Pua's plan is to Reform and Optimize OHA. To move forward with accountability and transparency. To rehabilitate OHA's tarnished reputation by restoring credibility and trust. And to make OHA all it can be to more fully benefit the Hawaiian Community and the State of Hawaii.
OHA is experiencing some of the worst public relations in its 42-year history. This public perception is a result of years of controversy, scandals, infighting, internal lawsuits, trustees vs CEO battles, ethics violations, and poor fiscal management. OHA's reputation has continued to devolve amidst recent financial audits exposing the mismanagement of millions of dollars including fraud, waste, and abuse (Hawaii State Auditor Draft Audit Report No. 18-03 February 2018). A second independent audit reflected the same findings and concerns of the 2018 Draft Audit including indications of waste fraud and abuse (CliffordLarsenAllen December 2019). In addition, OHA is currently under investigation by the State of Hawaii Department of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding allegations of "public corruption and misappropriation" of taxpayer and state funds (2020).
Trust & Credibility
OHA's relationship with other agencies and organizations is extremely important. This is especially true regarding the State Legislature. OHA, inpart, depends on the State Legislature for much of its current funding, continued funding, as well as any potential increased funding. Accordingly, it is imperative that OHA becomes and remains an organization that is perceived as not only effective and efficient, but also honest, credible, and trust worthy. This is also true regarding OHA's dealings with the Hawaiian Community. It is impossible for OHA to fully satisfy its kuleana to benefit the Hawaiian Community, if its beneficiaries do not respect and cannot trust OHA.
Unity & Collaboration
OHA, is facing many issues, concerns, and problems. However, OHA's most significant problem is not a lack of resources, finances, facilities, or capable employees. OHA's biggest problem are relationships. Relationships between Trustees and relations between the OHA Board of Trustees (BOT) and Administration. For OHA to be all it can be to truly and fully benefit the Hawaiian Community, the BOT must be pono. This includes being unified in purpose, committed to act as fiduciaries in the best interest of the Hawaiian Community, and be willing and able to deal and interact with each other with respect and aloha. In addition, the BOT must have good relations with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the rest of the Administrative Team (AT). All of this starts and ends with good communications, mutual respect, and aloha. Friction between the BOT, CEO, and AT has a negative trickle down affect on the entire organization. Stress, mistrust, breakdown in communications, and deteriorating employee morale, will impact productivity and ultimately, negatively impact benefits to Hawaiian Community.
State Issues are OHA Issues
OHA does not exist in a vacuum, it is a part of a greater whole. It is one state agency among many state agencies and it serves the Hawaiian Community, one of many communities in the State of Hawaii. What impacts the State of Hawaii will impact OHA and the Hawaiian community. And what impacts the Hawaiian Community will often impact the state of Hawaii. The same issues that plague the state of Hawaii also plagues the Hawaiian Community. As such, OHA must be aware of all issues that impact the state of Hawaii, and especially those that may disproportional impact the Hawaiian Community. Addressing such issues will not only impact the Hawaiian Community, but also show the larger community that OHA is a good neighbor and team player. It will also show that we are willing to carry our own load, which will build community good will towards OHA.
The following are the major issues impacting the State of Hawaii today. Many of these issues are disproportionately impacting the Hawaiian Community.
Hawaii's traffic is among the worst in America.
The highest median home values in the Nation at $619.000.
Hawaii continues to have the highest homeless rate in the Country.
Cost of Living
Hawaii has the highest cost of living in America.
Illegal drug use and crime associated with its use and distribution have reached Epidemic proportions.
Covid-19 has left the State of Hawaii with the highest unemployment in the Country at 37%.
WE CANNOT CONTROL THE WINDS, BUT WE CAN ADJUST OUR SAILS
Interventions & Initiatives
Interventions and Initiatives that Pua will facilitate
to Reform and Optimize OHA.
Actions to implement now to correct a situation or course.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When people stay in office for too long they often develop a sense of ownership and entitlement which often leads to abuse of power. Term limits will help to reduce a monopoly on power. Term limits will also force would-be career politicians, to think more carefully about their actions while in office knowing that they will be returning to society after a period of time.
As your Trustee, we will advocate for term limits of 2 terms.
Two recent financial audits in 2018 and 2019 indicate gross financial mismanagement of millions of dollars and concerns of fraud, waste, and abuse.
As your Trustee, we will follow-up on these important audits. We will not discount audit findings, make excuses, or make empty promises of future changes. In stead, we will take audit findings at face value, and embrace recommendations as opportunities to make improvements, implement needed policy and safeguards, and move forward better and stronger. In addition, we will advocate for regular ongoing audits as recommended by financial best practices.
OHA is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General's office and the FBI regarding allegations of "public corruption and misappropriation" of taxpayer and state funds (2020).
As your Trustee, we will advocate for cooperation with investigations and provide whatever information and documentation that is requested. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to do what is in the best interest of the Hawaiian Community and to do so with transparency. If OHA has clean hands it should have nothing to hide or fear. In addition, should investigations discover any breach of fiduciary duties or illegal activity, those responsible must be held accountable. This process is extremely important to help restore OHA's tarnished reputation and restore trust and credibility.
