Stacked Deck

As I’ve mentioned before, there are Native Hawaiians who are opposed to the Akaka Bill.  This is not such an incredible notion.  After all, there’s no requirement that one must close one’s eyes to the problems in the Bill just because of one’s ethnic heritage.

And it is equally obvious that OHA supports the Akaka Bill.  Though the word “support” drastically understates their approach.  There are professional cheerleaders that would feel that OHA goes a bit overboard in its efforts to hype up the Bill.  It’s hard to say how much of their money and staff time they are currently devoting to lobbying for passage of the Akaka Bill, but it’s obviously a central priority.  And why wouldn’t it be?  There’s plenty of debate over the far-reaching impact of the Akaka Bill in Hawaii, but one thing that is certain is that OHA will benefit greatly.  Already entrenched as the elite governing “voice” of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii, OHA is situated to be hugely influential in implementing a new Native Hawaiian government.  Take that for what it is.  I’m not saying that OHA is anything less than perfectly aboveboard and transparent.  I’m just saying that they have a lot of money and a lot of political power and are lobbying to get more.

Of course, this has made some Native Hawaiians a bit uneasy.  So uneasy, in fact, that they filed suit against OHA, challenging its expenditures in support of the Akaka Bill.  Though it would seem reasonable that Native Hawaiians would like to see a little more balance in OHA’s political machinations (especially when using money from the Trust), it seems that the Average Kimo has very little say in how OHA can spend his money.  In Day v. Apoliona, the Courts interpreted the OHA mission in a way that gives the OHA Trustees enormous leeway in how they choose to fulfill OHA’s mission . . . up to and including the Akaka lobbying efforts.  It makes you wonder what wouldn’t be allowed as part of the OHA mission.  It seems like pretty much anything that uses the word “Hawaiian” is fair game.  What’s worse is that this closes another avenue for Native Hawaiians to question OHA’s expenditures and priorities.  So much for accountability.  Perhaps it’s time that Native Hawaiians start asking some hard questions about who they trust to administer their Trust.

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