SUMMARY OF NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARIES, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER FOR JUNE 10-30, 2006 (about 130 pages)
June 10: (1) Kamehameha Day annual celebration; Kamehameha brought unity to Hawai'i; Honolulu Advertiser prints comments of ethnic Hawaiians saying they need to come together in unity (** Comment by Ken Conklin: but what about having a unified State of Hawai'i without ethnic separatism?); (2) West Hawaii Today explores consequences of Akaka bill defeat for the election battle between Akaka vs. Case; Ken Conklin quoted as saying Case should switch positions to oppose Akaka bill and thereby give voters a choice.
June 11: (1) New York Times, which editorialized in favor of Akaka bill on Wednesday June 7, now tries to provide "fair and balanced" news report: "Hawaiians Weigh Options as Native-Status Bill Stalls" quoting Senator Akaka, Kamehameha Schools, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, H. William Burgess (Aloha For All), Richard Rowland (Grassroot Institute), and mentioning the Kamehameha Day celebrations; (2) Honolulu Advertiser courts reporter analyzes effects of Akaka bill failure on lawsuits against race-based entitlements, including quotes from the attorneys; (3) Advertiser reviews history of Hawaiian sovereignty movement and quotes various activists saying Akaka bill is not the right vehicle but helped raise awareness of the issues; (4) Advertiser cartoon shows a small Senator Akaka holding his bill, speaking to a huge statue of Kamehameha The Great draped in flower lei(s) for Kamehameha Day, saying "I tried"; (5) Advertiser editorial page editor analyzes impact of Akaka bill failure on the election confrontation between Akaka and Case, and effect on Lingle. Article concludes "The task ahead is to move beyond federal recognition of Hawaiians to the larger issue of Hawaiian self-determination and the myriad programs that focus on Hawaiian betterment, from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and various federal health and educational programs to Hawaiian Homelands itself. Candidates who have clear ideas and answers to these issues will find themselves far ahead of the pack as the 2006 election rolls around." (6) Star-Bulletin political analyst says defeat of Akaka bill is likely to help Akaka win re-election. "Observers and politicians already are saying off the record that the Hawaii Democrat now is free to blame the Republicans for his bill's defeat. Rep. Neil Abercrombie has spent years defining the Akaka Bill opponents as "racists," so it will not be hard to heat up the campaign year rhetoric and GOP bashing. Akaka also can use the summer and fall stump time to talk about what might have been if his bill had passed. In doing so, he will be free to gloss over the measure's controversial issues, which have multiplied as publicity rose about the bill." (7) Powerful commentary by Kaleihanamau Johnson entitled "Hawaiians must resist politics of dependency" describes her ten-year residence in Venezuela and how the same theories of cummunal land ownership endorsed in the Hawaiian apology resolution and proposed in the Akaka bill have devastated the economy and the people's sense of pride. "The Akaka Bill is written to create a dependent class of an unprecedented multitude, to politically and racially divide us, steal our freedom by not recognizing private property and subject the people of Hawaii to socialized living in perpetuity. It is not a just settlement but the beginning of a great conflict." (8) 4 letters to editor pleased the Akaka bill was defeated
June 12: (1) Hawai'i state senator Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai) went to Washington to lobby against the Akaka bill last week. In a lengthy essay he provides inside information, including that there were Democrat Senators who would have voted against the Akaka bill if it had survived cloture. Slom says Hawai'i's people need the right to vote on such far-reaching legislation before it goes to Congress; (2) Lei-draping of the Kamehameha statue in the rotunda of the Capitol in Washington D.C. (an annual event for Kamehameha Day). Rally cry at lei draping: 'We are not deterred'; (3) Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund: "Aloha, Akaka -- A serious challenge to Hawaii's octogenarian junior senator."; (4) Garden Island News (Kaua'i) reports two state Legislators representing Kaua'i regret failure of the Akaka bill in the Senate, and there could be trouble ahead for OHA, DHHL, and Kamehameha Schools.; (5) Agape News (a "Christian" newspaper) says Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy is among those critical of the legislation. He cites what he sees could have been detrimental impacts on the nation as a whole. "The effect could be to enable this new race-based government to decide that it wants to opt out of the 50 states of this union, taking with it not only the wonderful tourist sites of Hawaii but also the strategically critical military facilities," says the Center president."; (6) KPUA TV (Hilo) has Associated Press report that "Hawaiians in Nanakuli reflect tepid support for Akaka bill"; (7) Two letters to editor are pleased the Akaka bill failed. One of them describes how the fabric of America and fabric of Hawai'i are woven of different strands, and it's a bad idea to pull some of those strands apart from the rest.
June 13: (1) IMPORTANT ARTICLE IN "THE HILL" (reporting news of Congress) DESCRIBES BEHIND THE SCENES VOTE-TRADING AND LOBBYING ON AKAKA BILL DURING THE PAST TWO YEARS; (2) Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter: "So the Battle Continues -- Republican Co-Sponsor Avoided Heavy Lifting for the Akaka Bill; Civil Rights Commission, President, Gives Akaka Bill One-Two Punch Right Before the Vote; Attendance at Pro-Akaka Bill Capitol Rally "All Telling"; Not All Democrats Supported Sen. Akaka, Sen. Inouye in Their Bid for the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act S. 147; Fight Over OHA Funding Not Over, Despite Yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling"; (3) Garry Smith, in Hawaii Reporter, says "Hawaii Embarrassed by Akaka Bill Fiasco, Time to Move On."
June 14: (1) Honolulu Advertiser: "Inouye Pitches New Native Bill" news report says Senator Inouye is not going to try to pass the Akaka bill during the remainder of this year, not even by stealth [!!!]; but instead will introduce a new bill to protect Hawaiian racial entitlement programs. "According to a memorandum prepared by Inouye's office, the Senate has appropriated more than $1.2 billion for Native Hawaiian programs over the past 26 years." [article provides category breakdown]; (2) Advertiser columnist says creative new approaches are needed for protecting race-based programs, and any attempt at more far-reaching sovereignty must be initiated by a united front of ethnic Hawaiians; (3) Advertiser letter to editor by Ken Conklin says failure of Akaka bill gives all Hawai'i a chance to honor Kamehameha's greatest achievement -- unity. Politicians should stop scrambling to find new ways to promote racial separatism; (4) New webpage takes note of Inouye's intention to file new legislation as some sort of Akaka-lite Plan B to protect race-based prpgrams, and provides arguments against it. See:
June 15: Leon Siu (Hawaiian entertainer) says the Supreme Court's vacating of the Arakaki 9th Circuit decision shows that the Akaka bill was not essential to protect Hawaiian programs; letter to editor laments that more huge fees for lobbyists are in the future as politicians plan to try for more legislation; letter by head of Kaua'i Democrat Party blames Republican Governor Lingle for failing to get President Bush to support Akaka bill.
June 16: (1) Honolulu Advertiser editorial "Hawaiian programs benefit whole society" concludes, "As for the race question, the courts have long recognized that extraordinary situations (slavery is the predominant example) call for extraordinary remedies. The task ahead for Hawaiians and those who support them is to convince the courts and policymakers that this, too, is an extraordinary situation demanding extraordinary remedies. (2) Article in Indian Country Today says Akaka bill failed because Bush administration leaned on Republicans who might otherwise have voted for cloture, and because of such secret maneivers, Inouye/Akaka feel justified on not discussing their plans to revive the bill.; (3) James Houston op-ed in Los Angeles Times tells his version of U.S. overthrowing Hawaiian Kingdom, Hawaiian language illegal, 1993 apology resolution, and says "The banner of colorblind pluralism can come in very handy when someone is asking the government to acknowledge rights that have been withheld along ethnic lines since the end of the 19th century."
June 17: Letter to editor says let's give up the Akaka bill idea, because even proposing it has been divisive.
June 18: Honolulu Star-Bulletin weekly Hawaiian language column says kanaka maoli (ethnic Hawaiians) are not Americans, and it is wrong for America to pass legislation determining their future. Commentary by OHA trustee Oswald Stender tries to respond to criticisms of the Akaka bill made by Republican Senators, and by Arakaki, Burgess, Conklin, Johnson, Twigg-Smith, and others -- "I say again that this is not a racial issue but rather about the survival of a race -- the Hawaiian race."
June 20: Honolulu Advertiser reporter (or is he a columnist in disguise?) Gordon Pang describes some ethnic Hawaiians who are desperately needy, and some race-based programs that are helping them; and then describes opposing views on whether race-based programs are legally and morally right; and then once again Gordon Pang beats the drum for the new bill Senator Inouye is writing to protect race-based programs.
June 21: OHA trustees and OHA head administrator "set the record straight" that Republican Governor Lingle was very helpful and aggressive lobbying Republican Senators and Republican President Bush on the Akaka bill, and the effort to pass the bill is bipartisan.
June 22: (1) Haunani Apoliona (OHA chair) commentary says failure of the cloture vote was setback but not a defeat. OHA is determined to protect (race-based) assets and race-based control of them; [Apoliona published a letter and a longer commentary on two consecutive days in the Honolulu Advertiser, violating a clearly-stated policy of that newspaper to limit any individual to one such item per month] (2) OHA trustee Boyd Mossman blames opponents of race-based programs for the fact that OHA spends megabucks to lobby for the Akaka bill and to defend lawsuits; (3) Star-Bulletin editorial says failure of Akaka bill makes it harder for kamehameha School to defend its race-based admissions policy in court, and editorial offers some possible legal theories for defending it; (4) Letter-to-editor says "Base entitlements on need, not ethnicity."
JUNE 23: (1) OHA VERSION OF PLAN B -- TRIBAL RECOGNITION BY STATE OF HAWAII TO CONSOLIDATE ASSETS UNDER RACIALLY EXCLUSIONARY CONTROL, AND AS STEPPING-STONE TO FEDERAL RECOGNITION. Hilo and Kona newspapers describe OHA concept. The idea is to use the Kau Inoa signup registry to create an elected "government"; then transfer to the new "tribe" all land and money currently under control of OHA, DHHL, and other state and federal government sponsored programs; then have the new entity apply for federal recognition.; (2) Article in Asian Week (leftist weekly journal headquartered in San Francisco) says Bush torpedoed Akaka bill that would have provided federal recognition to indigenous humans of Hawai'i, while also signing an order to protect indigenous seals by establishing the enormous Northwest Hawaiian Islands National Monument, a sanctuary of 140,000 square miles. "After shafting Native Hawaiians in their quest to seek official recognition through the Akaka bill, Bush simply needed something good enough to appease folks troubled by his racist stand on indigenous people. Out of political expediency, Bush became a seal hugger. The seals and fish and turtles were his shield to ward off any fallout from the Akaka bill."
KKK -- Klub Kanaka -- Office of Hawaiian Affairs confidential memo of June 2006 outlining OHA plans for setting up Hawaiian apartheid regime following failure of the Akaka bill. Follow the procedure outlined in the Akaka bill to create a racial private club "governing entity", transfer government land and money and political power to it, and then seek federal recognition. Full text of the OHA memo is provided along with analysis by Ken Conklin.
June 24: Honolulu Advertiser, a day after the Hilo and Kona newspapers, published a description of OHA's Plan B.
June 25: Article in Utah newspaper describes an ethnic Hawaiian lady weeping that she never learned Hawaiian because she wasn't allowed to speak it, and she is greatly saddened that the Akaka bill failed because she thinks it's needed to help Hawaiian culture and Kamehameha School survive. The article specifically points out that both Utah Senators are Republicans who voted against cloture, Senator Hatch had previously been a co-sponsor of the bill, and there are at least 3,642 ethnic Hawaiians in Utah.
June 28: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights publishes article entitled "'Akaka Bill' Key to Preserving Culture, Native Hawaiians Say"
June 29: Letter to editor by Robert B. Robinson, retired chairman and president, Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i, says ethnic Hawaiians would be harmed by making them like an Indian tribe, and that assistance should be based on need rather than race.
June 30: Earl Arakaki pokes fun at the new Akaka "Plan B"
DETAILS OF NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARY FOR JUNE 10-30 (about 75 pages for June 10-14, and 130 pages total)
Honolulu Advertiser, Saturday, June 10, 2006
Pride in shared heritage
By Loren Moreno
More than 25,000 plumeria blossoms adorned the neck and arms of the statue of Hawai'i's first monarch yesterday, the annual burst of flowers that kicks off the King Kamehameha Day celebrations.
But coming one day after a landmark Native Hawaiian recognition bill suffered a major setback in the U.S. Senate, the event also gave local residents an opportunity to discuss the future of the legislation.
More than 400 people, many visitors from out of state, witnessed the annual rite, now in its 63rd year.
Diane Aki, a pa'u princess representing O'ahu, said Native Hawaiians should use King Kamehameha Day as an opportunity to regroup and discuss how to proceed with one of the most important political issues facing the community.
"I think that it was just like a slap in the face for Hawaiians, for our ancestors," Aki said. "Everyone needs to move forward now and remember that fighting spirit of King Kamehameha."
Aki said King Kamehameha is the symbol of unity in Hawai'i and that his day should be a day for all Hawaiians to unite.
"No matter what happens with that bill, the king will live on," she said.
Anna Kaanapu attended yesterday's celebration with her 14-year-old great-granddaughter. She said King Kamehameha Day comes just in time to remind the Hawaiian community that there is still hope.
"I thought (the bill's defeat) was pretty sad, but I don't think it affected the happiness of this day," Kaanapu said as she sat on the lawn near the statue. "I would hope people talk about this," she said. "Keep it alive."
However, Fred Hirayama, a 71-year-old Kuli'ou'ou Valley resident, said he doesn't think King Kamehameha Day is the time to discuss political issues like the Akaka Bill.
"This is the biggest Hawaiian celebration. We should celebrate who we are and deal with those things another time," he said.
Hirayama said he believes the Akaka bill will live to see another fight in the U.S. Senate.
"This was expected. There was no way it would go through on first fly," he said.
Honolulu firefighters from Station Nine in Kaka'ako helped drape King Kamehameha's statue in hundreds of lei, and dancers from Halau Hula Olana performed during the lei ceremony.
King Kamehameha festivities continue today at 9:30 a.m. with the 90th annual King Kamehameha Day Floral Parade. It will begin at the intersection of King and Richards streets and continue to Kapi'olani Park at the end of Waikiki. The 2 1/2-hour parade will include floats, pa'u riders and marching bands.
Cora Fonseca, 40, of 'Aiea, helped Halau Hula Olana string some of the lei used during yesterday's event. She said King Kamehameha Day should be a time to reflect upon the Hawaiian culture.
"This is really a time to think about the things that make us stronger," Fonseca said, adding that it is a time for people to "be proud of their heritage and share it with the rest of the world."
James Hyde, 47, of Wai'anae, will portray King Kamehameha in today's parade. He said Hawaiians should follow Kamehameha's example of unity and come together during this important weekend.
"There are so many factions of Hawaiians," he said. "We should be as he was. He is the strength of all Hawaiians."
King Kamehameha Statue lei-draping gallery
** Photo -- firefighter nose-to-nose, forehead-to-forehead with lei-draped Kamehameha statue
# Na Hana No'eau O Ka Pakipaki — "artisans of the Pacific" — cultural festival at Kapi'olani Park will showcase Hawaiian games, demonstrations and cultural activities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
# The 90th annual King Kamehameha Floral Parade, starting at 9:30 a.m., will begin at the King and Richards streets intersection. The 2 1/2-hour parade will include floats, pa'u riders, marching bands and Kamehameha Schools cheerleaders. It will travel on King Street, turn makai on Punchbowl, then diamondhead on Ala Moana, continue down Kalakaua Avenue, onto Diamond Head and end at Kapi'olani Park. Events are free and open to the public.
Parades on Kaua'i and Maui along with a ho'olaulea, craft booths, and entertainers.
The 33rd annual King Kamehameha Hula Competition opens at Blaisdell Arena. Competition categories will include kahiko (traditional), 'auana (modern), kupuna wahine (women's chant), and combined male and female hula. From 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $8.50, $10 and $12 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com.
Conclusion of 33rd annual King Kamehameha Hula Competition, 1 to 8 p.m. at Blaisdell Arena. Tickets are $8.50, $10 and $12 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. For more information, contact the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission at 586-0333.
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Saturday, June 10, 2006
Failure of Akaka bill could mean trouble for senator
by Nancy Cook Lauer
Stephens Media Group
HONOLULU -- On the one hand, Sen. Daniel Akaka was able to get a majority of the U.S. Senate to agree to hear his bill. On the other hand, it wasn't enough.
A day after Akaka, D-Hawaii, fell four votes short of having his hard-fought bill on federal recognition for Native Hawaiians brought to full debate in the Senate, experts were mixed Friday on how harmful his failure will be to his heated primary battle with U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii. Or whether it will hurt him at all.
An Akaka Senate spokeswoman said the fight isn't over. Akaka will decide his next course of action after meeting with supporters, she said. Campaign spokeswoman Elisa Yadao agreed.
"He has support from the Senate from Democrats and Republicans across the country, which is an immense amount of progress... People in Hawaii will realize what an achievement it is to get as far as it did," Yadao said. "Sen. Akaka has said all along that this is an issue above and beyond politics."
That may not be enough.
"It can't help Akaka," said Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "He's a long-term incumbent, and he has built a lot of his career around this bill."
While Akaka "can always say he's making progress" by getting the Senate at least to consider taking up the bill and pulling both Republicans and Democrats to his side, Sabato said, "I'm sure Case will make the opposite argument that he's tried for years and can't get it done."
Case has to be very careful about how he presents this argument, however. Far better that he be able to offer alternatives than criticize Akaka outright, said University of Hawaii at Hilo political science professor Rick Castberg. That could backfire.
"That could be seen as mean-spirited," Castberg said. "A lot depends on how Case plays this. If he can offer an alternative without directly criticizing, he may capture a number of Republican voters as well."
Case, who has also supported the bill, seemed to be taking the high road Thursday. He couldn't be reached for further comment Friday.
"That's up to the people of Hawaii to assess," Case told Stephens Media on Thursday. "I don't think this is the day for campaigning."
Still, he said: "It is information that the voters are entitled to consider in the campaign."
Akaka bill opponent Ken Conklin, a retired philosophy professor from Boston, thinks Case should go beyond just offering an alternative to the bill.
"People who are loyal to Sen. Akaka will stay loyal to Sen. Akaka down to the bitter end," Conklin said. "This is a golden opportunity for Congressman Case to change his position and give the voters a clear choice."
Sabato and Castberg are predicting a close race.
While Case rankled the party faithful by challenging Akaka and was met with a cool reception at the state Democratic Party convention last month, the Sept. 23 primary is far from certain.
"I don't think it's one of those where it's over before it begins," Castberg said. "Some interesting people could vote in that primary, and they may not be as loyal as the rank-and-file Democrat will be."
Even the popularity of the Akaka bill itself among the voters of the state is an unknown. The few polls that have been conducted have been done by interested parties and have been generally criticized for lack of unbiased methodology and questions.
A May 23 poll of about 20,000 people by the conservative Grassroots Institute of Hawaii found two-thirds who responded were opposed to the bill. But Gov. Linda Lingle points to voters' support of a 1978 constitutional amendment creating the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as proof the public supports legislation helping Hawaiians.
The New York Times, June 11, 2006
Hawaiians Weigh Options as Native-Status Bill Stalls
By JANIS L. MAGIN
HONOLULU, June 10 — This weekend Hawaii celebrates the birthday of the king who united the islands nearly 200 years ago. But as the colorful flower leis were draped over a towering golden statue of the warrior king on Friday, the people of the state remained divided over whether the federal government should grant recognition to Hawaii's native people.