Transparency & Accountability:
OHA trustees have a fiduciary duty to do what is in the very best interest of the Hawaiian Community and to do so with transparency and accountability However, as an organization, I believe OHA shares this same fiduciary responsibility.
As your Trustee, we will hold Trustees and Admin accountable for their acts and non acts, ethically, professionally, and legally. We will also advocate for a decision making process that will include Hawaiian Community review and input at every relevant and important step of the process. A process that will be facilitated in a safe, nurturing, and transparent environment.
OHA is currently working on its 2020 strategic plan for the near future. OHA's last plan was created in 2010 (10-years ago). In today's quickly changing and evolving environments (technology, legal, political, economic, social, and cultural) another 10-year strategic plan will not do. Instead, what is needed is a dynamic, flexible, and responsive, strategic framework. A strategic framework will give OHA the flexibility needed to identify risk, mitigate damage, and take advantage of opportunities, in a responsive and timely manner.
As your Trustee, we will advocate for short; medium; and long-term goals and a living strategic framework. We will also advocate for the development of clearly articulated Purpose and Mission statements that currently do not exist. In addition, we will advocate for a culture of self-correction and evolution through a continuous cycle of action, monitoring, assessment, modification, and replication of this process.
Actions to optimize effectiveness and efficiency moving forward.
Over the years, I have heard and seen the concerns of the Hawaiian Community, I share many of the same concerns for myself and 'ohana. As your Trustee, I will work hard, with you, to find solutions to these long standing issues.
Most Americans agree that the health care system in the United States is in need of an overhaul. What many are not in agreement on is how best to do it. There is generally 3-options here, (1) More money, direction, and control, from Washington. (2) Follow a European style national health care system or (3) Putting patients and doctors in the driver's seat and making healthcare providers and insurance companies compete for customers. Regardless of the option that may or should be followed,
Healthcare remains one of the biggest concerns for the Hawaiian Community today. This is especially true for Baby Boomers, born between 1946-1964, aged 56-74, this is our growing kupuna segment.
As your Trustee, we will advocate that OHA work to enhance Healthcare for the Hawaiian Community. Initiatives here should include improving clinical outcomes, increasing access to services, and providing health care education.
Hawaii currently has the highest median home value in the Nation at $619.000.
Native Hawaiians, as an ethnic group, have the lowest home ownership rate among all other groups in Hawaii. Home ownership is the great American Dream. It is a dream shared by the Hawaiian Community, a dream that becomes more elusive every year as home values continue to rise.
As your Trustee, we will look at all the options, from traditional government subsidies and political policy support to collaborating with government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations to find affordable housing solutions for the Hawaiian Community. If we can work together, get creative, and get serious about solving this issue, solutions will come, and more Hawaiians will get into homes.
Covid-19 has resulted in the State of Hawaii having the highest unemployment rate in the Nation at 37%. Native Hawaiians, as an ethnic group, traditionally represents the highest percentage, from any other group, that are unemployed.
As your Trustee, we will advocate that OHA look at opportunities to help unemployed Native Hawaiians. This may be in the areas of financial assistance, helping them be more marketable in the job market, and enhancing access to employment opportunities.
Hawaii continues to have the highest homeless rate in the Nation.
Native Hawaiians, as an ethnic group, represents the largest group of homeless in Hawaii.
Like our Ali'i of old, OHA has the heightened kuleana to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves. As your Trustee, we will work to get those from the Hawaiian Community off the streets and into accommodations that are clean, comfortable, and safe. No one is homeless on purpose, as such we need to help address the underlying causes of homelessness, whether it is unemployment, not being marketable on the job market, mental illness, substance abuse, or any other factor. In addressing this issue, we must think outside of the box, and facilitate the process with respect, kindness, and aloha.
Cost of Living:
Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the entire Nation.
Native Hawaiian families have the lowest mean family income of all major ethnic groups in Hawaii. The mean income of $55,865 for Native Hawaiian families is 16 percent lower than the statewide average of $66,413.
This is something I take very seriously, this issue is tied into other issues including affordable housing, homelessness, brain drain, the exodus of residents seeking higher wages and a lower costs of living
on the Mainland, and driving down our island quality of life. As your Trustee, we will work for solutions to address Hawaii's cost of living and or reduce its affects on the Hawaiian Community. This may include using state lands to develop leasehold housing, reduced taxes, and laws to reduce/limit real estate speculation.
It is clear that America lost it's "War on Drugs" This is especially true in Hawaii. Illegal drug use and crime associated with its use and distribution are at epidemic proportions. Native Hawaiians, as an ethnic group, represents the highest number of substance abuse, among other groups. In addition, Native Hawaiians as an ethnic group, represents the highest number incarcerated among other groups. Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians make up 21 percent of the population, but 39 percent of those incarcerated.
As your Trustee, we will work for solutions. We must step out of the box and throw a wide net. We must be creative and innovative, and we must use our culture and spirituality as part of the process. We must look at and implement those initiatives and strategies that have proven successful in other areas, especially for native peoples. We cannot leave this issue to the State of Hawaii to address. OHA must do what it can for our Hawaiian Community and those who are impacted here. A comprehensive culture based program is needed that begins in the home with our youth and their parents. We must break the cycle of drug use, abuse, and crime.