Tag Archives: Congress

Lobbying On The Taxpayer’s Dime

When you picture special interest groups and government lobbyists, you probably imagine corporate fat cats hiring sleazy lawyers to get them favors and interests from legislators.  (This also indicates that you’ve heard too many John Edwards speeches.)  Putting aside whether the unfairness of this image (unfairness to the business owners, that is–I wouldn’t dream of trying to defend the lawyers), it turns out that it doesn’t even correctly identify Hawaii’s biggest lobbying spenders.  Want to know who spent the most money trying to influence Congress so far this year?


Or more specifically, Hawaii’s taxpayers.  It turns out that in the first quarter of the year, government agencies in Hawaii spent more money lobbying in Washington, DC than private business did.  According to Hawaii Reporter, Hawaii state and local government spent about $185,000 on DC lobbying, compared to about $122,500 from Hawaii’s private businesses over the same period.  Unsurprisingly, the biggest state spenders were the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (which continues to push for the Akaka Bill) and InfraConsult, Inc. (which lobbies on behalf of Honolulu’s rapid transit project).

Yes, the state spends taxpayer dollars to lobby in Washington for more taxpayer dollars.  (And on behalf of issues that have significant public opposition back here in the Islands.)  And then they raise our taxes.  If that isn’t an argument for more fiscal accountability in our spendthrift government, I don’t know what is.

Redefining “Support”

There are plenty of reasons to feel vaguely annoyed and Senator Inouye’s recent interview in Honolulu Civil Beat.  I, for one, particularly loathed the implication that people in the middle class are a tad selfish for feeling that they pay enough in taxes.  But for sheer muddling of a situation, it’s hard to beat his responses to the questions about the level of support for the Akaka Bill.  Here’s what Inouye has to say:

Mentioning Sen. Akaka calls to mind the issue of the Akaka Bill really not proceeding. What do you tell the people of Hawaii? This is an underlying issue that has to be addressed for the people of this state in some shape or form.

The vast majority of those who are well-aware, or have some understanding of the measure, are supportive. But this bill has been delayed and frustrated by the very ones who support it… (One person) would tell me, ‘you’re not doing enough’ and (another) will say, ‘I think you went too far.’

This time, there’s a difference. Akaka, OHA, the administration, they’re all singing one tune. It’s a big difference. The last time, OHA and Akaka didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything. The governor’s office … was not always for it. So under those circumstances, those in the Congress can say, ‘Well, your governor is opposed to it. So why should I be for it?’ Then somebody might come up and say, ‘Well that Hawaiian group is against it. They must know something that I don’t. I’ll follow them.’

This time, as of this moment, we’re in the same choir.

Is it possible to get the votes in the House to pass something like this?

With work, it can be done. Unless you start off with the assumption that ‘they’re a bunch of bums, they’re racist, and they’re no good, so therefore, why do anything?’

They’re good Americans. You just have to describe and tell them why.

Will Lingle’s Support be important? The current bill is not one she had agreed to.

But it is a reflection of some of the concerns she’s voiced, and I think she’s supportive. The general concept, she’s for it. And Im not suggesting that the bill that passed the Senate is necessarily the one that has to become law.

Is there a role the president can play in making this happen?

There’s a major role. He can say, on a personal basis, ‘I was born in Hawaii. Among my many friends are Native Hawaiians. I know something about their background and history.’ The presidential word carries weight.

And this is why it’s important to remind people that the battle over the Akaka Bill isn’t over . . . and won’t be for some time to come, regardless of how the public feels about it.  Polls consistently show that this is a controversial and divisive issue in Hawaii, and (if anything) that when fully informed of all the issues involved, the majority of Hawaiian citizens oppose the Akaka Bill.  But that’s not the picture being painted here.  Senator Inouye (along with the entire pro-Akaka Bill industry) continues to propagate the idea that we’re all on the same page out here.  Notice that he even obfuscates Gov. Lingle’s position.  It’s true that her administration supported a version of the Akaka Bill last year (much to our disappointment), but the version currently in the Senate–the one that Inouye is speaking of–is not the same.  In fact, it contains many of the problems that had led the Lingle Administration to raise questions about and oppose the bill in that form.  And while it’s true enough that President Obama has indicated support for the Bill, it’s probably worth noting that the President hasn’t deemed it worth expending any of his political capital on, regardless of how warmly he may feel about Native Hawaiians.

