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Saturday, February 26, 2000

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
In the shadow of Iolani Palace yesterday, Healani
Sonoda, left, Noble Kaluhiokalani and Alika Lambert
are among Ka Lahui members discussing the U.S.
Supreme Court decision allowing non-Hawaiians
to vote for OHA trustees.

Sovereignty group
urges OHA to found
Hawaiian nation

Legislators hear opinions
Readers speak out

By Pat Omandam


OHA logo The sovereignty group Ka Lahui Hawaii, in light of this week's Rice vs. Cayetano decision, has called on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to use its $375 million trust to establish a federally recognized Hawaiian nation and regain control over native lands and resources.

And Ka Lahui members say they have just the plan to do that.

Healani Sonoda, assistant coordinator of Ka Lahui's Project Hawaiian Justice, said the group will meet today discuss a plan to establish a confederation of Hawaiian organizations she hopes will lead to a consensus on sovereignty. The plan is based on Ka Lahui's blueprint for sovereignty, supported by its 18,000 members.

The meeting was to be held at noon at the University of Hawaii's Center for Hawaiian Studies.

Sonoda said Wednesday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said the state's Hawaiians-only voting restriction for OHA was illegal, confirmed the need for a federally recognized Hawaiian nation.

Furthermore, she said, it clarifies the state does not have the authorization to recognize a Hawaiian nation, and that the authority lies with the federal government.

"State-initiated sovereignty is insufficient," Sonoda said.

The 7-2 Supreme Court decision said OHA was an arm of the state, even though it has a unique position under state law. It said the elections for OHA trustees are elections of the state, and not of a separate quasi-sovereign. As such, the elections come under the U.S. Constitution's Fifteenth Amendment, which gives all citizens the right to vote regardless of race or color.

Sonoda said Gov. Ben Cayetano's plans to replace eight of the current nine trustees on the OHA board is the state's attempt to seize OHA's assets to help balance the state budget.

The OHA board may challenge the move in court, but Sonoda said Ka Lahui wants to deal only with the federal government, and not with the state anymore.

Meanwhile, both Ka Lahui and OHA officials oppose efforts by the state Legislature to pass bills this session to comply with the Rice decision.

OHA Chairman Clayton Hee said this week the board believes Hawaiians should have the privilege of voting for OHA leaders.

"I don't think that the Hawaiian people would approve a system where the governor or someone else would make that decision, and take that prerogative and privilege away from them," Hee said.


Cayetano’s decision
on OHA trustees

Bullet John Contway, Kalihi: "Yes, I feel that the governor has the right to reappoint people to the OHA board of trustees, and I don't feel that Rowena Akana and Mililani Trask realize the consequences of calling for civil disobedience which I have seen to lead to riots ... "

Bullet Colan Aranio, Makaha: "I believe we should not remove the trustees because we need local people voting for local Hawaiian issues -- because if we put people who are maybe Japanese or haoles, they're not sensitive to our lifestyle or really our religious beliefs and our way of life ..."

Bullet Huddy Iaea, Liliha: "I disagree with Ben, the governor, for dismissal (of) all the OHA. He's wrong. He should let the Hawaiians vote them out of office. That's what would be better."

Bullet Katherine Bush, McCully: "I disagree with Gov. Cayetano's decision to replace ... the elected OHA trustees; the reason being is that I feel that this was already done. You cannot undo a wrong that has been done, and also it has to come from the federal government ... "

Bullet Deena Ahakuelo, Kapahulu: "I disagree with Gov. Cayetano's decision to replace all except one of the trustees. My feeling is that it was the vote of the Hawaiian people. Who is he to say that it is an invalid vote? I believe that justices just said that the way we hold our election is invalid ... "

Bullet Jerry Norris, Waikiki: "I'm totally opposed to what Gov. Cayetano is trying to do. He has no legal basis to stand on. The Supreme Court decision was a summary decision. It still has to revert back down to the 9th Circuit and then to the federal courts to make a determination about how to fix the problem. ... "

Bullet Eli Kawai, Kakaako: "An OHA voter, I disagree. The governor should wait for the legal effects of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to filter down to his level. At that time, I'm sure any required actions will become clear to everyone. ..."

Bullet M.S. Lee, Wahiawa: "I disagree with the governor. As always, he makes up -- he opens his mouth and makes a decision before he even reads the brief. Why doesn't he wait before he says something? I think this is going to cause a lot of problems."

Bullet Robert Mole, Waianae: "I think the governor should leave the trustees in office there. I have a thought in my mind that he's trying to undermine the whole process there by putting people in that would do things the way he wanted them to and its not the way it should have been done."

Bullet Michael McKinnon, North Shore: "Yes, I absolutely do agree with Gov. Cayetano's decision. In my opinion these trustees are just trying to save their jobs and running for cover and trying to pull out all the stops -- again -- in an effort to just save their jobs. I don't think they're speaking for the Hawaiian people, as they lay claim to in their interviews and so forth ... "

Bullet Mokihana Watson, Waipahu: "I disagree with Gov. Cayetano's decision to replace all but one of the elected OHA trustees. Obviously the governor has had a history with dealing with the Hawaiian people and the monies that are owed to the Hawaiian people -- and in my opinion he's taking this opportunity to seize all that are Hawaiians' benefits for the Hawaiian beneficiaries ... "

Bullet R.W. Parkinson, Waikiki: "I agree completely with Gov. Cayetano. This has been way overdue, and that's the only thing he really can do."

Bullet Don Hanaike, Kaneohe: "I am a part-Hawaiian. I disagree with Gov. Ben Cayetano's decision to replace all but one of the elected OHA trustees. My reason is that it would be very, very disruptive to remove people now or in 30 days and would completely change everything that has to be done in that operation ... He should leave it there until elections which will be held this fall and then put all of them up for -- except for the one he appointed -- put all of them up for election ... "

Bullet Colleen Shishido, Kaneohe: "I don't think he should replace the trustees."

Bullet Dick Neill, Aiea: "I strongly disagree with the governor. I favor the position that Senate President (Norman) Mizuguchi said. He should reappoint the present trustees because they were essentially duly elected by the state. And this business of being dysfunctional -- yes, they have had their problems, but they're the best bet right now to keep some sense of stability in the system. ... "

Bullet Chris Hong, Aiea: "I disagree with Gov. Cayetano's assessment of this -- because these people were elected. Sure, the Supreme Court said that the election of -- by certain racial groups -- is not proper. But the point is they were elected -- and what ticks me off is his immediate concern that this board is dysfunctional. That's not his problem. The problem is one of the people -- the group of Hawaiians who elected these people to this office; let them throw them out of office the next time around, but I think he should reappoint them all despite the fact they may be dysfunctional. ..."

Bullet Mark Trexler, Waialua: "I agree with Gov. Ben Cayetano. The highest court in the land has made a decision based upon the Constitution of the United States. ... The Supreme Court's decision was really a victory for everyone, including Hawaiians."

OHA Special

Rice vs. Cayetano arguments

Rice vs. Cayetano decision

E-mail to City Desk

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