The issue was dealt what may turn out to be a fatal blow by the Senate on Thursday, when a bill giving Native Hawaiians the same legal standing as American Indians and Native Alaskans failed to get the 60 votes required to bring it to the floor for debate. The tally was 56 to 41, with Republicans casting all 41 no votes.
It has been nearly six years since Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Democrat of Hawaii, first introduced the measure popularly known in the islands as the Akaka bill. Although modified since its first introduction in July 2000, the bill, titled the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, proposes to create a governing body for the estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians in the United States.
The new governing body would have the power to negotiate with the federal and state authorities over the disposition of thousands of acres of land and other resources taken by the United States when the federal government annexed the islands in 1898.
Supporters in Hawaii say the legislation is necessary to protect the native culture and to shield programs benefiting Native Hawaiians from legal challenges, but critics counter that it is race-based legislation that could lead to secession.
Robin Puanani Danner, chief executive and president of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, said passage of the bill would be a continuation of the same recognition to Native Hawaiians that Congress has already extended to American Indians and Native Alaskans.
"It's the right thing to do for the people of Hawaii, native and nonnative," said Ms. Danner, who watched the Senate vote from the gallery. "In short, this bill puts everybody in our state at the table.
"We're all after the same thing: the health, well-being and perpetuation of the Native Hawaiian community and culture," she said in a telephone interview from Washington. "It's the source from where our state draws its identity."
Kamehameha Schools, the private institution endowed by a Hawaiian princess's multibillion-dollar trust whose Hawaiians-only admissions policy has been challenged in federal court, issued a statement saying school officials were disappointed by the Senate vote.
"We will continue to collaborate with the educators and organizations who are committed to improving the well-being of the Hawaiian people at the perpetuation of our culture," the school's trustees said in the statement.
H. William Burgess, a lawyer in Honolulu and the leader of a group called Aloha for All, which opposes the Akaka bill, said millions of dollars had been spent by the state and other organizations promoting what he said was a bad idea.
"As people learn more and more about it, they realize how dumb it is, creating a race-based government," said Mr. Burgess, who also represents a group of plaintiffs suing two state agencies, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, whose programs benefit Native Hawaiians.
Richard Rowland of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii said a poll conducted by his organization last month found that nearly 70 percent of more than 21,000 Hawaii residents contacted by telephone said they would support allowing people in the state to vote on the federal recognition bill before Congress considered it.
Mr. Rowland said the poll "told us that our elected officials are completely out of touch with their constituencies."
"It just affirmed the fact that the people want to vote on it," he said. "We found that two out of three residents of Hawaii are opposed to the Akaka bill, period. And last year we got almost the same thing."
Mr. Rowland said he had not spoken to Mr. Akaka about putting the measure before the people.
"It never crossed my mind," he said. "I think he's frozen in concrete in his approach. I think that no matter what happens, he's wedded to this idea, the Akaka bill idea."
Mr. Akaka is meeting with his supporters to determine what to do next, said his spokeswoman, Donna Dela Cruz.
"Senator Akaka was more energized this week after the vote, which caught a lot of people by surprise," she said, adding that Mr. Akaka was thrilled to have a chance to explain the bill to his Senate colleagues. "It was a victory for him just to talk about this issue on the floor."
Mr. Akaka had prepared to do that last fall, after lawmakers returned to Washington from their August break, but legislation providing aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina pushed discussion of the Hawaiian recognition bill to the side. Concerns were raised by the Bush administration at the time over the need to include language protecting military installations in Hawaii and prohibiting casino gambling. The bill was amended so that the Pentagon would not face negotiations over its land and to prohibit gambling in the islands.
The sides also disagree about whether the bill is likely to be revived, either this session or next, when the new Congress convenes in January.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the golden statue of King Kamehameha I across the street from Iolani Palace, the nation's only royal residence, was draped with dozens of giant leis to mark the birthday of the king, the legendary monarch who united the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1800's.
Kamehameha Day each year is observed on June 11, although since that falls on a Sunday this year, the official state holiday is Monday.
Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, June 11, 2006
Suits will continue without Akaka bill
By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer
In February 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision for Hawai'i, saying that serving as a trustee with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs cannot be restricted to Native Hawaiians.
A major point of the ruling was that the restriction was unconstitutional because it was based on race, not on a recognition that Native Hawaiians deserve treatment as a political entity such as Native American tribes.
The decision led to fears that government programs for Native Hawaiian programs would be in jeopardy. It prompted U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka in July of that year to introduce the bill that would essentially provide federal recognition to Native Hawaiians in an attempt to defuse the high court's decision.
But after six years, the bill named for its sponsor still languishes in Congress, stalled now that the U.S. Senate last week refused to force a vote on the legislation.
The setback for the bill means that the U.S. Supreme Court's pronouncement that Native Hawaiians are not a political entity remains the law of the land.
Because the legal landscape for Native Hawaiians remains the same, attorneys don't believe the Senate action will have a direct impact on two major federal pending court cases, one challenging Native Hawaiian programs funded by the state, the other addressing Kamehameha Schools admissions policy.
But more legal challenges can be expected in the future, according to H. William Burgess, an attorney in one of the two cases who filed a taxpayer lawsuit challenging state money going to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
"The challenges will continue until everybody in Hawai'i is required to follow the same rules," Burgess said.
He said those challenges would be filed even without the Akaka legislation, but Akaka bill supporters believe the legislation would deter or doom those future suits.
"It would bring the litigation to a quick close," said Jon Van Dyke, a University of Hawai'i law professor who has written in support of the bill.
The Akaka bill would establish a process for the federal government to formally recognize the 400,000 Native Hawaiians here and elsewhere as an indigenous people similar to American Indians and Alaska Natives. It would also lay out the procedure for a Native Hawaiian government that could negotiate with the United States and Hawai'i over land use and other rights.
Burgess, head of a loosely knit group called Aloha for All, is the lawyer representing Earl F. Arakaki and about a dozen others who challenged state government funding for OHA and the Hawaiian Home Lands program.
Although both sides are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, the merits of the lawsuit have yet to be decided.
The issue is whether taxpayers have legal standing to challenge the programs, a matter separate from whether Native Hawaiians are recognized by the federal government as an indigenous people.
The suit had been tossed by U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway Oki in 2004. In September, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated only a sliver of the suit, the part challenging state general funds going to OHA.
Lawyers for the state and OHA believe a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Ohio taxpayer case decided in May means the end of Burgess' challenge. Burgess, however, doesn't believe the Ohio case applies to his lawsuit.
The high court has yet to say whether it will hear the case.
The other major lawsuit deals with the Kamehameha Schools admissions policy, which is under challenge by lawyers for an unnamed, non-Native Hawaiian teenager and his mother.
In a 2-1 decision in August last year, a three-member panel of the 9th Circuit held that the school's policy of admitting only Native Hawaiians violate the federal civil rights law.
That decision, however, was withdrawn when the 9th Circuit agreed to rehear the case with an "en banc" panel of 15 appeals court judges. The hearing is scheduled for June 20 in San Francisco.
In that case, Kamehameha Schools, a charitable trust, has acknowledged that its policy is based on race, but is justified to remedy the social, economic and educational disadvantages of Native Hawaiians.
John Goemans, one of the lawyers for the teenager as well as Big Island rancher Harold "Freddy" Rice, whose challenge to the OHA voting led to the high court's 2000 ruling bearing his name, Rice v. Cayetano, said he doesn't think the lack of Akaka legislation has any bearing on the Kamehameha Schools case.
Eric Grant, a California lawyer and lead counsel for the teenager, agrees.
"It removes a potential distraction," he said.
But Van Dyke, one of OHA's lawyers and a consultant to Kamehameha Schools in its case, said the passage of the Akaka legislation would have helped the charitable trust, although he believes the schools have enough of a case to prevail.
FLURRY OF LAWSUITS
The legislation would have made it much clearer that the courts — in interpreting and applying the federal civil rights law — should defer to Congress' recognition of Native Hawaiians in allowing the private educational entity to defend its admission practices, Van Dyke said.
One of the school's main contentions is that Congress has already recognized racial preferences are permissible for a private educational institution by authorizing federal funds for loans and scholarships exclusively to Native Hawaiians.
Other lawsuits were filed in the wake of the Rice v. Cayetano ruling.
One was filed for 14 Hawai'i residents, including Ken Conklin, a non-Hawaiian who wanted to run for the OHA trusteeship. It led to U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor declaring unconstitutional the ban on non-Hawaiians running for OHA trusteeships, opening the office to other ethnic groups.
Another suit was filed by Patrick Barrett, a Mo'ili'ili resident, who unsuccessfully filed for an OHA loan.
He contested the constitutionality of OHA serving only Native Hawaiians, but Barrett's suit was dismissed before arguments on the merits of his case. U.S. District Judge David Ezra found that Barrett could not establish that the rejection was based on race because his loan application was insufficient.
In 2003, the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal.
Burgess said even if the Arakaki suit is thrown out because taxpayers don't have standing to sue, there will be other challenges, with or without the Akaka bill becoming law. Burgess maintains that the Rice v. Cayetano decision would still bar preferential treatment for one ethnic group.
"It'll be a long, slow process, but the challenges will continue," he said. "Those (government-funded) programs have no future."
He said the challenge might include someone who properly applies for any of those loan or educational programs.
"There are people who are prepared to go through that slower process if we have to," he said.
Van Dyke, however, believes the Akaka bill, by recognizing Native Hawaiians as a political entity, would bring an end to the legal challenges.
"The Akaka bill would have been very important simply to allow OHA and Kamehameha Schools and Hawaiian groups to get back to trying to achieve their mission rather than taking this rear guard action to defend their programs," he said.
Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, June 11, 2006
Sovereignty movement has many turning points
By Jan TenBruggencate
The Hawaiian sovereignty movement's path toward passage of the Akaka bill has been torturous, sometimes turbulent, and despite last week's defeat, has helped boost the great Hawaiian reawakening that has accompanied demands for nationhood.
"This movement has been so good in so many ways," said Jon Osorio, director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai'i.
Some argue that the movement dates back more than a century to the Ku'e petitions of 1897 and 1898, in which a majority of native Hawaiians signed petitions to Congress protesting U.S. annexation of Hawai'i.
Others argue it came out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s or that it was a natural outgrowth of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance of the 1970s.
Observers differ on the most important features in the sovereignty landscape, but high points include the land struggles of Kalama Valley and Kaho'olawe, anti-development and anti-militarization efforts, the 1978 Constitutional Convention in establishing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the passing by Congress and signing by President Clinton of the 1993 U.S. apology resolution.
Other key points are the activities surrounding the centennial of the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani and the establishment by several groups that sought to re-create a Hawaiian government, notably Ka Lahui, the Hawaiian Kingdom, the Reinstated Hawaiian Government and the Independent and Sovereign Nation of Hawai'i.
Even organized crime played a role. Attorney Poka Laenui, also known as Hayden Burgess, was among the earliest proponents of Hawaiian independence and he represented members of the Hawaiian underworld in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Laenui used a defense that to many seemed outrageous: that Hawaiian mobsters could not be prosecuted under U.S. law, since they were citizens of the Hawaiian nation and not subject to U.S. authority. It was sometimes successful as a legal maneuver, but it had a larger goal.
"We used the courts as an educational tool," he said.
Wesleyan University professor Kehaulani Kauanui said the apology resolution was the most critical turning point, in part because it established key facts about U.S.-Hawaiian history that activists no longer needed to argue.
"The apology resolution was absolutely pivotal," Kauanui said.
Laenui said the Hawaiian people were ready for the movement. "It wasn't a spark. It was dry grass that allowed many sparks to catch," he said.
It is clear that the effort to restore Hawaiian national sovereignty during the past three decades has walked hand-in-hand with the unprecedented rebirth of the Hawaiian cultural identity, the expansion of Hawaiian language and education, voyaging and navigating, hula and the martial arts, agriculture and conservation.
Many young Hawaiians in the new century are excited to embrace their culture, and while there were few opportunities two generations ago, today they have many paths along which they can exercise their heritage.
Sovereignty itself, however, has been elusive. And there is no consensus on whether the Akaka bill is part of the main flow toward a Hawaiian nation, a diversion, or a dam.
Osorio feels that the Hawaiian community is still wrestling with its options. The Akaka bill, he feels, interferes with a logical progression toward a Hawaiian nation.
Akaka bill supporter Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, a professor of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawai'i, said the measure might not be perfect, but can serve a function in a time of increasing challenges to Hawaiian programs, lands and benefits — a vehicle for preserving assets until something better comes along.
"We are caught between a rock and a hard place — which is not unusual for Hawaiians," she said.
Hawaiian filmmaker and writer Anne Keala Kelly said that while it's being sold as a Hawaiian bill, the Akaka bill actually serves the interests of the U.S. government against Hawaiians.
"This bill was written by non-Hawaiians in Washington, D.C., who got some Hawaiians to go along with it. I don't see this bill as being disconnected from the overthrow" of the Hawaiian nation, Kelly said.
Although for different reasons, Mililani Trask, an attorney and representative of indigenous peoples before the United Nations, also said she sees the Akaka bill as dangerous and not part of the sovereignty movement at all.
"You can't build a nation this way. How the hell can we get there? The people haven't been involved," she said.
But Kame'eleihiwa said the bill would provide Hawaiians with a recognized government that can negotiate with the U.S. And Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said it moves forward the desires set forth in the Ku'e petitions.
"Advocating self-determination for Hawaiians is giving voice to our ancestors," Apoliona said. "It's doing the business they left for us to finish."
Ironically, the Akaka bill has served as a unifier of some Hawaiian activist individuals and groups — but in opposition to the bill. A notable confederation called Hui Pu was formed to oppose the bill.
"The sovereignty movement is broad-based and quite diverse, but it is from the people," Osorio said.
The failure of supporters of the bill to gain the support of many sovereignty activists pretty much guarantees that the independence effort will continue outside the framework of the Akaka bill, he said.
Kauanui said she anticipates "a renewed sense of grassroots pro-independence Hawaiians trying to fight the state."
Honolulu Advertiser editorial cartoon by Dick Adair, Sunday June 11, 2006. Original URL:
Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, June 11, 2006
Hawaiians could hold swing vote
By Jerry Burris
The failure of the Hawaiian recognition or Akaka bill will generate political fallout for a long time.
The most immediate question is whether this will have much of an impact on the primary election fight between Sen. Daniel K. Akaka and Rep. Ed Case for the Democratic senatorial nomination. Akaka hitched his political reputation to this measure.
At a minimum, the Senate's action dulls Akaka's contention that he needs to be in Congress to see the bill passed. He was there, and it didn't.
Of course, Akaka could argue that this defeat makes it more important than ever that he be returned, since it will be next year at the earliest before this subject is revisited. The senator contends that his network of friends and alliances remains the best hope for the bill.
Case can reply that with the Akaka bill set aside for the moment, it is time to move on to other matters, such as his desire to begin building a new generation of leadership for Hawai'i in the Senate.
Since Case also supports the recognition measure, the best bet is that this issue will slip into second-rank importance in their race.
Back home, the Democrats will undoubtedly use this setback to raise questions about Gov. Linda Lingle's influence in Republican-dominated Washington. One of her key campaign planks four years ago was her promise to use her influence with the Bush administration and Republican senators to get the Akaka bill through.
So much for that.
In the end, Lingle couldn't even manage to keep the Bush administration neutral on the matter. At the very last minute, the Justice Department (saying it spoke for the Bush administration) weighed in firmly against the Akaka bill in a letter to the Senate leadership.
But unlike four years ago, there's a new approach: Lingle this year is unlikely to make much about her close relationship with Bush and his administration in the current campaign. So there will be few opportunities for the Democrats to play the "influence-shminfluence" card anyway.
The biggest political fallout is likely to come within the Hawaiian community. Will this defeat serve as a rallying point for Hawaiians who feel they deserve federal recognition?
If it does, and if the Hawaiian community can come to anything close to a consensus agreement on what steps should come next, it will make up a formidable voting bloc in the fall elections.
The task ahead is to move beyond federal recognition of Hawaiians to the larger issue of Hawaiian self-determination and the myriad programs that focus on Hawaiian betterment, from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and various federal health and educational programs to Hawaiian Homelands itself.
Candidates who have clear ideas and answers to these issues will find themselves far ahead of the pack as the 2006 election rolls around.
Jerry Burris is The Advertiser's editorial page editor.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sunday June 11, 2006
Bill's defeat may spring Akaka to victory
A DEFEAT in Washington might be just what U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka's campaign needs for a November victory back here in Hawaii.
Last week his colleagues turned back Akaka's nearly seven-year quest for a native Hawaiian sovereignty recognition bill. In its final days, the bill was more noted for its dwindling support than its chances of passage, as first the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and then the Bush administration urged rejection. In the end, the Senate declined to break the holds placed on it by several Republicans, and the Akaka Bill never got to the floor for a vote.
But within that defeat there is at least half of what could be a winning strategy for Akaka's fall re-election campaign against U.S. Rep. Ed Case.
For those both cynical and pragmatic enough to run a winning political campaign, the victorious formula is a mixture of opportunities presented.
For Akaka, last week's defeat was not so much a failure for him, but a victory for opponents of the Akaka Bill. Akaka did not falter; George Bush and the Republicans beat him. If the bill had reached the floor for a vote it would have had enough votes for passage, as 56 senators voted to break the hold, but Akaka needed 60 votes to move the cloture motion.
Observers and politicians already are saying off the record that the Hawaii Democrat now is free to blame the Republicans for his bill's defeat. Rep. Neil Abercrombie has spent years defining the Akaka Bill opponents as "racists," so it will not be hard to heat up the campaign year rhetoric and GOP bashing.
Akaka also can use the summer and fall stump time to talk about what might have been if his bill had passed. In doing so, he will be free to gloss over the measure's controversial issues, which have multiplied as publicity rose about the bill.
For instance, despite assurances by supporters, critics feared the bill would destroy local property values and plunge the state into economic uncertainty, with investors unwilling to risk money in a state with a oddly bifurcated legal system. Others have said the Akaka Bill would threaten land now owned or laws now passed if they became subject to the rule of a native Hawaiian authority. Although those objections have been disputed, Akaka is spared having to defend the bill against those sort of worries, because it didn't pass.
And it opens a precarious strategy for his Democratic opponent, Ed Case. If Case rushes to say he could have done better, it invites comparison of the influence and seniority of a three-term incumbent such as Akaka with Case's few years of congressional duty.
The Senate's rebuff, however, gives Akaka a chance to raise the hopes for a just and final decision if he is returned to office.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 11, 2006
Hawaiians must resist politics of dependency
by Kaleihanamau Johnson
HAVING lived in Venezuela for 10 years, I experienced firsthand the economic and social crises that led to the dictatorship that now exists there.
President Hugo Chavez and his government successfully divided Venezuelans, stirring sentiments of hatred between his supporters and the opposition. Promises of benefits were made to Venezuelans that parallel those proposed in the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (Akaka Bill): medical benefits, education, employment, social services, agrarian reform, the right to self-determination and self-governance. These benefits were to be funded by proceeds from the petroleum industry in Venezuela and by state taxes and federal pork in Hawaii.
Organized marchers in red T-shirts were a sight all too familiar in Venezuela as paid supporters of the government made public appearances at a moment's notice, and the following week formed queues at banks to cash their paychecks. The intent was not to enrich the poor but to create a dependent majority to back the socialist government, thereby sustaining the momentum of its power to change the economy from private ownership to state control of resources, capital and labor.
