by Andrew Walden
Losing 3-1, Robin Danner lashed out bitterly on a June 24, 2015 conference call with supporters and this reporter listening in. Responding to an Hawaiian Homes Commission resolution challenging the proposed Interior Department rules for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), Danner, policy chair of the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly (SCHHA), says Hawaiian Homes Commissioners "have rings in their noses," cannot master "8th grade reading," and are being led around by "Stalin", an apparent reference to DHHL Director Jobie Masagatani.
Danner blamed former Governor Neil Abercrombie for blocking federal rulemaking efforts during his administration and credited newly-elected governor David Ige for agreeing "not to oppose."
The HHC resolution, approved June 16, 2015, calls for "the United States Department of the Interior to consult with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands." To this, Danner angrily snorts: "The publishing of these proposed rules IS the consultation."
Joining Danner on the call was Masagatani's nemesis, Michelle Kauhane. Now President of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), Kauhane was ousted December 12, 2012 from her previous position as DHHL Deputy Director by Masagatani. According to Kauhane, 104 comments have been submitted to the DoI and 76 are in opposition to the proposed rules--a nearly 3-1 margin. Of the 28 supporters, Danner says "Everybody in my family has submitted (comments)."
At 2011 CNHA Conv -- From left to right: Krystal Ka'ai, CAPAC Asst. Coordinator, Terrina Gogue, APAICS Program and Communications Associate, Robin Danner, CNHA President & CEO, DOI Asst. Secy. Anthony Babauta, Michelle Kauhane, Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands Deputy Director and Lisa Hasegawa, National CAPACD Executive Director
While leaving DHHL out of the loop, the Feds appear to have been consulting with Danner and Kauhane for several years. A timeline included in CNHA backgrounder sent to participants in the conference call traces the request for Federal rules to a December, 2012 CNHA/SCHHA meeting in Hawaii with an Interior Department Assistant Secretary--interestingly about the same time as Kauhane's dismissal from DHHL. Its not clear if this refers to former DoI Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta who was put on leave November 17, 2012 and then resigned January 24, 2013 for corruption and womanizing as part of a scheme to funnel money to CNHA.
According to Danner, the "consultation" process advanced in May, 2013, when she met with President Obama and directly asked for Federal DHHL rules and in September, 2013 when, according to Danner, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced her approval of a rulemaking process.
Jewell spoke to a CNHA convention in Honolulu, September 4, 2013 and told convention-goers, "It would be preferable to go through the process (for federal recognition of a fake Hawaiian Indian tribe) congressionally because that's a clear path forward. Other paths forward are less clear, and that's what we are assessing." DoI Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh told the convention to anticipate DoI rulemaking beginning October, 2013.
In response to a question on the conference call, Danner claimed "federal recognition is a totally separate issue." Danner suggested that federal oversight of DHHL land exchanges would be advantageous because "at least we could get some community benefits." According to Danner, future federal rulemaking targets might include: "$600M in Act 14 Funds" and "the use of interest from Trust funds".
According to Danner, rulemaking did not advance in 2013 because then-Governor Neil Abercrombie "opposed the federal rules." But in a January, 2015 meeting, newly elected Governor David Ige told Kauhane and Danner he would not oppose them. The proposed rules were published by DoI May 8, 2015.
Kauhane and Danner backed Ige's primary campaign against Abercrombie and then lobbied for Ige to appoint Kauhane to direct DHHL but in January Ige chose to retain Masagatani. Ige's agreement "not to oppose" is apparently a booby prize, but it was enough to free up the Obama administration to act.
Will the Feds now go ahead against the wishes of DHHL and the overwhelming majority of testifiers? Stay tuned.
LINK: Submit Comments to DoI
LINK: Download a PDF version of the HHC Resolution
News Release: Hawaiian Homes Commission: Proposed Federal Rules Inappropriate
2015: Draft DoI Rules Create Path for Fake Indian Tribe to Take Over DHHL
2014: Report Exposes Scheme to Funnel Interior Department Money to Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
2013: DHHL Boycotts Convention as Feds Conspire with Danner Sisters