The War Report: 2013 Will Note Hawai‘i’s Occupation

The next publication of The War Report: 2013 is schedule to be released by Oxford Press on December 6, 2014. The War Report: 2013 is the second in a series of annual reports that will give an overview of armed conflicts and occupations for that particular year, and is designed as a resource for those working in the field, governments, policy-makers, journalists and the United Nations.

For the year 2012, The War Report reported 37 armed conflicts on the territory of 24 states; of the 38 only one was an active international armed conflict, between South Sudan and Sudan. Also reported were 9 “belligerent occupations”, which fall under laws governing international armed conflicts. These occupations included the occupation of Azerbaijan by Armenia; Cyprus by Turkey; Eritrea by Ethiopia; Georgia by Russia; Lebanon by Israel; Moldova by Russia; Palestine by Israel; Syria by Israel; and Western Sahara by Morocco. Each of the occupations reported have the following headings: Classification of the Conflict; Summary of Applicable International Law; History of the Conflict; Parties to the Conflict; Casualties; Displacement; and War Crimes Allegations, Investigations, and Prosecutions.

The reported, “The long-term trend from officially declared wars between sovereign states to armed conflicts inside states and territories has important implications for international justice,” says Dr. Stuart Casey-Maslen, editor of The War Report. “Without a clearer legal basis for what constitutes an armed conflict under international law, accused perpetrators of war crimes will not be prosecuted.”

“The classification of an armed conflict under international law is an objective legal test and not a decision left to national governments or any international body, not even the UN Security Council,” says Andrew Clapham, Director of the Academy and Graduate Institute Professor in International Law.

“It is not always clear when a situation is an armed conflict, and hence when war crimes can be punished,” added Professor Clapham. “The War Report aims to change this and bring greater accountability for criminal acts perpetuated in armed conflicts.”

On May 24, 2014, Dr. Maslen notified Dr. Keanu Sai by email that Hawai‘i would be noted in the next publication of The War Report: 2013. When Dr. Sai met with Dr. Maslen at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law’s office in Geneva on March 26, 2014, the staff of the War Report was already in their final stages of editing the reported armed conflicts and occupations for the year 2013 before submitting the manuscript to Oxford Press. Dr. Sai sought to have Hawai‘i included, but realized at the meeting it was too late for this edition.

At the meeting, Dr. Sai presented a power point presentation on the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom and how it came under an illegal and prolonged occupation. Dr. Maslen was also provided with information and evidence of the occupation. In March, Dr. Maslen assured Dr. Sai that a decision would be made and if it has been determined that Hawai‘i is occupied according to the Academy’s criteria it will be listed on its website Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts in June. The website provides monthly updates on armed conflicts and occupations and is currently under construction, but was scheduled to be completed by June. Dr. Maslen also told Dr. Sai in the email that the website will be completed at the end of July instead of June as previously thought.

It would appear that the information on Hawai‘i’s occupation is what prompted Dr. Maslen to note Hawai‘i’s occupation in the publication of The War Report: 2013. Dr. Sai was very thankful to Dr. Maslen and his staff for the last minute notation, and he has been told that the Geneva Academy will be monitoring the developments in Hawai‘i for inclusion in the next publication, which will be released in December 2015.  

Australia Network News: Kingdom of Hawaii may still exist, challenges US over sovereignty

Australia Network News Photo

Australia Network News reports: “The CEO of the Hawaiian Affairs Office (OHA) has retained his job and gained public support to challenge the US on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists as a sovereign country.”

Australia Network News Photo 2Kamanaopono Crabbe sparked an internal crisis when he sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, asking for a ruling on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still legally exists.

The letter, which was quickly rescinded by the OHA’s trustees, was prompted by the US Government’s acknowledgment that the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893 was illegal.

Political scientist Dr Keanu Sai, from Windward Communtiy College in Honolulu, told Pacific Beat the OHA board thought Dr Crabbe had violated their policy by sending the letter without approval, but later realised they were mistaken.

“[Dr Crabbe] was not in violation of any policy of the board but rather was operating on his diligence and risk management,” Dr Sai said.

Mr Crabbe has now won the support of the OHA trustees, who have moved to send the letter again and retain him in his role as CEO.

