Shame on OHA Board of Trustees
OHA’s Board of Trustees Community Meeting on October 17, 2007 on Molokai was NOT attended by Trustee John Waihee IV, Trustee Rowena Akana, Trustee Walter Heen, Trustee Donald Cataluna, and Trustee Boyd Mossman. Community members were there, a larger number wearing A`ole Laau T-Shirts. This was our community’s once a year chance to give our input regarding Molokai issues. Our chance to give testimony face to face
At 6:40 pm, only three of the eight Trustees were seated. Colette Machado announced that there was no quorum as yet and the last flight would arrive around 7pm. She says “We are hoping we will have a quorum.”
A half hour went by while the community provided impromptu songs and hula while we waited. Then we noticed only Trustee Oswald Stander and Trustee Robert Lindsey walk into the hale. “No quorum” was whispered throughout the audience. Five was needed for a guorum.
Finally, “No quorum tonight, but tomorrow there will be. But you are here tonight,” announced Chair Apoliona. She then advised the community that the meeting would continue but no minutes would be taken, and that it would be an unofficial meeting. She gave the job of chairing the meeting to Trustee Machado, who orchestrated this “unofficial” OHA community meeting. There was no apology or mention of rescheduling a community meeting.
As beneficiaries lined up to say “Mahalo” for OHA’s funding, it came to my mind that Trustee Machado should also be in line to thank the OHA trustees for the $100,000 that was awarded to the Molokai Land Trust, which she heads. It’s like she wrote a check to herself. Conflicts of interest seem to be running rampant nowadays.
Tension mounted as former OHA Trustee Walter Ritte reminded the Trustees that a year ago in October 2006, the community came out by the hundreds, asking OHA to rescind their resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s Master Plan, which includes the development of 200 million-dollar homes at La`au Pt. (The sales of La`au Point will also fund more development that will impact Moloka`i’s rural lifestyle and cultural practices.) Mr. Ritte also said that the OHA Trustees had ignored their constituents and never responded to the community after their 2006 meeting on Moloka`i. The audience listened to his presentation. But the Trustees appeared very busy reading and writing things down. Why would they? This wasn’t a formal meeting. It appeared to me that they didn’t want to hear what Mr. Ritte had to say. Why should they? They don’t live on Moloka`i. Why would it matter to them?
As Walter ended his testimony, he asked that those who are against the development of La`au stand and walk out as a way to protest this evening’s no-quorum informal “community meeting.” This is where I got up and left.
As I started towards my car, I heard my name mentioned over the microphone by Trustee Apoliona. I was drawn back to find out what she was saying about me. I walked up to the microphone and asked why she had mentioned my name. Ms. Apoliona told those still present that the Board of Trustees had responded to the community by writing a letter to Bridget Mowat. I reminded Chair Apoliona my letter was a personal letter so my response was a personal response. Not a community response.
On February 22, 2007, long after the October 2006 community meeting, I wrote a personal letter to Ms. Apoliona seeking support to stop the La`au development and to rescind OHA’s resolution to support the Molokai Properties Limited (Molokai Ranch) Master Plan. I received a response from Mr. Clyde Namu`o on April 26, 2007. It was addressed only to me, not to the community.
Mr. Namu`o’s response included an apology for the “tardiness of our response to your letter…..may be to extenuating circumstances …we understand your concern…” He also clarified that the “resolution adopted by OhA’s Board of Trustees does not specifically support the development of La`au Point.” He wrote that OHA supported the collaborative efforts toward community input and planning…. And the vast and generous contribution made by Molokai Properties Limited to the Community of Molokai” He wrote all the hard decisions they had to make and how they could not reject such as offer of these lands for the future .. I just didn’t feel it.Attached to his letter to me was a copy of the Resolution of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs which reads in part: “WHEREAS Molokai’s Properties Limited has committed to seeking a land use boundary change from Agriculture to Rural through the State Land Use Commission for a 200-lot subdivision, which will be limited to 500 acres with associated cultural and environmental resource protection in excess of 1,000 acres. This environmental resource protection zone will be the subject of an easement to the Land Trust and controlled by the Land Trust and homeowners” (I wonder where that could be. No wonder he said the resolution adopted does not specifically support the development of La`au Pt. They kept the name of the area out of the whereas!!)
So Walter’s statement was true up until recently.
OHA’s public response to the community’s plea for support was to award $100,000 to Trustee Machado’s Molokai Land Trust. Trustee Machado supports development of La`au Point, even though the majority of Hawaiians on Molokai oppose the development.
The OHA Trustees came out loud and clear at the Molokai meeting. They aren’t listening to the people they are supposed to serve. Instead, they are financially backing their fellow Trustee Colette Machado, who supports developing La`au Point against the wishes of the majority of her constituents on Molokai. And when five Trustees fail to show up at the one and only annual community meeting on Molokai, that also tells us how little respect they have for our community. Shame! Shame!