage formula" that is 3 to 6 billion dollars in leverage to lend and invest in the community. The other thing to know about FHB is that it is owned by Bank Nationale de Paris of France. This means that Kanaka Maoli funding is also financing programs and projects in other countries, and that is just FHB.
As for Bank of Hawaii (that’s my Bank!) it makes you wonder whose Bank that really is. Of course it also makes you wonder about Connie Lau, Kamehameha Schools Trustee CEO who is also the CEO of American Savings Bank (ASB). One of the biggest shareholders of ASB is multi-national corporation, Helco.
This is just a small portion of what we find when we Follow the Money....
And, you can continue to Follow that Crooked Money Trail at...
July 20, 2006
OHA buys Wao Kele forest land on Big Island
By Rod Thompson, Star-Bulletin
HILO » The Office of Hawaii Affairs has completed the purchase of 25,856 acres of forested land known as Wao Kele O Puna south of Hilo, the agency announced yesterday.
"OHA is acquiring the area to protect the natural and cultural resources on the land, to guarantee that native Hawaiians can continue to exercise traditional and customary activities on the land, and to ensure that OHA can pass it on to a sovereign governing entity," an OHA statement said.
OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona called the purchase a "gifted moment" in increasing the assets of native Hawaiian people. The Hawaiian culture-based Pele Defense Fund asked the Trust for Public Lands to buy the land in February 2005. With $3.35 million of the $3.65 million purchase price supplied by the U.S. Forest Service, the sale to the trust and then to OHA was concluded Friday, OHA announced.
The term "wao kele" refers to the wet, lush middle elevations between the coast and the dry mountain uplands. Although few people lived there in ancient times, coastal dwellers often went upland to collect resources there.
Starting two miles downhill from the present Puu Oo eruption site and stretching another nine miles, Wao Kele O Puna was a site of controversy in the 1980s when a large geothermal energy development was planned in the native ohia forest by True/ Mid-Pacific Geothermal Venture.
Environmentalists and Hawaiians opposed the project, sometimes in demonstrations that resulted in arrests. The Pele Defense Fund sued to halt drilling.
Opponents credited demonstrations and the lawsuit with stopping the project. True/Mid-Pacific said it could not find a usable geothermal resource.
Meanwhile, land ownership shifted. The initially state-owned Wao Kele O Puna lands were traded in 1986 to Campbell Estate. In turn, the state received Campbell's Kahaualea lands immediately uphill.
Advocates of the exchange said it was fair because Kahaualea had better native forest, with fewer invasive non-native plants.
In 1983, eruptions began that covered much of Kahaualea with lava. Preservation of Wao Kele O Puna provides a source of plant and animal life to restore the new lava lands, OHA said.
Read the entire article at...
~ ~ ~
For more, GO TO > > > The Puna Connection
June 30, 2006
OHA GAINS TITLE TO WAIMEA VALLEY
OHA Press Release, by Manu Boyd
HONOLULU — On June 30, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs became the legal owner of Waimea Valley, after months of negotiations and hard work. The 1,875-acre valley, located on Oahu’s North Shore between Kawailoa and Pupukea, is rich in historical and cultural significance. The National Audubon Society currently manages the property and will continue to do so as long-term management plans are negotiated.
On Dec. 7, 2005, the Honolulu City Council considered a settlement offer which would have subdivided the valley. Faced with large protests from the community and many organizations, including OHA, the council rejected the settlement, and renewed negotiations over the fate of the valley began.
On Jan. 5, 2006, the OHA Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of Waimea Valley, committing an amount not to exceed $2.9 million for that purchase. Later that month, Waimea’s former owner, New York developer Christian Wolffer, accepted a $14-million offer to settle the long-running lawsuit over the city’s 2002 forced purchase of the valley through condemnation.
