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Wednesday, December 17, 2014
OHA Chair Demands Censorship of Kakaako Coverage
By Andrew Walden @ 8:40 PM :: 7774 Views :: Development, First Amendment, OHA

by Andrew Walden

The recent campaign season was marked by strong voter sentiment in favor of transparency, but the Office of Hawaiian Affairs just doesn’t seem to be getting the message.  First comes OHA’s December 5 decision to appeal an Office of Information Practices ruling that OHA violated the State Sunshine Law retracting the famous ‘Kerry Letter’. Now Hawai’i Free Press has received a bizarre demand for a correction of a September 28, 2014 article which reveals a financial connection between OHA’s newly installed Chairman (then-Trustee) Robert Lindsey’s Pelatron Center for Economic Development (PCED) and OHA’s 2014 Senate point man for Kakaako development, Sen. Brickwood Galuteria.  

The article pointed out:

Galuteria began working for PCED where, according to the PCED website, Lindsey serves as Chairman of the Board, at some point after his May 30, 2013 financial disclosure report but before his February 6, 2014 report.  PCED is a non-profit corporation wrapped around a for-profit subsidiary, Pelatron, Inc, which is an 8-a government contractor.  According to his ethics filings, Galuteria is paid between $50,000 and 100,000 per year by PCED--an amount greater than his legislative salary. 

In a March 30, 2012 Hawaii Senate Majority News Release, Galuteria had said the bill transferring Kakako Makai to OHA, "...brings closure to a long-standing dispute....”  But two years later, with Galuteria on PCED's payroll, things changed.  The Star-Advertiser, January 30, 2014, reported that Galuteria "shares the view that OHA didn’t get enough in its settlement." 

Galuteria introduced SB3122 on January 23, 2014 which "authorizes residential development by OHA on specified parcels in Kakaako Makai.... (and) (e)xempts development from public facilities dedication requirement."

Two weeks later, Galuteria introduced SB2992 SD1 which would have exempted OHA from the Sunshine Law altogether

Lindsey’s letter is reproduced in full below.  In order to clarify any questions, here is Lindsey’s December 16, 2014 letter interspersed with our responses. 

Lindsey writes:

I took serious issue with the headline in the Hawai'i Free Press article, "Galuteria pushed Kaka'ako Makai bill while on payroll of OHA Trustee."

The headline was grossly inaccurate and totally distorted my role as chairman of the advisory board for the Pelatron Center for Economic Development.

Wrong.  It is Lindsey who is distorting his own role to make himself appear less responsible for PCED.  According to PCED’s BREG filings, PCED’s own website, and Lindsey's own financial disclosure reports, Lindsey is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pelatron Center for Economic Development (PCED), not “chairman of the advisory board.” 

The company is owned by my three high school classmates, whose trust and support I have inspired. As chairman, I run the board's quarterly meetings; however, I draw no salary from the responsibility and make no hiring decisions for the company.

Your headline overly exaggerated my contribution to the company and recklessly linked it to my leadership role at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

To suggest any kind of curious dealings on my part in juggling my responsibilities as a volunteer board member at Peletron (sic) Center for Economic Development and an OHA trustee is slanderous.

Wrong.  It is not libel to point out the fact that "Galuteria pushed Kaka'ako Makai bill while on payroll of OHA Trustee."  If the correlation of these facts causes some readers to think of “curious dealings” that is the price Lindsey pays for putting himself in this position.  If he can’t handle the liabilities which come with being a public figure he is free to resign from the OHA Board of Trustees.   

It also shows a lack of understanding of the regard I have for the trust that has been placed in me as an elected official and member of the advisory board of a company whose work has proved to be useful to the U. S. Department of Defense.

Lindsey’s repeated misrepresentation of his position as Chairman of the Board of PCED gives an “understanding of the regard (he has) for the trust placed in (him).”

In setting the record straight, your headline is also an insult to the public's intelligence and less than helpful to elected officials who are honorable, capable and conscientious leaders.

It is not the job of reporters to be “helpful to elected officials.”  In spite of this, Hawai’i Free Press published an article which may be helpful to some: “Kakaako: How to Buy Hawaii State Senators—Legally.”  It is based on the text of the State Ethics Commission’s response to an Ethics complaint against Galuteria based on our September 28 article.  The Ethics Commission denied the complaint because: “The State Ethics Code does not prohibit legislators from introducing or voting on legislation, even legislation that affects their non-state employment interests.”  Perhaps Mr Lindsey found the article insulting to his intelligence because it didn’t teach him anything he didn’t know already.    

I vehemently deny any moral failures with regards to OHA's efforts last year to seek the ability to potentially build residential units on select properties in Kaka'ako Makai. For that reason, I demand a correction and no less than a clarification that explains that my volunteer role with Peletron (sic) Center for Economic Development in no way influenced any policy decision at OHA regarding Kaka'ako Makai.

Lindsey’s request for censorship is denied. 

---30--- 

Response to Hawaii Free Press   

by Robert K. Lindsey   December 16, 2014

I took serious issue with the headline in the Hawai'i Free Press article, "Galuteria pushed Kaka'ako Makai bill while on payroll of OHA Trustee."

The headline was grossly inaccurate and totally distorted my role as chairman of the advisory board for the Pelatron Center for Economic Development.

The company is owned by my three high school classmates, whose trust and support I have inspired. As chairman, I run the board's quarterly meetings; however, I draw no salary from the responsibility and make no hiring decisions for the company.

Your headline overly exaggerated my contribution to the company and recklessly linked it to my leadership role at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

To suggest any kind of curious dealings on my part in juggling my responsibilities as a volunteer board member at Peletron (sic) Center for Economic Development and an OHA trustee is slanderous. It also shows a lack of understanding of the regard I have for the trust that has been placed in me as an elected official and member of the advisory board of a company whose work has proved to be useful to the U. S. Department of Defense.

In setting the record straight, your headline is also an insult to the public's intelligence and less than helpful to elected officials who are honorable, capable and conscientious leaders.

I vehemently deny any moral failures with regards to OHA's efforts last year to seek the ability to potentially build residential units on select properties in Kaka'ako Makai. For that reason, I demand a correction and no less than a clarification that explains that my volunteer role with Peletron (sic) Center for Economic Development in no way influenced any policy decision at OHA regarding Kaka'ako Makai.

• Robert K. Lindsey is chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Link: PDF of Original

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