by Andrew Walden
"Pick up the phone." That's the message for CEO Kamanao Crabbe from OHA Trustees' Chair Robert Lindsey.
Lindsey writes in his March, 2015 Ka Wai Ola column:
"Above all, we need to see our most important role as selecting the right leadership for OHA. That means having multiple discussions each year about leadership succession....
"At the same time, it is critically important for us to develop a trusting relationship with our CEO. Our relationship with our CEO should be very open, candid and interactive.
"It should make our CEO feel comfortable bouncing things off us all the time and drawing on the expertise of Trustees, particularly if we have a specialized knowledge in a specific area. Our CEO should be talking to every Trustee by phone at least once between every meeting - more often if there is an issue that someone on the Board knows a lot about and is helping us with....
After implicitly outlining all of the CEO's shortcomings, Lindsey says there is no joy in Trustee Land, but he is going to do something about it:
"So, along with making Na Lama Kukui (OHA HQ at the former Gentry Pacific Building) a joyful workplace for our administration and staff...I want Na Lama Kukui to be a joyful place for my colleagues (on the Board of Trustees) as well.
"For that reason my goal is to elevate our status as a Board of Trustees from what it has been...."
It is a sanitized public version of Lindsey's November 25, 2014 leaked email conversation with OHA Trustee Peter Apo in which Lindsey explains, "We need to let Admin. know whose (sic) boss.”
On the next page, Trustee Rowena Akana, Chair of the OHA Budget and Finance Committee, gets specific about one of the administration's shortcomings:
"OHA's Grants Division continues to be a source for many complaints. People have complained that the application process online is cumbersome and complex and of an automatic rejection of any grant that fails to turn in all of the forms when they apply.
"For example, a Hawaiian nonprofit recently made a technical error when they submitted their application with two copies of the same form. After the application deadline passed, they received an email from our Grants Division saying that because of their error they were no longer eligible to receive an OHA grant. They submitted the correct form within 30 minutes of receiving the rejection email, but it made no difference. Now they have to wait two years to apply for another OHA grant. Surely there is room here for improvement in our process."
Robert Lindsey is a member of the Board of Laiopua 2020, the non-profit to which Akana is referring. No joy in Trustee land.
Lindsey began his Chairmanship with a decision to sue the State Office of Information Practices over OIP's ruling that OHA Trustees violated Hawaii's Sunshine Laws when they voted to rescind Crabbe's query to US Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the legal existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Last year Lindsey's pet Senator, Brickwood Galuteria, introduced a bill which would have exempted OHA from the Sunshine Law entirely. Lindsey's response to an Hawai'i Free Press expose of his relationship with Galuteria? Demand censorship. And now OHA's Kanaiolowalu Roll Commission is being sued by Judicial Watch because it refuses to comply with Open Records requests for information about the so-called Native Hawaiian Roll.
There may be no joy, but there was a moment of levity. In his column, Lindsey displays his gift for understatement, noting that trustees participated in a January OIP workshop on the state's open-meetings law and writing: "We...need to be better advocates for sound governance principles such as accountability and transparency."
Sometimes you just have to laugh.