Tempers flare as OHA grapples with accusations of mismanagement - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tempers flare as OHA grapples with accusations of mismanagement

Hawaiian activist Bumpy Kanahele at Thursday's OHA meeting Hawaiian activist Bumpy Kanahele at Thursday's OHA meeting
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  • Beneficiaries say OHA infighting distracts agency from helping Hawaiians

    Beneficiaries say OHA infighting distracts agency from helping Hawaiians

    Tuesday, January 24 2017 10:50 PM EST2017-01-25 03:50:51 GMT
    (File Image: Hawaii News Now)(File Image: Hawaii News Now)

    Several beneficiaries who attended Tuesday's Office of Hawaiian Affairs board meeting say they're worried that boardroom bickering is distracting the agency from its mission to help Hawaiians.

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    Several beneficiaries who attended Tuesday's Office of Hawaiian Affairs board meeting say they're worried that boardroom bickering is distracting the agency from its mission to help Hawaiians.

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  • OHA board members walk out of meeting

    OHA board members walk out of meeting

    Thursday, January 12 2017 11:29 PM EST2017-01-13 04:29:46 GMT

    The Office of Hawaiian Affairs were set to discuss the fate of its CEO Kamanao Crabbe but the meeting was abruptly halted after several trustee walked out. The board members walked out after Chair Rowena Akana removed from discussion an item on changing Crabbe's title from CEO to administrator. The move angered people who came to the meeting hoping to speak in support of Crabbe. "A majority of them would wish there's a reconvening of the original agenda to afford the ...

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    The Office of Hawaiian Affairs were set to discuss the fate of its CEO Kamanao Crabbe but the meeting was abruptly halted after several trustee walked out. The board members walked out after Chair Rowena Akana removed from discussion an item on changing Crabbe's title from CEO to administrator. The move angered people who came to the meeting hoping to speak in support of Crabbe. "A majority of them would wish there's a reconvening of the original agenda to afford the ...

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  • OHA trustee faces investigation into alleged misuse of state office

    OHA trustee faces investigation into alleged misuse of state office

    Saturday, January 7 2017 12:05 AM EST2017-01-07 05:05:39 GMT
    (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Image: Hawaii News Now)

    A state Ethics Commission investigation is looking into whether Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and longtime state lawmaker Peter Apo conducted his private business out of his taxpayer-funded OHA office. An ethics complaint filed several months ago alleged that he used OHA's email system, staff and OHA's facilities for his consulting business. "

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    A state Ethics Commission investigation is looking into whether Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and longtime state lawmaker Peter Apo conducted his private business out of his taxpayer-funded OHA office. An ethics complaint filed several months ago alleged that he used OHA's email system, staff and OHA's facilities for his consulting business. "

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a dramatic moment Thursday, Native Hawaiian activist Bumpy Kanahele called for an investigation into OHA's finances, throwing a handful of salt onto the group's meeting table and suggesting the board invite federal authorities to examine its business its dealings.

"I no like nothing from you guys," Kanahele told the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' board of trustees. "I no owe you guys nothing, and I always did something for you folks. Please make that call. After you guys pau here, call the FBI."

Kanahele's plea came after several board members accused OHA chief executive Kamanao Crabbe of mismanaging the $600 million state agency. Those board members tried to remove him during Thursday's meeting, but fell several votes short.

"What I was suggesting is put him on administrative leave with full pay until we work out the details of his contract, to be fair to him, but they wouldn't have it," said OHA Chairwoman Rowena Akana.

Critics say OHA's administrative costs during Crabbe's tenure have more than doubled, to $50 million, while spending for Hawaiian programs hasn't kept pace.

"Your CEO has used thousands of dollars for international trips, staffers going to New Zealand for the Hokulea welcome party with a three-piece band," said Native Hawaiian activist Mililani Trask.

Crabbe, though, says the allegations are misleading.

"Our budget has increased because we've become a landowner in Kakaako Makai and we own this building (in Iwilei)," he said. "We not only have additional expenses for the work we do, but we also take in revenue. 

"I think some of the statements that were shared today are very grossly inaccurate innuendos."

His supporters urged the board to keep him.

"To essentially get rid of him will undoubtedly be catastrophic and detrimental for our people in Hawaii for generations to come," said Punaluu resident Jamee Mahealani Miller.

Tempers sometimes flared during Thursday's OHA board meeting, which was attended by more than 50 people. At one point, Trask got into a heated exchange with Crabbe after she accused him of spending $500,000 on the World Conservation Congress in Waikiki last September. 

Trask: "Your CEO last year gave a gift of half a million dollars to the IUCN global environmental conference so that he and a few others could become a master of ceremonies for a Hollywood-like opening event."

Crabbe: "That was voted by the board."

Trask: "This did not benefit our people."

Crabbe: "That was voted on by the board. That was voted on by the board."

Trask: "Excuse me, I'd like to finish, I would like to finish." 

Crabbe: "That was voted by the board."

Many Hawaiians worry that the bickering is eroding the public's confidence in OHA.

"There's so much division in here, and our enemies look at us and say 'Yeah, keep doing that, keep being separated Hawaiians.' They like us do that. We got great enemies out there," said Kaukaohu Wahilani of Waianae.

The OHA board will meet again Monday.

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