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OHA Chair Lindsey: Rescind CEO’s Authority, Let Staff Know Who is Boss
By Andrew Walden @ 9:03 PM :: 6571 Views :: OHA

by Andrew Walden

Documents leaked to Hawai’i Free Press by a source near the Office of Hawaiian Affairs show Trustees frustrated by an “unqualified” OHA CEO Kamanao Crabbe selecting bidders for Kakaako Makai development and for Hawaiian music programs to be held on the undeveloped Kakaako Makai parcels.

In a November 25, 2014 email exchange, newly selected OHA Chairman Robert Lindsey and Trustee Peter Apo agree the “urgency of rescinding the memo extending procurement authority to CEO” is “at the top of the list.”  Lindsey tells Apo, “I want those prerogatives returned to Trustees…. We need to let Admin. know whose (sic) boss.”  Apo expressed concern about: “how current admin budgeting format and procedures is (sic) able to create an open checkbook under various program areas and in some cases allow ‘parceling’ of funds to same vendor.”

The email exchange involving Trustees Apo, Hulu Lindsey, Rowena Akana, and Robert Lindsey as well as OHA CEO Crabbe and OHA COO Kawika Burgess may itself be a violation of the Sunshine Law—soliciting votes on Board of Trustees business prior to a scheduled Board meeting.  The four Trustees are part of the new board majority which placed Lindsey in the Chairmanship.  Robert Lindsey was elected by the Board December 9, but in the November 25 email exchange, Lindsey and Apo clearly know he is to become Chair.  Private discussions to select Board officers are permitted under HRS 92-2.5(c)

Lindsey began his Chairmanship by suing the State Office of Information Practices over OIP’s finding that OHA Trustees violated the Sunshine Law May 9, 2014 when they agreed--without a legally scheduled Trustees’ meeting--to rescind OHA CEO Crabbe’s letter to US Secretary of State John F. Kerry questioning the legal existence of the State of Hawaii. 

An October 7, 2014 memo to the OHA Trustees from Trustee Hulu Lindsey calls CEO Crabbe “not qualified” and blames “our staff and attorney” for appraisals of the value of the Kakaako Makai property which she claims overvalued it based on a 400’ building limit rather than the 200’ limit currently in place.  Hulu Lindsey also describes a meeting she had with former DBEDT Director Ted Liu regarding the Kakaako Makai master plan and writes:

I share this explanation because it has come to my attention that our staff is saying to the public that a Trustee is conflicted in this RFP process. Could they be referring to me? I merely voiced my opinion of the caliber of the Financial Analyst I expect OHA to hire; similar to Chair Machado telling Francis Oda at the end of Group 70’s contract that she hopes they apply for the next round of RFP for Kakaako. Why? Because she has the confidence in Mr. Oda and Group 70.”     


Among the leaked documents, a February, 2014 Kakaako Makai PowerPoint “presented by Trustee Peter Apo” apparently based on a “Group 70 Master Plan Framework.”  Apo’s presentation calls on Trustees to “act boldly” and suggests that “entitlements (will be) necessary.”  Its “signature architectural framework” would be an 800-foot “Tower of Earth and Sky.” 

Who is conflicted?  The answer does not come in the leaked documents, but the possibilities are legion.  The master plan contract award was announced in the pages of Pacific Business News October 30—while Machado was Chair and then re-announced in a January 13, 2015 OHA news release.  The winners: A partnership of Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation; DTL; PBR Hawai‘i; and WCIT Architecture.

Also this week, the newly revamped OHA website removes almost all reference to the Kanaiolowalu Roll and ends the pretense of OHA ‘neutrality’ touted by Crabbe.  Instead of giving equal weight to State, Federal, and International recognition, the new OHA ‘Governance’ page reads: “The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Board of Trustees prioritizes political recognition of Native Hawaiians by the United States.”

Here are the leaked documents verbatim:  (PDF

PDF of PowerPoint pgs 1-7, 8-1414-25.

  *   *   *   *   *

MEMO TO: Board of Trustees

FROM: Trustee Hulu Lindsey

DATE: October 7, 2014

SUBJECT: Posting and Review of the RFP for the Kaka‘ako Makai Lands

Aloha Board of Trustees,

I am sending you this memo in my capacity as Chair of the OHA Land Committee, and as a member of the OHA BOT to express my concerns on the posting and review of the RFP for the Kaka‘ako Makai lands.

I am concerned that the OHA CEO and staff involved in scoring and selecting a successful bidder for this RFP are not qualified to perform this task. I have reviewed the State procurement law and the Land and Property Committee Policy and have done an inquiry into the background and capacity of the OHA staff chosen to make this technical selection. I do not find any indication that any of the OHA staff making these critical determinations actually have any hands-on experience in developing a project of this magnitude such as what we are contemplating for Kakaako.

For Example, Kehau Abad who is on the committee has a background in burials, printing, publishing and cultural anthropological and archeological matters, but she has no experience or expertise in assessing RFP bids for commercial shoreline development with a land valuation of several hundred million dollars. I also checked the background and credentials of Mr. Kawika Burgess, who was previously a land planner and manager for KS/BE. However in that capacity he did not participate in the governance or feasibility/assessment of KS proposals re: development of commercial development.

