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Monday, September 11, 2000

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Cayetano picks
five for interim
OHA board

The governor says the
appointees can 'reach common
ground rather than engage in rhetoric'

By Pat Omandam

Gov. Ben Cayetano named five of the nine interim trustee appointments to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs this morning and expects to name the remaining four, including a non-Hawaiian, by the end of the week.

Sworn in this morning were former OHA Chairman Clayton Hee, former trustee Hannah Springer, longtime community leader Gladys Brandt, former Big Island and former OHA administrator Dante Carpenter and Ilei Beniamina of Niihau.

Cayetano reiterated that there were no deals struck with OHA trustees who resigned last Friday -- save one. He had every intention of naming Hee to serve the 60-day period before the Nov. 7 election.

The governor said that what was important for him was the standing of these people in the Hawaiian community, their experience, education and training.

Also, he needed people on the board who in the next 60 days would raise the level of discussion at OHA to create some meaningful dialogue. These trustees are able to "reach common ground rather than engage in rhetoric," he said.

Hee said the five trustees will hold an organizational meeting today, at which time he will ask to serve as chairman. There is an urgency because the OHA chairman is expected to testify on Wednesday in support of the Akaka bill before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Along with an interim board chairman, Hee also will suggest that the trustees choose someone as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. OHA must prepare its biennium budget and submit it to the state Legislature in December.

Cayetano said he would like to see the interim board use more of OHA's $375 million trust to help Hawaiians, something previous boards could not agree upon.

The governor said it was difficult to get people to serve as interim trustees. He had asked younger, equally qualified people to serve during this short period, but they declined.

Cayetano said his remaining four appointments should show people that he made no deal to appoint former trustees. And he said he also will look at non-Hawaiian people to serve as an interim trustee.

"If I could, there would have been nine people standing here," Cayetano said today. "But it's not easy to get people to come forward for this office."

The governor also said that the inability to fill the OHA seats was why he chose people who are running for the OHA board this fall.

Four of the five trustees sworn in today by Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Paula Nakayama said they will seek election to the board.

Brandt said she is willing to serve only as an interim trustee.

Cayetano declined to comment on a protest planned this afternoon in front of Washington Place by supporters of former trustee Mililani Trask.

She has alleged that the governor plans to reorganize the board with members who favor the state's position on a ceded-lands settlement.

The governor responded by saying that no settlement would be reached in the 60 days that these people will serve; he said it may take the rest of his two years in office to reach a settlement.

Brandt, a longtime Kamehameha Schools educator, served as an interim OHA trustee in 1998 following the death of Billie Beamer. The former University of Hawaii regent takes the seat held by Trask.

Beniamina is a tenured professor at Kauai Community College who speaks fluent Hawaiian. Beniamina, who is the niece of retired trustee Moses Keale, is only the second trustee to serve from Niihau.

She takes over the seat held by appointed trustee Donald Cataluna.

Carpenter is a former state senator who serves as a delegate to the Native Hawaiian Convention. He replaces Rowena Akana.

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