Category Archives: Hawaii

Grassroot Institute Releases Annual Report

I confess to a great dependence on Annual Reports.  When you’re seeking information on grants and granting agencies, sometimes few things can tell you as much about an organization as what they choose to tell you–which is why I am such an avid reader of OHA’s reports.  Well, what’s good for the goose and such.  Much as OHA looks with satisfaction at its own projects, so do we at Grassroot.  And our aims aren’t as different as you might think.  We both want to improve Hawaii and the situation of all Hawaiians.  It’s just how we interpret that and carry it out that makes all the difference.  And also budget.  I’m willing to bet that OHA spends more on office supplies than we do on . . . well, pretty much anything.  But I digress.  The point today is to let you know about our newly-released Annual Report.

Consider it the curse of being active–by the time you finish describing all the accomplishments and activities of your previous year, you’re already well into a busy and productive new year.  And yet, it would be a shame not to draw attention to the recently published Grassroot Institute of Hawaii Annual Report for 2010.  We’re proud of what we’ve done to champion liberty and accountability in Hawaii over 2010, and we’re continuing that work now (and with your help and support) into the future.

From the Pork Report to our transparency efforts to our investigation into Special Funds, Grassroot Hawaii is doing work that no one else in the Islands has.  Please, check out our Annual Report and considerbecoming a member of the Grassroot Institute today! Joining is as little as $25-$50 and marks you as one of the few and proud defenders of liberty in Hawaii.  (Click here to go to our Join/Donation page.)

 

A Lack of Resolution

Over on Hawaii Reporter (which I swear doesn’t do anything to get all these mentions here except produce a broader and more fearless variety of opinions than the vast majority of other Hawaii news sources), Ken Conklin has an interesting take on the most recent effort of the Hawaii Legislature to rewrite history.  The article is worth reading in its entirety (not least of all for the impassioned discussion of the ultimate effect of these endless muddled legislative exercises in pandering), but here are the highlights:

House Concurrent Resolution 107 (HCR107) in the Hawaii legislature would establish “a joint legislative investigating committee to investigate the status of two executive agreements entered into in 1893 between United States President Grover Cleveland and Queen Liliuokalani of the Hawaiian Kingdom, called the Liliuokalani assignment and the agreement of restoration.”

The investigating committee would be empowered to “Issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of the witnesses and subpoenas duces tecum requiring the production of books, documents, records, papers, or other evidence in any matter pending before the joint investigating committee; … Administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses at hearings of the joint investigating committee; Report or certify instances of contempt as provided in section 21—14, Hawaii Revised Statutes …”

….

The purpose of such an investigation is not merely to do academic research on an obscure historical question from 118 years ago. The purposes are to claim that the U.S. had an obligation to restore Liliuokalani to the throne; and to claim that the obligation of the President of the United States continues to this day to restore the Kingdom of Hawaii to its former status as an independent nation.

Throughout my nineteen years in Hawaii I have seen the legislature repeatedly pass bills and resolutions encouraging some sort of race-based Hawaiian political entity, or sovereign independence. Year after year: Let’s pay for an election of delegates to a Native Hawaiian convention, and years of their travel expenses for meetings, so they can choose the tribal concept or write a constitution for an independent nation; let’s pass a resolution in 2002 asking the United Nations to investigate the legitimacy of Hawaii’s admission to statehood in 1959; let’s support the Akaka bill in Congress; let’s proclaim April 30 of every year a permanent holiday called “Hawaiian Restoration Day”; let’s create a state-recognized tribe with a state-only version of the Akaka bill; let’s transfer $200 Million in land or money to OHA; etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Why? All these legislative actions have accomplished is to stir up racial animosity, feelings of entitlement, etc. Hopes are raised for some people who want land and money from the rest of us, and then those hopes come crashing down. Over and over again. Remember the Aloha Airlines plane that had a huge hole ripped out of its side in mid-flight, due to metal fatigue caused by too many takeoffs and landings? That’s what resolutions like this are doing to all Hawaii’s people, and to ethnic Hawaiians in particular.