In addition to the $5 million the city placed in escrow to pay for the valley, the remainder of the $14 million purchase price was shared by OHA ($2.9 million), the U.S. Army ($3.5 million), the state Department of Land and Natural Resources ($1.6 million) and the National Audubon Society ($1 million), advanced by OHA pending lease negotiation).
OHA Administrator Clyde W. Namuo stated that, “We are very grateful to all of our partners in this transaction who have worked so hard to protect this sacred place. After the headlines in January that announced that a basic settlement had been worked out, thousands of hours were spent by scores of people to make this transaction happen.
“We acknowledge the contributions of the City Council and the Mayor; the Legislature, Governor and BLNR Chair Peter Young; the Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii; and the National Audubon Society in making this happen. In each of our organizations, many staff have been working on this since January, and they should be gratified to know that work has come to bear fruit.”
“The bottom line is that the ahupuaa that is this valley is going to remain intact,” said OHA Chairperson Haunani Apoliona. “OHA will ensure that Native Hawaiians will have a direct benefit and relationship with Waimea Valley. OHA will also ensure that the people of Oahu, the State of Hawaii, the nation and the world grow in respect for, are renewed by, care for and support, learn from and celebrate this land of our ancestors, Waimea Valley.”
OHA’s holding title to Waimea Valley ensures protection and preservation of cultural and natural resources for Native Hawaiians, the entire Hawaii community and the world.
A rededication ceremony is being scheduled for early August to mark the transition of ownership.
< < < FLASHBACK < < <
December 8, 2005
Council votes 9-0 to kill Waimea deal
By Will Hoover. Advertiser Staff Writer
In a stunning example of people power, five Honolulu City Council members changed their minds yesterday and voted against an agreement to split Waimea Valley between the city and New York investor Christian Wolffer.
Although the vote was unanimous, 9-0, the decision really went to the parade of more than six dozen speakers who told the council in no uncertain terms that the community was ready to take its chances in court.
The speakers were backed up by the Audubon Society and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which pledged to come up with the money needed to match whatever price a court ruling decrees. The rejection of the deal yesterday means the next move is a February court date.
Not one person who spoke yesterday at Honolulu Hale was in favor of accepting the Wolffer deal, which they feared could lead to development of the 1,875-acre valley.
"Don't settle, don't settle, don't settle," Nancy John of the North Shore Outdoor Circle told the council.
"This is what the people want."
North Shore resident Linda Bard added, "I would like you to listen to what is being said today."
State Department of Land and Natural Resources director Peter Young also offered his agency's assistance. Young pointed out that come what may, the DLNR would have the final say on what can be done with Waimea Valley, which is zoned conservation land.
"With the overwhelming opposition that's been expressed here, it would be difficult for the Land Board to even consider issuing a permit for any use in the back of the valley," he said.
Amid the outpouring of public sentiment, Councilman Nestor Garcia — one of the four who voted against the preliminary settlement agreement last month — said O'ahu now had another reason to remember Dec. 7.
Garcia said Dec. 7, 2005, would be remembered as a day when people came together to make their will known, and put their trust in elected officials to make the right choice.
"By showing up and expressing your opinion on this issue so important to, not just yourself, not just for the people of Hawai'i, but for those future generations not yet born, you have made a difference," Garcia said. "And I applaud you."
Councilman Charles Djou had led the effort to accept the settlement, saying it would lead to arbitration and the city's best option, considering its weak financial position. He said the events of the past few days made him change his mind.
"I have long been concerned over the finances of making the numbers work on this," he said. "We have long been looking for a white knight, and I think we have found it in the Audubon Society."
"I still have concerns that there are a number of unknowns as to how the Audubon Society is going to make the financial numbers work."
But he said that the Audubon Society's commitment, coupled with the financially flush Office of Hawaiian Affairs' pledge to back any effort to purchase and protect the valley, won him over.
'CITY CAN'T LOSE ON THIS'
"I think William McCorriston, Wolffer's attorney, has run circles around the city's legal counsel," said attorney James Case, who had done pro bono work for the Stewards of Waimea Valley, a group that has fought for years to keep the valley intact.