In the meantime the poor are still poor, although they now receive enough support from the government to keep them loyal and compliant. There is no end in sight to this one-party system supported by petroleum and a poor majority. The movement is sweeping Latin America.
I RETURNED to Hawaii three years ago, and have observed the same pattern unfolding. Here also, the hidden tactic of the state is not to better the condition of a select class, the native Hawaiians, but to make that class dependent on the government. Because Hawaiians are seen as the "swing" vote, they must be kept dependent or the (socialist) government (with its Republican governor and Democratic Legislature) stands to lose in the future elections.
Creating and perpetuating dependency on government as the path to getting and keeping political power is addictive. For the rulers of Hawaii, both executive and legislative, keeping Hawaiians in a state of dependency, like any addiction, has become the thing that makes their lives worth living. How else to explain the state political establishment's almost unanimous support for the Akaka Bill? The Akaka Bill would put native Hawaiians into the same legal status as the most dependent group of people in the nation.
IT GRIEVES me to have seen it before, lived through it, lost all material wealth and a great portion of my life work because of a dictator kept in office by a culture of dependency, then to come home to start anew in mid-life and see the same bad seed bearing fruit here. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, hoarding about $350 million in trust for Hawaiians (the small, and always shrinking, number of persons of not less than one-half part of the blood) now seeks to vastly expand the subjects under its dominion to include the more than 400,000 and constantly growing number of persons with even a drop of Hawaiian ancestry.
There is no need to look further than the marriage between the Bishop Estate and the state of Hawaii to recognize the ramifications if the Akaka Bill comes to pass and a nation within a nation materializes. Consider this: Bernice Pauahi Bishop was a member of the class that exercised absolute rule until 1819, and from then until 1893 as a monarchy; a one-party system. Her wealth descended, in the purest sense, from the enslavement of others. The trust survives today thanks to the institution of private property as we know it.
The Apology Resolution signed by President Clinton states that at the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778 the land was held in communal tenure and therefore, private property was nonexistent. As proposed by the Akaka Bill, the ceded lands and Hawaiian Home Lands are to be held in common for the benefit of native Hawaiians. Shouldn't then the land of the Bishop Estate be converted to the classification, by definition of the Apology Resolution, as communal tenure held in trust for Hawaiians? What of the other trusts of chiefly estates?
Many persons of Hawaiian ancestry have had their hands in the cookie jar as trustees, administrators and elected officials; such as OHA, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Bishop Estate, executors and legislators for decades. If among the lot of them they have yet to do the right thing by Hawaiians, such as give title to Hawaiian homesteaders for their own prosperity, why should they be trusted now to govern? The DHHL alone is responsible for keeping Hawaiians at a disadvantage by denying them the right to own their land.
ELECTED OFFICIALS, both Democratic and Republican, who support the Akaka Bill show their fear of public opinion by denying the citizens of Hawaii the right to vote because, in all probability, the democratic method will work in favor of the opponents. No elected official is entitled to a government job; that is why we vote.
The Akaka Bill is written to create a dependent class of an unprecedented multitude, to politically and racially divide us, steal our freedom by not recognizing private property and subject the people of Hawaii to socialized living in perpetuity. It is not a just settlement but the beginning of a great conflict.
Kaleihanamau Johnson traveled by sailboat through most of Polynesia with her parents, Rockne H. Johnson, a geophysicist, and Rubellite K. Johnson, professor emerita of Hawaiian literature. She is working on her bachelor's degree in history.
Honolulu Advertiser, June 11, 2006
3 LETTERS TO EDITOR
HAWAI'I IS BETTER OFF WITHOUT AKAKA BILL
My thanks to those who worked for the defeat of the Akaka bill.
The bill was a bad idea. It was opposed by the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Commission. It was racist and would have set up a bureaucracy that would forever have drained money from the taxpayers.
Ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to equality, nothing more, nothing less. Anything that fragments us into favored groups and unfavored groups is fundamentally flawed.
The bill is wrong in its very fundamentals and cannot be fixed by any tweaking. Hawai'i is better off without the Akaka bill.
RACE-BASED BILL WAS OPPOSED BY MAJORITY
Finally! I am so relieved to hear that the U.S. Senate failed to garner sufficient votes to bring the Akaka bill up for a full Senate vote, effectively killing it for the year.
This race-based entitlement bill is opposed by the majority of Hawai'i's residents and should be voted on by the populace of our state, where it would be defeated once and for all.
Kea'au, Hawai'i Island
AKAKA BILL WAS NOT THE CORRECT VEHICLE
Sen. Mitch McConnell's comments capture the essence of the Akaka bill flaws. Sens. Inouye and Akaka cannot make us (Native Hawaiians) something we are not nor have ever been, and that is tribal. We are not Indian, although the suffrage has similarities.
The Akaka bill would give authority to the Department of the Interior. This vehicle places a ball and chain on all Americans of Hawaiian ancestry. Look at the order of things: Hawai'i was a nation first. We still have to care for all the people of Hawai'i, including Native Hawaiians. So, if that means giving back to Native Hawaiians for those injustices, then we should do that; we should take care of every person who lives in Hawai'i regardless of race.
Correcting Hawaiian injustices is not about special preferences; this is about what the United States illegally took from Native Hawaiians. This is about doing it in such a way that the people of Hawai'i will support rectifying those injustices. We all must live here in harmony. There is an avenue to correct this; we just have not found the right one yet.
The Maui News, June 11, 2006, letter to editor
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Bill a calculated effort to subjugate Hawaiians
Ben Cayetano's pro-Akaka Bill letter June 5 has made it clear that the bill is flawed and will hurt the kanaka maoli.
The Akaka Bill does not correct the injustices that have plagued the kanaka maoli since 1893 as Cayetano claims. Rather, it glosses over the theft that began more than a 100 years ago and continues today.
The letter exposes the bill's deception. It is being presented as reparation for the kanaka maoli, but, in reality, the bill is a calculated legal maneuver to make the theft permanent and to give the U.S. vindication for its illegal and immoral acts.
An important fact to remember, according to Cayetano, is that non-Hawaiians will control the resources for the Hawaiians. In other words, unless the kanaka maoli take a "Yes, sir, master" position in society, they will not get the crumbs that the U.S. throws their way, which also means that the kanaka maoli could lose their benefits at any time.
Thus, one can conclude that the Akaka Bill is aimed at permanently keeping kanaka maoli beggars in their own country. Unfortunately, the Akaka Bill is a farce, and its purpose is to reward the U.S. for having robbed the kanaka maoli of their lands, language, culture and dignity.
Chaz K. Joy
Hawaii Reporter, June 12, 2006
People, Not Government, Reign Supreme
Lessons Learned in Washington By Proponents and Opponents of the 'Akaka Bill'
By Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai
A funny thing happened on the way to Washington, D.C. last week.
The widely accepted local belief that the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act, S.147, also known as the "Akaka Bill," was going to sail through and be enacted into law by Congress, was proven absolutely false.
Despite 6 years of political maneuvering and posturing by some of Hawaii's leading political figures, power brokers, special interest groups, mainstream media, outrageous (and untrue) statements by proponents, millions of tax dollars spent for advertising, public relations and political consulting, the bill still failed.
Even with major political arm-twisting, first class junkets, and a successful attempt to keep the issues of the bill concealed from Hawaii residents by negotiating the bill's final language in secret, the bill is still as dead as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who says he can revive the bill this year, shows once again that he is in a virtual world of non-reality if he really thinks the bill will come up again with this President and this Congress. It just won't happen.
Little reported by the mainstream Hawaii media, was that eight Hawaii residents (including Native Hawaiians) went to Washington last week on their own dime -- not taxpayer funds -- to set the record straight by talking personally with individual Senators, their staff, and private free market organizations, such as the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Tax Reform.
The "Hawaii Eight" had different interests and focus in opposition to the bill but were united in the belief that its passage would be bad for Hawaii and bad for Native Hawaiians. Their message was successfully delivered.
My interest in going to D.C. was threefold:
* (1) to strongly restate my support for a fair settlement of the promises made by the United States government to Native Hawaiians by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1921 and the Hawaii Admission Act of 1959. I also support the granting of fee simple interests in their homestead leases, and educational provisions of the private will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop. I do not in any way seek to diminish any right or opportunity of Native Hawaiians, or anyone else, to improve their conditions and participate more fully in the American Dream. None of these worthy goals, however, requires carving a separate government out of the state of Hawaii;
* (2) to support another measure (other than the divisive Akaka bill) or method of righting admitted wrongs at issue, and
* (3) to explain why I was the only member of the 76-person Hawaii State Legislature to actually vote "no" on the Akaka Resolution (HCR 56, SD1) of 2005, even while our Republican governor has passionately been urging passage of the bill.
I thought it important to speak out and to offer a different perspective on S. 147 (and its last minute amended successor S.3064), the "Akaka Bill."
A number of my colleagues, community and business leaders, and Native Hawaiians, had grave unanswered concerns about this measure. There is a broad array of issues and questions not addressed here in Hawaii.
At the very least, one necessary amendment was a requirement that a vote be taken in Hawaii prior to any adoption of the Akaka bill. Supporters were adamantly opposed.
During the 2006 Hawaii Legislative Session, which concluded May 4, I offered a Resolution (S.C.R. 78) simply calling for a public debate, referendum, or plebiscite here in Hawaii on S147.
Hawaii has no statewide initiative, referendum or recall. My Resolution was never given a hearing. Instead, those who have raised questions, have been personally attacked by spokespeople from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), the appointed state Attorney General, other members of the state administration, and the "drive by" media.
The chair of the United States Civil Rights Commission, Gerald Reynolds, was viciously attacked by Hawaii's Attorney General after the Commission advised against passage of the bill, saying, "it was the worst piece of legislation they ever reviewed." I met with Mr. Reynolds, an African American attorney from Kansas City. He did not deserve the personal attack.
OHA, using Hawaii taxpayer money, has spent lavishly, in a major lobbying and PR effort here in Hawaii and in Washington, including retaining the firm of Patton Boggs at a cost of $660,000-plus, yet still refusing to document its total public expenditures or to sponsor or support a public vote.
A rally, organized on the Capitol lawn by OHA, brought in six of nine OHA Trustees, staff, friends, former Gov. John Waihee, former state Supreme Court Justice, now consultant, Robert Klein, University of Hawaii president David McClain and others. Republican Congressional candidate Quentin Kawananakoa, attended, presumably on his own, and used the event for a filmed campaign speech and ad.
Conflicts of interest have been documented related to Native Hawaiian assets previously.
New expensive OHA advertising, under the banner and logo of "Federal Recognition," began yesterday in the Hawaii print media.
In Hawaii, where we poll for everything all the time -- including the naming of the state fish (the "humuhumunukunukuapua'a"), there has been no "official" (released) poll on the Akaka bill. One must wonder why. Three polls -- one by OHA and the other two by the free market think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii -- are the only polls released and publicized and they show different answers to different questions:
In its telephone poll of 604 voters (303 Hawaiians and 301 non-Hawaiians) in July, 2003, OHA said the majority of respondents think Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct group similar to the special recognition given to Native Americans and Native Alaskans. Meanwhile Grassroot Institute surveyed every household (over 300,000) with telephones in the State of Hawaii, one in July, 2005, and the second just completed in May, 2006, showing that 2 to 1 consistently answered "No" to the question, "Do you want Congress to approve the Akaka Bill?"
A reasonable person would have to ask, "Why do the supporters not want transparency? Why don't they want to openly debate, and perhaps amend, the original Akaka legislation?"
Maybe, part of the reason is that University of Hawaii political science professor, Neil Milner, consultant to the supporters of the bill, urged them to, "keep the bill below the radar." They have succeeded. In Hawaii only.
The latest version of the Akaka bill, S.3064, was shrouded in secrecy, with a reluctance to specifically discuss what the term, Hawaiian "entity" actually means. Issues such as "nationhood," sovereignty, secession, gambling, taxation, land use and claims, in addition to racial preferences, have been shrugged off by the supporters with basically, a "trust me," attitude. In fact, Senior Democrat U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, at the state Democratic Party Convention in Honolulu in late May, spoke to Americans of Japanese Ancestry, reassuring them to put aside their hesitancy on the bill by trusting him.
Troubling to many was the claim by supporters that the bill had in fact been amended several times "to address your concerns." Yet, no one, until the last few days prior to the Washington vote, actually had ready access to the "finished" product, which must have been amended behind closed doors.
It seems that the Akaka bill also had been caught up in the desperate attempt to re-elect 81-year-old Sen. Akaka who is being challenged by Democrat U.S. Congressman Ed Case. You may have read recently in Time magazine that Sen. Akaka was listed as one of the five worst and least effective Senators. That set off a political firestorm here and resulted in renewed efforts to pass the Akaka bill now. It seemed that the bill was more about Sen. Akaka than Hawaiian rights. His performance in the Senate, viewed on C-SPAN by many here, and the failure of the bill, did not do anything to erase Time's subjective perception.
But why would the Republican governor, the first in 45 years, support the Democrat bill and make four trips to Washington on Akaka's behalf? And lobby Republicans here and there so strongly while not honoring her signed No Tax Pledge? The governor said because she promised OHA she would support the bill during her campaign in 2002. She kept her promise.
Many Republicans here have taken no public position on Akaka because they, like I, support and respect our governor. She is a breath of fresh air at the Capitol on many issues, but has disappointed on others, while being a tireless lobbyist for this legislation. But privately, they are concerned that the Akaka bill was out of touch with the people of Hawaii and Republicans should more properly support a Republican initiative more closely attuned to the will of the people of Hawaii to guarantee the rights of Hawaiians and all citizens, with support of the U.S. Constitution and the United States of America, rather than rescue a failed Democrat proposal.
Many remember that it was former Republican Congresswoman Pat Saiki of Hawaii who prevailed on then President George H.W. Bush, to halt the military target bombing of Kahoolawe Island; something important to Native Hawaiian groups and something Democrats could not accomplish previously even with a Democrat president and Congress.
To this day, neither Mrs. Saiki, nor President Bush, receive recognition or respect from Democrats for their efforts. Many of us believe this will be the same scenario with Akaka; if passed, no respect for Lingle; with lack of passage, Lingle and other Republicans being blamed for the failed Democrat bill, nationally and in the Fall Hawaii elections.
To many people last Thursday, June 8, the cloture vote (not a vote on the bill itself) was a "nail biter," falling just four votes short of the required 60 votes. The actual vote was 56 for cloture, 41 against and 3 (two Democrats and one Republican) absent.
The reality, however, was that it was a careful choreographed vote that was not in doubt; especially since the President and the Department of Justice, came out with a strongly worded rejection on Wednesday before the vote. Had cloture somehow succeeded, the vote on the bill after debate would have killed it since all 42 present Democrats voted for cloture and for their friends Senators Akaka and Inouye, but stated they would vote against the bill if it went further.
(To prove this, note that Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) strongest opponent of Akaka, voted for cloture because of previous promises to Inouye, while he, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and other Democrats would have voted no on the final bill.
Some people just don't get it. After leaving the Senate gallery after the historic vote, one of the OHA Trustees told me in the stairwell, "You better not gloat; this is only one vote." As I told her, I wasn't there to gloat; I was there to secure rights for all citizens of Hawaii regardless of race or ethnicity.
While the bill failed to garner the votes for cloture and an additional vote, the people of Hawaii actually won as did the process of right over might and transparency over back door secretive politics.
Now that the vote has been taken and everyone, except perhaps Sen. Akaka, knows his bill is history, maybe we can turn our efforts to passing a bill at the state level that genuinely addresses the real problems facing Native Hawaiians and solving them without political and ego posturing.
Hawaii should settle its internal issues prior to outside federal intervention and can address the problems of Native Hawaiian rights globally by including all residents in an open and fair process.
Sam Slom is a Republican state Senator representing the Hawaii Kai to Diamond Head areas on Oahu. Reach him via email at mailto:Sbh@lava.net
Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, June 12, 2006
Rally cry at lei draping: 'We are not deterred'
By Dennis Camire
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Many in the crowd that gathered yesterday for the annual lei draping of the King Kamehameha statue in the nation's Capitol were upbeat and determined not to give up even though the Senate dealt a severe blow last week to the Native Hawaiian recognition bill.
"Despite the setback ... we are not deterred, nor are we defeated," Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said before the crowd of about 350 people.
"We will continue our efforts to advance appreciation and understanding of Native Hawaiians by policymakers and policy implementers, as well as through those who make the difference in determining both: the voters," she said.
Aurora Jane Scott of Richmond, Va., said federal recognition for Native Hawaiians is a good idea and a way to help keep the Hawaiian culture alive.
"I don't think they should give up," said Scott, a graduate of Wai'anae High School. "It's hard but still they should go on."
The ceremony observed Kamehameha Day. It began with traditional Hawaiian music and hula. It concluded with the draping of leis on the 12-foot black-and-gold-colored bronze statue in Statuary Hall.
On most people's minds was the Senate defeat Thursday of an effort to bring the Native Hawaiian bill to the floor for debate and a vote. With help from the White House, which announced late Wednesday it opposed the bill, conservative Republicans turned back a strong bipartisan push on a 56-41 vote, with 60 votes needed to bring the bill up.
In a statement read to yesterday's crowd, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, chief sponsor of the bill, said it is "unlikely" that the bill will be considered again before the end of the congressional session in January.
"I am currently working on a strategy for the remainder of 2006," said Akaka, who is Native Hawaiian. "However, I will be ready (for more action this year) should the opportunity present itself."
Akaka said supporters are developing potential strategies for next year after the new Congress begins.
"One of our biggest challenges, however, is addressing the misinformation campaign against the bill," he said. "We need to ensure that the people of Hawai'i understand what this bill is really about, what the federal policy of self-governance and self-determination means, and how this bill is important to all of us in Hawai'i."
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, a sponsor of the House version of the bill, said what is needed to carry the battle for recognition forward is unity among the Hawaiian community and its legislative delegations.
"Politics is what we're talking about here today," Abercrombie said. "People vote for you for their reasons, not yours."
Delegate Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, added his call for unity among the Hawaiians in presenting their case to the rest of the country. "This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue," he said. "This is an issue of fairness and justice for our Native Hawaiian people."
Kamaka Cooper, who is originally from Kohala on the Big Island and lives in Vienna, Va., said she believed the bill was defeated by misinformation "and not by malice or anything of that nature."
"We just need to do a better job of educating people," she said.
Kawai Palmer, president of the Kauwahi 'Anaina Hawai'i Hawaiian Civic Club in Provo, Utah, said Native Hawaiian recognition would let others know that while Hawai'i is a part of the United States, it has an indigenous people just as do other parts of the country.
"This bill helps them, like the American Indians, have certain opportunities," said Palmer, originally from Kahana Bay. "We may have lost this battle but we haven't lost the war."
The King Kamehameha statue in Washington's Statuary Hall was festooned with lei yesterday. The ceremony included hula and music.
Hula dancers performed at the lei-draping ceremony yesterday for the King Kamehameha statue in Washington's Statuary Hall. The event marked the king's June 11 birthday and drew about 350 people.
Wall Street Journal, OpinionJournal.com, Monday, June 12, 2006
JOHN FUND ON THE TRAIL
A serious challenge to Hawaii's octogenarian junior senator.