Obviously, Senator Inouye is parroting the pro-Akaka talking points on support for the Bill, but we need to remind Washington that they’re not getting the whole story.

Census and Sensibility

It’s baaaack!

Call it the Frankenstein of bad legislation.  The Akaka Bill is back in the Senate.  And while some pundits don’t give it much of a future in the House of Representatives, the Senate gave it a hearing this past Thursday.  In truth, there is far too much riding on this bill for opponents to ever feel secure about defeating it.  At least, not unless there is a change in the culture that has created this issue.  Part of this is the misapprehension that Native Hawaiians are, as a group, severely disadvantaged . . . a myth that some have done nothing to refute, even though you might imagine that it might be nice to see a little good news now and again.  And so–in order to better inform the discussion–consider the latest US census information about Native Hawaiians:

Census Bureau Reports Revenue for Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses Increased 52 Percent from 2002 to 2007

The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses increased 31.1 percent between 2002 and 2007, to 37,957 businesses, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. These businesses generated $6.5 billion in receipts in 2007, a 51.6 percent increase from 2002. In contrast, the total number of U.S. businesses increased 17.9 percent between 2002 and 2007; total business receipts rose 32.9 percent.

These new data come from the Survey of Business Owners: Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses: 2007.


The survey provides detailed information every five years for Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, including the number of firms, sales and receipts, number of paid employees and annual payroll.

Data are presented by geographic area (nation, state, county, city and metro area), industry and size of business. Preliminary national and state data were released in July 2010.

“This important look at the economic activity of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses is the only comprehensive and regularly collected data on this group,” said Tom Mesenbourg, deputy director of the Census Bureau. “These data confirm that businesses owned by Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders continue to grow both in number and in sales at rates that are faster than national rates for all businesses.”

People of Native Hawaiian origin owned 55.6 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses in 2007. Guamanian- or Chamorro-owned businesses accounted for 9.6 percent, Samoan-owned businesses for 8.0 percent, and businesses owned by people of Other Pacific Islander descent, for 24.6 percent.

States with the highest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses were Hawaii, with 11,383 (30.0 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Pacific Islander-owned businesses nationwide), and California, with 9,255 (24.4 percent).

Among counties, Honolulu had the largest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, with 6,721; followed by Los Angeles, with 2,804; Maui, with 2,111; and Hawaii, with 1,722.

Among metropolitan areas, Honolulu had the largest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, with 6,721 (17.7 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses nationwide), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, with 3,675 (9.7 percent).

Other highlights:

* Of the 37,957 Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses in 2007, 4,172 had paid employees. These businesses employed 38,750 people, an increase of 32.2 percent, and their payrolls totaled $1.3 billion, an increase of 54.1 percent from 2002. Employer business receipts totaled $5.4 billion, an increase of 54.4 percent. Average receipts of these firms were $1.3 million.

* The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses with no paid employees totaled 33,785, an increase of 33.8 percent. These nonemployers’ business receipts totaled $1.1 billion. Average receipts of these firms were $31,991.

* The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses with receipts of $1.0 million or more was 884 in 2007.

* The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses with 100 or more employees increased from 28 to 37 (32.1 percent).

* Construction and retail trade accounted for 44.1 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned business receipts.

The Survey of Business Owners defines Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses as firms in which Native Hawaiians, Guamanians, Chamorros, Samoans, and Other Pacific Islanders own 51 percent or more of the equity, interest or stock of the business. Additional data from the survey highlighting other minority- and veteran-owned businesses will be issued over the next few months. Subsequently, separate data sets will be issued highlighting additional characteristics of all businesses and their owners.


The Survey of Business Owners is conducted every five years as part of the economic census. The 2007 survey collected data from a sample of more than 2.3 million businesses. Data collected in a sample survey are subject to sampling variability, as well as nonsampling errors. Sources of nonsampling errors include errors of response, nonreporting and coverage. More details concerning the SBO survey design, methodology and data limitations can be found at <http://www.census.gov/econ/sbo/methodology.html>.

Aloha to Senator Akaka

Senator Akaka has announced that he will not be running for reelection at the end of his current term.  For his years of service to the Islands, we thank him and bid him a fond farewell.