As you know, we, as Trustees, are liable for any mistakes or omissions made by our office staff regarding matters such as the Kakaako development and the procedures followed in making a selection and awarding the bid. I have requested a copy of all proposals so that the Trustees may review them. The Administration has chosen not to honor this request although the Trustees have the fiduciary obligation in this matter, therefore liability. When I asked about the process, I was told that the Chief Procurement Officer of OHA had delegated all authority to the CEO. I received a memo from our attorney, Bob Klein, with a letter from Haunani Apoliona delegating procurement authority to Clyde Namu’o when she was the BOT Chairperson. Trustee Apoliona is no longer the Chair and Clyde Namu‘o is no longer the CEO. Chair Machado has not delegated her authority in this matter to our current CEO and neither has this Board been informed formally in any way. I have had separate meetings with business people in our community with Trustees Apo, Lindsey and Stender regarding Kakaako. I have never taken a meeting alone with any person. I have always advocated for transparency. The meetings were similar-- How is OHA planning to proceed and what is OHA envisioning? No remuneration was paid or received for these meetings nor was there any commitments made or conflict of interest on my part or any other Trustee who were discussing Kakaako as an opportunity with persons interested in the project. This is part of our job as Trustees. I received a call for a meeting from a Mr. Ted Liu who I did not know. Trustee Robert Lindsey had a previous commitment, so I invited our CEO and COO to join me for dinner at Mr. Liu’s invitation. He presented his background; namely, former DBED Director for the State under Governor Linda Lingle. While there he appointed Tony Ching to the HCDA Executive Director position and was familiar with the present community plan on the parcels that were given to OHA. I was very impressed with Mr. Liu’s background and told our staff that this is the caliber of a Financial Analyst that I would like to see assisting the BOT with our financial analysis—what we can build on each lot and how much revenue can be projected to be made so that the Trustees can make educated and informed decisions. I also told our staff that I had hoped that Mr. Liu would submit a proposal for Kakaako. Since that night at dinner towards the ending of our Legislative session in April, I have not seen nor spoken to Mr. Liu as I don’t know him personally.

I share this explanation because it has come to my attention that our staff is saying to the public that a Trustee is conflicted in this RFP process. Could they be referring to me? I merely voiced my opinion of the caliber of the Financial Analyst I expect OHA to hire; similar to Chair Machado telling Francis Oda at the end of Group 70’s contract that she hopes they apply for the next round of RFP for Kakaako. Why? Because she has the confidence in Mr. Oda and Group 70.

I do not want to have a repeat of what occurred with the Settlement. We believed our staff and attorney when they told us that the appraisals of OHA and the State reflected a value of an estimated $200 million for the property. We believed this and took this out to our beneficiaries on all islands to get their support. When I finally did obtain a copy of the OHA appraisal I learned that the “client” had directed the property not be appraised based on its actual value, but that the appraisal should be based on the value of property with a 400 foot height on certain lots. I was also shocked to see that the “client” was not OHA but our attorney Mr. Bill Meheula.

I recommend we stop the process of awarding this contract and retain an expert with the necessary background to advise us on our options for proceeding.

I would like to discuss this problem in our meeting this Thursday,

Mahalo,

Trustee Hulu Lindsey,

Chair, OHA Land and Property Committee

  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

EMAILS November 25, 2014

From: Peter Apo

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 7:59 AM

To: Hulu Lindsey

Cc: Robert Lindsey; Kawika K. Burgess; Kehaunani Abad, Ph.D.; Kamana'opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.

Subject: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

Aloha Hulu:

Follow up to my discussion with you last week. Still working on putting numbers together for the concept of a Monthly "Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food" Festival Series on Lot A. The concept is to launch a significant message to the community that OHA is serious about making  Kaka'ako a gathering place for the community in celebration of who we are as a people.

It would be positioned as a Community Engagement project.  The branding approach is to feature the best and the brightest of Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food by featuring a Merrie Monarch winning halau and one or more Na Hoku Hanohano award winners each time.  The food vending should feature Hawaiian vendors who deliver great Hawaiian food.  Let's make a "Hawaiian" statement to brand a Hawaiian gathering place.  I'm thinking a once a month event, heavily promoted, to make it a signature happening on Oahu's South Shore.

It would be expensive - but then, what's it worth to scrape off the bad feeling people have about OHA and Kaka'ako Maka'i. The idea is to take serious steps toward winning friends and influencing people.

I would like to have a voice in shaping this concept. John Aeto and the Kalaimoku Group, who are one of the best music and festival event planners in Hawai'i are helping me put the numbers together in great detail.  I will share with you sooner than later.  Mahalo.

  *   *   *   *   *

On Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 8:08 AM, Kawika K. Burgess wrote:

Aloha Trustees,

Allen and our Commercial Property Management team have been negotiating an interim lease for Lot A with a very popular vendor for the past several months. We are currently finalizing the terms of the agreement.