A longtime wheelhorse of Hawaii's rusting Democratic machine could lose his U.S. Senate seat because of what happened on the Senate floor Thursday. For six years Sen. Daniel Akaka's signature legislation was a bill that would give Native Hawaiians their own race-based, sovereign government, much as many mainland Indian tribes have. But last week, by a vote of 56-41, the Senate fell short of mustering the needed 60 votes to bring his bill to a formal vote.
The bill's failure opens up the 81-year-old Mr. Akaka to charges that he is ineffective and increasingly irrelevant. His primary battle this September against Rep. Ed Case now becomes a real dogfight between a reflexively liberal incumbent and a much more moderate challenger.
While Native Hawaiians deserve better than what they have, the bill Mr. Akaka put forward as an attempt to redress their grievances was profoundly misguided. The people of Hawaii are a true melting pot, living in remarkable harmony. The intermarriage rate is so high that more than 90% of those who claim Hawaiian heritage do so by virtue of ancestry that is less than half Hawaiian. Until a few years ago, Hawaiians never contemplated being treated as the equivalent of an Indian tribe. Creating a separate government that would subject people who pass a test for "Hawaiian blood" to a different set of legal codes would not have produced racial reconciliation. It would have been a recipe for permanent racial conflict.
Sen. Akaka undermined his own bill last year when he made statements to National Public Radio that the sovereignty granted Native Hawaiians in the bill could eventually lead to secession. "That could be," he said. "As far as what's going to happen at the other end, I'm leaving it up to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
After a storm of criticism, Senator Akaka sought to clarify his remarks and make clear that he personally didn't support "independence or secession." But he carefully avoided clarifying whether or not secession was possible. "After the Native Hawaiian governing entity is recognized, these issues will be negotiated between the entity and the Federal and State governments," he wrote. Small wonder that within the last month both the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Justice Department decided to oppose the Akaka bill as unconstitutional.
Supporters of the Akaka bill are privately concerned that their champion put in such a weak performance pushing their pet legislative priority. Hawaii TV viewers who caught the Senate debate saw a tentative and lackluster performance by the senator. It reminded many that last April, Time magazine listed Mr. Akaka as one of the five worst senators, calling him "living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise." It dismissed him as "a master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee."
It doesn't surprise political observers in Hawaii that Mr. Akaka is ducking invitations to debate Mr. Case. Honolulu Advertiser columnist David Shapiro says that a debate for the incumbent "could be disastrous if he were to stumble and show his age . . . but if Akaka ducks Case, he risks leaving the impression that he doesn't have enough left to stand up to the pressure of tough questioning."
There is no doubting that Mr. Case is a tough opponent. Last month, Mr. Akaka ridiculed the congressman before the state Democratic convention as someone who hides behind a "fiscal conservative" label as a way of justifying his vote for extending the Bush tax cuts and shortchanging traditional liberal values. Mr. Case responded that he was a good Democrat, citing his support of the Akaka bill among other things. But he said he believed a more pragmatic approach was necessary to get actual legislation passed.
Mr. Case is not your typical Hawaii Democrat. A 53-year-old cousin of former AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case, he has always had a more moderate public image. His ratings from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since his election to Congress in 2002 have hovered around 50%. Mr. Akaka, on the other hand, is more of a traditional liberal with Chamber ratings of about 30%. He and his 81-year-old Senate colleague, Daniel Inouye, helped found the modern Hawaii Democratic Party back in the early 1960s.
That Democratic machine has tangled with Mr. Case before. In 2002, he challenged Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono in the Democratic primary for governor. Mr. Case ran on an unabashed reform platform, calling for greater transparency in government, reform of the state's collective-bargaining system and modest privatization of services. Unions vowed to defeat Mr. Case and cranked up their get-out-the-vote efforts. Ms. Hirono eked out a 1% victory.
But Mr. Case was able to recoup his political fortunes later that year when he won a sudden special election called to replace Rep. Patsy Mink when she died in office. The governor's race was eventually won by Linda Lingle, the first Republican to be elected governor in more than 40 years. Ms. Lingle, who broke ranks with many conservatives in her party and made four trips to Washington to lobby for the Akaka bill, suffered a severe loss of prestige with its defeat. But unlike Mr. Akaka, she has built a solid base of support in both parties and has no effective opponent this fall.
Mr. Case insists that he has the greatest respect for the venerable Sen. Akaka. But he also is clear that "it's time for a new generation of leadership in Hawaii." A lot of voters apparently agree. A poll taken by the Case campaign last month showed him trailing the three-term incumbent by only 40% to 38%. An even more recent poll by the Grassroot Institute, a local think tank, showed Mr. Case in the lead. Most significantly, the Akaka campaign has conducted its own polls but it refuses to release them to the public. The betting is that with the defeat of his signature legislative priority, Mr. Akaka will continue to decline to debate his opponent and try to save his seat by having machine leaders to attack Mr. Case as a crypto-Republican.
There's one problem with that strategy: No credible Republican filed to run for Mr. Akaka's Senate seat this year, and Republicans are free to vote in this September's Democratic primary. Given that President Bush won 45% of the vote in Hawaii in 2004, their numbers are not insignificant and could sway a Democratic primary if Mr. Akaka runs too aggressively to the left.
Hawaii is still a Democratic state, but it is not nearly as liberal as it used to be. The word "Aloha" means both hello and goodbye. Hawaii voters may say it twice this year, once to bid Mr. Akaka goodbye and the other to welcome a modern Democrat as their new senator.
The Garden Island News (Kaua'i), June 12, 2006
State reps talk about Akaka bill's failure
By Cynthia Kaneshiro The Garden Island
As people across the island celebrated Kamehameha Day yesterday, two state representatives commented on last week's failure of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka's bill that would have given more protection to entitlement programs for Native Hawaiians.
State Rep. Ezra Kanoho, D-Lihu'e-Koloa, said he was disappointed the Akaka bill did not pass.
"I do believe firmly, on behalf of all the Hawaiian people, it meant so much to us in terms of protecting our entitlements, such as OHA and Hawaiian Home Lands," Kanoho said.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was established in 1978 by a constitutional amendment to oversee a trust to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. The trust's money comes from revenues generated from about 1.8 million acres of ceded lands taken by the U.S. government after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, and put into state hands.
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands grew out of the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Part of its mission is to make homestead land affordable to those who are at least half Native Hawaiian.
"We are losing our ability as Hawaiians to manage our land assets, which have been designated to be in the control of Hawaiian people," Kanoho said, adding that Hawaiians should regroup and try again for federal recognition.
State Rep. Hermina Morita, D-North Kaua'i, said she strongly supported the Akaka bill.
"I believe Hawaiian entitlements are in jeopardy, and the U.S. Supreme Court is threatening assets that rightly belong to Hawaiians," she said.
In its 2000 Rice v. Cayetano ruling, the high court struck down by 7-2 vote a law that only Hawaiians could vote in OHA trustee elections. The court ruled the voting violated the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for equal protection under the law.
Morita said the court could also threaten the Kamehameha Schools.
The school was set up under the 1884 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. In it, preference has been given to those who are Native Hawaiian to attend the private pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school.
The school's admissions policy is being challenged in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and could reach the Supreme Court.
The Akaka bill would have also given federal recognition to Native Hawaiians, similar to the way American Indians are recognized.
One difference, however, is that the Akaka bill did not grant gambling rights to Native Hawaiians. In fact, Morita said a provision specifically prohibited gambling.
"That issue was dealt with early on," she said.
Agape News ("Reliable news from a Christian source"), June 12, 2006
Senate Republicans Foil Attempt to Establish 'Native Hawaiian' Gov't
By Chad Groening
(AgapePress) - A military analyst and former officials in the Reagan Defense Department says it's outrageous that the Senate even considered a bill that opponents contend would have allowed the island of Hawaii to create an autonomous, race-based government capable of pulling the state out of the union if it chose.
It is called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, and critics say it would allow Hawaii to establish a race-based government dominated by "native" Hawaiians -- if the Senate passed it, which it did not. Like the Marriage Protection Amendment last week, this measure failed to garner the 60 votes needed to keep it alive, falling four votes short (56-41) on Thursday (June 8). Only this time around, all those voting against the S.R. 147, sponsored by Democratic Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, were Republicans.
Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy is among those critical of the legislation. He cites what he sees could have been detrimental impacts on the nation as a whole.
"The effect could be to enable this new race-based government to decide that it wants to opt out of the 50 states of this union, taking with it not only the wonderful tourist sites of Hawaii but also the strategically critical military facilities," says the Center president.
While intended to give indigenous Hawaiians some of the same powers of self-governance enjoyed by American Indians, Gaffney fears that the legislation instead could have encouraged other groups to push for the same kind of autonomy. "I think it's entirely possible you'd see people coming out of the woodwork, saying, 'You know that deal that the native Hawaiians got in S-147? We want that, too. We want to be able to govern ourselves in our own way. And if it involves leaving the Union, so be it,'" he suggests.
Among those groups pushing for similar powers, he says, would be "... people like the Reconquistas, who think they ought to take back part of the United States for Mexico, or Islamists who think they ought to have the right to run their community by a Taliban-style sharia religious code."
Such legislation, he says, also could accelerate the process of unraveling the United States as a nation. "You know, we fought a civil war to keep people from doing this sort of thing," says Gaffney, "and the United States' Senate [by considering S.R. 147] seems at the precipice of saying, 'Okay; you can take Hawaii and go.'"
Despite the backing of the entire Hawaiian delegation to Congress and Republican Governor Linda Lingle, the measure had only partial support of the state's population, according to reports. Supporters had argued that the legislation was needed to redress wrongs that have persisted since the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.
But opponents on Capitol Hill cited their concerns about introducing a race-based division of government control. "I cannot and will not support a bill whose very purpose is to divide Americans based upon race," said Senator John Cornyn of Texas. And through a letter, the White House stated its strong opposition because the bill would reverse the country's melting-pot tradition and "divide people by their race."
KPUA TV (Hilo), Monday, June 12th, 2006 5:00 AM HST
Hawaiians in Nanakuli reflect tepid support for Akaka bill
By Associated Press
NANAKULI, Hawaii (AP) _ Opposition from Republicans scuttled a bill that would have secured for Native Hawaiians some of the same powers of self-governance given to American Indians.
But those in favor of the bill also had a hard time rallying Hawaiians behind it.
Several Hawaiians in Oahu's Nanakuli _ the site of site of the largest Hawaiian homestead _ say they're still not sure if they support the legislation.
Nanakuli homestead resident Elodia Kane is among those uncertain the legislation was the best way for the federal government to redress the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
She Hawaiians are still a little confused about whether to back the bill.
One man in Nanakuli says he's thrilled the Akaka bill failed because he wants the Hawaiian Kingdom restored.
Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, June 12, 2006
Letters to the Editor
AKAKA BILL IS NO CURE FOR HAWAI'I'S PROBLEMS
I am against the Akaka bill and am glad to see it was shut down by the Senate.
I wish that those who see it as a miracle pill would realize that it won't cure Hawai'i's problems.
Failure to assimilate in a society is not the fault of too little access to more "hand me downs" that the Akaka bill would have protected, such as Kamehameha Schools. It is the lack of responsibility for your own life. Stop being dependent on a political system, and overcome any adversity.
If you are a supporter who sees the bill as a sovereign beginning, I think you are being very unpatriotic. If the Akaka bill did pass and a sovereign political system did become reality, what would you say if a bill arose to that government declaring each of the Islands with its own government separate of the new one because they had their own sovereignty before King Kamehameha "unfairly" conquered them? How far do you wanna take it? It's ridiculous.
WHY UNRAVEL HAWAI'I'S WELL-WOVEN FABRIC?
The recent open letter from the governor, our senators and OHA made a good point about the fabric of American society in a larger context. It is not the point of a good weaver-of-fabric, but it is one that is learning.
As the main continent was being settled and as the Colonies became America, we wove our society's fabric from largely European threads, and even these were not easy. Often, we kept newer threads of society at the edge, and only after much struggle did they become an integral part of the fabric.
Throughout the first part of our history, we kept other threads specifically at the margins, almost their own cloth — African-Americans, Native Americans and, to an extent, Asian-Americans.
Our painful Civil War and later civil rights struggles have finally begun to weave African-Americans and Asian-Americans well into the fabric, but still largely at the margin is the Native Americans on set-aside reservations.
In Hawai'i, we've all been smarter. The fabric, as the governor's letter pointed out, is colorful and well woven, although a look at Hawaiian history will show it has also had it's rougher days with various immigrant groups, but still a better story than the country's as a whole.
This is why I find it amazing that the governor, our senators and OHA would want to take the thread that is the Native Hawaiian part of our fabric and fish out its varying pieces to pull to the side of the fabric and treat it differently. Is the lost federal funding that critical that it warrants such a drastic change to our state's well-woven fabric?
The Hill ("The Newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress"), June 14, 1006 (published electronically June 13)
Native Hawaiian bill gets close, again
By Jim Snyder
Republicans had little good to say last week about a bill to grant native Hawaiians the chance to set up a sovereign government similar to those run by American Indians and Alaskan tribes.
In a letter sent before a Senate vote, William Moschella, assistant U.S. attorney general, said the bill would reverse the great melting-pot tradition of the United States "and divide people by race." During floor debate, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said the bill is "the wrong way to right whatever wrongs may have happened in Hawaii."
But just in 2003 some Republicans were apparently more inclined to support a native-Hawaiian bill.
As they scrambled for votes for a comprehensive energy bill, Republicans offered to support the bill in exchange for yeses from Hawaii's two Democratic senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, on an upcoming cloture vote, according to one GOP source with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
The instance shows, not altogether surprisingly, that political allegiances can shift depending on circumstance, although it isn't clear that, had Hawaii's senators switched positions on the energy bill, the native-Hawaiian bill would have had enough support to pass.
On its own, the bill, colloquially called the Akaka bill after its main Senate sponsor, hasn't had the support to pass either congressional body.
An original vote scheduled for last year was delayed by Hurricane Katrina until last week. In that vote, Senate supporters failed to win enough votes to end debate.
Similar to the vote on the Hawaii bill, congressional leaders were trying to shut off debate on the energy bill in 2003 through cloture, which requires 60 votes to pass.
With a huge blackout in the Northeast just months before still fresh in members' minds, supporters of the energy bill, who had worked for years to fashion a compromise from the Bush administration's national energy policy crafted two years before that could pass a divided Congress, thought they finally had the votes. But in a pre-vote whip list the two Hawaii senators were listed under the no column.
"We didn't expect that," the GOP source said.
Wanting to give President Bush a win as he began his reelection campaign, House negotiators discussed a number of options that included support in the House for the Hawaiian bill, a longtime priority for the Hawaii delegation.
According to the source, the administration and Republican congressional leaders had tacitly agreed to the deal. Bush reportedly phoned Inouye to lobby for the Democrat's support, although it isn't clear what the president offered.
Senate Democrats never responded to the offer, the source said. The deal and the bill fell through when then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said liability protection for the gasoline additive MTBE, found to be polluting groundwater, would have to be dropped for the energy bill to pass the Senate, the source said. House Republicans strongly supported liability protection, although it was ultimately dropped in a later version.
Two years and more than $1 million in lobbying fees later, the native-Hawaiian bill remains stuck.
In an apparent reversal of roles, last week it was Senate Republicans who were the ones to block the bill. During the floor debate before the cloture vote, which failed 56-41, several Republicans said that while they sympathized with the discrimination native Hawaiians have suffered the bill raised the uncomfortable prospect of a government based on race.
"Racial diversity is important, but it should not be the rationale for the establishment of a separate sovereign government," said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).
Alexander and other opponents of the bill said Hawaiians didn't meet the definition of an Indian tribe. For example, Hawaiians have not acted as a sovereign tribe for the past 100 years and are not a separate and distinct community, Alexander said.
But supporters said native Hawaiians are indigenous to the island and should enjoy the rights granted to Indian tribes in the continental United States and Alaska.
"This measure does not result in race discrimination. But discrimination will occur if this measure is not passed," Inouye said.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "Native Hawaiians are no different than the Indians of Nevada."
Thirteen Republicans voted with 42 Democrats for cloture. Three senators — John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — did not vote.
There is no indication whether Senate Republicans who last week spoke against the Akaka bill would have accepted a deal that allowed the measure to go forward in 2003, as the negotiations apparently didn't progress very far.
Despite last week's setback, supporters promise to continue to try to get the bill passed this year, and next Congress if need be.
"We are determined that we will move forward," said Martha Ross, a spokeswoman for Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Washington office.
Since 2001, the agency, a division of the Hawaii state government that was created to improve the lives of native Hawaiians, has spent more than $1.7 million on lobbying in support of the Akaka bill. It paid $660,000 in 2005 to Patton Boggs, helping the firm finish first in the race for lobbying revenue last year.
Hawaii Reporter, June 13, 2006
So the Battle Continues
Republican Co-Sponsor Avoided Heavy Lifting for the Akaka Bill; Civil Rights Commission, President, Gives Akaka Bill One-Two Punch Right Before the Vote; Attendance at Pro-Akaka Bill Capitol Rally "All Telling"; Not All Democrats Supported Sen. Akaka, Sen. Inouye in Their Bid for the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act S. 147; Fight Over OHA Funding Not Over, Despite Yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling
By Malia Zimmerman
Republican Co-Sponsor Avoided Heavy Lifting for the Akaka Bill
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham -- one of the key Republican sponsors of the Democrat-initiated Native Hawaiian Recognition Act S. 147, nicknamed the Akaka Bill for its primary introducer U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka -- was noticeably absent during Thursday's nail-bitingly close vote for cloture.
Graham, one of the more moderate Republicans and a member of the notorious "Gang of 14" (7 Republicans and 7 Democrats), was touted by Hawaii's Republican Governor Linda Lingle as one of the primary advocates of the Akaka Bill, which she helped lobby for because of a promise she made during her 2002 election campaign. So it was a bit of a surprise for advocates of the bill when Graham was a no-show on the bill's big day.
Especially when the Senate's 43 Democrats and 13 Republicans who cast "yes" votes for cloture needed just 4 more Republicans to get to 60 in support -- a number that would set off 30 straight hours of debate and force a final floor vote on the highly controversial measure.
So where was the mysterious Senator when the votes were being counted? Congressional insiders say Lindsey was spotted entering the Capitol gym just before the vote -- breaking a sweat, not over the final vote count, but on the treadmill.
It is likely that the co-sponsor refused to do any more heavy lifting for the Akaka Bill after the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report the day before saying the administration was "strongly opposed" to the legislation for constitutional reasons. As ammunition, the Bush administration cited the May 4, 2006, report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which called the bill unconstitutional, racially divisive and the worst piece of legislation they'd ever seen. Up until that point, the White House had remained neutral on the legislation, with the U.S. Department of Justice issuing two letters previously stating a number of concerns about the legislation.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican who promised Gov. Lingle that she'd support the Akaka Bill, also changed her vote at the last minute to vote against cloture. Sen. John McCain, who voted for cloture, entered a statement into the record quite possibly because of the Justice department letter.
Civil Rights Commission, President, Gives Akaka Bill One-Two Punch Right Before the Vote
Most people in Hawaii didn't realize that the U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement only hours before the cloture vote on the Akaka Bill saying the Bush administration was "strongly opposed" to the legislation.
Nor did most of the people who heard that realize that it was the final nail in the Akaka Bill coffin.
That's because the letter received little or no attention from the Hawaii media before the vote, except for a mention in The Honolulu Advertiser, and there was no political analysis of how the announcement would affect the bill's chances of passage.