NB: Be sure to read the whole article to see the main points of Mr. Conklin’s testimony against the Resolution.

Fact Check on the Journal

The Wall Street Journal has a nice little feature piece about the effort to restore the furnishings in Iolani Palace.  As is so often the case with features, it’s heavy on the neat-o factor, and maybe not-so-rigorous on the historical fact checking.  As a general rule, I like the Journal.  And I like the whole historical restoration thing.  I once spent an entire Saturday glued to an Antiques Roadshow marathon.  So I get the whole Hawaiian-heirlooms-might-be-in-your-attic approach of the piece.  But I also can’t let them slide on historical revisionism, and unfortunately, there’s a bit of inaccuracy to the piece, primarily this paragraph:

But much of the 19th-century palace’s custom-made furniture, oil paintings and other treasures disappeared after January 1893, when a small band of businessmen overthrew the monarchy.

The people of Hawaii need to take a little more pride in and responsibility for the democratic revolt that led to the end of the monarchy.  Monarchies are lovely romantic things when you get the leisure of looking back on them, but most of us prefer the liberty and rights that flow from our representative democracy.  Anyway, thanks to Ken Conklin, whose addition to the comments section clears up this slight inaccuracy:

Contrary to the article’s description, the Hawaiian revolution of 1893 was not done merely by a group of American businessmen.  About 1500 men had met in the Armory a couple days earlier to rally for the revolution, and the largest contingent among them were Portuguese.  Half of the members of the Committee of Safety, who led the revolution, were native-born subjects of the Kingdom.

It is certainly true that there was vandalism at the Palace, which is typical of every revolution worldwide.  And later the revolutionary Provisional Government held an auction and sold off many of the treasures from the Palace — but the Palace and its contents were the property of the government both before and after the revolution, so the government had every right to sell them.  The ex-queen’s private home a couple blocks away was never vandalized, and none of her private property was stolen.

Hearing on Native Hawaiian Contracting Preferences

If you’ve been following our notes on questionable contracting preferences for Native Hawaiian Organizations and Alaska Native Corporations, you’ll know that a few hardworking journalists have been raising questions about these practices, most notably in Hawaii Reporter and the Washington Post.  (Hawaii Reporter has found that Native Hawaiian organizations have been able to use this special status to gain $500 million in reduced-competition or no-bid contracts since 2005.)

Well, finally someone is responding to the questions being raised about the fairness and efficacy of this system.  Senator Inouye has called for hearings on the SBA contracting preference rules.

Oh no–not to pursue the issue about the propriety of the preferences.  Don’t make me laugh.  Senator Inouye would cut taxes or dance nude on Leno before doing that.  No, Senator Inouye is calling for these hearings in order to give supporters of the preferences (especially the organizations that benefit from them) the chance to publicly justify and defend them.  Ain’t democracy grand?

More on Native Hawaiian Companies

For those who were intrigued by the Hawaii Reporter investigative work on the rise of Native Hawaiian Companies (and their somewhat incestuous relationship with government spending and granting), there’s more to be learned via the rise of Alaska Native Corporations.  A recent piece from the Alaska Dispatch sends about the success (and questions it raises) of the ANCs that gives a clue to where Hawaii may soon be headed:

In the face of explosive growth, and the huge financial successes and sometime extreme abuses that have occurred along the way, Alaska Native Corporations have come under heightened scrutiny, most notably by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who has pushed to end the contracting privileges of ANCs. It seems that for every success story about a company that’s used 8(a) contracting as a springboard to independence, there’s a concern raised somewhere about someone abusing the system. To combat the negative press and defend the privileges of indigenous people to fully engage their rights as uniquely situated business owners who are working for not just a handful of individuals but for entire communities, advocacy groups like Native 8(a) Works have also cropped up.

. . . .