However (and you knew this was coming, didn’t you?), the fact that Senator Akaka is a nice old guy who’s retiring doesn’t really change anything about the legislation that bears his name.  Senator Akaka’s retirement should have no bearing on the future of the Akaka Bill.  Since his announcement, it has not become a better idea, less divisive, or more constitutional.  It is still bad for Hawaii.  And yet, believe it or not, you will hear (and already have if you read the Maui News) the argument that we should push for passage of the Bill as a final salute/gesture of respect to the retiring Senator.  When you think about it, it’s hard to come up with a more absurd reason to support legislation.  One wonders if that argument could possibly change anyone’s mind.  (“Sure, I thought it was a flawed and bad law, but since he’s retiring, heck, let’s do him a solid and pass it anyway.”)

In fact, here at 4HawaiiansOnly, we’ll make the counter-argument.  Senator Akaka has provided many years of service to Hawaii, which we respect even if we didn’t agree with his political positions on some issues.  But let’s not sully his legacy with a knee-jerk passage of a law that will become a hornet’s nest of litigation, constitutionality questions, and economic and racial strife for Hawaiians.  He deserves better than that.

And on a slightly different note . . . am I the only one wondering what we’re going to call the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act once Senator Akaka has retired?  (Because there’s way too much money and political power at stake for the bill to retire along with the Senator.)  Maybe we could have a naming contest for it.  I suggest either “The Slow Deterioration of Hawaii Act” or maybe just “Bob.”

No Reservations: The Case for Dismantling the Indian Bureaucracy

By Carl Horowitz

This column was originally published in Townhall.

If ever a federal agency were a candidate for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would make for a good choice. The BIA combines patronage and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process. Yet few in Congress have the stomach for a fight with supporters of the bureau, now with a roughly $2.7 billion annual budget. That’s not the only Indian agency in need of serious downsizing.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs actually goes back nearly two centuries. Secretary of War John Calhoun virtually single-handedly created the BIA in 1824 to oversee treaty negotiations, conduct trade, establish budgets, and operate schools. In 1849, Congress moved the bureau from the War Department to the new Interior Department, where it since has been housed. In recent decades, the agency has become a conduit through which tribal leaders and their allies can accrue money and influence. It’s a variation on what public choice economists call “regulatory capture,” in which firms – especially large ones – effectively dictate policies and practices to the regulator, so as to maximize competitive advantage.

The current system is a by-product of periodic warfare beginning in the early-17th century and lasting through most of the 19th century. There are now 565 federally-recognized Indian (including Alaskan) tribes in this land of ours, representing nearly two million persons. Indian territories comprise some 55 million surface acres. Crucially, a tribe operates under a federal grant of sovereign status. Taken as a whole, Indian tribes are a loose confederacy of mini-nations, each with its own elected tribal government overseeing courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure development, and on due occasion, casinos.

Within their respective reservations, tribal leaders enjoy enormous power. Too often, they and employees use this power as a cover for corruption. Recent cases abound. At the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana, for example, six office employees – two federal and four tribal – pleaded guilty last year to embezzling roughly $400,000 from a tribal credit program. In Oklahoma, Dawena Pappan, former secretary-treasurer for the Tonkawa tribe, pleaded guilty in federal court that year to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in casino proceeds with help from other Tonkawa officers.

Want more? Emily Anne Sauppity, secretary-treasurer of the Apache of Oklahoma, was found guilty by a federal jury of embezzling $46,068 in oil and gas royalty taxes, though her actual thefts amounted to nearly $108,000. Evelyn James, former president of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe in Arizona pleaded guilty to theft and money-laundering of nearly $300,000 in Justice Department community policing funds. And about a dozen persons, including two former tribal officials, pleaded guilty or were found guilty in Oklahoma City federal court to embezzling about $750,000 from the Lucky Star Casinos, operated by the Cheyenne and Arapaho of Oklahoma.

It isn’t just Bureau of Indian Affairs funds that have made their way into the pockets of crooks. In mid-2008, for example, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report revealing that the Indian Health Service (IHS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, during fiscal years 2004-07 “lost” about 5,000 pieces of medical equipment with an acquisition value of $15.8 million. In a follow-up evaluation audit released in June 2009, the GAO noted: “IHS continues to lose property at an alarming rate, reporting lost or stolen property with an acquisition value of about $3.5 million in a little over a year…” Missing items included a $170,000 ultrasound unit, a $100,795 mammography X-ray machine, and various dental chairs and diagnostic monitors.