While Democrats claimed the president "stabbed Gov. Linda Lingle in the back" when his administration announced its opposition the night before, that simply isn't true.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued two letters beforehand since 2005 stating serious concerns about the bill. In addition, the president never said he would support the bill – he also never said he wouldn't support it either.
And yes, the Justice Department reportedly signed off on Akaka's second version of the bill – S 3064 – but that is not the bill that was scheduled for the cloture vote.
S 147 – the bill that the Justice Department was not comfortable with – was the bill that was actually scheduled for debate and a vote. Whatever the politics were behind the bill switcheroo, most people in Hawaii will never know.
The President simply relied on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the U.S. Justice Department to perform the analysis of the bill for him. Both agencies questioned the constitutionality of the bill. Not to listen to his advisors would have been incredibly irresponsible.
Attendance at Pro-Akaka Bill Capitol Rally "All Telling"
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs held a rally on the West Lawn of the state Capitol at 9 a.m. the day of the cloture vote last Thursday, bringing with them taxpayers' money, a majority of the OHA trustees, and dozens of other people rallying for the bill.
But who was not at the rally was more telling than who was. Keep in mind just hours before the rally, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement saying the Bush administration was "strongly opposed" to the bill on constitutional grounds. So it was not surprising that Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett were absent, already on their way out of town. That was the final signal the bill was going to fail – the writing was on the wall.
Senator Daniel Inouye was not at the rally, nor was Congressman Neil Abercrombie. The only one of Hawaii's four Congressional delegates to stand by Senator Daniel Akaka ironically was Congressman Ed Case, who is challenging Akaka to his seat in the September primary election. Both of them spoke.
The only Congressional candidate running for Case's seat in the 2006 election to rally for the Akaka Bill at the Washington D.C. rally was Republican candidate Quentin Kawananakoa, who told Hawaii Reporter in an earlier interview that the Akaka Bill is just the first step needed to return rights to the native Hawaiian people. Kawananakoa also watched the Senate debate from the gallery.
Former Governor John Waihee and former Supreme Court Justice turned lobbyist for OHA, Robert Klein, also attended the pro-Akaka rally.
The only person who seemed out of place at the rally was University of Hawaii president David McClain, who stood in front of the supporters without any expression on his face. Didn't he learn anything from the now ousted UH president Evan Dobelle about what happens when University presidents get involved with politics? (Dobelle endorsed failed Democrat candidate Mazie Hirono for governor in 2002 over victor Linda Lingle setting off a firestorm).
One rally attendee told Hawaii Reporter that much more interesting than who attended the rally, was who blew it off and bailed before the vote.
Not All Democrats Supported Sen. Akaka, Sen. Inouye in Their Bid for the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act S. 147
Koani, a group of native Hawaiians from Hawaii and the mainland, who went office to office asking U.S. Senators to vote against the Akaka Bill, say not all Democrats planned to vote for the final version of the legislation.
U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka told the Hawaii media that Democrats were united behind him and planned to support the legislation that would allow native Hawaiians to establish their own government within the state of Hawaii and subsequently create their own tax system, rules and laws, constitution, justice system and land base -- a government he admitted could vote for secession from the United States or a return to a monarchy.
But top aides to U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, one of the most liberal Democrats in the 100-member U.S. Senate (with the exception of Sen. Akaka who has been ranked nationally as even more liberal), told the Koani members that their boss would vote for cloture to allow further debate, but would not support the final vote for the Akaka Bill.
While Democrats in Hawaii are busy blaming Republicans for the failure of this legislation, should the cloture vote been victorious for proponents of the Akaka Bill, not all Democrats would have cast their vote in favor of the final bill. There were many questions about the legislation still unanswered including how setting up a worldwide tribe of native Hawaiians would affect the other 49 states.
Fight Over OHA Funding Not Over, Despite Yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling
One of the reasons that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees said they needed the Akaka Bill was to protect them from legal challenges to the office's public funding.
There was a big hole blown in that argument yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case known as Arakaki vs. Lingle.
The suit challenged taxpayer funding of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (an agency that helps native Hawaiians only) asking for a determination by the court as to whether all taxpayers should pay for a government program that benefits just a small percentage of taxpayers and excludes the rest based on race.
The case was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and returned for consideration to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for further briefing - a court likely more sympathetic to OHA than to its challengers.
The U.S. Supreme Court cited as the reason a case known as DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. (2006), which according to one of the plaintiffs in the Hawaii case, eliminated the state taxpayer standing suit where the plaintiffs are suing "merely because they pay state taxes" but do not suffer any concrete pocketbook injury different from that suffered generally by state taxpayers.
While this is not good news for the plaintiffs challengers, and it is a reason for OHA and its supporters to celebrate, the fight over allocation of taxpayer money to OHA is far from over.
"So, the battle goes on," said one of challengers.
Hawaii Reporter, June 13, 2006
Akaka Bill: R.I.P.
Hawaii Embarrassed by Akaka Bill Fiasco, Time to Move On
By Garry Smith
It is truly unfortunate that Hawaii embarrassed itself in front of a nationwide audience as its Senators attempted to pass the controversial Native Hawaiian Recognition Act S.147 also known as the Akaka Bill.
This bill was defined as "racist" and "divisive" by no less than the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the United States Justice Department and the President of the United States.
Ignoring these organizations and the President were Hawaii's Democrat Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, who vainly tried to mislead their colleagues into believing that creating a nation of one race based on ancestry was not racist.
Particularly onerous was Sen. Inouye quoting Attorney John Roberts (now chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) while he was serving as a paid attorney for OHA in the Rice vs. Cayetano case.
His pleadings then, in the employ of OHA, cannot and should not have been used by Sen. Inouye to try and convince the Senate that he would use the same reasoning now as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. This ploy didn't work and was demaning to the debate.
It is time to put the Akaka Bill to rest and work on restoring the trust and unity among all races that Hawaii's leadership has purposely devalued.
It's time to stop the politicians looking for swing votes, the OHA employees trying to hold on to their jobs, attorneys on the dole from OHA making a fortune on the spinning of the U.S. Constitution, the overpaid OHA lobbyists eagerly accepting money that should have gone to native Hawaiian benefits and above all else it's time to stop the victimization of a great race of people.
Over the past several years individuals who would benefit from the passage of the bill have tried to convince us that native Hawaiians had to have a separate nation to become whole.
It is disingenuous and divisive for the state to continue to try and circumvent the U.S. Constitution by crafting ways to achieve on a local level what the Akaka Bill couldn‚t do on the Federal level.
One has to ask how many more millions of OHA and state dollars will be spent pursuing a nationalist agenda when the money should be going to benefit native Hawaiians.
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Inouye pitches new native bill
By Gordon Y.K. Pang and Dennis Camire
WASHINGTON — Federal and state programs that benefit Hawaiians would be protected under new legislation being drafted even as the battle continues for formal federal recognition, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, said yesterday.
Inouye also said he believed it "would be unwise" to battle for a new vote this year on the Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill after the Senate rejected an effort last week to bring the bill to the floor for a debate and vote.
Instead, supporters are expected to offer a new version of the Native Hawaiian bill after the next Congress convenes in January.
"While we wait for another opportunity (on the Native Hawaiian bill), we would like to make certain that all the programs we have in place at this moment are not placed in jeopardy," Inouye said.
According to a memorandum prepared by Inouye's office, the Senate has appropriated more than $1.2 billion for Native Hawaiian programs over the past 26 years.
Derek Kauanoe, a student at the University of Hawai'i's William S. Richardson School of Law, applauded the shift in strategy. Kauanoe got a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to set up a program designed to help Native Hawaiian students enter law school and stay there.
"It's about time they did that," Kauanoe said. He noted that several of the senators opposed to the so-called Akaka bill said there might be other ways to address the concerns of Hawaiians outside of federal recognition.
"We can keep on doing the same thing over and over again before we realize we've got to do something else," he said.
OHA administrator Clyde Namu'o pointed out that a key opponent of the federal recognition bill, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, previously had said he was not against Hawaiians-only programs and would actually support such legislation.
Namu'o said he is also pleased with Inouye's plan.
Following last Thursday's vote, "all of us (Akaka bill supporters) went back and started to rethink whether there was a legislative fix that could protect the program but still not provide recognition," Namu'o said.
H. William Burgess of the group Aloha for All, which opposes the Akaka bill, said he and others will fight any legislation that seeks to provide privileges from one racial group to the detriment of others.
"I don't think that's appropriate," Burgess said. "That's the whole idea of the equal protection laws. Government does not allocate benefits or detriments based on race."
Burgess said he has no problem with the federal government continuing to provide funding for needy people in Hawai'i so long as it is not discriminatory.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, chief sponsor of the Native Hawaiian bill, said the programs were essential for Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike.
"The very fabric of Hawai'i is based on the culture of Native Hawaiians," Akaka said.
Inouye said that in negotiations with the Bush administration last year on the Native Hawaiian bill, officials "made it clear" that they supported language in the bill aimed at keeping the 160 federal programs now helping Hawaiians. The bill would protect the programs from legislative and legal attacks.
"What we're going to do is use the language ... in this measure that we hope will protect our benefits," he said. "We will use it verbatim."
Inouye said he hopes to introduce the new bill before Congress leaves for its Fourth of July recess.
"I'm in the process of trying to get bipartisan sponsorship" for the new bill, he said.
Inouye said he hoped House sponsors of the Native Hawaiian bill — Hawai'i's Democratic Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case — would introduce a similar bill in the House.
Inouye said that he and other supporters "were not going to sneak anything through" the Senate to protect Hawaiian programs.
"We're going to try to get committee approval so that at least if we're going to attach it to something, we can say it's been approved by the committee," he said. "This is just too important a measure to go sneaking around."
Inouye's position against trying for a new Senate vote on the Native Hawaiian bill this year apparently is the death knell for any further action until the next Congress forms.
The Native Hawaiian bill, originally introduced in 2000, would create a process for a Native Hawaiian government to be recognized by the U.S. government, similar to the political status given to Native American and Alaskan Native tribes.
James A. Thurber, a congressional expert at American University in Washington, said pushing the Native Hawaiian bill to next year for any new action "might be good" for its chances with the fall elections looming.
Thurber said Democrats might regain control of the House in elections and gain more seats in the Senate.
"It (Congress) might just change enough to give them enough votes in the Senate and the House to pass this thing," he said.
Inouye said any new version of the Native Hawaiian recognition bill would incorporate changes negotiated late last year with the Justice Department, the White House and the Office of Management and Budget.
The negotiations came after the Justice Department raised concerns about the bill last summer. Proposed changes addressing the concerns were to be added to the bill when it came up for floor debate.
Both supporters and opponents of the bill agreed that Native Hawaiian programs are central to the Akaka bill debate.
Kauanoe, the law school student, said the program to help Hawaiians succeed in law school has helped about a dozen potential law students to date and is expected to help dozens more.
He got a $30,000 grant from 'Ahahui O Hawai'i, a law school club dedicated to Hawaiian causes. Hawaiians are under-represented at the law school and in the Hawai'i legal community, he said.
It is one of hundreds of programs receiving state and federal funding that help Hawaiians, programs that run the gamut from Hawaiian language programs to health initiatives.
AT A GLANCE
Federal appropriations for Native Hawaiian programs over the past 26 years — fiscal years 1981-2006 — total $1.2 billion.
Here's a breakdown:
Education: programs for school-age to college students, $484.8 million
Defense: restoration of Kaho'olawe, conservation/historic preservation and repatriation of remains on military land, $474 million
Health services: various healthcare programs and treatments, $146.2 million
Housing: programs tied to homeownership and use of Hawaiian Homelands property, $56.9 million
Culture/arts: various programs, $33.4 million
Agriculture: programs ranging from aquaculture to multi-cropping strategies, $6.5 million
EPA: Native Hawaiian fishpond water quality strategies, $1.5 million
Other programs: $30.4 million
Source: Office of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Creativity crucial with Akaka bill's failure
By David Shapiro
The Akaka bill for native Hawaiian recognition was doomed nearly from the start when its proponents lost sight of the objective.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka introduced the measure in 2000 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hawaiian-only elections for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs unconstitutionally granted special voting privileges based on race.
By defining Hawaiians as a racial minority rather than an aboriginal people, the court left other Hawaiians-only institutions such as Hawaiian Homes and Kamehameha Schools also vulnerable to legal challenge.
The Akaka bill was intended to head off the race issue by recognizing Hawaiians as indigenous Americans with political rights, the same as American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
But that goal was quickly lost as the Akaka bill instead became a platform for grandiose notions of Hawaiian sovereignty and nationhood that never were clearly defined.
Opponents of Hawaiian rights jumped on the opportunity to beat the measure down with absurd claims that it would suspend the Bill of Rights, force non-Hawaiians off their property, bring gambling to the islands and even lead to Hawai'i's secession from the union.
The tragic consequence is that Hawaiian assets that have existed from 30 years to more than a century are more vulnerable than ever, with cases against OHA and Kamehameha Schools already moving through the appeals courts and more challenges sure to follow.
The tragedy will compound if proponents of Hawaiian rights don't learn from the mistakes.
In his Democratic primary contest against U.S. Rep. Ed Case, Akaka is making political capital out of his questionable handling of this failed legislation by arguing he's needed now more than ever to keep beating the same dead horse.
The fact is that his bill will never pass as long as George W. Bush is president and Republican conservatives control Congress; pursuing it for the next two years, at least, is a waste of valuable time.
What voters need now from Akaka, Case and other leaders are fresh ideas for dealing with vital issues left unresolved by the failure of the Akaka bill.
Gov. Linda Lingle, who was unable to win Bush administration support for the Akaka bill after three years of lobbying, says it's time to pursue other options for protecting Hawaiian assets — possibly without federal involvement.
This would almost certainly require an attitude adjustment by Hawaiian organizations, which have resisted changing their policies to address legal challenges while awaiting the outcome of the Akaka bill.
Now, the priority should be to find creative ways to preserve programs such as OHA, Hawaiian Homes and Kamehameha Schools primarily for Hawaiians while taking race out of the equation.
These institutions can either get ahead of the courts and adapt to the new legal realities on their own terms — or risk being ordered by the courts to open up to everyone, period.
As for Hawaiian nationhood, it's up to Hawaiians to decide what they want and try to make it happen.
It was never the proper role of the federal government to create a process for recognizing a sovereign Hawaiian entity that didn't otherwise exist, as the Akaka bill proposed.
The correct path would be for Hawaiians themselves to form an organization, agree on a leadership and agenda, and then petition for recognition.
If Hawaiians can't get past the disunity that has stymied advancement in defining sovereignty for 30 years, it raises serious questions about whether there is enough commonality of interest in the diverse Hawaiian community to support a Hawaiian nation.
Time is not on their side as court challenges, Hawai'i's changing demographics and intermarriage trends that dilute the native Hawaiian population all work against them.
Honolulu Advertiser, June 14, 2006
Letter to Editor
HONOR THE KING
AKAKA BILL DEMISE SIGNALS ADVANCEMENT FOR ISLE UNITY
Our unique Kamehameha holiday celebrates that King's greatest achievement — unity.
The 2000 Rice v. Cayetano decision told us we cannot have racial separatism in voting. But at that crucial moment our politicians failed us.
They scrambled to push the Akaka bill to create a race-based government to protect race-based programs and race-based voting.
The Senate has now refused to consider that outrageous proposal. Our politicians tarnished our reputation as the Aloha State and squandered their political capital.
Responding to the Senate vote our politicians now scramble desperately, as six years ago, to dream up some way to rescue race-based programs and enshrine separatist institutions.
Will we now be subjected to another six years of stupidity and evil? Could our politicians take this new opportunity to abandon their failed policies of the past and embrace unity?
News reports about Kamehameha Day quote Hawaiians seeking unity - but unity only under a banner of racial separatism. Let's hope those reports are wrong.
I call upon all Hawaiians regardless of blood to honor our king's greatest accomplishment of unity and to take inspiration from his courage as a warrior to achieve it.
I mua! 'A'ohe hope e ho'i mai ai.
New webpage takes note of Inouye's intention to file new legislation as some sort of Akaka-lite Plan B to protect race-based prpgrams, and provides arguments against it. See:
Hawaii Reporter, June 15, 2006
Exposing the Akaka Bill Ruse
The Sky Is Not Falling
By Leon Siu
One of the reasons the failed Native Hawaiian Recognition Act also known as the "Akaka Bill" was such a mess is because it was written as a frantic, knee-jerk reaction to the court challenges to Native Hawaiian entitlement programs. Anything done in a panic not only gets sloppy, it can get downright ridiculous.
What was the Akaka Bill's solution to the courts' determinations that these programs were "race-based"? Was it to adopt non-discriminatory policies? Was it to make the programs more inclusive? No, the Akaka Bill changed the definition of "race." It's the classic liberal tactic, "when losing, play dumb with the rules," as epitomized by Clinton's, "It depends on what the definition of ‘is' is."
Then, to get the Native Hawaiians behind the federal legislation, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, for whom the bill is named, used another liberal ploy: Fear and Panic. When reason is scarce, use the Chicken Little strategy, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" Call for huge rallies and stampede the herd. These are acts of desperation not sensible political strategy. Of course, the ruse did not work for Chicken Little, and it didn't work for Akaka.
Knowing the majority of Hawaiians (native and non-native) would see right through this lame legislation, would not panic, would apply sensible principles in evaluating the bill, Sen. Akaka kept any congressional hearings far away from home. In order to dupe Congress, hearings in Washington were carefully manipulated, allowing testimonies by invitation only, to give the impression that all Hawaii was solidly united in support of this bill.
And because it came from such a "nice guy", and it seemed like a nice thing to do for the "poor Native Hawaiians", it almost succeeded.
Fortunately there were a few Senators who actually attempted to understand the bill and became alarmed by its recklessly illegal composition.
Add to that a few citizens from Hawaii, on their own dime, made it to Washington and exposed the Akaka bill for what it was: racial discrimination dressed up as an Indian.
With the defeat of the Akaka bill, we find that the sky is not falling.
None of the entitlement programs are in any real danger of being shut down.
The Supreme Court just vacated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling of Arakaki v. Lingle. To avoid other challenges would require minor alignment of policies by the agencies serving the Native Hawaiian population.
The Akaka bill was intended to be history-making. Now it's just history.
Honolulu Advertiser, June 15, 2006, Letters to Editor
OHA SHOULD STOP SPENDING ON LOBBYISTS
An article in The Hill ("The Newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress") says "Despite last week's setback (failure of the cloture petition backing the Akaka Bill) supporters promise to continue to try to get the bill passed this year, and next Congress if need be."
It quotes Martha Ross, a spokeswoman for OHA as saying "We are determined that we will move forward."
Does that mean more money for more lobbyists?
"Since 2001," the article says, "the agency, a division of the Hawai'i state government that was created to improve the lives of native Hawaiians, has spent more than $1.7 million on lobbying in support of the Akaka bill. It paid $660,000 in 2005 to Patton Boggs, helping the firm finish first in the race for lobbying revenue last year."
How nice for Patton Boggs, but just think how much help that $1.7 million could have given young Hawaiians through the Early Beginnings program, for example. Not to mention how much good OHA could do if it would spread to Hawaiians the nearly $400 million in taxpayers' money it has been sitting on for years.
OHA, while many of us believe it is an unconstitutional program, by its charter is supposed to be helping people with a drop of Hawaiian blood, not Mainland lobbyists.
If it isn't going to do that, the state should go back to giving out taxpayers' money directly to people of Hawai'i who need help, whatever race their parents were.