"But the city can't lose on this. It has a good hand, and they should play it in court."
McCorriston, spokesman for Wolffer, had been silent until yesterday because of a gag order preventing him from discussing the case. But he had plenty to say after the outcome.
"Our primary objective right now is to prepare for trial," McCorriston said.
He said he planned to contact Mayor Mufi Hannemann, whom he praised as having acted fairly and honorably throughout all negotiations.
McCorriston reserved his ire for National Audubon Society President John Flicker, whose testimony McCorriston watched on television.
Flicker flew in from New York last week on short notice to try to broker a way for his organization to facilitate a financial package in concert with other public and nonprofit agencies and organizations interested in protecting the valley.
"This resolution could open the door to development in the valley. We don't want any possibility of that happening," Flicker said. "This settlement should be voted down, which would give all of us time to come together and negotiate a settlement price that's acceptable."
McCorriston seemed most upset by Flicker's statement to the council that Wolffer's claims for legal damages were groundless and that, in fact, the investor had stood to make a windfall off the settlement deal.
As for his client, McCorriston said Wolffer's reaction to the news was one of relief.
"He had a lot of seller's remorse about making that (settlement) proposal. So he is actually quite comfortable with the decision," McCorriston said.
"He's always felt, and I agree with him, that he has a strong hand of cards to play at the trial, and that his ultimate wish is to have the land back."
ACQUIRED LAND IN 1996
Wolffer acquired the valley in 1996 when he became principal owner of Attractions Hawai'i, which owned the valley and Sea Life Park. Wolffer sold Sea Life Park, but kept the valley, promising to leave it intact.
He tried to sell it four years later as a private residence, but environmental groups argued that the valley is a precious cultural treasure that had been occupied by ancient Hawaiians for hundreds of years.
Much of the valley's lower 300 acres — which would have gone to the city — are marked by ancient cultural sites. However, none of the 1,575 acres that would have gone to Wolffer under the agreement have been surveyed.
To ensure the valley would remain undeveloped, the city initiated condemnation proceedings. It put $5.1 million, the valley's assessed value in 2001, in escrow; Wolffer has indicated that he considers the valley to be worth at least $18 million.
Waimea park seller Attractions Hawaii, headed by Wolffer, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 to prevent Bank of Hawaii from foreclosing on the property and selling it at auction. The bankruptcy has since been terminated.
March 27, 2006
OHA mulls bid for Moanalua Valley
By Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) _ The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is considering making a bid for two properties at the edge of Honolulu of environmental and cultural significance.
OHA trustee Dante Carpenter says he and his colleagues may pursue Moanalua Valley and Moanalua Gardens as part of the organization's ongoing effort to acquire land that has a traditional importance to Hawaii.
The nonprofit Moanalua Gardens Foundation says the valley is culturally important because it was designated as the center of hula and chanting by Oahu King Kakuhihewa in the 1600s. The property was later home to Lot, who later became Kamehameha V.
But another group, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, has already submitted a five-point-five (m) million dollar bid to buy the three thousand, 714-acre property.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources would become the landowner.
February 12, 2004
OHA portfolio grew nearly
30 percent last year
By Vicki Viotti, Honolulu Advertiser
A portion of the trust fund that pays for Office of Hawaiian Affairs beneficiary programs has grown by nearly 30 percent in the past year, according to a quarterly report issued yesterday to OHA trustees.
The trust fund is fed by the OHA share of revenue from lands ceded from the kingdom of Hawaii after it was annexed by the United States. Since Feb. 28, 2003, the fund’s portfolio managed by Russell Investment Group has increased in market value by about 28.7 percent and now is worth about $164 million, according to the report.
The group is proposing shifting about 10 percent of OHA investments into the “private equity”sector. These are privately negotiated investments in companies that generally are not public.
