WILL YOU LET HER WIN?
Honolulu Civil Beat - October 7, 2016 - By Keli'i Akina
Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairman Robert Lindsey, in a recent Honolulu Star-Advertiser op-ed, has endorsed the Department of Interior's announcement of a procedure for the creation of a federally recognized native Hawaiian governing entity. Lindsey reiterated the position held by long-term OHA trustees and previous chairs, including Haunani Apoliona, who have authorized the spending of tens of millions of dollars on the Akaka Bill and other failed attempts to gain federal recognition. The trustees are on record as having spent over $33 million on the Akaka Bill and additional millions on other failed programs such as the Native Hawaiian Roll and Na'i Aupuni.
What Lindsey chose not to say in his op-ed is that the OHA trustees have lavishly spent Hawaiian Trust funds on federal recognition knowing full well that the majority of native Hawaiian people have not wanted them to do so. Based on data from their own surveys, the trustees have known that native Hawaiians have overwhelmingly wanted these funds to be spent on meeting the real needs of Hawaiians for housing, jobs, education, and healthcare. Hawaiians feel it is both a tragedy and a scandal that OHA trustees have spent millions on political governance schemes instead of helping the 27,000 individuals on the Hawaiian Homelands waiting list to get homes.
Lindsey, perhaps inadvertently, revealed the fact that the trustees have known of the low priority native Hawaiians give to federal recognition when he attempted to position himself as a viable candidate for re-election in the primary and general election voter guides published by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs newspaper, Ka Wai Ola. There, Lindsey says: "Our lahui (i.e., the native Hawaiian people/nation), when surveyed in 1978 (OHA’s founding), and recently, have made it clear; ‘bread and butter’ issues (education, health, housing, and jobs) are what’s important to them. It wants OHA to focus on these issues. In 2016 the majority of respondents see nation-building as a bottom of the barrel issue. OHA must refocus, reboot, and rethink its basic priorities if it is to be in alignment with the wishes of our people."
Haunani Apoliona, also seeking re-election, said in the same voter guides: "As a current OHA Trustee I am committed to OHA`s majority-approved position. However, as a (future) re-elected Trustee I am committed to OHA's refining existing strategies consistent with additional input we seek from the majority of Native Hawaiians."
Apparently, the incumbent trustees realize that to get re-elected they must downplay the fact that they have ignored native Hawaiians and wasted precious funds on a federal recognition scheme that native Hawaiians reject.
Could we say that they speak with forked tongues?
Trustee Rowen Akana encourages the voting public to hold the OHA trustees accountable when she states in her Ka Wai Ola column: "So this election, seek change and elect new blood! Elect New People! Electing the same Trustees will not bring any meaningful change to OHA!"