OHA Incumbents Cannot Run from Their Records - Keli`i Akina and Mililani Trask Offer New Leadership
HONOLULU, HAWAII--November 3, 2016 -- In a recent flurry of newspaper commentaries, OHA trustees Robert Lindsey and Haunani Apoliona have attempted to distance themselves from facts that would suggest it`s time for new leadership at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Lindsey and Apoliona, both up for re-election, have failed to participate in any publicly hosted forums or television programs in which they would have faced their respective challengers Mililani Trask and Keli`i Akina. Only Trask and Akina responded positively to requests to appear before community and media groups such as PBS/Hawaii Public Television, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and the Waianae Coast Community Concerns organization. Now, in these final days of the election, the facts still confront incumbents Lindsey and Apoliona who have evaded them in their commentaries.
- The incumbents have wasted over $33 million on federal recognition and governance schemes, including Na`i Aupuni. (Footnote 1)
- The incumbents have ignored their own surveys that show Hawaiians do not want OHA to spend its funds on governance schemes, but on meeting real needs, such as housing, jobs, education, and health-care. (Footnote 2)
- The incumbents have endangered the Hawaiian Beneficiaries Trust which, according to the 2015 PKF OHA Fiscal Report “will run out of funds” in 9-10 years! Even after the Report was issued , OHA trustees continued to squander funds on travel junkets, gifts for international conferences and questionable projects. (Footnote 3)
If OHA continues on its current path of reckless spending, it will fail in its mission to better the conditions of native Hawaiians. It will also expand a serious burden for all Hawaii tax-payers on whose shoulders now rests the costs of native Hawaiian welfare.
In the eyes of both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians, the reputation of OHA is at an all-time low. A recent survey, which OHA commissioned a public relations firm to conduct, confirmed the widespread perceptions that OHA is “ineffective, poorly managed, or corrupt” and does not “help or represent the Hawaiian people effectively.” (Footnote 4)
Akina and Trask say, “We offer a new course for OHA: Shut off the wasteful spending on political governance schemes; focus on meeting the real needs of Hawaiians; and, bring truth and transparency to the OHA board.”
Akina and Trask add, “The trustees seeking re-election may be unwilling to meet their challengers in open debate, but they cannot run from the facts or their own records.”
In the words of Trustee Rowena Akana, who encourages the voting public to hold the OHA trustees accountable, "…This election, seek change and elect new blood! Elect New People! Electing the same Trustees will not bring any meaningful change to OHA!" (Footnote 5)
1. Civil Beat: "OHA Violates Trust Responsibility to Native Hawaiians," by Keli`i Akina, Aug. 2, 2016
2. Hawaii Free Press: "OHA Funds Voter Sentiment Survey to Help Incumbents," Aug. 17, 2016
3. OHA - PKF Pacific Hawaii Report in HFP: "PKF Report: OHA Will Run Out of Funds," Mar. 27, 2015
4. Civil Beat: "Can Spending Six Figures On PR Solve OHA’s Image Problem?" by Chad Blair, Sept. 7, 2016
5. Rowena Akana, "Are You Satiisfied with the Status Quo?," Ka Wai Ola, August 2016
Keli`i Akina, Ph.D. is the President/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a leading public policy think tank. He is a candidate for Trustee-at-Large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Mililani Trask is an attorney and advocate for the Hawaiian people and global human rights. She is a candidate for Big Island Resident Trustee in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.