The proposal received the backing of the OHA resource management committee and must be approved by the board of trustees.
Also yesterday, trustee Rowena Akana proposed hiring a second lobbyist to assist efforts to pass the Akaka bill for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. Last May, OHA hired the Patton Boggs firm to lobby in the Senate, setting aside $450,000 for the contract.
Akana cited a prediction by U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye that the bill could cross over from the Senate in April or May, leaving little time to lobby the House of Representatives.
Trustee Oswald Stender, committee chairman, said Patton Boggs has said “the time is not right” for such a push; the proposal was tabled for two weeks.
However, Akana maintained that talks should begin quickly “so we can be ready to hit the ground running” during the slim window of opportunity that an election year presents. She suggested working with lobbyist Jack Abramoff of the firm Greenberg Traurig.
Akana cited Abramoff’s strong connections to House Republican leaders as being among his credentials.
January 4, 2006
Lobbyist Abramoff’s Clients Made
Donations to Sen. Inouye
KITV 4 News
KITV has learned that Sen. Dan Inouye was among dozens of Congress members who received campaign donations from lobbyist Jack Abramoff or his clients.
Abramoff on Wednesday pleaded guilty to felonies that insiders say have brought corruption to a new level in Washington. Abramoff admitted bribing members of Congress.
Abramoff pleaded guilty in Florida and Washington courts to five felony counts. As part of his pleas, Abramoff will help investigators determine if gifts and donations from him and his clients helped buy favorable treatment from lawmakers.
Inouye received a total of $6,000 from Abramoff's Indian clients during the years 2002 to 2004. He received $2,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, $2,000 from the Pueblo of Sandia and $2,000 from the Agua Caliente Band.
In a written statement, Inouye said those tribes contributed to his campaigns for years before Abramoff retained them.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie received $2,000 in 2002 from the Agua Caliente Band before they became a client of Abramoff. Abercrombie received two donations from the tribe in 2001 and once in February 2002. Abramoff began working for the tribe in July 2002.
Abercrombie is a member of the House committee that handles Indian affairs.
Abercrombie said he and other committee members got donations from the Indian tribe because it already trusted them to do the right thing. Not because Abramoff was trying to buy influence.
"He's a sleaze bag. He stole from his clients who gave him money in good faith," Abercrombie said.
"If any tribe wishes to have its contribution from any year returned, I will gladly do so," Inouye said in his statement.
Abercrombie said he will not return his donation from Abramoff's Indian tribe client because that would imply the tribe was guilty of wrongdoing when it's Abramoff who cheated them....
For more, GO TO > > > The Bureau of Indian Affairs
Audit of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Report No. 05-03, April 2005
With over $300 million in assets, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is constitutionally the main vehicle for the State to meet its trust responsibilities to native Hawaiians and Hawaiians....
OHA has shown little improvement in its ability to serve Hawaiians since our last audit in 2001. We found that the Board of Trustees still has not provided the State with a comprehensive master plan for bettering the conditions of native Hawaiians and Hawaiians....
We also found that OHA is still grappling with the effects of poorly planned reorganizations. During FY2001-02 and FY2002-03, OHA hired numerous employees to fill a variety of positions, including key managerial positions. Yet, in the midst of organizational change, OHA lacks basic policies and procedures to guide the actions of its staff, and its organizational charts and functional statement are inconsistent. This situation is compounded by confusion among program directors on how OHA’s priorities translate into the agency’s budget.
In addition, we found that OHA’s casual administration of its finances does not demonstrate respect for its fiduciary duty to all Hawaiians. Certain protocol and trustee expenditures appear questionable.
In addition, tighter oversight of the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund is needed to prevent deterioration of loan recipients’ financial condition. The fund continues to experience high delinquencies and defaults among its loan recipients, jeopardizing the availability of resources to future Hawaiian entrepreneurs....