LINGLE GETS THE BLAME FOR AKAKA BILL DEMISE
Aloha. Just like the collapse of Kaloko Dam, we can lay the demise of the Akaka Bill directly at the feet of Linda Lingle.
Four years ago she stated that one of the reasons that we should vote for her is that she was from the same party that was in power in Washington and as such could wield considerable influence with the president and Congress on behalf of the Hawaiians.
We learned that the White House sent a letter to the Senate urging the defeat of the Akaka bill and that Republican senators were the main instrument in its defeat.
So much for that Lingle lie. She's proven to be ineffectual at the state level and now she has shown that she is not effectual at the federal level either. She'll be asking for four more years soon. Why? We've already seen Lame Duck Lingle.
Chair, Democratic Party of Kaua'i
Honolulu Advertiser, Friday, June 16, 2006
Hawaiian programs benefit whole society
On the heels of the failure (at least for the moment) of the Akaka bill, encouraging signs are emerging signaling that new doors are opening for those interested in protecting programs aimed at helping Hawaiians.
The U.S. Supreme Court, not unexpectedly, rejected a taxpayer lawsuit against the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on grounds that being a taxpayer alone is not enough to give people legal standing to sue.
At the same time, Hawai'i Sen. Daniel Inouye has begun work on a new law designed to protect federal programs for Hawaiians that does not depend on federal recognition.
Neither of these political and legal fronts is likely to dissuade those who believe any government program aimed at helping Hawaiians is wrong because it is race-based.
To be fair, those who oppose Hawaiian-only programs are not against the idea of government helping those in need. But their point is that the deciding factor should be need — not racial ancestry.
This misses the point. Both the federal and state governments (as well as those who voted on the 1978 Hawai'i Constitution) concluded that there are needs directly related to the ancestry of a specific group of people.
This goes back at least as far as 1920, when Congress created the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, aimed at resettling disposed Hawaiians on farm lots and homesteads. That responsibility was taken over by the state upon statehood.
Over the years hundreds of federal programs targeting Hawaiians, ranging from health and education to economic development, have been approved by Congress.
In 1978, the voters of Hawai'i overwhelmingly approved a change to the state constitution to create the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a semi-autonomous agency charged with working for the betterment of Hawaiians.
There's no question that government has repeatedly recognized the value of programs aimed at bettering the status of Hawaiians.
The Akaka bill's primary focus was to take race out of the equation by recognizing Hawaiians as a political entity.
It is clear that much social good has come from all these programs. To be sure, the record of the Hawaiian Homes program and OHA, among others, is far from perfect.
But it is hard to argue that the general status of Hawaiians, and by extension, the entire community, has not been improved through these efforts. Those who oppose such programs must say how they would replace them if they were eliminated. How possibly could it be argued that society would gain with their loss?
As for the race question, the courts have long recognized that extraordinary situations (slavery is the predominant example) call for extraordinary remedies.
The task ahead for Hawaiians and those who support them is to convince the courts and policymakers that this, too, is an extraordinary situation demanding extraordinary remedies.
Indian Country Today, June 16, 2006
Procedural vote stalls Akaka Bill in Senate
by Jerry Reynolds
WASHINGTON - Native Hawaiians will remain the only aboriginal inhabitants of the United States without federal recognition, following a procedural setback in the Senate to the Akaka Bill's chances of enactment in the current 109th Congress.
The bill could not proceed in the Senate without 60 votes in favor, and it fell short on June 8 by a tally of 56 - 41. The bill's backers had counted on surmounting procedural obstacles and sending the bill to a full debate and floor vote on the merits, which would have required a simple majority of 51 votes for passage. From a standpoint of realpolitik, that prospect is doubtful now.
The bill, informally known after its lead sponsor, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, seeks to authorize a process for extending federal recognition to a Native Hawaiian governing entity. The senator's staff attributed its downfall to political maneuvers that emanated from Republican leadership in the Senate and the White House of President George W. Bush.
''The administration went a long way, last minute, to make sure this bill didn't pass that procedural vote,'' said Donalyn Dela Cruz, Akaka's press secretary, adding, ''The central issue of Native Hawaiian recognition didn't get a hearing. They didn't vote on the substance of this bill.''
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has given the bill his strong backing. In a statement dated June 8, the day of the vote, Inouye termed the Bush administration ''grossly disingenuous'' for circulating a letter the evening of June 7 on the subject of Senate Bill 147, as the Akaka Bill was numbered on its introduction in the 109th Congress. ''We all knew - the White House knew, the Republican opposition knew - that the legislation had been reworked to address all concerns, and that the result was S. 3064.''
But Republican leadership denied Akaka's effort to substitute S. 3064 for S. 147 and consider it as ''original text,'' then used the administration's letter to urge a vote against S. 147, Inouye's statement maintains. Minus the negotiated agreements, reflected in S. 3064, that addressed the administration's stated concerns with S. 147, the bill didn't have the backing Akaka had counted on.
Among the favorable votes Akaka expected was that of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Graham co-sponsored the Akaka Bill but didn't cast a vote June 8. His staff issued a statement to the effect that Graham, despite a 98 percent voting record on other legislative items, simply didn't make it to the Senate floor in time to cast a vote on this particular item.
Dela Cruz noted that prior to the failed June 8 vote to invoke ''cloture'' and proceed with the Akaka Bill, the majority-Republican Senate had cast similar failed votes on two GOP priorities: the marriage amendment against gay weddings and repeal of the estate tax. Dela Cruz declined to provide detail as to why that mattered. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., sponsored the estate tax repeal measure. For much of 2003 and 2004, Kyl prevented the Akaka Bill from proceeding in the Senate. Noe Kalipi, of Akaka's staff, said Republican leadership in the Senate scheduled the Akaka Bill for a vote following those on the marriage amendment and on the estate tax for strategic reasons, in particular because Kyl might need their votes. Cloture requires a supermajority of 60 votes, meaning both parties have to attract votes from across the aisle to invoke cloture and move a stalled bill to the Senate floor.
The gamesmanship within the halls of Congress around the Akaka Bill may not be known in full granular detail for some time, but outside of Washington the forces ranged against it were anything but subtle. Once it became apparent that enough Republican senators would defy party pressure to give the bill a chance of getting to an up-or-down majority vote, editorial pages and online outlets began to teem with disinformation, misinformation and propaganda, only occasionally impeded by accuracy. The main thrust of many and various glaring errors was to confuse the indigenous people of Hawaii with ethnic populations, and the proposed Native Hawaiian governing entity with tribal governments.
Scarcely any more credible were direct assaults on Akaka's age and competence - outrages upon a legacy that includes passage of the monumental Apology Resolution of the United States Congress to Native Hawaiians for the federal role in overthrowing the Native monarchy of old Hawaii. Akaka is up for re-election this year. The November election is considered safe for any Democrat, but first the candidate must pass the test of a September Democratic primary.
''That's what's sad, is that people would make this about politics when the senator has been working on this [Akaka Bill] for years,'' Dela Cruz said. ''This is far beyond politics for the senator. This is about justice.''
She said the next step for Akaka is to look ahead and take strategic bearings for the bill, either yet this year or in the 110th Congress, beginning in 2007. Inouye, in the statement on his Web site, said next steps would not be made public immediately because of the scheming directed against the Akaka Bill. He saluted Akaka's ''tireless efforts'' to move it, as well as those Republicans who withstood ''intense pressure'' to vote for advancing the bill.
Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2006
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Native Hawaiians find their voice
But the U.S. is still devaluing its island allies.
By James D. Houston
LAST WEEK, a bill recognizing the rights of native Hawaiians failed in the Senate. Though a bipartisan majority supported the legislation, it came up four votes short of the 60 needed to bring it to the floor for a full debate.
Democrat Daniel K. Akaka, the first U.S. senator of Hawaiian background, who introduced the bill in 2000, had persevered through six years of procedural stalls and delays. In the end, 41 Republicans voted no, backed by the White House, which strongly opposed the bill because it would reverse the country's melting-pot tradition and "divide people by their race."
The banner of colorblind pluralism can come in very handy when someone is asking the government to acknowledge rights that have been withheld along ethnic lines since the end of the 19th century.
We heard a much different note from the White House in 1993, on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Hawaii's sovereign government, when President Clinton signed into law what's known as the Resolution of Apology. It admitted that the U.S. supplied military aid to the conspirators and contributed to "the deprivation of the rights of native Hawaiians to self-determination."
Until 1893, Hawaii was our ally, recognized as an independent kingdom. But in the spirit of Manifest Destiny, the United States yearned to push farther west, to get a step closer to lucrative Asian markets and to establish a military hub — Pearl Harbor — in the mid-Pacific. Meanwhile, the sons and grandsons of New England missionaries came of age in Hawaii feeling that same destiny in their blood. For them, joining with the United States seemed inevitable, the path to protection and profit, trading advantage and the end of tariffs on their sugar.
In January 1893, with the aid of U.S. Marines, Queen Liliuokalani's government was overthrown by force. Five years later, Hawaii was annexed to the U.S. by the Senate. No one asked the Hawaiians. In fact, in 1897 a petition protesting annexation bearing 21,000 Hawaiian signatures — a little more than half the native population — was sent from Honolulu to Washington.
Soon the Hawaiian language would be stolen just like the kingdom. Early in the 20th century, it was banned in schools and in public offices. It was a devastating policy. When an indigenous language is devalued, replaced with another, the culture suffers, and something in the spirit suffers too.
That colonial cloud finally began to lift in the 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a widespread reclaiming of ethnic pride. In Hawaii, it started with music and dance. The traditional hula came back to life. Old songs almost forgotten were sung by new generations of performers. Drumming and chanting were revived, as was long-distance voyaging, along with navigational skills that had allowed Polynesians to explore and settle the Pacific. Once again schools offered classes in the native tongue. What is now called the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance spawned a new political consciousness and a new level of dialogue about land rights, access to resources and the status of native Hawaiians vis-a-vis the state and federal governments.
The resolution that Clinton signed was a major step. Its language is unequivocal: "The Congress apologizes to native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow …." Congress "urges the president of the United States to also acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow … and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and the native Hawaiian people."
Akaka's bill was an effort to act on that mandate. It laid out a process for creating a "native Hawaiian governing entity" that could negotiate with the federal government, much as most Native American tribes negotiate now. This entity could address such matters as the long-contested status of 1.4 million acres ceded by the federal government to the new state of Hawaii in 1959, to be "held as a public trust for five purposes, one of which is for the betterment of conditions for native Hawaiians." The bill then stressed that the assets and revenues associated with these lands "have never been completely inventoried or segregated."
Even in Hawaii, not everyone lamented the outcome of the Senate vote. Some critics argue that special treatment for Hawaiians could come at the expense of other ethnic groups. And some activists in the sovereignty movement believe it's wrong for Hawaiians to negotiate on any level with the government that betrayed them.
Though the bill is dead for this session of Congress, that doesn't mean the issues will go away. Akaka will try again, or some revised form of legislation will emerge. What underlies the bill isn't secession, as some opponents fear, nor racial divisiveness. It is a people's long journey to recover a voice that was almost lost. Fueled by the ongoing cultural revival, that voice grows stronger day by day.
JAMES D. HOUSTON divides his time between California and Hawaii. His new novel, "Bird of Another Heaven," will be published early next year.
Honolulu Advertiser, June 17, 2006, LETTERS TO EDITOR
ABOUT THAT OLD AKAKA BILL: LET'S JUST GIVE IT UP, ALREADY
It is truly unfortunate that Hawai'i embarrassed itself in front of a nationwide audience as its senators attempted to pass the Akaka bill.
This bill was defined as racist and divisive by no less than the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. Justice Department and the president of the United States.
Ignoring these organizations and the president, Sens. Inouye and Akaka vainly tried to mislead their colleagues into believing that creating a nation of one race based on ancestry was not racist. Particularly onerous was Sen. Inouye quoting attorney John Roberts (now chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) while he was a paid attorney for OHA in Rice v. Cayetano.
It is time to put the Akaka Bill to rest and work on restoring the trust and unity among all races that Hawai'i's leadership has purposely devalued. It's time to stop the politicians looking for swing votes, the OHA employees trying to hold on to their jobs, OHA attorneys making a fortune on the spinning of the U.S. Constitution and the overpaid OHA lobbyists eagerly accepting money that should have gone to Hawaiian benefits.
Above all else it's time to stop the victimization of a great race of people. Over the past several years individuals who would benefit from the passage of the bill have tried to convince us that Native Hawaiians had to have a separate nation to become whole. It is disingenuous and divisive for the state to continue to try and circumvent the U.S. Constitution by crafting ways to achieve on a local level what the Akaka bill couldn't do on the federal level.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 18, 2006
Ka Pila Akaka 'Ole
Synopsis: If one does not understand the history of Känaka Maoli of Hawai'i, (s)he would probably feel that they are American.
I këlä pule aku nei, ua hö'ole 'ia ka pila e 'ike 'ia ai ka lähui Hawai'i, he lähui kü'oko'a. 'O kahi inoa kapakapa o ua pila lä, 'o ia ka pila Akaka, no ka mea, 'o Akaka ke kenekoa näna i hana i ua pila lä. Eia na'e ka 'oia'i'o, he pila akaka 'ole nö ia mai kinohi a i kona wä e waiho wale ana i mua o ka 'aha senate i këlä pule aku nei.
'O ka mea minamina, 'a'ole maopopo iki i ka nui o nä känaka näna e koho i ka holomua a me ka 'ole o ua pila lä, ka mo'olelo o nä Känaka Maoli o Hawai'i nei, 'o ka ho'okahuli 'ia 'ana o ke aupuni, ke kü'ë ho'ohui 'äina a me ia mo'olelo aku, ia mo'olelo aku.
Wahi a kekahi kenekoa, he kü'ë kumukänäwai ka pila "akaka". He keu ia a ka 'ölelo na'aupö. Pehea lä e lilo ai i mea kü'ë kumukänäwai, inä 'a'ole ke Kanaka Maoli, he 'Amelika. 'A'ole ko 'oukou mea käkau käko'o i ka pila akaka, akä i ka lohe 'ana aku ë, 'o ia ke kumu i hö'ole 'ia ai ua pila lä, he mana'o ko këia mea käkau nei, e hö'ike aku i mua o ke äkea, ka lehulehu ho'i i ke 'ano hüpö o ia 'ölelo ma o kahi mo'olelo, a penei ka mo'olelo:
Ho'okahi lä, hänau maila he kaikamahine na Kü me Hina, nui ke aloha o läua nei i ua kaikamahine nei a läua, a kapa 'ia akula kona inoa, 'o Hi'ilei. He mau lä ma hope mai o ka hänau 'ana o ia kaikamahine, ka wä ho'i e huli ana ke alo i luna, 'aihue 'ia akula ua kaikamahine nei. A 'o ka mea näna ia hana kolohe, he mau mäkua hana ho'omäinoino keiki, a i ka wä e ulu ana ua kaikamahine nei, pa'i 'ia ma ka mea küpono 'ole, pa'i 'ia kona po'o, hana 'ino 'ia, he keu ia mau mäkua a ke aloha 'ole. A i ka wä a Hi'ilei e 'öpiopio ana, ha'i 'ia 'o ia i kona mo'olelo, 'o ia ho'i, ua 'aihue kanaka 'ia 'o ia i kona wä bëbë. I ia manawa nö äna i lohe ai i ia 'ölelo, hö'ike pono aku 'o ia i kona mau mäkua ho'omäinoino i kona makemake e ho'i i nä lüau'i makua. 'O ka hana a ia mau mäkua, künou ihola ko läua po'o a ho'omaka ihola e uë, 'o ka 'üpë, 'o ka waimaka me ka 'ölelo pü 'ana a'e, 'a'ole 'o ia e ha'alele o pau auane'i ka pilina 'ohana. Pane mai ka makuahine, "'A'ole 'oe e ha'alele mai iä mäua nei, he 'ohana käkou, 'o mäua nä mäkua, 'o 'oe ke keiki. 'A'ole na kou mau lüau'i makua i hänai iä 'oe a wahine maika'i. Na mäua nei nö."
'Auhea 'oukou e nä makamaka heluhelu, ua like ka hana a ua mau mäkua ho'omäinoino lä me ke aupuni o 'Amelika, 'o ia ho'i, he ho'omau i ka pulukeke me he mea lä, he hana küpono loa ia e pono ai ke aupuni, kona 'ano aupuni küpono, a 'o ka mea ho'i ia e pono ai nä känaka o ia aupuni.
Ua hau'oli nö ko 'oukou mea käkau i ka puka 'ole 'ana o ka pila akaka 'ole, akä, i loko o ia hau'oli, ke hö'ike aku nei, he pono i nä kenekoa a me nä känaka aupuni like 'ole o 'Amelika ke 'ike i ka mo'olelo o nä Känaka Maoli o Hawai'i nei. A mai ho'opoina wale aku i ia mo'olelo.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 18, 2006
Akaka Bill's opponents don't understand Hawaiians' needs
by Oswald Stender
AFTER ALL that has been said and written about S. 147, better known as the Akaka Bill, after the U.S. Senate vote to table the bill, I am compelled to add my two-cents' worth. Setting politics aside, I was most disappointed to hear speeches by senators opposing the bill articulating their reasons for opposition. It was disheartening to hear these supposedly intelligent leaders repeating rumors, untruths and manufactured "facts" to support their positions.
Adding to my disappointment and frustration were issues raised by Kaleihanamau Johnson in her column that ran on this page in the Star-Bulletin on June 11, followed by Ken Conklin's tirade that appeared in the Hawaii Reporter. Thurston Twigg-Smith's letter to the editor in the Honolulu Advertiser on June 15 added to my frustration.
With regard to Johnson's column, I would first like to point out that Hawaii is not Venezuela, and each represents its own distinct culture and form of governance. Having "well-to-do" parents, she probably never experienced being homeless or living in a dysfunctional family, living in poor conditions or having to depend on welfare to make a life for herself. Her lifestyle, her age and living in Venezuela for the past 10 years and sailing Polynesia hardly qualifies her to make judgments on the plight of our Hawaiian people.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is not hoarding its millions, as she believes; those dollars are affording OHA the ability to help more Hawaiians than we've been able to help in the past.
Conklin unequivocally states that the Akaka Bill will make the Hawaiians wards of the state and offers that non-Hawaiians know what is best for Hawaiians. Twigg-Smith continues to complain about OHA's choice to hire lobbyists to garner support for the Akaka Bill. As I have said time and again, the $1 million spent on lobbying for the Akaka Bill to save OHA's approximately $400 million and more is well worth every penny. OHA strongly believes that the Akaka Bill is for the benefit of all who live in Hawaii, not just Hawaiians. Perhaps Twigg-Smith would like to share with all of us how much he and the Honolulu Advertiser spent to lobby Congress to allow the now-dissolved merger between the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin.
Adding to my disappointment is that everyone keeps making our efforts to improve the quality of life for our Hawaiian people a racist issue. This is not a racist issue; this is a political issue.
My support for the Akaka Bill is that it would have given a measure of protection to the entitlements that benefit Hawaiians (i.e., federal funding for education, health, economic programs). Our Hawaiian organizations such as Kamehameha Schools, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Alu Like, Queen Lili'uokalani Trust and OHA also need a measure of protection because they offer programs that are important in reversing the poor social and economic conditions that plague Hawaiians.