“They’re in full support and they say that his questions definitely do have merit.”

Public support for Mr Crabbe’s campaign is also growing, with 2,500 people signing an online petition.

Dr Sai said Hawaiians need clarification on the issue.

“What was overthrown was the government, not the country,” he said.

Dr Sai blames revisionist history education for misconstruing local understanding of Hawaii’s true status.

“A revisionist history has been taught here in Hawaii since the early 1900s that presented Hawaii as if it was a part of the United States when in fact there is clear evidence that it’s not,” he said.

“We need to address this because it will affect our people but it also affects everyone.”

Dr Sai says if the Kingdom of Hawaii does indeed still exist, many historical treaties with nations including the UK and Australia would still be in effect.

International law

The US may be in violation of international law if Hawaii is still technically its own country.

The US would be guilty of appropriating funds by taxation and other related crimes, by not complying with occupation laws.

Dr Sai says within the framework of international law, there is presumed of continuity of a country when it is established.

“All that needs to be provided is evidence that Hawaii was a country (and it was, fully recognised by the United States and Great Britain and everyone else),” he said.

“It places the burden upon the United States to provide overwhelming evidence that it in fact extinguished Hawaii as an independent state under international law.

“In the absence of that evidence, the Hawaiian kingdom continues to exist.”

Hawai‘i News Now – Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO to keep job

Hawai‘i News Now reports “Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO to keep job.”

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Trustees with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs met for hours behind closed doors Monday to discuss the fate of CEO Dr. Kamana’opono Crabbe.  There was concern from Dr. Crabbe’s supporters, dozens of whom gathered outside the OHA boardroom, that he would be fired and the longer trustees stayed in executive session the more anxious the crowd grew.  But just before 6 p.m., Dr. Crabbe and the Board of Trustees emerged united to say they were moving forward together.

Dr. Crabbe ignited an internal dispute that has since sparked a public debate after he sent an official inquiry to the state department asking for a legal opinion on whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists.

When OHA’s nine trustees learned of the letter — they sent a letter of their own rescinding the request.  Two trustees later changed their mind and now support Dr. Crabbe’s inquiry.

“In our discussions today, the board and I do agree that there’s merit to the questions that were brought up in the letter. We have agreed to move forward with our community. I believe the board will be conducting a meeting on March 29 to hear feedback from our community regarding our nation building process. The board has agreed that we recognize the illegal overthrow of our Hawaiian Kingdom and how to best seek clarification of that status as we move forward,” said Dr. Crabbe.

Questions have been raised about whether Dr. Crabbe had the authority to request a legal written opinion without first obtaining board approval.

Several complaints have also been filed with the Office of Information Practices challenging the trustees letter to rescind Dr. Crabbe’s inquiry citing it may have violated the state’s sunshine law — which prohibits board members from voting on an action without first calling a public meeting.

Officials say all legal challenges are still under review.

Dozens of Dr. Crabbe’s supporters showed up to rally for the CEO, but their attempts to sign up for public testimony were turned down as Monday’s meeting was scheduled specifically as an “executive session” to consult with board counsel Robert Klein about Dr. Crabbe’s conduct and to discuss appropriate action.

“It was a really gut-wrenching discussion. I think we attempted to look at the overarching issues here and not to pinpoint a particular blame on one individual. I believe the message I would like to send to all our lahui is that if OHA can repair and move forward, examine our responsibilities both at the board of trustee level and at the administrative level, and see a common, unified effort to move forward, I truly believe that we will move forward with the building of our Native Hawaiian entity.  That will never change,” said Chair Colette Machado.

“At the time of the discussion, we had no idea that the level of hurt was so deep that we had to take it layer by layer, and I’m so proud that we had that opportunity today with Dr. Kamana’o Crabbe in ho’oponopono and there is a unifying effort to moving forward. Once we were able to release one another from our past transgressions and all of the pilikia that may have been caused either by intention or in addition to something that came through the side door. So to me I am blessed to have had that opportunity today and then we’ll be moving forward, but looking seriously at some modifications or changes to the previous policy on building the Native Hawaiian entity,” Machado said.

OHA has decided to hold a public meeting on May 29 for community feedback on how to best move forward with nation-building.