This year news stories in Alaska and beyond have chronicled questionable contracts, high paid executives, and whether the money is making it back to the people Alaska Native Corporations are congressionally mandated to help — the impoverished people and communities of their region of origin. Most recently, articles by the Washington Post and ProPublica demonstrate how imperfect and thorny the intersection the of the U.S. government’s tribal obligations with politics, wealth and poverty, corporations and shareholders, taxes and accountability, can be.

Native Hawaiian organizations and their subsidiaries have only in the last several years begun to navigate the government contracting privileges that Alaska Native corporations have spent two decades learning to fully engage. If NHOs continue to follow the path cut by ANCs, they may well encounter great success. Should they find it, they can expect plenty of tough questions about what they’re doing, how they’re getting it done, who’s making money and who’s not, and whether taxpayers are getting a good value along the way.

The Lure of Bad History

A long time ago, in a state far, far, away, I was a history major.  In answer to the question already forming on the lips of some of my readers, no.  I did not want to be a teacher.  I was a history major because I liked history in general and I liked it a whole lot more than other things that one can major in. I also, quite obviously, had no notion whatsoever of useful majors for lucrative post-college careers.  But that’s not the point of being a history major.  The point of being a history major is the ability to watch movies and then bore your friends with a huffy catalog of historical inaccuracies therein.  Be kind to your history major friends as they do this.  They had to write 20-page examinations of the political situation in medieval France and have no other outlet for this knowledge.

And we do live in a world full of historical inaccuracies.  This is nothing new, of course.  The temptation to reframe history for one’s own purposes (or because of one’s own biases or learned biases) is an eternal one.  What’s important is that we recognize that tendency and work to prevent it from becoming the basis of bad policy.  No, I’m not just legitimizing your friend’s tendency to go on about the problems in the movie Titanic.  (A noble calling in itself.) To some extent, history can be a matter of interpretation, but we can’t just give bad facts and specious interpretations a pass.

And when it comes to Hawaiian history, boy do we have a minefield of inaccuracy.  Whether based on the desire to romanticize the past or a political agenda, very few things have become as distorted as Hawaii’s path to US statehood.  It can even rear its head in a simple corporate publication, as Ken Conklin’s recent article in the Hawaii Reporter demonstrates.  Conklin identifies and corrects a series of inaccuracies in a recent HMSA magazine. The article is worth reading in its entirety, but here is a small sample:

Jokiel writes “In the years following the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, the new government worked tirelessly to eradicate the Hawaiian language.” That’s totally false. Here’s what’s true.

Immediately after the revolution of January 17, 1893 royalist newspapers (both Hawaiian and English language ones) were suspended by the Provisional Government. That’s normal after any revolution. But after a few weeks all the newspapers resumed publication, with zero censorship.

Noenoe Silva published a book in 2004 entitled “Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism.” On page 181 Silva says there were both Hawaiian-language and English-language newspapers supporting Lili’uokalani after the overthrow and throughout the Republic period; and also newspapers in each language that were pro-Republic.

When the Republic of Hawaii was created in July of 1894, its Constitution was published in both English and Hawaiian. The continued publication of Hawaiian language newspapers, and publication of the Republic’s Constitution in Hawaiian, clearly disprove Jokiel’s assertion that “the new government worked tirelessly to eradicate the Hawaiian language.”

What Are the ‘Returned Lands’ of Hawaii?

By Jere Krischel

In an article titled “What are the ‘Ceded Lands’ of Hawaii?” written for Honolulu Civil Beat on 11/08/2010, Professor Van Dyke makes some critical errors in his assessment of both the history and the law.  While acknowledging the Supreme Court’s rejection of the “Apology Resolution,” he still relies on it for his “legal” justification.  While quoting from the Admissions Act of 1959, he omits a key clause that differentiates between “should” and “can.”  But most problematically, Van Dyke intimates that “Native Hawaiians” were somehow legally separate during the Kingdom period in Hawaii, and that the public lands that were returned to the State of Hawaii have some sort of racial lien on them.

