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Wednesday, November 27, 2019
OIP: OHA PIG Opinion ‘Does not Exist’
By Andrew Walden @ 2:57 PM :: 1797 Views :: Ethics, OHA

by Andrew Walden

Can OHA Trustees continue the so-called ‘investigation’ of Trustee Keli’i Akina?

The State Office of information Practices (OIP) says an alleged OIP Opinion-- cited by OHA Trustee Chair Colette Machado as a rationale for a continued investigation-- does not exist.

UPDATE Dec 4, 2019: OIP Letter on OHA PIG Questions

In complaints filed by OHA Trustee Robert Lindsey, Akina is being targeted for his criticism of OHA’s evasive response to recent and ongoing audits.

Trustees formed a so-called Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) to ‘investigate’ Akina’s exercise of free speech.  But in a one-paragraph November 7, 2019, ‘report’ to OHA Trustees, the PIG declared:

The Permitted Interaction Group met on September 27, 2019. After reviewing the complaint against Trustee Akina the PIG finds that Trustee Akina made misleading and untrue statements with regard to the CLA audit. Given that the BOT has no recourse for disciplinary action against a Trustee at this time the PIG considers this matter closed.

It is unclear whether the PIG met with Lindsey, but Akina says they never met with him.  At their November 21, 2019, meeting, Akina pointed out the PIG has not outlined to him the alleged “misleading and untrue statements with regard to the CLA audit.” 

Akina called on Trustees to delete the phrase, but they instead voted to reopen the investigation

This is where it gets interesting.

In an interview with the Star-Advertiser after the November 21, 2019 meeting, OHA Trustees Chair Colette Machado explains:    

The four-trustee panel felt hamstrung in that regard because the state’s Sunshine Law prohibits more than four trustees from meeting in a Permitted Interaction Group setting.

But Machado said OHA received an opinion from the state Office of Information Practices saying it was OK to allow a fifth trustee to appear before the committee, as long as that trustee is the subject of the investigation.

The State Office of Information Practices says ‘not true’.

Responding to an emailed question from Hawai’i Free Press, OIP staff attorney Lorna Aratani writes:

Contrary to what was reported in The Star Advertiser article, the Office of Information Practices did not provide to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs any opinion concluding that it was okay for the investigative group consisting of four Trustees to interview a fifth Trustee who is the subject of the group’s investigation.

Machado has not responded to a request for comment.

This article may be updated.


UPDATE Dec 4, 2019: OIP Letter on OHA PIG Questions

Link: HRS §92-2.5  Permitted interactions of members


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