New Book: Jon Olsen’s “Liberate Hawai‘i!”

Author Jon Olsen has come out with his new book “Liberate Hawai‘i,” which can be purchased online at

Olsen Liberate Hawai‘i“If the government of Hawaii had not been illegally overthrown by the U.S. Marines through a classic act of Manifest Destiny and American-style gunboat diplomacy, Hawaii would still be an independent sovereign nation today. Notwithstanding a series of clever illegal moves by the U.S. government, Hawaii cannot be considered a legally bona fide state of the United States. . . . In 1959 the U.S. falsely informed the U.N. that Hawaii had become the 50th state of the United States after an illegal plebiscite. . . . Jon Olsen . . .convincingly points out that the fraudulent claim of Hawaiian statehood is immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional.” –The late Thomas H. Naylor, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Duke University

“Jon Olsen is a warrior of truth, proclaiming a vision of Hawaiian sovereignty. He is not alone. The Hawaiian Resistance that began sweeping across the islands forty years ago has become a storm of new consciousness. Where will it blow? Olsen charts that storm’s history and possibilities. For readers whose eyes can see a radically free Hawaii, here it is.” –Jim Douglass, author of JFK and The Unspeakable

“. . .you are an incredibly gifted writer and inquiring spirit. Congratulations on such a difficult achievement! The research is impressive and your writing cohesive and erudite without being pompous.” –Belva Ann Prycel accomplished artist and author of memoirs Passage, Times and Tides, and Water Tales

“Jon Olsen’s new book, Liberate Hawai’i: Renouncing and Defying the Continuing Fraudulent U.S. Claim to the sovereignty of Hawai’i, makes a compelling case — a legal case as well as a moral one.” –David Swanson

“Good quick over view of 19th century illegal takeover of independent Kingdom of Hawaii. Lots of documentation of the sad period in Hawaii’s History. This aspect of US History is soulfully lacking in “normal” History from the view point of rich Americans Recommend to all interested in the real history of US takeover in Hawaii. Tom Hoffman’s Nation Within is also an excellent history of this period.” –Bill Smith

“Having been involved since 1982 in many aspects of the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement, mostly as a photographer, I find Jon D. Olsons’ book, Liberate Hawaii, to be a fascinating and well put together collection of historical facts about the great injustice done to the Hawaiian people by a rambunctious and greedy group of American businessmen. It is a compelling read, and I highly recommend it.” –G. Brad Lewis

Complaints for Violation of the Sunshine Law by OHA filed with the Office of Information Practices

Three complaints have been filed this week with the Office of Information Practices alleging the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees (BOT) violated the State of Hawai‘i Sunshine Law. The first complaint was filed anonymously, but the other two were not filed anonymously. The other two complaints were filed by Donovan Preza and Nanci Munroe that cite sections of the Office of Information Practices Guide to the Sunshine Law for State and County Boards.

The complaints center on the May 9, 2014 rescinding letter the BOT sent to Secretary of State Kerry that had all nine Trustees signatures.

OHA Letter May 9, 2014

Investigation of complaints are handled either by the State of Hawai‘i Attorney General or any of the Country Prosecutors. Willful violation of the Sunshine Law is a misdemeanor. Hawai‘i misdemeanors are crimes that carry a maximum sentence of no more than one year imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $2,000, and removal from the Board.


I, Donovan Preza, resident of Hawai‘i and Native Hawaiian, am filing this complaint with the State of Hawaii Office of Information Practices asking for an investigation into the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Board of Trustees (BOT) compliance to the State open meetings law, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 92, Part I, commonly known as the “Sunshine Law”. The substance of this complaint is to cause an investigation by (OIP), which has jurisdiction over OHA’s BOT, into the actions taken by the BOT of OHA in regards to the May 9, 2014 letter (see email attachment) and to determine if proper protocol was followed in regards to Hawai‘i’s Sunshine Law requiring open public meetings.

On May 9, 2014 a letter was sent from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) addressed to The Honorable John F. Kerry, Secretary of State.  The substance of that letter and the signatures of all nine members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of OHA suggest that a meeting took place on Friday May 9, 2014 whereby the BOT conducted business and took an action as suggested in the letter, “That letter [the CEO’s letter dated May 5, 2014] is hereby rescinded”.