The first red flag we should recognize in Van Dyke’s writing is the use of quotes around the term “illegal.”  In order for something to be illegal, we must have several things – a concrete body of law which was violated, a judiciary to arbitrate the dispute, and finally, a finding after a trial presenting both sides of the issue.  Without these necessary requirements, we are substituting personal opinion for legal fact.  Although PL103-150 (aka “The Apology Resolution”) uses the term “illegal” several times in describing the Hawaiian Revolution, it does not identify any specific law which was violated, any judiciary with jurisdiction over the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893, nor any trial which was conducted to determine guilt or innocence.

So can the “Apology Resolution” unilaterally declare the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893 illegal?  Absolutely not.  Ex post facto laws are explicitly forbidden by the U.S. Constitution –  one cannot simply pass a law which declares someone’s prior actions illegal.  Neither does the legislature have the authority to declare someone guilty as a matter of legal fact.  In recognition of this and the basic principles of statutory construction, the Supreme Court on March 31, 2009 firmly established that the “Apology Resolution” had no legally binding effect, stating that the “‘whereas’ clauses cannot bear the weight that the lower court placed on them.”

The second major mistake Van Dyke makes is a subtle, but important distinction between something that is necessary, and something that is allowable.  Van Dyke states that the 1959 Admissions Act demanded that “revenues from these lands should be used” for native Hawaiians.  This is a misread of the Admissions Act, which provided limits on what the revenues could be used for, not mandates.  The specific text of the Admissions Act reads, “such lands, proceeds, and income shall be managed and disposed of for one or more of the foregoing purposes…their use for any other object shall constitute a breach of trust…”

This means that the State of Hawaii could spend every penny on public education, and not a dime on the development of farm and home ownership.  Or, it could decide to spend everything on public improvements and provisions for public use of the lands, while not funding anything else.  Any combination of “one or more” would be legal according to the Admissions Act.  The only two things that would be a breach of trust would be to spend none of the revenue at all, or spend any of the revenue on a non-permissible use, such as supporting private schools, or the development of automobile ownership.

With his words Van Dyke echoes a misinterpretation of the Admissions Act that OHA has been intentionally cultivating for many years, using it to justify a 20% share of revenue from the public lands of the State of Hawaii to native Hawaiians (although OHA specifically ignores the blood quantum definition used in the Admissions Act).  By their rationale, exactly 20% should be allocated to farm and home ownership, exactly 20% should be allocated to public schools, exactly 20% should be allocated for public improvements, and the last 20% should be allocated to make public lands available for public use.  But the Admissions Act, as plainly read, has no such mandate whatsoever.

The most insidious misrepresentation Van Dyke makes, however, is regarding the citizenry of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the chain of ownership of the ‘ceded’ lands.

From its inception, the Kingdom of Hawaii was a multi-racial nation.  High Chief Olohana, otherwise known as John Young, fought beside Kamehameha the Great to establish the unified Kingdom, and was the grandfather of Queen Emma herself.  The first constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1840 stated boldly that all people were “of one blood,” and established equality between all races over 100 years before the modern civil rights movement in the United States.  Characterizing the Crown Lands or Government Lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii as being dedicated to only one race is a desecration of both the spirit and the laws of the Kingdom from which they came.

With his synopsis, Van Dyke perpetuates the fiction that the ‘Ceded Lands’ are still ‘ceded.’  But the truth is, they are now more properly called  the ‘Returned Lands.’  The Crown Lands and Government Lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii were consolidated into the Public Lands of the Republic of Hawaii in 1894.  These public lands (about 1.8 million acres) became the ‘Ceded Lands’ in 1898, when the Republic ceded them to the United States on the condition that the revenues and proceeds, except for the parts used for the civil, military or naval purposes of the U.S., “shall be used solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands.”  Van Dyke acknowledges that this created a “special trust”, but he carefully omits that the ‘Ceded Lands’ Trust was established for all the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands, not just for those of a specific ancestry.

