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Saturday, June 17, 2000

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Some OHA
trustees complain
of staffers’ favoritism

But one OHA observer says
what is needed is to 'stop
all the ego tripping'

By Crystal Kua


Some Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees are accusing some administrative staffers of playing favorites among trustees and undermining the work of coming up with an operating budget for the fiscal year that begins in two weeks.

The accusations came as members of the current board majority were successful in voting down an office reorganization plan supported by the staff and members of the former board majority.

But OHA Administrator Randall Ogata said that the goal of the agency's staff is to serve all members of the board and the beneficiaries.

"I think we need more teamwork here at the trustee level," trustee Louis Hao said.

To some OHA watchers, the struggle for the board to agree on reorganization and a budget is typical.

"What we have to do is stop all the acrimony," observer Virginia Kepano told the board. "Stop all the ego-tripping."

Ogata began reorganizing OHA's administrative framework from 11 divisions to four last year under OHA's former majority trustees.

In presentation to the board, Ogata said yesterday the restructuring would allow for more efficient use of OHA's resources and manpower and would provide greater financial accountability.

But key members of the Budget and Finance Committee have voiced disapproval of Ogata's reorganization and wanted Ogata to present a budget under the old organizational structure.

When that presentation did not materialize, the committee voted to come up with its own plan.

Budget Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona presented the board with a new reorganization plan of seven divisions.

But instead of putting that plan to a vote, the reorganization supported by the staff was tabled.

The meeting became a venue at which several board member complained about a lack of support from the administrative staff when they ask for information and help.

"I think at one budget and finance committee meeting, I felt our work was being undermined," Apoliona said.

Trustee Mililani Trask, who supported the administrative staff's reorganization, said she has not had trouble getting information from the staff.

Ogata said he believes the staff supports the trustees, but a perception of a lack of support may be because of the timeliness of staff responses.

Apoliona said her committee will meet Monday to develop a new budget. She said there's still time to approve an operating budget before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

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