After being in existence for over 25 years, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs continues to operate like a fledgling agency. The constitutionally and statutorily identified leader of the Hawaii community has yet to present the State with a comprehensive master plan to marshal public and private resources to better the conditions of all Hawaiians. It is still struggling to put its own house in order and remains casual in the administration of the funds over which it has a fiduciary duty of loyalty to its beneficiaries. Overall, OHA has shown little improvement in meeting its obligation to improve conditions of all Hawaiians. Until it focuses on development of a comprehensive master plan as a priority, OHA’s leadership role and trust obligations to its beneficiaries will remain unfulfilled.
Marion M. Higa
State of Hawaii
June 7, 2001
OHA should purchase Waimea Valley
Editorial by John Waihee IV, Star-Bulletin
One who wishes to succeed should be alert to every opportunity, like one who catches birds by imitating their cries.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, caught in a tug of war between aspects of being a perpetual trust and a quasi-government agency, has developed some unproductive qualities.
Whether it has been a sense of paranoid fiscal conservation, the inability to agree, or just an inordinate focus on the same old tired businesses, many golden opportunities have passed us by. Fortunately, as the spring of opportunity flows eternal, for every opportunity missed, another arises. The chance for OHA to acquire Waimea Valley on Oahu's North Shore is one such opportunity.
The acquisition of Waimea Valley should not necessarily be viewed as a purchase, but as a shifting of some of OHA's investments. Currently OHA's portfolio, which has recently been fluctuating between $300 million to $400 million, is almost entirely in stocks and bonds. Diversifying the portfolio to include land investments would lessen our dependence on the market. Should OHA receive Waimea Valley's nearly 1,900 acres at around the city's appraisal of $5.5 million, it would not only be a valuable investment, but one that our beneficiaries could see and experience.
From a cultural standpoint, obtaining Waimea Valley for the Hawaiian people is awesome. From its 6,000 types of plants, including 400 endangered indigenous species, to its two major heiaus, including Pu'u O Mahuka -- the largest sacrificial temple on Oahu, Waimea Valley is truly the quintessence of Hawaiian culture. Who better not only to understand, but to perpetuate and protect these treasures than the Office of Hawaiian Affairs?
Having a place where Hawaiians could gather together also would help give OHA an identity. Currently OHA does its business out of rented space and offers most of its programs, grants and scholarships through other organizations. Having something of substance that the beneficiaries could relate to, OHA would help provide a spiritual connection. An ahupua'a rich in Hawaiian culture, values and tradition such as Waimea Valley would achieve this perfectly.
Attaining Waimea Valley could even help the Hawaiian cause for federal recognition. One of the many intentions for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in its conception was for it to be a model for sovereignty. The acquisition of a land base is essential for OHA to fulfill this goal.
Finally, Waimea Valley could also be a source of economic development. As a perpetual trust, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs must look for ways to become economically autonomous.
While Waimea Valley will never accomplish this in and of itself, it could still serve as a revenue base. As landowners, OHA would have exclusive rights to charge user fees to non-Hawaiians, or to seek joint partnerships within it. With its lush vastness and breathtaking waterfall, Waimea Valley could be a moneymaker while still preserving its cultural identity.
In the end, the acquisition of Waimea Valley by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is an extraordinary opportunity that has much going for it. What the future holds for this wondrous place is uncertain. Hopefully, the opportunity of Waimea Valley will not end up as another lost one.
John Waihee IV is a trustee
of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
April 7, 2005
OHA plans new home
on Kakaako oceanfront
The complex would also present "living"Hawaiian culture
By Rick Daysog, Star-Bulletin
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs wants to build a $32 million oceanfront headquarters in Kakaako that would also serve as a "living" Hawaiian cultural center.
OHA Administrator Clyde Namuo unveiled the agency's preliminary plans yesterday for a three-level office complex, including taro patches and facilities for hula and the Hawaiian martial art of lua.
