When you’re a blogger, you dream about finding something as neatly symbolic as today’s OHA filing against the state for past due land revenues. How lucky is it to find a perfect storm of problems and issues to define everything about Hawaii that makes you want to pull your hair out? Race problems? Economic issues? A government that puts problems off for later so that they can get worse and more divisive? It’s all there.
As you may have heard, OHA has filed a writ of mandamus against the State seeking to compel the legislature to act regarding the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in past due ceded land revenues. (OHA has submitted proposals for payment to the Legislature for the past three years, but the proposals have all been rejected.) You gotta love the timing here, considering that the country (and state) are still reeling from the economic downturn. Especially in light of the recent legislative session, teacher negotiations, and so on. The State isn’t exactly swimming in funds, and OHA seems to be determined to make itself more unpopular in its ham-fisted approach to the issue. I’m sure the average Hawaii taxpayer will be thrilled by this turn of events.
Though one wonders whether the average Hawaii taxpayer has given up and is busy drinking mojitos on the beach rather than deal with an elected leadership that has created a tradition of avoiding hard decisions. Sure, there are those who buck the trend, but I don’t see OHA deciding that they’ll just write off $200 million any time soon. So this isn’t a problem that is going away. Instead, it promises to add to the already growing divisiveness about race, the ceded lands, sovereignty, and the Islands. Honestly, it’s a little depressing sometimes to watch the slow erosion of the island spirit thanks to these issues.
But hey, at least the weather is awesome and the beaches are great. People from crummier locales probably have nothing better to do than engage in responsible governance.