When the Territory of Hawaii was established in 1900 by the Organic Act, it reiterated that the public lands were acquired by the United States in “absolute fee” under the Annexation Act, free from “all claim of any nature whatsoever.”  These ‘Ceded Lands’ finally became the ‘Returned Lands’, when the lands were returned to the public of the State of Hawaii as per the Admissions Act of 1959.  The circle was finally complete – what had originally been the public lands of all the people of the Kingdom of Hawaii, became the public lands of all the people of the State of Hawaii.

Placing exclusive racial claims upon the ‘Returned Lands’ is an abuse of the trust placed in the State of Hawaii, and a violation of our Constitutional guarantees of equal protection.  No matter how many times these false claims are repeated, and no matter how many myths are invented to justify such race-based distinctions, they will never become true, and will never be justified.  All of the inhabitants of Hawaii, regardless of ancestry, have a powerful claim to the ‘Returned Lands,’ as clearly demanded by the Organic Act and the legacy of the multi-racial Kingdom of Hawaii.

Equality for Native Hawaiians (and all other Americans)

By Jere Krischel

In a recent debate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9d_p7uLfVw), our local politicians once again deceptively framed the Akaka bill as one that would provide some sort of “parity” between Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians.

Djou stated, “I think Native Hawaiians should have the same self-determination rights as Native American Indians.”  Hanabusa identified herself as one of, “those who feel that Native Hawaiians should at least have the same rights as Native Americans and Native Alaskans.”

The problem is, they simply gloss over exactly what “rights” they’re talking about.  My cousin is part Native Hawaiian, and not part of any tribe.  My son is part Cherokee, and not part of any tribe.  Exactly what “rights” do Djou and Hanabusa think my son has that my cousin doesn’t?

Neither my cousin, nor my son, get any tribal benefits.  Neither of them have any inherent right to tribal lands, or casino income.  Neither of them have any right to tribal membership, or tribal governance.  But somehow, the Akaka Bill is supposed to bring the “rights” my son has as a Native American to my Native Hawaiian cousin.

Maybe what they really mean to say is that all Native Hawaiians, of even the smallest degree of ancestry, deserve parity with *tribal* members.  Maybe they believe that every Native Hawaiian deserves to have a stake in a tribal casino, and a stake in tribal lands, and a tribal leadership which can remove them from the tribe for any imaginable pretext without any constitutional protections whatsoever.  Maybe what they’re really saying is that Native Hawaiian blood alone should confer rights that Native Americans and Alaskans by blood alone don’t have.

There are two problems with this position.  First off, they’re not really promoting “parity” with Native Americans and Native Alaskans at all – they’re saying that Native Hawaiians, by blood, deserve special treatment compared to Native Americans and Native Alaskans who aren’t tribal members.  By creating a special bit of legislation to bypass the standard tribal recognition process, they’re establishing a brand new set of rights, conferred simply by racial background, to Native Hawaiians with even a single drop of Native Hawaiian blood.

The second problem is particularly pernicious – if the precedent is set that unrecognized indigenous people deserve a separate sovereign government, without the protections of the U.S. Constitution, what is to stop every person in the United States, with even the smallest drop of native blood, to demand a “reorganization” into their own new, sovereign government?  As dangerous as U.S. Tribal law currently is, opening the floodgates to rights determination simply on the basis of race, rather than political history, can only be seen as even worse.

If Djou, Hanabusa, and Case really believe in equality, they should be working towards is ensuring that *all* Americans have the same rights, regardless of ancestry.

What this means is not an extension of existing tribal governments, but a dissolution of them.

It means writing a bill that explicitly declares that all citizens of the United States must enjoy the same rights of self-determination, neither more nor less than their neighbors.

It means ensuring that that a pure Cherokee born in the U.S., and a Native Hawaiian born in the U.S., get the same rights and protections as a first-generation Nigerian who was just naturalized yesterday.

It means not having to ask someone what race they are before deciding what rights they have.