Namuo said OHA would conduct a feasibility study for the 5.2-acre parcel once it receives a tentative go-ahead from the state Hawaii Community Development Authority, which controls the land.
From there, OHA will seek a long-term lease from the authority, said Namuo, who noted that the entire project could be completed in 2 1/2 years.
"When we looked around at Hawaiian cultural centers, there is none on our entire island. We saw this as a significant void," said Namuo.
The complex will be more of a "living cultural center" than one that houses exhibits and artifacts, he said.
The property, which lies on ceded lands at the Ewa end of Kakaako Waterfront Park, is occupied by a 70,000-square-foot warehouse whose tenants are on month-to-month leases.
Namuo provided preliminary details of OHA's plans during a regular meeting of the development authority's board.
He said OHA has asked the state to pick up about half of the construction costs, since a large portion of the property will be dedicated to community use. The state Senate recently approved a bill providing about $6 million in funding, Namuo said.
He said OHA also is looking at several alternatives, including selling bonds, to pay for costs.
The development authority's executive director, Daniel Dinell, said OHA's proposal provides a "cultural bookend" to efforts to redevelop Kakaako.
Besides the recently completed John A. Burns School of Medicine, the University of Hawaii is building the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii next to the OHA property, while the HCDA is reviewing proposals to redevelop 36.5 acres along Kewalo Basin.
Kamehameha Schools also plans to redevelop the Honolulu Ford property on Ala Moana.
"The fact that it's more than a headquarters in that it incorporates a cultural center is exciting for us," Dinell said.
OHA leases about 20,000 square feet of office space for its current headquarters at 711 Kapiolani Blvd. According to Namuo, the agency pays about $1 million a year in rent.
In 2002, OHA looked at leasing the nearby Ala Moana pump station property but shelved the plan due to cost. Redeveloping the 105-year-old sewage pumping station would have cost as much as $200 million, Namuo said.
Before that, OHA and Kamehameha Schools looked into relocating OHA's offices to the Bishop Museum in Kalihi.
That proposal, spearheaded by Kamehameha Schools, called for the development of a $50 million Hawaiian cultural center to house various Hawaiian agencies and alii trusts.
Namuo stressed that OHA and its trustees regard themselves as a transitional agency that will dissolve once Congress recognizes Hawaiians' sovereign status and Hawaiians set up their own government. When that happens, the complex likely will be transferred to that entity, he said.
"Ultimately this will become part of the new native Hawaiian governing entity," he said.
February 1, 2001OHA looks at
visitors a user fee
The organization may
hire attorneys to search out
whether the action is legal
By Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is researching whether it could charge entrance and departure fees to Hawaii visitors.
"We're looking at user fees for all the tourists because they removed our natural beauty or took away from us people of Hawaii our beaches, our sands, all of that," said Colette Machado, chairwoman of OHA's Legislative and Government Affairs Committee.
OHA, facing legal challenges this spring to its constitutionality and state funding, is searching for a new source of income for Hawaiians.
The committee yesterday asked administrators to hire an attorney or law firm to research whether OHA can charge the user fees, possibly with airport landing fees or the hotel room tax.
While there are many legal and legislative hurdles to clear before the idea comes up for approval by the board, trustees say it is worth pursuing.
The committee supported the proposal by trustee Charles Ota. The income raised would help the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
Unlike Alaskan natives who control millions of acres of lands that contain untapped natural resources, Ota said in a memorandum to Machado, the only viable resources available to Hawaiians are the islands' beaches, most of which have been exploited by the state and the tourism industry since the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy.
Ota said the state and tourist industry make millions of dollars from the hotel room tax and OHA or a Hawaiian nation has a right to share in that revenue.
Every Pacific Rim nation has some form of fee affecting visitors, added Ota, who cited Japan's entrance fee of $20 and its departure fee of $15, as well as Korea's entrance fee of $10 and its departure fee of $8.