Far bigger piles of loot, however, can be made legally. Class-action lawsuits are one route. Over the past few months, Indian plaintiffs and their attorneys managed to coax massive settlements from the federal government in two longstanding unrelated civil suits. Last October, lawyers for tens of thousands of Indians corralled a $760 million agreement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as compensation for credit discrimination against Native American farmers and ranchers. Known as Keepseagle v. Vilsack and originally filed by a Sioux couple in North Dakota in 1999 as a copycat of the Pigford (i.e., “black farmer”) lawsuit, the case did not uncover any specific acts of willful discrimination. In the other lawsuit, Congress in November created a $3.4 billion trust fund to be shared by an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Indians, pursuant to the settlement in Cobell v. Salazar, in which the plaintiffs had alleged that the Interior Department for decades had squandered royalties due individual Indians for extracted oil, gas, timber and other natural resources from tribal lands. The details of the case suggest a well-planned and executed plaintiff shakedown.

An even bigger street-legal money maker is casino gambling. In 1988, Congress enacted and President Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which recognized “the right of Indian tribes in the United States to establish gambling and gaming facilities on their reservations as long as the states in which they are located have some form of legalized gambling.” This legislation effectively conferred monopoly rights upon a tribe to operate a casino on its property, subject to regulation by the National Indian Gaming Commission. These enterprises are immune from state regulation. Moreover, they are exempt from federal income taxation, though state governments may tax a portion of slot machine revenues.

Currently, some 220 recognized Native American tribes operate a combined roughly 400 Class I, II and III (casinos fit under the latter category) gaming facilities. Given the seemingly limitless capacity of Americans to place wagers, this has meant big bucks. The Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut, owned by the Mashantucket Western Pequot Tribal Nation, thanks to several expansions, has become the largest hotel-casino complex in the U.S. Featuring 7,200 slot machines and 380 table games, the luxury facility takes in roughly $1.5 billion annually from combined gaming and non-gaming sources. Right down the road is the nation’s second largest casino venue, the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino. Owned by the Mohegan tribe, this high-end getaway destination features 300,000 square feet of gaming space within three casinos. The Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California isn’t exactly small time either, containing 200,000 square feet of gaming space and 3,400 slot machines.

All told, Indian gaming in 2009 took in $26.5 billion in revenues. This represents an explosive increase from $100 million in 1988, the year of IGRA passage.

Someone out there is getting rich. And it isn’t just tribal leaders and outside investors. Tribes operate with a grant of monopoly privilege. Remaining shielded from competition requires gaining access to federal and state legislators to vote the right way. That’s where lobbyists come in. The 2006 final report of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by John McCain, R-Ariz., revealed that Jack Abramoff, though an extreme example (hence, the superficially satisfying cliché, “disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff”), was part of a larger “come and get it” political culture. A former BIA official, Wayne Smith, grandson of a Sioux chief, explained to CBS News at the time: “I had lobbyists…tell me that ‘It was our time, this is our time to make some money in the Indian game arena. We worked hard to get this president elected, and we expect to be rewarded for it.’” What matters here is that influence-buying is a product of tribal sovereignty and monopoly privilege. “Lobbyists” – love them or hate them – will always be around to service an Indian client’s political needs under this scenario.

If all this theft and influence-peddling amounted to nothing more than a few anecdotes, it would be easy to minimize their importance. Such behavior can be found in any type of organization, whether government agencies, corporations, unions, philanthropies or churches. Yet these cases, in fact, represent a fraction of widespread criminal and otherwise ethically-challenged activity. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the system of tribal governance, with an able assist from Washington, is dysfunctional.

Bureaucratic client capture offers a partial explanation for this state of affairs. The ultimate problem is the setting aside of territory and public funds to accommodate Indian “nations.” Indian identity politics, at bottom, is about irredentism – the condition of two or more ethnic, linguistic or religious groups claiming sovereignty over the same territory. Many Indians have a deep attachment to ancient lands they believe were stolen by the white man. The federal government can’t bottle up their sense of moral entitlement. But it doesn’t have to subsidize it either.

