Trustee Akina Calls on OHA Board to Reject Unsubstantiated Allegations
Board refers matter back to investigative committee
News Release from OHA Trustee Kelii Akina, PhD, November 21, 2019
HONOLULU, HI- Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Keli‘i Akina gave the following comments at today’s Board of Trustees meeting, in which a committee established to investigate complaints made against Trustee Akina policy presented its findings for discussion:
“Fellow trustees, thank you for this opportunity to address the Permitted Interaction Group report concerning complaints made against me for alleged violations of the Trustee Code of Conduct. At the outset, I want to thank the members of the PIG committee for their time and work.
I hold you and all trustees on the board in the highest esteem, and I am grateful that we are colleagues who want to do the very best for our Hawaiian beneficiaries and for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
It's in that spirit that I want to address a concern I have with the report, and I believe that many of you might also share the same concern as I explain it.
The report you have issued states your official finding that there is no recourse to discipline me. However, the language of the report has a sentence that goes beyond this official finding. It says, ‘After reviewing the complaint against Trustee Akina, the PIG finds that Trustee Akina made misleading and untrue statements with regard to the CLA audit.’
Now, this is a very serious allegation. It doesn't merely say that I had a different opinion about the CLA audit, or different belief, or that I criticized the board. It declares that I have committed wrongdoing.
Moreover, it is in the form of an official pronouncement by OHA trustees, not just the opinion of individuals.
Please note the following two facts about this declaration. First, it has been made in public. Last week, the committee announced this finding at the Board in open session. Secondly, this finding has been declared final. The committee has announced that it considers the matter to be closed.
Now the problem with making a public declaration about my character and then closing the matter is this: I was never asked or allowed to appear before the committee to be questioned or to give my point of view. Whatever conclusions the committee came to, they did so without ever having heard my explanation or defense.
In addition, I have never been told what specific statements of mine the committee considers to be misleading or untrue. So even if I wanted to explain or defend my comments before the board or public, I cannot do so because I have never been told what the specifics are.
The bottom line is that a committee of Trustees met behind closed doors, made a judgment about me, announced that judgment publicly, and declared the matter closed.
My fellow trustees, this is not how we should treat each other.
While what has taken place certainly harms me and my reputation as a public official, it also harms the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and our beneficiaries. If we, as a board, receive this report from the PIG in its present form, we will seriously damage the credibility and reputation of OHA. Therefore, I urge the board to do what is pono. Listen to your na'au and moral compass.
No beneficiary or trustee should be judged without the opportunity to respond, then be subjected to a final, public announcement that he has committed wrongdoing.
The right thing to do is to strike the second sentence of the PIG report which reads: ‘After reviewing the complaint against Trustee AKina, the PIG finds that Trustee Akina made misleading and untrue statements with regard to the CLA audit.’
Instead, simply leave the other sentences so that the report will read as follows: ‘The Permitted Interaction Group met on September 27, 2019. Given that the BOT has no recourse for disciplinary action against a Trustee at this time the PIG considers this matter closed.’
I respectfully urge you to make that amendment to the PIG report. It is the right thing to do.”
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this news release are the personal views of Trustee Akina and may not reflect the views of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs or its Board of Trustees.
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