Thursday, December 23, 1999

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OHA near the
deadline for filling
Kauai position

If they cannot agree on
a selection next week, the
pick falls to Gov. Cayetano

By Pat Omandam


With about a week left to fill the vacancy themselves, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees will try one last time on Tuesday to pick an interim Kauai trustee from two finalists.

But if six of the eight trustees cannot agree on a replacement for Moses Keale before Dec. 31, the decision will fall to Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Cayetano has stepped in before, choosing in April 1998 educator Gladys Brandt as interim trustee when the OHA board could not agree on a successor to the late Billie Beamer. OHA chairwoman Rowena Akana hopes history does not repeat itself.

"We intend to do everything possible to select a trustee, and not allow the governor to pick," said Akana, who had no further comment on the issue yesterday.

The board will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Outrigger Kauai Beach Hotel. The two finalists are attorney Warren Perry and activist/sailor/photographer Randy Wichman.

Keale retired on Oct. 31 after serving as trustee since 1980. By law, the board has 60 days to fill the vacancy.

Seventeen candidates applied for the seat representing Kauai and Niihau. But due to a lack of quorum at a Nov. 15 Kauai board meeting, no selection was made. The five trustees in attendance, however, were able to narrow the list to seven candidates.

On Dec. 1, the board met again on Kauai, but disagreed on a replacement. Five trustees backed Wichman, while two others supported Perry. Trustee A. Frenchy DeSoto did not attend the meeting.

Basically, there is a disagreement among trustees because both candidates have ties to the board.

Wichman is a Lihue native who earned a diploma from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Massachusetts in 1979 and a U.S. Coast Guard captain's license in 1988. He is currently a docent, caretaker and photographer for the community group Na Kahu Hikinia A Ka La.

Wichman's grandmother is Brandt, who is no longer on the board.

Perry is in private practice, and is board chairman of Alu Like Inc., a nonprofit group providing multiservice programs to Hawaiians. In 1996, Perry ran for the OHA board as part of a slate of candidates that included Haunani Apoliona, Hannah Springer and Colette Machado -- all current trustees. Keale defeated Perry in the election.

Apoliona said yesterday she questions whether there will be enough trustees to form a quorum Tuesday, given the short meeting notice and the holiday season. And there are no signs any of the trustees will change their vote, she said.

Apoliona said she and Machado continue to favor Perry because he is better qualified. She said a growing number of Kauai residents in past weeks have voiced their support of Perry to trustees.

The interim trustee will serve until the candidate who wins the Kauai seat in the 2000 OHA elections takes office next November. Apoliona, Springer and Machado are up for re-election next year.

OHA Special

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