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Thursday, December 21, 2000

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Stender: Let’s run
OHA like a business

Trustees will meet Tuesday
to get organized and talk over
the issues of leadership

By Pat Omandam

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs would be more efficient if it were run like a private business and not like the state Legislature, said OHA Trustee Oswald Stender.

Moreover, all nine trustees should be equally responsible for setting OHA policy rather than the board chairperson, which is akin to the problematic lead trustee system formerly used by the Bishop Estate that left one trustee in charge, he said. "I don't think that's appropriate, and I don't think that's appropriate for OHA," Stender said.

"I would like to talk about these committees, these trustees chair. I think there's a better process to make it more efficient.

"If we can run it like a corporation, where the trustees are policy makers, we set the direction and we organize the structure to make it work, and step aside and let the management do the work, and I think the process will be a lot more efficient," said the former Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustee.

The entire OHA board was sworn into office yesterday and trustees will meet officially for the first time Tuesday to discuss board leadership.

A reorganization meeting originally scheduled for tomorrow was postponed after the state Attorney General's Office issued an opinion this week saying the trustees needed to be sworn in before they could officially call a board meeting.

While many trustees were disappointed at the delay, they will abide by it, said Trustee Haunani Apoliona.

"It seems to us it's a misguided opinion and it's slowing down the work that we want to do," she said yesterday.

"But I think the consensus among the trustees is we will organize on the 26th."

Apoliona, who has played down reports that she will be elected OHA chairwoman, said there is continuing discussion about leadership.

Stender said yesterday that he has not offered to become chairman.

Clayton Hee, who as senior trustee spoke at yesterday's OHA investiture at Kawaihao Church to formally welcome the new board, believes OHA must change if it wants to do more for Hawaiians. Trustees must consider whether it should become an independent corporation or perhaps evolve into a private non-profit trust, he said.

"Collectively, we must consider new ideas and not be complacent nor accept the reality that the OHA we know today will be the same tomorrow," Hee said. "It will not. It cannot."

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