"With the Legislature's concurrence OHA may overcome federal objections to the sharing of airlines landing fees with respect to ceded lands use at the airport," Ota wrote.
"Or OHA may be allotted, as is general practice, the entry and departure fees charged to passengers worldwide for separate landing fee services. Such fees would be for greetings activities and a send-off aloha," said Ota, who serves as OHA's first non-Hawaiian trustee.
While the idea may sound good, OHA administrators said many issues must be resolved to make it work. For one, OHA doesn't have the authority to impose any tax or levy. Also, OHA's board attorney has said federal law precludes the imposition of a "head tax," said OHA's deputy administrator, Ronald B. Mun.
Mun, in a Jan. 26 memo to Ota, said Ota's idea is laudable but that these major legal issues must be addressed. Mun recommended hiring an attorney or law firm well versed in constitutional law, federal-state relations and interstate commerce to look at the proposal.
OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said she hasn't been briefed on the idea but that Ota raised it at an earlier board meeting.
Machado said she's waiting for staff to provide her with the costs of a legal consultant before she asks for the item to be placed on the agenda of the full board.
June 2, 2000
Group wants Clinton
to recognize Hawaiians
By Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii's congressional delegation has asked for a meeting with President Clinton on a possible executive order that recognizes the political status of Hawaiians, says the chief counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Patricia Zell, the committee's counsel and minority staff director, told the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board yesterday the delegation last week asked to meet with Clinton on the viability and possibility of an executive order. The request was made after the group met with the secretary of the Interior, she said.
"We're hoping that the White House and the president, specifically, would be favorably inclined," Zell said.
"The delegation has made the case that it is, in their view, important that not only the legislative branch of the government but the executive branch of the government address and respond to the issue of the legal status of native Hawaiians under federal law," she said.
Zell and attorney Noe Kalipi, senior aide to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, continue to gather input this week on behalf of the delegation on the draft bill circulated by Akaka last month.
The goal is to return to Washington, D.C. with these suggestions and introduce a bill sometime this month that clarifies the political status of native Hawaiians.
Basically, Akaka's draft proposal includes the creation of a federal Office of Native Hawaiian Affairs as well as a native Hawaiian interagency council to coordinate federal policies that affect Hawaiians.
Yesterday was OHA's turn to give its position on the bill, and the board did so by approving its own draft crafted with the help of former Gov. John Waihee, who serves as OHA's counsel on this matter. The OHA draft is similar to what Akaka has proposed.
The OHA draft also requires a representative from the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce and protect the rights of Hawaiians and their trust relationship with the United States.
July 6, 2000
We may have no
Instead of a 2-step process in Congress, they may seek
political status and federal recognition in a single bill
By Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin
A draft federal bill initially aimed at protecting federal programs for Hawaiians now includes a process that creates a native Hawaiian government.
The original idea was to first seek clarification of the political status of Hawaiians in the wake of the Rice vs. Cayetano decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this year, and then return to Congress in another session for federal recognition of Hawaiians.
The latest proposal, which Hawaii's congressional delegation is expected to introduce next week, heeds some Hawaiian leaders' and others' fears that there might not be another opportunity to complete the two-step approach supported by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
Corbett Kalama, chairman of the Native Hawaiian community working group that provided key input for Akaka's bill, said changes that set up a Hawaiian governing body are positive. He said the group insisted language be included that proposes a government-to-government relationship because of such strong concern over whether there will be another chance.
Kalama, a First Hawaiian Bank senior vice president and American Bankers Association lobbyist, understands there is a great range of views on sovereignty and that there will be many chances to amend the measure once it is introduced.
"We view it not as an end, but as a beginning,"he said. "It's a very important step."
"We depend on Congress to do a lot of different things. With the recognition itself, it will be a step in a direction we want to move. Without the recognition, we'll have challenges. The community will have challenges moving on into the future," Kalama said.