Allen has also been in discussions with an event organizer to hold quarterly venues and events in Kakaako Makai.

May I request that we meet to discuss these proposals?

Mahalo nui,

Kawika

  *   *   *   *   *

From: Peter Apo

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 8:42:03 AM

To: Kawika K. Burgess

Cc: Hulu Lindsey; Kamana'opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.; Robert Lindsey

Subject: Re: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

Sounds good Kawika.  Trustee Hulu Lindsey did advise me that you folks were working on something for lot A.  I only ask that whatever we do there on an interim basis we seize the opportunity to do some pretty big time community engagement work and I hope Trustees will be in the loop before any final decisions are made or contracts awarded.

In the next four years I plan to formally articulate my views on Kaka'ako Maka'i as the Oahu Trustee and ask that I be kept in the loop on all decision making discussions that involves new uses of our properties there which will be subject to community scrutiny and especially initiatives that will be subject to the State/City planning and permitting processes. 

Mahalo.

Peter

  *   *   *   *   *

From: Hulu Lindsey

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 10:06 AM

To: Kawika K. Burgess

Cc: Peter Apo; Robert Lindsey; Rowena Akana; Kamana'opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.; Miles Nishijima

Subject: FW: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

Aloha e Kawika:

I was not aware that our Administration was planning to lease Lot A  and that you are presently in negotiations with a "very popular vendor."

Kawika, this parcel is very important to the Trustees as it will set a precedence of OHA's first image in Kaka'ako Makai.  I ask that you not finalize any agreement--lease or vendor--without first talking with the Trustees.  Instead, I would appreciate a plan or proposal for the use of Lot A be submitted to the Land Committee for review and approval.

Mahalo,

Hulu Lindsey

  *   *   *   *   *

From: Kawika K. Burgess

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 1:38 PM

To: Hulu Lindsey

Cc: Peter Apo; Robert Lindsey; Rowena Akana; Kamana'opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.; Miles Nishijima; Ernie Kimoto

Subject: RE: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

Aloha Trustee Hulu,

Mahalo for the e-mail. As we discussed at the last LAP Committee meeting, we will need to update our procurement policy and procedures to be in alignment with the Committee's expectations of involvement in the procurement process for land contracts. In addition, based on this discussion we will also need to update our policies and procedures to also include the LAP Committee in approving leases in Kakaako Makai. We are currently approving leases according to delegated authority for the short term interim use of the properties while we are moving forward with master planning to identify the desired long term uses for each property. As additional background, we are not planning on issuing a long-term lease for Lot A, but rather a short term lease as we have been issuing on all of the other properties to generate revenue in the interim during the master planning process.

Based on your guidance below, we will work on updating the policy and procedures to have the LAP Committee involved in the approval process for leases in Kakaako Makai.

Mahalo nui,

Kawika

  *   *   *   *   *

From: Hulu Lindsey

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 2:36 PM

To: Kawika K. Burgess

Cc: 'Peter Apo'; Robert Lindsey; 'Rowena Akana'; Kamana'opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.; Miles Nishijima; Ernie Kimoto

Subject: RE: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

Aloha Kawika:

I am very aware of all that you outline as the authority by which you are operating.  My previous email to you stands!  I ask that no commitments on Lot A are made, whether short term or otherwise, until you can have a discussion with the Trustees.

Mahalo,

Hulu Lindsey

  *   *   *   *   *

From: Kawika K. Burgess

Date: Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Subject: RE: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

To: Hulu Lindsey

Cc: Peter Apo, Robert Lindsey, Rowena Akana, "Kamana'opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D." , Miles Nishijima, Ernie Kimoto

Noted Trustee. We will not proceed without Trustee approval. As we are currently issuing leases for both Na Lama Kukui and Kakaako Makai on a monthly basis, can you please clarify if this directive applies only to Lot A or to all leases issued by OHA?

Mahalo nui,

Kawika

  *   *   *   *   *

On Nov 25, 2014, at 5:24 PM, "Peter Apo" wrote:

Bobby:

At the top of my list for discussion with you next week is the urgency of rescinding the memo extending procurement authority to CEO.  I am suggesting Chair must co-sign and or approve all major expenditures and contract awards.  BOT financial analyst can explain how current admin budgeting format and procedures is able to create an open checkbook under various program areas and in some cases allow "parceling" of funds to same vendor.

Peter

  *   *   *   *   *

From: Robert Lindsey

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 5:33:33 PM

To: Peter Apo

Cc: Hulu Lindsey; Capsun M. Poe; Jeremy (Kama) Hopkins

Subject: Re: Kaka'ako Makai Hawaiian Music, Hula, and Food Festival

Peter great minds think alike. It's at the very top of my list as well. I have Kama and Capsun researching after which I hope a simple letter with my signature will be sufficient to withdraw that authority from Admin. If not that will be the first action item on our BOT docket when I become Chair.

Relatedly I have tasked Kama and Capsun to do a full and compete review of all Board policies and where what should be Trustees kuleana was given up by prior Chairs to staff I want those prerogatives returned to Trustees.

Appreciate your manao. We need to let Admin. know whose boss.

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