Those who challenge these entitlements -- Burgess, Conklin, Twigg-Smith, Arakaki (and those just like them) -- say that these entitlements will make Hawaiians wards of the state. Well, they haven't been paying much attention because Hawaiians already are wards of the state. Hawaiians are ranked lowest on the scales of education and health; Hawaiians are ranked highest in substance abuse, welfare and imprisonment.
These entitlements have proven that many Hawaiians have become productive citizens of our state. I am one of the many who have educated and worked ourselves out of the dungeons of poverty. We could not have done it without these entitlements and programs. For every Hawaiian we rescue from the dungeons of poverty, we save the rest of Hawaii's population from the costs of supporting them as wards of our state.
I say again that this is not a racial issue but rather about the survival of a race -- the Hawaiian race.
About the author: Oswald Stender is an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Debate over recognition puts focus on Hawaiian aid programs
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
The roof leaks in one of the three bedrooms of Symphonie Kaai's family home in Nanakuli, rendering that section of the house useless.
Kaai, a 29-year-old community health worker, is primary breadwinner in a family of seven that cannot afford badly needed repairs.
But last year, Kaai attended home improvement classes offered by the Nanakuli Housing Corp., which is dedicated to helping Native Hawaiians gain and maintain home ownership. The nonprofit also provided the family with a new water heater and, later, volunteers who went to the home to install window screens.
Nanakuli Housing is now looking into whether Kaai's family can qualify to purchase a fixer-upper that can be moved onto their homestead.
"If it wasn't for the Nanakuli Housing Corp., I wouldn't know how to take the first steps," said Kaai, a single mother of a 7-year-old.
Both supporters and opponents of Native Hawaiian programs could point to Nanakuli Housing to argue their cases.
H. William Burgess of the group Aloha For All, which has mounted legal challenges against Hawaiian funding, said such programs should be open to all, Hawaiian or not.
"As far as funding is concerned, I think it could continue from the federal government to the state — based on the needs of needy citizens, whatever their race," Burgess said.
Kapi'olani Barber, executive director of Nanakuli Housing, countered that the statistics are clear that Hawaiians still need the extra help. "It's very sad — the majority of people in prison are Native Hawaiians, the most impoverished, demographically, are Native Hawaiians. And as the host culture, it just shouldn't be that way."
The debate is inextricably linked to federal recognition and the proposed Native Hawaiian Recognition Act, which suffered a blow earlier this month when the U.S. Senate decided against hearing it. The bill proposes establishing a process that would lead to federal recognition of a Native Hawaiian government and, supporters believe, shield programs aimed at helping Hawaiians.
Over the last 26 years, more than $1.2 billion in federal funds have been distributed to hundreds of Hawaiian programs, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who is largely credited for steering the money to Hawai'i.
Inouye last week announced he will introduce legislation designed specifically to shield the Hawaiian programs without addressing the explosive issue of federal recognition. Opponents of the programs have vowed to continue the fight.
Larger Hawaiian initiatives range from the Native Hawaiian Education Council to Papa Ola Lokahi, which helps with a variety of health programs from clinics to classes.
Hardy Spoehr, executive director for Papa Ola Lokahi, said proposed legislation such as that being drafted by Inouye would go a long way to helping ensure funding for Hawaiian health programs.
"We're already funded for this coming year, but who knows what's going to happen a year from now?" Spoehr said.
Colin Kippen, executive director of the education council, estimates Native Hawaiian education programs receive about $34 million annually from the federal government to help students from the preschool to post-graduate levels.
"If the goal is to move the Hawaiian community forward and to assure proportionality and equity in terms of their representation in all fields ... education is really the way to make that happen," Kippen said.
In addition to federal funding, millions more come from state coffers. Aloha For All estimates that since 1990, the state has earmarked $1 billion for Hawaiian programs. Burgess leads an ongoing legal challenge of that funding in a case that the U.S. Supreme Court last week sent back to a lower court, suggesting it take a look at a separate case in which it determined that paying taxes alone is not enough to provide a group with the legal standing needed to challenge state funding.
In the U.S. Supreme Court's 2000 decision in a case known as Rice v. Cayetano, however, the court ruled unconstitutional the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs' requirement that voters for its trustees must have Hawaiian blood.
Jade Danner, vice president of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, said she's nearly certain there will be more challenges to Hawaiian programs.
"The absence of a formal relationship with the United States makes defending those programs more difficult," Danner said.
Danner pointed out that the programs are successful, noting that the number of Hawaiian speakers rose from about 500 to about 9,000 in the 18 years since the inception of Punana Leo, the Hawaiian immersion school, and other Hawaiian language initiatives.
She maintains that many of the programs are not Hawaiians-only, and those that are could ultimately benefit all state residents. "If they're paying for some resources with Hawaiian money, that leaves other money to serve other needs more widely," Danner said.
ENTITLEMENT OR JUSTICE?
Richard Rowland, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said his group opposes special treatment of any group, including Hawaiians-only programs. Rowland said such efforts would perpetuate a counter-productive "dependent mentality" in any group singled out for funding.
The ongoing funding debate is an emotional one, pitting the plight of Native Hawaiians, whom many feel were wronged when the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, against America's constitutional ideal that everyone should get equal treatment.
'Ehu Cardwell of the pro-independence Koani Foundation, opposes the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act — dubbed the Akaka bill for its sponsor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
His group, which contends the bill does not go far enough in addressing wrongs that began with annexation, nevertheless believes Hawaiian programs funded by the federal and state governments are important.
"As an occupying power, that's the least the U.S. can do for Native Hawaiians," he said.
While Nanakuli Housing is a mid-sized Hawaiian program, 'Ahahui O Hawai'i is among the smaller programs.
The student organization at the University of Hawai'i William S. Richardson School of Law offers law school examination preparation and tutoring classes for potential lawyers of Native Hawaiian ancestry and receives funding from OHA.
Joni Domingues was recently among the students taking part in a law school exam preparation class offered by 'Ahahui O Hawai'i. The smaller classes helped her get a better grasp on what she needed to learn, she said.
Domingues said while she understands why some non-Hawaiians are challenging the constitutional issues ties to funding Hawaiian programs, she said the targeted funding is justified.
"This is Hawai'i, these are our ancestral lands," Domingues said. "I don't think it's unfair we get special treatment or entitlements."
Honolulu Advertiser, June 21, 2006, Letter to Editor
GOV. LINGLE WORKED HARD FOR AKAKA BILL
We'd like to set the record straight in reference to a June 16 letter regarding the Akaka bill and efforts by Gov. Linda Lingle.
Gov. Lingle has been a tireless supporter of this bill. She has flown to Washington, D.C. several times on state of Hawai'i business and lobbied for a vote on the Senate floor. She spoke with members of the Bush administration and has knocked on doors of key Republican senators to explain the bill and dispel misinformation. She testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, after which Sen. John McCain released the bill out of committee. She has sent state Attorney General Mark Bennett to negotiate with the Departments of Justice and Defense, along with Hawai'i Senate staff, to draft wording that would be acceptable to the Republican administration. She has consistently worked with Democrats and Republicans for the good of the state of Hawai'i.
Although we are disappointed with the result, we know the failure of the Akaka bill was not due to Gov. Lingle. The governor and our four congressional representatives — Sens. Akaka and Inouye, and Reps. Abercrombie and Case — have worked hard to shepherd this bill through Congress. In the end, it was pure Senate politics that kept the bill from being heard.
Justice for Hawaiians is a bipartisan issue and we hope it remains so.
'Onipa'a. Stand firm. If we stand together, we will succeed.
Chairwoman, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Donald B. Cataluna
OHA trustee (Kaua'i, Ni'ihau)
Honolulu Advertiser, Thursday, June 22, 2006
Akaka bill — not a defeat, only a setback
By Haunani Apoliona
This is a time of deep disappointment for Native Hawaiians and thousands across the nation who stepped forward to join Native Hawaiians in our quest for reconciliation and justice.
On June 8, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, we suffered a setback when the Akaka bill failed to move forward.
Since then, an outpouring of support from kama'aina and malihini, native and non-native Hawaiians steels our resolve, elevates our hope and renews our focus to stay the course.
We, joined with allies of honor and compassion, pursue a fair and just solution for the aboriginal, indigenous people of Hawai'i and for the future of Hawai'i.
In the final analysis, the failure to secure 60 votes for cloture on the "motion to proceed" to a full and free debate should not be mischaracterized as a Senate vote against the merits of the Akaka bill. We witnessed the abusive use of Senate rules to block full debate on the bill itself.
Senate rules allow any one senator to apply a "hold" on any bill, which stonewalls the "unanimous consent" to initiate full and free discussion, and in that circumstance, Senate rules require 60 votes to override the "hold." A "hold" on S.147 was applied, thus requiring 60 votes to proceed forward. Ultimately, 51 votes would have passed the bill.
Senate opponents knew that total of combined Democrat, Independent and Republican votes surpassed 51 and S.147 would pass; therefore, it needed to be stopped at cloture.
Senate Republican leaders, including Majority Leader Bill Frist, knew 60 votes for cloture existed, and on June 6 started applying political pressure on Republican colleagues who had expressed intent to support cloture. Despite the arm-twisting, 13 Republican senators courageously joined the Democrats and the Independent casting their votes for cloture to advance the democratic process for full and free debate to proceed.
However, the necessary 60 votes for open debate on the merits of the bill fell short, 56 to 41. At the end of the day, this temporary setback will be just that — "temporary" — and a mere setback. We are resilient and will not stand still. Queen Lili'uokalani's mana'o gives us counsel: "The world can not stand still. We must either advance or recede. Let us advance together.
"Hold thy breath! Walk abreast shoulder to shoulder."
We will advance. The compelling reasons that have brought thousands of us, native and non-native, to this place in time in support of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act remain unchanged. Our mission and priorities remain the same:
# Advancing Native Hawaiian self-determination in fairness and justice.
# Affirming the legal and political status of the "aboriginal, indigenous people of Hawai'i" in U. S. policy to protect Native Hawaiian programs that benefit Native Hawaiians and ease the resource burden of the state of Hawai'i to meet identified needs while boosting the well-being and economy of Hawai'i.
# Providing the platform for protection of our ali'i trusts.
# Ensuring Native Hawaiian leadership over Native Hawaiian assets.
As courageous people who seek wisdom, we refuse to be victims. Kau Inoa registrations continue — we have surpassed 51,000. Plans toward Native Hawaiian self-governance proceed.
We are not defeated, nor are we deterred.
Haunani Apoliona is chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees. She wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.
Honolulu Advertiser, June 22, 2006, Letter to editor
OHA FORCED TO DEFEND ITSELF AGAINST LAWSUITS
Thurston Twigg-Smith, who is a leader among those who are suing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on grounds of racial discrimination, accuses OHA of wasting its assets on defending itself in court and in Congress against his lawsuits. It is precisely because of him and others like him who attack OHA and DHHL that the OHA trustees must spend our money to provide the best in court and in Congress to preserve the continued legal identity of Hawaiians.
If they would stop suing, we could stop spending.
In the meantime, rather than lose all of our trust assets designated for Hawaiians, we will spend whatever it takes to win the war and protect what little Hawaiians have left. Thanks to Mr. Twigg-Smith, the Grassroot Institute and their likes, we must direct OHA assets toward paying lawyers and lobbyists to defend Hawaiians instead of helping Hawaiians.
The recent setback for Hawaiians in Congress will not deter OHA's further efforts to seek what's fair for everyone here in Hawai'i. We are the first people, as are the Native Americans and Alaskan Natives who were identified by their blood and their political status as aboriginal peoples, and Congress has every right to recognize us all.
Boyd P. Mossman
OHA trustee (retired), Maui
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 22, 2006, EDITORIAL
Kamehameha Schools should consider future options
A 15-judge federal appeals panel heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging Kamehameha Schools' admission policy.
SET BACK by the Akaka Bill's rejection by the Senate, Kamehameha Schools' admission policy is at risk in a case heading for the U.S. Supreme Court. Along the way, it is hearing ways to remain in operation in compliance with federal law. The institution should seriously consider those suggestions.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that the Hawaiians-only admission policy violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that the law prohibits private schools from discriminating on the basis of race, and that the law protects all races, not just minorities.
The high court noted those rulings three years ago when it struck down the University of Michigan undergraduate school's affirmative action policy. The court ruled that race may not be a determining factor in whether an applicant is admitted to any school, public or private.
All of those rulings were based on the 1866 law's prohibition of racial discrimination in contracts. "The contract is the exchange of tuition for educational services" in the Kamehameha Schools case, said Eric Grant, a Sacramento, Calif., attorney for a Caucasian student denied admission to Kamehameha.
In this week's hearing in review of the August decision by 15 members of the 9th Circuit Court, Judge Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee to the bench, suggested that Kamehameha Schools would not be bound by that law if it waived the $1,700 tuition.
That amounts to a fraction of the $20,000 annual cost of educating a child at Punahou School. Kozinski pointed out that 65 percent of the students at Kamehameha pay "hardly anything" in tuition because of scholarship aid, so tuition income amounts to "a drop in the bucket" for one of the world's largest charitable institutions.
"I don't know," Grant said when Kozinski asked if waiving tuition would relieve Kamehameha from compliance with the 1866 law. He agreed with Kozinski that a person of Chinese ancestry, for example, would be allowed to distribute his estate as gifts to people of similar ancestry without violating the 1866 law. Obviously, elimination of tuition would similarly free Kamehameha from the law's contract restrictions.
William A. Fletcher, a Clinton appointee, asked Grant if Kamehameha would be free of the constraints if Congress were to enact a law exempting Hawaiian children from the statute created by the 1866 law as "being a political category" rather than a racial group.
"I do not know," Grant replied. "That would raise some troubling issues." Those are the same issues cited by opponents of the Akaka Bill, and they surely would be raised again if such an exemption were sought.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 22, 2006, Letter to Editor
Base entitlements on need, not ethnicity
Oswald Stender's essay on the moribund Akaka Bill in Sunday's Star-Bulletin
was singularly unconvincing. The sum of his argument for the bill is that protection of entitlements for Hawaiians is justified by the cost savings to society of raising Hawaiians out of poverty. He states that Hawaiians' poor economic and social conditions justify such entitlements.
Hawaiians as a group do suffer, but so do other ethnic groups. There is no racial or ethnic group in America that is not affected to some degree by poverty, poor education and inadequate health care. Hawaii-ans are not alone. Then why should Hawaiians receive entitlements -- to subsidized housing, health care or education -- that are not provided to others? That's the question that neither Stender nor Senator Akaka has answered.
Basing entitlements on race or ethnicity rests on the false assumption that all members of the preferred group are in need of the benefit and that no members of other groups are. I seem to remember that a few years ago Stender was receiving more than a million dollars per year as a trustee of the Bishop Estate. Given that, should his Hawaiian ethnicity qualify him for publicly subsidized housing or health care regardless of his need?
Certainly there is good reason for the state to support services to help people who are economically, socially or educationally deprived. There is, however, no valid justification for doing so for members of one race to the exclusion of all others -- or doing so for people who do not need the assistance. That is the principle underlying opposition to the Akaka Bill; its provisions rest on racial preference, not need.
JUNE 23: OHA VERSION OF PLAN B -- TRIBAL RECOGNITION BY STATE OF HAWAII TO CONSOLIDATE ASSETS UNDER RACIALLY EXCLUSIONARY CONTROL, AND AS STEPPING-STONE TO FEDERAL RECOGNITION. The idea is to use the Kau Inoa signup registry to create an elected "government"; then transfer to the new "tribe" all land and money currently under control of OHA, DHHL, and other state and federal government sponsored programs; then have the new entity apply for federal recognition.
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Friday June 23, 2006 (same article also in Hilo Hawaii-Tribune)
OHA advances plan for Hawaiian self-rule
by Nancy Cook Lauer
Stephens Media Group
HONOLULU -- Just two weeks after the U.S. Senate refused to consider self-rule for Native Hawaiians, the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Thursday unanimously advanced a plan to create a new Hawaiian government by the end of 2007.
Most of the details of the ambitious plan were discussed during a closed-door session with OHA attorneys. The trustees then opened the meeting for a formal vote.
But a draft copy of "Hooulu Lahui Aloha, to Raise a Beloved Nation," obtained by Stephens Media Group details plans to hold a constitutional convention next summer, followed by the election of officers and transfer of Hawaiian assets by the end of the year.
"I don't see this government here as being a stand-by government," said OHA Administrator Clyde Namuo, responding to a trustee's comment. "We need to assert ourselves as a sovereign people. And I think, as we have laid this out, it is with that goal in mind. Let's not, please, consider this to be simply a placeholder."
OHA itself would be dismantled, with its powers transferred to the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity. The new government would then negotiate with the governor, the state Legislature and Congress for full autonomy.
Namuo said the ambitious timetable is due in part to having a "friendly administration" to help pressure the state Legislature to amend statutes and the state constitution to accommodate the new government. Gov. Linda Lingle, who is considered very likely to win re-election this year, is an advocate of Native Hawaiian rights.
OHA's action follows the failure earlier this month of an attempt by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, to get the Senate to consider a bill paving the way for Native Hawaiian sovereignty.
The Akaka bill seeks to put in place a process for the estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians -- about half of whom live in Hawaii --- to form a government entity and win formal recognition from the U.S. government.
It also would establish an office in the Department of Interior for Hawaiian issues and create an interagency group to monitor programs and policies that affect Native Hawaiians.
On the day the Akaka bill failed, Lingle held a news conference where she said she would be meeting with OHA to see how to "create a mechanism, a structure so the Hawaiian people can have the authority and responsibility for their own resources and assets." She had declined to be more specific.
Neither Lingle nor Akaka could be reached for further comment Thursday.
OHA's work builds on the efforts of a coalition of community leaders who, in 2003, started collecting names of those with Hawaiian blood as the first step in creating a Native Hawaiian governing entity. With help from OHA, the registration drive, known as "Kau Inoa," has collected more than 50,000 names.
Some OHA trustees worried that the coalition and other groups that have been pushing for Native Hawaiian rights might be taken aback by the aggressive involvement of OHA, which is a semiautonomous self-governing body created by state government to protect Native Hawaiian interests and assets. It is governed by a nine-member elected board.
"While these groups have history, and certainly brought the issue forward, kicked it around in the community, sometimes peacefully, sometimes more aggressively, I think it's all part of the maturation of the community," said Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona. "This framework is supposed to catalyze, invigorate and cause vibration in the community, but I think it's clear and I think our trustees know that this ultimate long-term process will not go forward without the support of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs."
** Comment posted by Ken Conklin to the same story in the Hilo Herald-Tribune: Any bunch of folks can form a private club. Calling that a "government" is far-fetched. Transferring state government assets to such a club is troubling -- illegal if the club is racially exclusionary. Amending our Constitution requires ratification by ALL the people. That will be very interesting!
** Additional comment by Ken: The concept described in this article seems to be what is known as "state recognition" of tribal status -- some tribes have state recognition even without federal recognition. It's my understanding that state recognition can provide entitlements within the state, and can be a springboard to federal recognition.
Asian Week, Jun 23, 2006
Bush, the Seal Hugger, Sabotages Akaka Bill
by Emil Guillermo
** note from Ken Conklin: This guy is a Honolulu Advertiser editorial writer who works behind the scenes. His bio on the Advertiser website:
Here's the score from President Bush after last week:
Indigenous seals, 1.
Indigenous people, 0.
That's the upshot after the president stunned environmentalists with a surprise move to create a massive marine preserve north of the main Hawaiian islands.
Of course, it came just a week after another stunning blow of a different sort. That's when the president forcefully and effectively lobbied the Senate to reject the Akaka bill, a piece of legislation that would have given Native Hawaiians recognition equal to Native Americans and Native Alaskans.