It is my understanding that individual members of the BOT were in different locations on Friday, May 9th where the CEO of OHA and Chairwoman of the BOT were in Washington DC.  The OIC’s Guide to “The Sunshine Law” for State and County Boards January 2013 (OIC Guide) states, “…with a few exceptions, board members are not allowed to discuss board business with each other outside of a social meeting, including by telephone or through e-mail or social media” (Page 4).  As such, the following questions require investigation, 1) Was the board business discussed in the May 9th, 2014 letter with the signature of the 9 trustees the product of a meeting? If so, what specific kind of meeting does the BOT suggest it was (ie: Open, Executive, Emergency, Unanticipated Event, Limited Meeting)?  It cannot be considered an “Open” meeting as the requirement for 6 day notice was not met.  It could not have been an Executive meeting as the OIC Guide states, “To convene an executive meeting, a board must vote to do so in an open meeting and must publicly announce the purpose of the executive meeting” and there is no evidence of a prior open meeting whereby the BOT voted to delay and resume an Executive Meeting on Friday May 9, 2014.  In my estimation a Limited Meeting would also not seem to apply to this situation.

As such I am left to infer that the meeting was either an “Emergency” meeting or a meeting for an “Unanticipated Event”.  If it was an Emergency Meeting, then the board would have to show, according to the OIC Guide, that there was “an imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare”.  The May 9, 2014 letter states, “We understand that you received a letter from Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Executive Officer Kamana‘opono M. Crabbe, PhD dated May 5, 2014.  The contents of that letter do not reflect the position of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs or the position of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.”   I do not feel that a difference in “position” on this matter constitutes a peril to the public’s health, safety or welfare and as such the board cannot claim that the requirements for an Emergency meeting were met.

The OIC Guide also states, “When the board finds an emergency meeting is appropriate, (1) the board must state its reasons in writing, (2) two-thirds of all members to which the board is entitled must agree that an emergency exists, and (3) the board must file an emergency agenda and the board’s reasons in its office and with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office”.   I have found no evidence of the board explicitly stating its reason or even the public identification of there being an “Emergency” meeting on May 9, 2014.  The letter of May 9, 2014 does not provide a reason for the meeting but instead speaks to a reason for BOT actions.  Neither have I seen any evidence of the BOT stating that an Emergency existed.  Their ability to take such action “behind closed doors” is what is in question here.

Secondly, as mentioned previously, some of the BOT were on different islands and at least one was in Washington DC which suggests that such a meeting would have had to have taken place over the phone or some other form of “interactive conference technology”.  Did the BOT convene all together via teleconference, Skype or some other technology?  In other words, did all nine trustees, as evidenced by 9 signatures on the letter, meet via “interactive conference technology” as provided for by law or did they meet and discuss individually via telephone conversation or some other form of communication.  In the section titled, “Discussions Between Board Members Outside of a Meeting” it states, “The sunshine law generally prohibits discussions about board business between board members outside of a properly noticed meeting, with certain statutory exceptions.”  It continues, “…such interactions cannot be used to circumvent the requirements or spirit of the law to make a decision or deliberate towards a decision upon a matter over which the board has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.  In practical terms, this means that board members cannot “caucus” or meet privately before, during or after a meeting to discuss business that is before the board…”  Can individual phone calls, if that is in fact how the meeting occurred, be considered to constitute a proper Emergency Meeting or would it be evidence of a “caucus” or private meeting which the Sunshine Law does not provide for by law.  Third, in regards to an “Emergency Meeting”, I have found no evidence of the BOT filing an emergency agenda, as required, as to the board’s reasons in either OHA’s office or the Office of the Lieutenant Governor or appropriate county clerk.  In other words, there is no evidence that a meeting took place.  And there is even less evidence that a legally constituted meeting took place.