Despite our best efforts, separatism and corruption appear to have become more pronounced over the past few decades. The late Sixties and early Seventies witnessed the aggressive rise of Indian identity politics, culminating in passage by Congress of the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act (1975) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (1978). Lawmakers further encouraged decentralization of authority in 1991 with the Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project Act. With larger budgets and fewer strings attached, opportunities for corruption have increased, especially as the BIA itself has come to be heavily staffed by Indian activists.

Ending the network of incestuous relationships and accompanying corruption requires that Congress do the unthinkable: Abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service and all other federal agencies that serve Native American interests. These agencies have outlived whatever usefulness they had. Lawmakers also ought to end the practice of formal tribal recognition. Why should Cheyenne, Choctaw, Mohawk or Sioux sovereign “nations” exist within our borders, any more than Dutch, Irish, Italian or Polish ethnic ones? It is one thing for members of a particular tribe to live in close proximity, preferring their own company. It is entirely another for Americans as a whole to be coerced into subsidizing this tribal confederacy, an arrangement that is not only costly, but also corrosive of national identity.

Back in the late 1940s, Congress set up a commission on executive branch reorganization, chaired by former President Herbert Hoover. Among its hundreds of recommendations, the Hoover Commission concluded that assimilation of Indians into the mainstream of American society must be a top priority. More than six decades later, our nation remains a long way from realizing that goal. Dismantling the Indian bureaucracy would be a major step in that direction.

Carl F. Horowitz is director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Townhall.com Gold Partner organization dedicated to promoting ethics in American public life.

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?

The State’s Akaka End Run

For those who thought that the change in Congress meant a respite from the imminent threat of the Akaka Bill, think again.  In what might be something of a desperation move, the legislature has introduced a bill that purports to recognize a Native Hawaiian tribe through the state.  (Essentially, a state version of the Akaka Bill–you can read the full text here (House version) and here (Senate version).)

I can pick on all sorts of things in this–the historical revisionism, the doubtful claims, the questionable legislative findings–but we’ve been down this path many times before.  And you may be thinking that there’s little chance it would pass, or that it would likely fail a test of constitutionality.  But that’s not the point.  This is pure politics at work.  If the legislature can pass the bill, then it operates as a powerful argument in Washington that Hawaii is united behind the Bill–and frankly, the Inside-the-Beltway types tend not to pay much attention to what we are doing out here, so they would likely take that at face value.  (And OHA is going to be spending far more money telling them that’s the case than any opponents to Akaka would be able to raise.)  There is, however, a bright side.  If the state bill were to fail, that would make Congress less inclined to take up the Akaka Bill again.  So, if this is an issue you care about, this is a good time to contact your state legislator and share your views.

Lobbyists Thank OHA for Akaka

Over at Hawaii Reporter, a new report has revealed that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has spent $3.44 million since 1999 on its (ultimately failed) lobbying efforts in support of the Akaka Bill. And this doesn’t include the approximately $2 million OHA spent to operate a Washington, DC office or any other expenses (such as travel) spent in pursuance of OHA’s pro-Akaka effort.

Of course, OHA has never been particularly forthcoming about that portion of its spending that it would prefer to remain obscure.  So we know that–according to its own Annual Report–in fiscal year 2009, OHA spent $13,686,447 in its Native Hawaiian granting efforts in fiscal year 2009–including $454,456 for health, $1,056,578 on economic development, $354,456 on “nation building”, and $1,866,993 for “native rights, land, and culture.”

And thanks to the data available on HawaiiSunshine.org, we know that in FY2009, OHA spent $1,017,632.90 on Personnel Services, $1, 411,058.63 on the vague and mysterious “Services on a Fee Basis”, and a head-scratching $46.94 for “Telephone.”

So who benefited from the OHA lobbying effort?  Considering that the legislation–despite a brief flurry of activity in the Democratic Congress–eventually went nowhere, the most obvious beneficiaries of OHAs efforts was not Native Hawaiians or Hawaii’s taxpayers, but rather the Washington, DC office of Patton Boggs–a large law firm specializing in (amongst other things) lobbying.  And one of whose lobbyists was (and its hard to think that this is a coincidence) former Governor John Waihee.

The truly interesting thing about OHA’s rather significant lobbying expenditures is that there is no clear consensus of opinion on the advisability of the Akaka Bill, either among the Hawaiian public at large, or even among Native Hawaiians, a group of whom even attempted to sue OHA for straying too far from its mission in its pro-Akaka activities.  Although the benefits of the Akaka Bill can be debated by both sides, the one organization that unquestionable benefits from its passage (in terms of political power and financial considerations) is the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  So, in essence, the Hawaiian taxpayers have been paying for a department of the state government to lobby for more power and money for itself in Washington.  And unsuccessfully too.  Along with $20,000 hammers and bridges to nowhere, that may be the very definition of government waste.

Aloha for All, 1840; No Segregation, No Discrimination

On Decemeber 22, 2010, Hawaii’s own Senator Akaka addressed the US Senate to proclaim his continuing support of the so-called Akaka bill which expired without action as the senate closed for the 2010 year.

With all respect to the senator, the Akaka bill should never again see the light of day.  Americans nationwide have objected to the efforts of Hawaii politicians to divide our nation on the basis of race, and it should never have been seriously considered, much less enacted into federal law as Akaka desires.  Our nation’s people should just remain joined and integrated under our governing documents in a society defined by friendship, fellowship, respect for each worthy individual, patriotism and common purpose.  Most particularly, none of the people of the United States or of any of the 50 states should ever live under law that segregates or  discriminates  based on bloodlines.

How terrible is the irony that Akaka supporters try to use racial preferences as the solution to the “wrong” they say was caused by racial discrimination.  Of course, this an unconscionable misrepresentation of history–and unworthy of Hawaii’s tradition as well.  The Kingdom of Hawaii was many things, for better or worse, but one thing it was definitely not was a state based on racial divisions and distinctions.  But those who stand to profit by sewing racial discord in the islands would like to rewrite history and create a culture of division to replace our spirit of Aloha.

That spirit is one recognized the world over as one uniquely Hawaiian:  “Aloha for All – – Hawaii’s gift to the world rooted in the first constitution of the kingdom of Hawaii in the year 1840.”  The preamble to that constitution starts with this sentence “God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this earth in unity and blessedness.”  That is the translation used by the US Commission on Civil Rights (which also opposed the Akaka Bill as unconstitutional and antithetical to the mission of promoting civil rights).  If only we could turn away from the racial politics that have exploded around the Akaka Bill and better reflect the sentiment of that Preamble.

Native Hawaiians and Fed Contracting Preferences

If you have a strong stomach for pork and no family history of high blood pressure, I highly recommend the latest article in Hawaii Reporter on federal contract preferences for Native Hawaiian companies. If you live in a cave without access to television or radio (which might make me wonder how you’re reading this blog), you’ll even be surprised to see that Senator Inouye figures heavily in the awarding of lucrative federal contracts to Native Hawaiian-owned businesses.  If nothing else, the article demonstrates that the stereotype of Native Hawaiian businesses as struggling shoestring operations desperately in need of help is rather ludicrous.  Unless one is so fortunate as to consider $738 million over ten years mere pocket change.  Some highlights from the article:

A handful of Native Hawaiian-owned companies used federal contracting preferences authored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HI, to land some $500 million in non-bid or reduced competition government work since 2005, according to federal purchasing records.

Officials, employees and partners of many of the same companies donated nearly $100,000 during the same period to the Inouye election campaign and $100,000 more to other members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, files of the Federal Election Commission show.

. . . .

One of the most successful local companies to land federal contracts is Akimeka Technologies, LLC.

From 2005 to 2010, Akimeka received some $67 million in federal contracts, according to two U.S. government procurement websites.

The company that changed its name this year to Ke’aki Technologies (http://www.keakitech.com/) is now part of a joint business venture called Manu Kai.

Last year, Manu Kai received a $738 million, 10-year contract award from the U.S. Navy to support base operations at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

. . . .

Officers and employees of Akimeka/Ke’aki donated $57,500 since 2005 to the political campaigns of Inouye and other prominent Hawaii Democratic politicians, including former Congressman and now-Governor Neil Abercrombie and Congresswoman-elect Colleen Hanabusa.

. . . .

None of the NHO subsidiaries operating here that have received federal contracts is willing to discuss in detail the amount of money they have dedicated to improving the lives of Native Hawaiians.  Few even responded to requests for such information.

David Cooper, president of The Hana Group, Inc. http://www.thehanagroup.com and HBC Management Services, Inc., http://www.thehanagroup.com/ two NHO subsidiaries that have received some $53 million in federal contracts since 2005, said the companies provide financial support to their non-profit parent, Pacific American Foundation.