by Andrew Walden (Updated Dec 15, 2011)
The Hawaii Public Housing Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday morning to appoint Muslim Association of Hawaii President Hakim Ouansafi as HPHA Executive Director. According to information presented to the Board, Ouansafi’s appointment has already received approval from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development which is required under conditions of a 2002 “Corrective Action Order” giving HUD oversight of the troubled agency. Ouansafi’s appointment also received the support of Gov Neil Abercrombie’s Director of Human Services Pat McManaman who told the Board that Ouansafi’s application “really stood out”.
According to the Hawaii Islamic Information Office, Ouansafi’s Manoa Mosque is backed by Prince Abdulaziz Bin Fahad Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Ouansafi, who acknowledges that “foreign money ... come(s) with strings attached,” has publicly mooted plans to build a larger mosque in downtown Honolulu.
Paid $88,000 per year, the HPHA manages Hawaii’s 6,000 public housing units scattered throughout 80-plus sites statewide. HPHA is in the midst of a $135M public-private renovation of the Towers at Kuhio Park, Hawaii’s largest public housing project. As has been the case with many agency heads since Governor Neil Abercrombie took office, the previous Executive Director, Denise Wise, resigned October 12 “for personal reasons” after about one-and-one-half years at the helm.
Ouansafi is best known as the progenitor of Hawaii Islam Day. By misrepresenting the foundation date of his own religion, Ouansafi conned the 2009 Hawaii Legislature into passing a resolution designating September 24, 2009 as Islam Day in Hawaii. He did this by falsely claiming a Julian date in the year 622 was actually a Gregorian date. September 24, 2009 just happens to be September 11, 2009 in the old Julian Calendar.
Ouansafi was nailed for falsely claiming to represent the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation as part of a promotional event for the Muslim Association of Hawaii in March, 2011. The fake FLEF event came after the October 2010 arrest of “jihadi wannabe” Abdel Hameed Shehadeh who had been attending Ouansafi’s Manoa Mosque in between failed efforts to enter Pakistan and join the Taliban. After the arrest of Shehadeh, Ouansafi was quick to go to the media and trumpet his “secret” role in the investigation—effectively warning away any other violent jihadis. Akamai observers noted that Shehadeh came to Hawaii with an open and public FBI tail one source described as “big enough to make a peacock blush” thus giving Ouansafi little choice but to cooperate.
In a 2010 book published by The Brookings Institution, author Akbar S. Ahmed interviewed Ouansafi. After a visit to Ouansafi’s Mosque, Ahmed describes how Ouansafi expelled a follower of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi for “diluting our religion.” Ouansafi bizarrely claimed to Ahmed that it was Arabs, not Polynesians who first discovered Hawaii—and that the words Hawaii and Honolulu are both Arabic names, not Hawaiian. Ouansafi also told Ahmed that “Hakim” was Hawaiian for “wise leader”—an assertion quickly debunked by a search through Pukui and Elbert’s Hawaiian Dictionary. Interestingly, the Hawaiian term “haku ‘epa” does mean to lie or deceive and “haki wale” refers to a weak leader, easily broken.
Ouansafi, as President of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, has questionable adherence to the First Amendment—which should raise questions about his willingness to abide by the standards of transparency demanded of HPHA under State and Federal law. As Islamists organized rioting over cartoons of Mohammad published by a Danish newspaper, Ouansafi’s Muslim Association of Hawaii Islamic Information Office website February 20, 2006 posted a statement by "Muslim Religious Leaders." The statement didn’t denounce the deadly riots, instead it attacked free speech, vainly proclaiming "The events in Denmark concerning the Messenger of God represent an entirely unacceptable crime of aggression that has violated the highest sanctities of the Muslim people."
A 2009 Hawai`i Free Press investigation into the national and international resources working with Ouansafi’s MAH is titled: On the trail to Hawaii Islam Day: Saudi money, Libyan assassins, Palestinian Jihad, London bombers, Malaysian sodomy, and laughing Islamists.
Ouansafi, who starts work on January 3, will be the Public Housing agency’s ninth Executive Director in 14 years.
HPHA Board Member: No Negatives for Ouansafi
Here is an exchange of emails with HPHA Board Member Travis Thompson:
Aloha Mr Thompson, Dec 14, 2011
I see Hakim "Islam Day" Ouansafi is on the agenda to become ED of HPHA tomorrow.
What happened to Denise Wise--was she forced out by Abercrombie's people somehow?
Should this be seen as an Abercrombie takeover as has happened at so many other agencies?
How many current HDHA Directors are Abercrombie appointees?
Are the Directors aware of Ouansafi's checkered history (Islam Day, falsifying FLEF ties, Brookings Institution Report, expulsion of liberals from Mosque, bizarre claims about who discovered Hawaii, etc)?
Do they believe that by making this appointment HDHA will suddenly attract a great deal of attention?
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Aloha Andrew Dec 16, 2011
I did not receive your e-mail until yesterday, and unfortunately, could not respond since I was in a Board meeting in Honolulu all day.
Denise Wise currently is working for the Ventura Housing Authority. Her mother has health issues, and Denise's relocation allows her to participate with the family in providing necessary health care. The good news is that the compensation in her current job is significantly higher, and the responsibility is significantly less. Denise did an outstanding job as the Executive Director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.
Of the current Board of Directors, Roger Godfrey and I declined to resign; Mattie Yoshioka, from Kauai, resigned, and the Governor did not accept her resignation. There is currently one vacancy on the Board. So, at a minimum, the Governor has appointed seven members of the Board (this includes Patricia McManaman, who serves on the Board due to her position as Director of the Department of Human Services).
Mr. Ouansafi's background and qualifications were reviewed by a special task force assigned by the Chair of the Board. They reviewed resumes of sixty applicants, and the Board interviewed the top three. Mr. Ouansafi was interviewed and selected by the Board as the most qualified applicant. Subsequently, the Task Force performed reference and background checks. No negatives were reported to the Board.
With the departure of Denise Wise, the top priority of the Board was to find a replacement. Mr. Ouansafi is that person. The Board, and the Housing Authority continue to focus on providing safe and sanitary housing for the many families with lower income.
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Public Housing Authority hires new executive director
MEDIA RELEASE from HPHA Dec 23, 2011
The Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) Board of Directors has appointed a new Executive Director to head the state’s public housing agency.
Effective Jan. 3, 2012, Hakim Ouansafi will become the ninth executive to serve HPHA since 1997.
He replaces Denise Wise who resigned in October 2011 for personal reasons.
Ouansafi is a native of Morocco and a US citizen for more than 20 years. He arrived in Hawaii 13 years ago from California. He is the father of three locally adopted siblings.
Ouansafi’s professional experience includes an extensive background in the private sector, working as a long-time executive in Hawaii’s hotel industry, and serving as a consultant on commercial and housing development projects.
Ouansafi is the volunteer Chairman for the nonprofit and charitable organization Muslim Association of Hawaii, and a volunteer board member for the federal law enforcement foundation (Hawaii chapter). He also is a civil service commissioner with the City & County of Honolulu.
The HPHA Board unanimously approved Ouansafi’s appointment during its December meeting. Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Patricia McManaman told the HPHA Board that Mr. Ouansafi’s application “really stood out.”
Board Chairman David Gierlach previously told a legislative committee that hiring a new executive director “with excellent management skills” demonstrates the agency’s commitment to improvements and change.
The HPHA is administratively attached to DHS and manages more than 6,000 public housing units scattered across 80-plus sites statewide.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved Ouansafi’s selection Dec. 12. HUD is a major source of federal funding to HPHA and oversees compliance of federal housing laws involving HPHA.
The HPHA’s mission is to provide Hawaii residents with affordable housing and shelter without discrimination. Efforts focus on operating and maintaining low income public housing, administering a large Housing Choice Voucher program, and striving for the efficient and fair delivery of housing services to the people of Hawaii.
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