OHA board nowThere is depth, youth and balance on the new Office of Hawaiian Affairs board, which for the first time will include an elected non-Hawaiian trustee, Charles Ota.
accountable to all
A balance is seen between
the next generation and
established native leaders
By Pat Omandam
Moreover, these new trustees say that while they will work toward the betterment of native Hawaiians, they acknowledge a responsibility to the general public that put them in office.
"For the first time in the history of our state, non-Hawaiians as well as Hawaiians will be accountable in so far as them casting ballots," said trustee-elect Clayton Hee. "As importantly, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, in my opinion, is accountable not just to the Hawaiian people but to all the people."
Joining Hee and Ota on the board are former trustees Rowena Akana, Haunani Apoliona, Colette Machado and Donald Cataluna. The newcomers are John D. Waihee IV, Linda Dela Cruz and Oswald Stender, a former Bishop Estate trustee.
Stender said he hopes to bring closure to what some say is a dysfunctional board and to involve the expertise found in Hawaii's alii trusts as well as other Hawaiian agencies.
"If all the Hawaiian service providers can come together and work together, I think it will make a more functional board, and we could really meet the needs of the Hawaiian people," Stender said.
"There's a lot of issues that need to be dealt with, and with the help of the other alii trusts, I think OHA can do it," he said.
Waihee, who at age 30 displaces 47-year-old Hee as the youngest member on the new board, said early this morning that he was surprised to make the final cut. As expected, name recognition was a significant factor in an election that fielded 96 candidates for nine seats.
"I'm just glad to be up there with these big names," said Waihee. "To get a seat is unbelievable. I just feel very humbled."
Also thankful was Akana, whose second-place finish between Stender and Waihee assured her of a return to the koa board table she chaired more than a year ago.
Akana said she was lukewarm to the idea of a non-Hawaiian on the board, and attributed Ota's victory to party politics. "I think clearly, the Democratic Party had a hand in this outcome, and it's very scary to think that someone who is a non-native can actually buy a seat," Akana said.
Stender said it doesn't matter whether trustees are Hawaiian when you're looking for talent and people to help the agency.
Ota, 76, could not be reached late last night.
Apoliona said she doesn't know Ota, but believes his business and government background can help. She said the new board is a balance between the next generation and the established native leaders.
Of the eight appointed interim trustees up for election, only Ota, Hee and Machado were returned to office. Hee said the interim board's 60-day term in office was not long enough for them to become familiar names and win against candidates with strong name recognition.
"I'm grateful that I was able to amass the number of votes that I received. I could not have amassed that number without non-Hawaiian participation," Hee said.
The new board will be sworn in after a 20-day election challenge period that ends Nov. 27. Hee, who heads OHA's interim board, said he plans to contact each of the new trustees to discuss the board's reorganization.
With three new trustees, there is no clear front-runner for the board chairmanship. Apoliona, Machado and Cataluna ran as a coalition, and their faction could form the foundation for a new majority leadership.
"I think, basically, it will not be business as usual," Apoliona predicted.
Meet the new OHA trustees
Age: Not given
Counselor. Resigned her OHA trustee seat after the Rice vs. Cayetano Supreme Court decision, and was not reappointed by Gov. Ben Cayetano.
Resigned her OHA trustee seat and was not reappointed by the governor. She is a musician and former president/ CEO of Alu Like Inc.
Retired sugar company executive; Kauai Community College lecturer. Was appointed by Gov. Cayetano to OHA board, but resigned with other members and was not reappointed.
Linda Dela Cruz
Homemaker. Was a singer and musician for 40 years, known as "Hawaii's Canary," and has also operated a hula school.
Chairman, OHA interim Board of Trustees; has been on OHA board for last 10 years and chairman for eight years. He was also a state senator and state representative.
Educator, businesswoman. Was reappointed to her OHA board seat as an interim trustee after she and the other board members resigned on Sept. 8.
Interim trustee. He is the first non-Hawaiian to serve on the OHA board. He is a businessman, former Maui County councilman and former University of Hawaii regent.
Real estate consultant/broker and vice president of American Land Co. He was also a Bishop Estate trustee and the chief executive officer of the Campbell Estate.
John Waihee IV
A newcomer to politics, Waihee is a bar manager and the son of former Gov. John Waihee.
Haunani Apoliona, right, plays her guitar as Colette Machado sings during their campaign party in Nuuanu. The two were among the nine successful candidates for OHA trustee.
The newly elected Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees are urging the appointed interim board to refrain from taking any action before the new board is sworn in.
Interim board urged to
stand down, let
elected trustees make
The appointees have reversed
previous actions and moved on
new issues during their term
By Pat Omandam
"To me, those interim trustees who lost (last night's election), if they have any ethics and principles, they will stand down already," said trustee-elect Haunani Apoliona.
"They will say, 'No more decision-making on our part -- only emergencies,'" she said.
State law allows the outgoing OHA board to remain in office until after the 20-day election challenge period, after which the newly elected trustees are sworn in and able to reorganize the nine-member body.
That means the interim trustees -- who have both reversed the actions of previous boards as well as moved on new issues during their 60 days in office -- have until Nov. 27 to conduct business.
The next interim board meeting is Monday. The nine interim trustees were appointed by Gov. Ben Cayetano after the elected board resigned following the Rice vs. Cayetano decision. Their resignations prompted all nine seats to be up for election this year.
Trustee-elect Rowena Akana believes the interim trustees went beyond their temporary duties in the past two months in such actions as the proposed purchase of the downtown post office building and the study into a community-based bank.
"These are huge decisions that they have no right making those kinds of decisions for the future of our Hawaiian people," Akana said.
Interim board Chairman Clayton Hee, who was re-elected yesterday to his Oahu seat, said there are some time-sensitive legal issues the interim board must take up soon. But he said the purchase of the post office will likely be left up to the new board.
Ota too busy at Maui ranch to watch returnsWAILUKU -- While some people were watching election returns yesterday evening, 76-year-old Office of Hawaiian Affairs interim trustee Charles Ota had other things that needed doing.
He was out on his Maui ranch mending fences damaged during a rainstorm.
Ota, who lists his assets at $9.5 million, making him the wealthiest OHA trustee, follows a fairly strict routine. He goes to sleep by 8 p.m. and often is awake by about 4 to 4:30 a.m., according to his wife.
He was unavailable for comment last night, after returns showed he had won election to the Maui seat.
Hee blames at-large undervotes on 'plunking'Office of Hawaiian Affairs interim Chairman Clayton Hee believes the reason there were 237,582 "undervotes" in the special election for the three OHA at-large seats is a combination of people not knowing the candidates and "plunking."
Undervotes represent potential votes that were not cast and are an indication of plunking.
Plunking involves voting for only one candidate when you have the option of voting for more than one candidate. It is a way to maximize the effect of a vote for a single candidate in a multicandidate race.
But with so many candidates in the at-large race, Hee said on KITV last night that plunking was not the only factor. He said many people may just not have known who to vote for.