by Andrew Walden
At the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Millions are given to those who “know how and who to ask.”
What happens to those who are not part of the Friends and Family plan?
Displaced by the COVID economy on Kauai, dozens of native Hawaiians and others are pouring into a pre-existing homeless camp at Salt Pond Beach Park along Kauai’s southern shore.
Activists are providing meals, but not nearly enough for the swelling population of unemployed at the park.
To expand their feeding program, the “East & North Shore Kauai Community Hui” appealed to OHA at an October 13, 2020, Kauai Community virtual meeting of OHA Trustees.
It didn’t go well.
After hearing an agenda item presentation given on behalf of the Hui by Kamealoha Smith, Kauai OHA Trustee Dan Ahuna responded with a 10-minute personal diatribe against Smith, leaving observers mystified.
Eventually Trustee Brendon Lee had to call Ahuna to order.
Smith was Ahuna’s opponent in the August 8, 2020, OHA Primary.
It was not the only time the Hui faced hostility from OHA.
An audio tape of an October 9, 2020 grant application review meeting reveals OHA grant manager Davis Price, formerly a trustee aide to Ahuna, similarly ranting and raving after hearing the Hui’s presentation.
Akamai readers will remember Davis Price and his OHA LLC deal from, “OHA staffer faces conflict of interest allegations over poi mill venture.” Now it appears Price has a sudden interest in the legalities.
After an 85 minute presentation about homelessness on Kauai, here is how Davis Price responds.
Transcript Starting at the 1:25:00 mark:
Davis Price -- “…as most of you are very well familiar, at OHA we have to abide by State procurement (law) and the best way for us to try and provide immediate assistance is to leverage. I have to go see what the numbers are and start calling around, see who’s doing what, what other organizations there are and see if there’s a way that we can’t collaborate to identify some immediate resources.
“What I just heard today kind of reinforces what I heard in the last meeting is there is only 30 meals going a day. It’s not enough to feed all the mouths that are there. That right there is a gap I can start with in terms of reaching out and saying, ‘OK, how can we fill this gap.’ And if it’s financials, OHA cannot fulfil the entirety. But you guys get one, you guys get some … and maybe OHA we come in this collaboratively. That’s gonna be my approach.
“…I gotta figure out how we can do that legally, ‘cause we do get audited. We know that right?
“And as we’ve learned, the unfortunate … the ones who are punished the most for allegations of OHA misdoing is the community. I want everyone to recognize that please for a moment. Our grantees, it makes it harder to get funding out. And then the scrutiny that comes, falls on the recipients of the funding. That’s been the greatest ‘hewa’ in the last three years. Through all these controversies about FBI investigations, AG investigations, nobody’s been charged. But multiple, multiple community organizations have been named to imply that the good work that’s been done is wrong or criminal. It most recently happened with Maunakea….”
Kamealoha Smith -- “No. No, Davis. That’s not what we’re here for.”
Davis Price -- “I understand that.”
Kamealoha Smith -- “No. Listen to me and listen to me very clearly about this. If you want to go down this pathway about talking to the FBI and other kind of stuff, you’re correct, the FBI has been in our community but not because of us. Do you really want to go there? I was trying to avoid this kind of conversation. But I want to be very clear with you. Please do not open up those cans of worms in a community meeting like this. That is not what the purpose of this meeting is. And I would advise you and give you the guidance—lets stay away from that , because that’s not what we’re here for. Because if you’re going to start talking about… I’m certain that there are facts on our side that we’re more than happy to bring up. That’s why I did not bring it up while I was running for OHA. And I did not bring it up in any time that we’re talking about this (grant application). But the fact that you want to now go and say all these allegations about community members, I know what some of those allegations are and I can guarantee you 100% there’s not one community member that was named in anything. So let’s stop. Because if you don’t stop you’re gonna open up a can of worms and I guarantee you you’re not going to like what the outcome is going to be. I’m here to support the community. I’m here to make sure these people can get fed. Lets keep it at that level and allow these other politics to have the appropriate forum to be vetted in. This is not the appropriate forum.”
Davis Price -- “I agree. I only wanted to bring that up because –we do have – as much as I would love to turn around and cut a check for X amount of dollars….”
Kamealoha Smith -- “Nobody’s asking you to do that.”
Davis Price -- “I know you’re not.”
Kamealoha Smith -- “We’re not asking for anything except what is allowable under law. And I think that throughout this entire process, we’ve tied ourselves up with a lot of integrity and we’ve made sure that we’ve maintained everything at that level. We’re only asking you folks to come in and help us with that capacity building and also the immediate needs. So lets not talk about that other stuff. If you want, I’m more than happy to address those other issues with the relevant people so we can address those other issues because certainly those are worthy of addressing, but just not here. ”
Davis Price -- “I agree. Mahalo nui. So I will go back and make sure that we cover our bases under all the guidance of the appropriate processes and work collaboratively with the community to maximize as much as we can because that’s how we’ve been approaching this pandemic situation….”
Four days later, Dan Ahuna covered those bases.
AUDIO: OHA Grant Meeting Oct 9, 2020 (Davis Price begins at 1:25:00)
Salt Pond Homeless:
OHA LLC Background: