by Andrew Walden
In spite of short notice, sixty angry Hawaiians gathered at Hilo’s Keaukaha Elementary School Wednesday night to tell OHA trustees and members of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs what they think of OHA’s proposed ceded lands revenue settlement.
Reps. Mele Carroll (D-Hana, Molokai, Lanai) and Maile Shimabukuro (D-Waianae) of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs came to Hilo to hear the testimony. OHA trustees present included Haunani Apoliona, Robert Lindsey, and Colette Machado. They were joined by Jonathan L. Scheuer, OHA attorney Bill Meheula, and OHA Administrator Clyde Namuo.
Just as with the 2008 settlement proposal, testimony in Hilo was 100% opposed to OHA receiving any ceded lands revenue. Speakers were angry and emotional. OHA Trustees and staff left at 7PM to “catch a flight.” In contrast, Rep Mele Carroll said she was staying “all night if necessary.” Said Carroll, “If I gotta hear the raw stuff that’s OK too. We don’t get out enough.” The OHA trustees did not specify whether they were flying first class or coach.
Hawaiian Airlines flight #241 departs Hilo for Honolulu at 9:09PM. Keaukaha Elementary School is adjacent to Hilo Airport. Gerald Kalihi told the departing Trustees: “When you come here don’t tell us you gotta catch the plane.”
The chair of the Keaukaha Community Association complained he had heard about the hearing only the evening before. He said, “In spite of short notice plenty of people come. A lot of these Hawaiians come with hate. (Trustees) are scared to comer to Keaukaha." In contrast to last years public meeting, no representatives of Hilo’s business community spoke at the hearing.
Most of those who spoke felt that OHA was taking from Hawaiians rather than giving to them. Said one: “After you guys take your cut, how does that affect the rest of us Hawaiians? We cannot make any more claims after that.”
Gamely trying to defend OHA, Meheula pointed out: “This only has to do with OHA. We’re trying to get the most we can.”
That was one point those testifying at the hearing agreed on. As one explained: “You guys (OHA trustees) got the monetary value, we got the shaft. You stealing ‘em. You guys only topping off for yourselves.”
A Panaewa Hawaiian Homelands resident pointed out: “The ceded lands belong to God, not OHA.”
Another Hawaiian Homelands resident pointed out: “(When OHA was established in the 1978 ConCon) you changed to 49.9% and less (blood quantum) and my 25% children not going to get s*** from you guys.”
Keaukaha resident Albert Kalihi said, “Why not resolve it for the Hawaiian people (instead of for OHA)? I’m tired of being ignored. You wasting all of our time. I wish somebody would do something.”
Kilauea Marciel, a registered nurse said: “I don’t understand why the OHA is in charge of us and our complaints and our needs. Who do we go to that not on the State payroll? I go around begging for medicine to help homeless Hawaiians. OHA doesn’t help.”
Mililani Trask explained “OHA is a state agency guilty of breach of trust and mismanagement.” She argued that OHA’s policy of creating non-profit corporations to manage its growing property empire was a scheme to personally enrich individual trustees and create a power base for them at the expense of OHA’s Hawaiian beneficiaries.
Hawaii County Council member Emily Naeole argued: “The State owe us money. We no need take ‘em in land. This whole mana`o is a ripoff. Give us back our stuff we can take care of ourselves.”
Kale Gumapac of the Kanaka Council pointed out: “You’ve lost sight of why you’ve been created.”
Former OHA trustee Moani Keala Akaka asked: “What are you guys doing to us while you are playing with our resources and losing them….” She pointed out that the trustees are, “Playing a game of ‘lets see how long we can distract them while we take their money.’”
A speaker who identified himself only as Balthazar said: “Anything that OHA does, I don’t believe they are doing it for my benefit. The tribal Kau Inoa list is an illegal list. Build Hawaiian Homes instead of going to Europe to recruit new Hawaiians. You guys not ready for help the people or help the `aina.”
Roy Takalao asked: “Why you going to steal for? Stealing is wrong.”
Hearings also were held in Kailua-Kona and on Kauai. The last hearing is Saturday at 10AM at the State Capitol.
RELATED: February 28, 2008 Hawaiians reject OHA ‘settlement’ proposal