One step forward, two steps back: OHA publishes a book and hands over Scholarship Program to UH
by Trustee Rowena Akana, Ka Wai Ola, January, 2018
‘Ano'ai kakou ... Last month I talked about OHA taking a step in the right direction by getting rid of a ''middle-man" to administer OHA's funds to support 17 Hawaiian-focused charter schools. It was a win-win situation I hoped we could replicate with other OHA programs. Disappointingly, this seems to have been the exception, not the rule.
OHA PUBLISHES A BOOK ON MANA
Certain things should be contracted out to outside vendors, such as publishing books. We're a government agency focused on bettering the condition of Native Hawaiians, not a book publisher.
Amazingly,on November 21, 2017, OHA published and released a book that explores mana. According to OHA's press release, the 300-page Mana Lahui Kanaka is "a multidimensional study of mana: what it is, how to articulate it, and how to access and cultivate it. The book, which is available free to the public online, was authored by OHA Ka Pouhana and Chief Executive Officer Kamana'opono Crabbe, Ph.D, Dr. Kealoha Fox and Holly Coleman.”
I had no idea our CEO was using OHA staff time and resources over the past five years to write this book. None of the previous Board Chairs or the Trustees I've talked to were aware of this project or how it came about. Apparently, OHA's CEO felt that there wasn't many books written about mana out there, so he decided to have OHA publish one.
While mana maybe a worthwhile subject for some, is spending five years of staff time on it to publish a book more important than the life of our people or their homeless plight? OHA needs to be more careful when taking on these projects because the public could easily see it as self-serving and done on the backs of our beneficiaries.
According to OHA's press release, on November 8, 2017 OHA filed a lawsuit in First Circuit Court against the State of Hawai'i and the University of Hawai'i (UH) for their longstanding and well-documented mismanagement of Mauna Kea. OHA's complaint requests the court to order the state to fulfill its trust obligations relating to Mauna Kea and to terminate UH's general lease for the mountain for breach of the lease's terms.
"The state and UH have failed to properly malama Mauna Kea and have demonstrated their inability to ensure that the environmental and cultural significance of the mountain is recognized and protected," said OHA Vice Chair Dan Ahuna.
"It's time to abandon any hope that UH is capable or even willing to provide the level of aloha and attention to Mauna Kea that it deserves," Ahuna continued. "We need to come together as a community to completely re-think how we care for the mauna, and that starts with cancelling the university's master lease."
I agree with Trustee Ahuna. However, on November 29, 2017, the Board approved, based on the Administration's recommendation, the disbursement of $550,000 from FY 2018 and $550,000 from FY 2019 to fund a grant to the UH system to serve as administrator for OHA's scholarship fund. NOTE: I abstained.
So to recap. OHA can't trust UH to properly manage Mauna Kea but we can totally trust them to properly distribute our money to Native Hawaiian students. Talk about mixed messages.
Aloha Ke Akua.