Bush just couldn't bring himself to giving Native Hawaiians the rights afforded other indigenous people.
But he had to do something. So he saved their cute little endangered animals. It's as if Bush saw a few Hawaiian Monk seals as worthy penance for shamefully backing the historical discrimination against Native Hawaiians.
But it does once again prove the presence of that major disconnect between the Mainland and Hawai‘i.
I mean beyond natural disconnect caused by the Pacific Ocean.
And it doesn't even matter if you're a white Texas oil man, or an Asian Pacific American living in San Francisco — or anyplace else on the Mainland, for that matter.
Sometimes even we Asian Americans forget all those who make up the "P" in the broad moniker "Asian Pacific American."
So I would understand it if most of you didn't recognize the irony last week when the president declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument.
You probably didn't even know all those specks on the map north of the main Hawaiian Islands even amounted to much of anything.
The area is 140,000 square miles, larger than 46 states, and 100 times larger than Yosemite National Park.
It's so huge and vast and pristine, and even includes Midway Island, a veritable shrine to World War II buffs.
To suit Bush's purposes, it's also home of more than 7,000 marine species, many of them endangered like the Hawaiian monk seal, of which there are barely 1,400 in existence.
Tree-hugging environmentalists everywhere had to be stunned by Bush's largesse. I mean, here's the president of the United States, a man who never met an oil derrick he didn't like, a man whose idea of a good time is to shoot holes through the ozone layer and watch the number of cannibalized polar bears grow. You get the picture.
And now he's saving some monk seals, green turtles and bottom fish? On islands no one knows about?
Talk about timing. A move had been in the works at the federal level to make the entire area a marine sanctuary.
It was all set for Bush to pull a harp seal out of the bag politically when he needed one most, as if he really cared for the poor things.
After shafting Native Hawaiians in their quest to seek official recognition through the Akaka bill, Bush simply needed something good enough to appease folks troubled by his racist stand on indigenous people.
Out of political expediency, Bush became a seal hugger.
The seals and fish and turtles were his shield to ward off any fallout from the Akaka bill.
And so far, it's worked wonders.
Last week, among the luminaries at the East Room of the White House, for the proclamation was: Republican Governor Linda Lingle, who had lobbied hard for the Akaka bill and even made it a campaign promise to get the issue passed. Even Sen. Daniel Akaka himself was there for the "make nice" photo op.
But it's not really enough to make up for what Bush did for Native Hawaiians.
When Bush urged the Senate to block the Akaka bill from reaching the floor for a vote, he was in league with all the racist forces of America's past.
Blocking the Akaka bill essentially kept Native Hawaiians invisible in America.
The strategy that sunk the bill is the same one used to defeat affirmative action. It's the idea that race-based remedies are discriminatory and unconstitutional.
That's the illogical rhetoric of present-day racists that protects and limits society from taking any historical responsibility.
How brilliant is it to convince the majority of Americans (George Bush among them) that righting wrongs against a specific group is somehow illegal because the remedy focuses in on the victims and excludes the white perpetrator?
Why should the perps be part of the remedy?
It's a logic that effectively makes rectifying specific past wrongs impossible.
Californians have seen the trick used to end affirmative action in the state.
Now the trick has denied Native Hawaiians the same rights of other indigenous people whose lands were taken away by the U.S.
How's this for irony: The nearly 4,000 American Indians and Alaskan natives living in Hawai‘i have more rights, including federal recognition, than the indigenous people of that state.
But after last week, it's even better to be a monk seal in paradise.
KKK -- Klub Kanaka -- Office of Hawaiian Affairs confidential memo of June 2006 outlining OHA plans for setting up Hawaiian apartheid regime following failure of the Akaka bill. Follow the procedure outlined in the Akaka bill to create a racial private club "governing entity", transfer government land and money and political power to it, and then seek federal recognition.
Honolulu Advertiser, Saturday, June 24, 2006
OHA now working toward nationhood
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Rebuffed by Congress in its attempt to get the Akaka bill passed, trustees with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are now seeking to move forward with a Native Hawaiian governing entity without the endorsement of officials in Washington.
A draft "nation-building" model approved unanimously by trustees on Thursday could lead to creation of what essentially would be a Hawaiians-only government that would negotiate for control of land, money and other assets lost when the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by individuals backed by U.S. military forces.
Control of those assets, believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, would need to be negotiated by the new "nation" with the state and the federal governments.
If successful, the draft OHA plan would lead to elections for representatives to a new government entity as soon as early 2008.
The plan is preliminary and OHA officials intend to meet with different groups for their suggestions and input, said Clyde Namu'o, OHA administrator.
"This process gets us to the creating of a governing entity," he said.
The proposal is being introduced now because the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, the so-called Akaka bill, is stalled in Congress.
"The bill didn't pass. There's no reason for us to wait any longer," Namu'o said. "The notion of creating a governing entity is something that's been talked about for years."
SIMILAR TO AKAKA BILL
If the Akaka bill had passed, "you would have had the power of the legislation that would encourage people to participate. People would naturally want to participate if the bill were to pass," he said. "Now, with this process, we're going to have to spend a lot more time educating folks in terms of how the process works and what it will ultimately end up with."
Otherwise, he said, the process for establishing the government entity is very similar to that outlined in the Akaka bill. The other key difference is that the Akaka bill requires Hawaiians to trace their lineage back to either the 1893 overthrow or the 1921 enactment of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, he said. The OHA proposal simply calls for a potential voter to verify that he or she is Hawaiian, he said.
RICE V. CAYETANO
In the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court Rice v. Cayetano, the court ruled that the election of OHA trustees must be open to all Hawai'i voters, not just Hawaiians.
OHA does not believe the process for deciding on the new government runs counter to that ruling, Namu'o said.
"Our position is that Hawaiians are aboriginal, indigenous people and the federal policy is that aboriginal indigenous people of the United States enjoy the inherent right to sovereignty," Namu'o said. "There are Indian tribes who have organized their government and have never tried to be federally recognized, nor are they even state-recognized."
H. William Burgess, a member of the group Aloha For All, said the plan cannot pass the legal hurdle thrown up by the Rice case.
"It won't work," he said, because establishment of a government that excludes others based on race was forbidden by the Rice case.
"What is the problem with just having a melting pot in Hawai'i?" he said. "Why is that so offensive to anybody? It seems to be that those who are championing (an independent Hawaiian government) are those who have some vested interest in keeping Hawaiians in a state of dependency."
BROAD SUPPORT NEEDED
Jon Osorio, chairman of the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai'i, said OHA will need to enlist the support of activist groups that have opposed the Akaka bill for the new process to be successful.
"Instead of hoping that (the Akaka bill) gets passed in the Senate, they're taking this state agency and putting their mana behind the making of a government ... and basically forcing the Senate's hand," Osorio said. "'What we're going to do is make this government, we're going to put it in your face, and we're going to make you say no.'"
He added: "If (OHA) does not involve the wider activist community, if they don't get them on their side, it will fail. Because what will happen is the independence people and the non-federal recognition people will criticize it to death."
Namu'o said a strong registry of voters on the Kau Inoa list and a strong showing during the elections will establish legitimacy for the new government.
Currently, there are 50,000 registered. OHA's goal is 118,000, which is about two-thirds the total number of Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians in the state, Namu'o said.
"You begin to build some credibility, because the question that will come is whether or not this Native Hawaiian governing entity truly represents the Native Hawaiian people."
OHA'S PLAN CALLS FOR:
# Continuing a process to register Hawaiians for a Hawaiians-only election. Verification of eligibility would be by an advisory board. The process is known as Kau Inoa.
# Convening a constitutional convention for the new government, with delegates to be elected by those registered by Kau Inoa. An apportionment committee would decide the makeup of the delegates and who they would represent. There also would be an elections oversight committee and an elections certification board.
# Allowing the convention delegates to decide on a constitution and other documents that would lay the groundwork for the nation, including how it is to be governed.
# Having the elected officials of the new entity negotiate with the state for whatever assets it believes should be transferred and, if they so choose, negotiate for federal recognition with the U.S. government.
Deseret Morning News (Utah), Sunday, June 25, 2006
Native Hawaiians fight for recognition
By Deborah Bulkeley
WEST VALLEY CITY — Charlene Lui's eyes filled with tears as she described her education at Kamehameha, a boarding school similar to those long operated for American Indians.
"I never learned to speak Hawaiian because we weren't allowed to," she said. Now, through the younger generation, she's learning to speak her ancestors' language.
Now, Lui is among those fighting for federal recognition, she says, so her grandchildren and their children can keep their native Hawaiian culture alive.
"The Hawaiian people and culture are real. We are living proof," Lui said this week at a meeting organized by Hui Hawai'i O Utah (Hawaiian Civic Club) at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.
The meeting was a call to action after a congressional bill to grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians failed in a 56-41 vote earlier this month.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, was first introduced in 2000. It would create a process for federal recognition of a native Hawaiian government, similar to the political status given to Native American and Alaskan native tribes.
The Hawaiians were troubled by comments senators made on the floor, which they say misrepresent the purpose of the Akaka bill.
Some senators said the bill would be racially divisive, probably unconstitutional, and could lead to Hawaii's secession.
But Tina Cabiles-Cardin said the bill isn't about race or leaving the United States. To her, it's about defending her culture and warding off a series of lawsuits challenging native Hawaiian programs.
"If you enjoy calling yourself native Hawaiian, right now the Akaka bill is the only thing that can preserve that," Cabiles-Cardin said. "We need to have the legislative process beat the judicial process."
Liu said the next step will be a community meeting in August, in which American Samoa's delegate to Congress, Eni Faleomavaega, and Utah's Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, who both voted against the bill, will be invited to a debate. They're also planning a letter-writing campaign and hope to purchase newspaper ads on the issue.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, had at one time co-sponsored a prior version of the bill. However, Hatch referred to a Bush administration letter when he explained his recent vote against cloture.
"I have always had a special place in my heart for the native Hawaiian people, and this was a difficult vote for me," Hatch said. "The administration, however, recently issued a strongly worded letter urging the Senate not to adopt the legislation. They raised serious constitutional concerns that I thought needed to be addressed before the Senate acted on a bill."
The letter from Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella opposed the bill, saying it would "divide people by their race" and raise constitutional concerns.
The Supreme Court has said it's a "matter of dispute" whether native Hawaiians are eligible for tribal status, the letter said.
"Given the substantial historical, structural and cultural differences between native Hawaiians as a group and recognized federal Indian tribes, tribal recognition is inappropriate for native Hawaiians and would still raise difficult constitutional issues," the letter continued.
Bennett also said he was "sympathetic to the desire of native Hawaiians to maintain their cultural identity. But this approach is not the appropriate way to do it, as it would create a race-based government and probably trigger a climate of litigation and confrontation that could ultimately damage native Hawaiians more than help them."
However, those at the Cultural Center meeting said the senators seem to have little understanding of Hawaii's history, or the reason native Hawaiians are seeking federal recognition.
Some did have questions about the bill, such as what percentage of Hawaiian blood would be required for recognition, or what would be the process of amending the bill.
Hawaii was an independently ruled monarchy for much of the 19th Century until 1893, when an insurrection led by American businessmen forced Queen Lili'uokalani to surrender her throne. Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory in 1900 and became a state in 1959.
In 2000, there were 3,642 native Hawaiians counted in Utah.
The islanders see a federal court system chipping away at their cultural identity. They point to a pending federal lawsuit challenging whether the Kamehameha Schools must abandon a 119-year-old policy of giving admission preference to native Hawaiian applicants. The college prep school now teaches Hawaiian language and culture as part of the curriculum.
"What we really need to understand and grasp is that some people are saying 'let the courts decide it,' " said Julian Kau. "If it comes out not in our favor, that's the law of the land. That's why it's so important to be involved in the legislative process . . . we need to have a government entity of native Hawaiian people that is recognized, so we can be a recognized indigenous people."
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, June 28, 2006
"Akaka Bill" Key to Preserving Culture, Native Hawaiians Say
Since the United States overthrew their government in 1893, Native Hawaiians have been struggling to preserve their vibrant culture. Many Native Hawaiians hope that a Senate bill that would grant Congressional recognition to Native Hawaiians will make the struggle easier.
The "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005," nicknamed the "Akaka Bill" after its sponsor, Sen. Daniel Akaka, (D-HI), would provide the means for Native Hawaiians to create a system of self-governance, similar to many American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments.
The U.S. Constitution grants Congress broad authority to officially recognize indigenous peoples. Congress has granted such recognition to Alaska Native tribes and more than 560 American Indian in the continental United States.
Opponents of the Akaka Bill argue that differences between Native Hawaiians' culture and American Indians' cultures restrict Congress' authority to extend recognition to Native Hawaiians. Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett, however, said that such differences do not and should not prevent Congress from exercising its constitutional power to pass the "Akaka Bill."
"Given their shared common experience of a severe loss of their lands and self-governance, and a wholesale disruption of their cultural practices, Native Hawaiians only want to be treated the same way all other indigenous native Americans have been treated," said Bennett, at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing.
At a June 8 press conference, Haunani Apoliona, chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), rejected the challenge that granting recognition to Native Hawaiians is unconstitutional race-based legislation. "It is offensive that the opponents of the 'Akaka Bill' are suggesting that extending this same policy to Native Hawaiians, the indigenous, native people of the 50th state would lead to racial balkanization," Chairperson Apoliona said.
Supporters argue that the "Akaka Bill" recognizes Native Hawaiians' inherent sovereignty as indigenous peoples, rather than using race-based classifications. "After more than a century of injustice, it is long past time that Congress formally acknowledge the Native Hawaiian right to self-determination," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, in a recent letter to the Senate.
Similar legislation has given American Indian and Alaska Native tribes' sovereignty, which allows them to enact programs specifically designed to perpetuate their cultures, after centuries of encroachment on their autonomy.
According to a New York Times editorial, Native Hawaiians "...make up 20 percent of the state's population but are disproportionately poor, sick, homeless, and incarcerated..." Supporters state that the Akaka Bill will better enable Native Hawaiians to confront these problems.
According to the OHA, funding for programs and services that benefit and improve the lives of Native Hawaiians are "at stake" if the bill doesn't pass. Without official recognition from Congress, challenges to Native Hawaiians' rights will continue to threaten the Native Hawaiian Education Act, University of Hawaii tuition waivers, and 200,000 acres of land, among other resources.
On June 8, the Senate attempted to bring the Akaka Bill to the floor, but opponents blocked it from coming up for a final vote.
Sen. Akaka has pledged to continue his efforts to bring the bill to a vote before the session ends. "We must continue to move forward for Native Hawaiians, the people of Hawaii and everyone in this country who believe that ours is a nation which treats all of its people with an equitable hand," Sen. Akaka said.
Honolulu Advertiser, June 29, 2006, Letter to editor
AKAKA BILL FAILS TO MAKE PERSUASIVE ARGUMENTS
In her June 18 column, talented Lee Cataluna commented on the failure of the Akaka bill to be heard by Congress.
She obviously feels deeply about the lot of Native Hawaiians, and I am sympathetic as well. But I have seen, firsthand, what happens to Native American Indians when our government has tried to protect them after so many years of abusing them. The results are generally dismal.
When you read the Akaka bill, you see that it tries to make Indians out of Hawaiians, and no matter how it tries, the fit is not a good one.
To the extent the Akaka bill is meant to redress the role that the United States had in the overthrow of the monarchy, it misses its mark. Sen. Akaka insists the bill is not racist, but how can a bill be anything but when it favors only one race? For this reason alone, it may well be unconstitutional. (It is paradoxical that the Chinese, the only race that was discriminated against under the monarchy, are now on top of the socioeconomic ladder.)
If redress is the aim of the bill, how about the two-thirds of the citizens of Hawai'i at the time of the overthrow who were not Hawaiian? How do their descendants benefit? In her column, Cataluna asks: "What is the Hawaiian word for hypocrisy?" I do not know, but the Hawaiian phrase for democracy is "aupuni a ka lehulehu" and two-thirds of the lehulehu (population) then (and now) were not Hawaiian.
Looking back at Hawai'i's history since Captain Cook's arrival, it appears to me that the monarchs themselves were the culprits. They were so enamored with the trappings of European royalty and self-indulgence that an eventual overthrow was inevitable. It was fortunate that, unlike when Kamehameha I conquered the Islands, the overthrow, when it finally happened, was a bloodless one.
As a citizen of Hawai'i for well over half a century, I am always amazed at how well the races have come together: through marriage and just plain good will. And none have intermarried more than the Hawaiians. (Less than 2 percent of our population is full-blooded Hawaiian.)
It is unfortunate that so many of those in need are Hawaiian, but let's help them as needy, not as Hawaiians.
Robert B. Robinson
Retired chairman and president, Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i
Hawaii Reporter, June 30, 2006
OHA's Post-Akaka Bill Plan 'B'
By Earl Arakaki
Holy Kau Inoa Batman! The Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Plan "B" was so predictable after the trustees got their "clocks cleaned" at the U.S. Senate, when the controversial Akaka Bill failed to even get enough votes for cloture.
OHA's Plan "B" is a symptom of post-Akaka traumatic syndrome, aka PATSY.
Hawaii media reports OHA's post-Akaka bill Plan "B," to create a new Hawaiians only nation. Yeah, right. Just like New York Times, Sunday, reported Saddam Hussein believes Americans will reinstall him as president of Iraq. Saddam and OHA are kidding themselves. They are living in the past.
Even those watching C-SPAN, who dozed off in high school American History class, could see that U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka failed miserably trying to convince the U. S. Senate the Akaka bill was constitutional as they read from OHA prepared scripts.
At times the fiasco was comically entertaining in a sick sort of way because they are our Hawaii Senators discussing Hawaii, a place we aloha. All of Inouye's and Akaka's testimony will be in the Congressional record as historical failures and illustrate what is wrong in Hawaii. The record will reflect they couldn't make the Akaka bill fit the U. S. Constitution. As Johnny Cochran said, "if it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Citizens throughout the country had a good laugh at Hawaii's expense. Did Hawaii's politicians care? No. Politicians no more conscience.
When Gov. Linda Lingle, Inouye, Akaka, and the majority of our local legislators willingly prostituted themselves, spreading before the nation for perceived political swing votes they should have at least got the history correct and constitutionally acceptable. OHA crafted the Akaka bill and now their credibility is tainted on this whole "Native Hawaiian governing entity" issue. Now they have to satisfy 51,000 Kau Inoa's.
OHA's credibility causes one to suspect if they truly have 51,000 Kau Inoa's. Wow, that's a huge tribe. As of Sunday, the nations population is 299,058,932. OHA signed up 51,000 out of nearly 300 million people. Its refreshing to know only one sucker is now born every other minute.
Haunani Apoliona, OHA Chair, said, "There are only a few who oppose the Akaka bill. I can count 'em on two hands." So, 10 people got Lingle, OHA and 51,000 followers to come down with PATSY, and rush to create a new nation, the United States Constitution be damn. Boy, that Haunani, she's really funny. She should go on that TV show "Last Comic Standing." In reality plan "B" is fueling the fires of the average citizens perception that OHA and Hawaii's politicians are using and abusing Hawaiians and Hawaii's taxpayers to satisfy their greed for power, money and freebies.
I'd bet Al Gore would be interested in all that hot gas emitting from Lingle's office, the Legislature and OHA, which are surely contributing to global warming.
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(c) Copyright 2006 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved