By the time this column is published I hope that OHA’s toxic leadership struggle will have been short lived and another Trustee will have been voted into the position of Chair.
Whoever leads OHA, I believe that there is one positive outcome emerging from all the passion and confusion. We have been forced into some serious introspection about where we’ve been and feel a renewed sense of obligation to better articulate, to our beneficiaries, where we are going and how we will get there.
Here are what I believe to be important outcomes to pursue moving forward regardless of who is the Chair:
- A resolution to the contentious relationship between CEO Kamana‘o Crabbe and half the Trustees must be brought to an end in a way that preserves the dignity of all parties.
- Trustees emerge from the pain and passion of these past few weeks with a heightened respect for each other and we bring an end to the us-versus-them politics.
- OHA employees, who have been caught in the vise of our leadership struggle, regain a sense of security for their jobs with a restored confidence in the trustees to lead the agency.
- We complete the important work now in progress to (a) move forward with the fiscal sustainability plan in restructuring and prioritizing how resources are allocated , (b) complete the substantive overhaul of policies already positioned for approval, and (c) complete the review and updating of the by-laws. These three initiatives form a 3-legged stool which will be fundamental to predictable governance, preserve political order and decorum, and, most importantly, bring a more thoughtful and transparent record of how we spend beneficiary money.
- We engage in a comprehensive review of our strategic plan and more clearly define each objective to which we can attach cost centers that get translated into the budget document so that line item spending is tethered to stated objectives.
- The Board of Trustees have its own communications capacity, via the Chair of the Board, to directly engage with beneficiaries, government and private sector institutions, the media, and most important, the sprawling network of Hawaiian institutions.
- The Board support in principle all efforts at self-determination, whether federal, international, or other, without committing funding to Na‘i Aupuni or any other organization seeking self-determination. The broad intent of the state constitution in creating OHA is that it would serve as a place holder organization to manage Hawaiian assets and serve as the center of gravity in carving a path of self-determination for Native Hawaiians that would lead to a new governing entity. Based on this intent OHA has been described as a Nation in Waiting. Fundamental to the structure of a nation is its primary institutions. The six primary institutions of the Native Hawaiian community are the Kamehameha Schools, Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Queens Hospital Systems, Lunalilo Trust, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. I believe OHA, as part of its constitutional mission, has an obligation to reach out to these primary institutions and begin to dialogue an exchange of ideas and identifying challenges toward unifying the Hawaiian people in a common vision of a Hawaiian future. That vision, while serving to provide quality of life opportunities for Native Hawaiians, must be an inclusive vision that also lifts all of Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i Loa Kū Like Kākou. All Hawai‘i Stand Together.