As proposed, Hawaiians would have a year to come up with a list of adult Hawaiians who can trace their ancestry in Hawaii before 1893. Once the list is created, it would be certified by the U.S. Secretary of Interior before a general meeting is held by those on the list to elect people to a native Hawaiian interim council.
This council would work on a constitution and bylaws that, once ratified, would form a native Hawaiian governing body.
This reorganized Hawaiian government -- which would be incorporated and recognized by the federal government -- would have a strong say in the sale or lease of ceded lands, determine its own membership, and negotiate with federal, state and local governments.
"I'm very hopeful that a Hawaiian bill will get some serious consideration," said Rowena Akana, an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and a member of Akaka's working groups.
Other changes to the draft from last May include changing the name of the proposed Office of Native Hawaiian Affairs to the Office of Special Trustee for Native Hawaiians. The office, which is envisioned as the coordination point within the federal government on native Hawaiian issues, will be housed in the Interior Department with a representative from the U.S. Justice Department.
The draft bill also changed the name of the proposed federal interagency council to the Native Hawaiian Interagency task force, which would mandate coordination of federal policy on Hawaiian issues.
Akaka spokesman Paul Cardus said he expects the draft bill to be introduced in the U.S. Senate next week.
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For more on the Akaka Bill...
March 1, 2000
OHA correct to seek clarification of status
Honolulu Advertiser Editorial
So what’s next?
Following last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rice v. Cayetano, that’s the question on the minds of the trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and most everyone else in this state.
OHA’s board made a smart and prudent move in hiring expert counsel to help them peer through the murky possibilities, not only to identify the dangers and opportunities, but to seek to turn them to the benefit of OHA’s Hawaiian beneficiaries.
To begin with, they have moved to intervene in the endgame of the Rice case. The Supreme Court justices have now signed their opinions, which should be certified in a matter of days. Presumably the case then would be remanded to the appeals court and Judge David Ezra’s Honolulu District Court for disposition.
That’s where the OHA trustees hope to receive some guidance on the practical implications of the high court decision. Yes, their election was improper under the 15th Amendment; now, does that mean they must be replaced — as Gov. Ben Cayetano asserts — immediately, or can they serve the remainder of their terms?
OHA’s new law firm, McCorriston Miho Miller and Mukai, will represent OHA in those proceedings. But the firm’s new partner, former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Klein, will also bring unique qualifications to exploring the possibility of taking some sort of action in the state court system.
All of this is proper and desirable. OHA as an institution represents the will of the people of Hawaii, as expressed by the 1978 Constitutional Convention, and as such does not deserve to be buffeted by political whims and ambitions.
We advise the OHA trustees not to allow themselves to think of the McCorriston firm’s mission as, to put it bluntly, saving their jobs. This might be tempting, in that McCorriston was hired to do just that for the former Bishop Estate trustees.
The two cases are as different as apples and oranges, except in that both sets of trustees serve the beneficiaries of important trusts. It is the McCorriston firm’s job now to help OHA ensure the best possible outcome for its beneficiaries.
# # #
MORE TO COME
For further Hawaiian-kine affairs,
A Connecticut Yankee in King Kamehameha’s Court
Aloha, Harken Energy!
Birds in the Halls: The University of Hawaii
Birds in the Lobby
Buzzards of Paradise
Dirty Gold in Goldman Sachs
Dirty Money, Dirty Politics & Bishop Estate
Flying High in Hawaii
Gensiro Kawamoto: How to Pluck a Billionaire
How to Pluck a Non-Profit
Pimps to Power
The Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
The Puna Connection
The Vultures in Maunawili Valley
The Peregrine Fund
Predators in Paradise
RICO in Paradise
Songs of The Drug Vultures
Sukamto Sia: The Indonesian Connection
The Nests of Osama bin Laden
The Great Nest Egg Robberies
Vultures of the Sandwich Isles
Who’s Guarding the Hen House?
Office of the U.S. Trustee vs. Harmon
Yakuza Doodle Dandies
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