One could also infer that the meeting was an “Unanticipated Meeting”.  My general comments and argument to the Emergency Meeting, also applies to an Unanticipated Meeting as applicable.   The OIC guide states, “The law defines an unanticipated event to mean (1) an event that the board did not have sufficient advance knowledge of or reasonably could not have known about; (2) a deadline beyond the board’s control established by a legislative body, a court, or an agency; and (3) the consequences of an event for which the board could not have reasonably taken all necessary action.  This seems to be the BOT’s best argument but again the May 9, 2014 letter does not articulate or identify the source of authority by which the BOT was acting and it did not explicitly mention that their actions were the result of an “Unanticipated Meeting”.  Again the public is left to infer that the alleged meeting was in fact an “Unanticipated Meeting”.  My aforementioned argument above starting with the paragraph “Secondly” applies here.  Can an “Unanticipated Meeting” be properly called to order considering the BOT were on different islands and would have had to have occurred over the phone or some other form of “interactive conference technology.”  I am not questioning the technology or method of conversation.  Instead my question focuses on whether the trustees actually had an opportunity to meet all together, as a board, as suggested by the nine signatures on the letter.  Is there any evidence that the trustees actually talked to one another as a group or did this occur through conversations between their staff?  If the conversations occurred individually between two trustees at a time does this constitute a “meeting behind closed doors”

Additionally, the requirement for an “Unanticipated Meeting” are as follows, “…(1) the board states, in writing, its reasons for finding that an unanticipated event has occurred and that an emergency meeting is necessary; (2) the attorney general and two-thirds of all members to which the board is entitled concur with the board’s finding; and (3) the board’s findings and the agenda for the emergency meeting are filed in the board’s office and with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office”.  As previously stated, the public is left to infer from the letter dated May 9, 2014 that an “Unanticipated Meeting” occurred.  I have seen no evidence articulated elsewhere by OHA that such a meeting occurred in regards to this matter.  Secondly, I have seen no evidence from the Attorney General suggesting that it concurred with the actions of the BOT to call an “Unanticipated Meeting” in the first place as required by law.  Probably because OHA has not publicly stated that such a meeting ever took place.  Additionally, the office of the Attorney General is not “cc’d” in the May 9thletter.  As the law requires, the attorney general to “concur” with the necessity of the emergency meeting, one would think they would have been a logical entity to cc on the letter.  Instead the BOT cc’d John Waihe‘e III, Governor Neil Abercrombie, and Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, USN, Commander U.S. Pacific command.  Third, I have seen no evidence of the “board’s findings” or “agenda” for the emergency meeting either in the board’s office or with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

In summary, the IOC Guide states, “the intent of the Sunshine Law is to open up governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation by requiring state and county boards to conduct their business as openly as possible.  The legislature expressly declared that “it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy-the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and actions of governmental agencies-shall be conducted as openly as possible.  In implementing this policy, the Legislature directed that the provisions in the Sunshine Law requiring open meetings be liberally construed and the provisions providing for exceptions to open meeting requirements be strictly construed against closed meetings.” (emphasis mine) It was necessary to articulate all of these arguments because OHA has not publicly provided, to my knowledge, an explanation of when or how the BOT met and held a meeting as suggested by the May 9, 2014 letter and the actions taken by the BOT articulated in the letter.  Investigation into these matters outlined above is of critical time significance considering that the agenda of the “Meeting of the Board of Trustees” on Monday May 19, 2014 is to discuss in “Executive Session”, and in consultation “with Board Counsel Robert G. Klein” to consider “appropriate action with respect to the conduct of Dr. Crabbe [CEO of OHA]”.  The agenda items for the Monday May 19, 2014 meeting are directly related to the actions and difference of “position” articulated in the letter dated May 9, 2014.  Furthermore OHA’s legal counsel Robert Klein apprised the BOT, as found in the minutes of January 13, 2014, regarding potential previous violations of the Sunshine Law by the BOT in issues surrounding the commercial development of Kaka‘ako so the board cannot claim ignorance of the Sunshine Laws.  More disturbingly does this suggest a pattern of behavior in how the BOT has been recently operating in relation to Hawai‘i Sunshine laws?  In accordance with the Sunshine Laws of Hawai‘i and the OIP’s jurisdiction over such matters I ask that an investigation be started into the matters discussed in this letter.  In the spirit of transparency please consider this letter and my name associated with this letter as public record.

Mahalo for your consideration.

Ho‘opa‘a au i ko‘u inoa,

Donovan Preza


Aloha Office Of Information Practices,

I’m writing this e-mail to request that you investigate the Office Of Hawaiian Affairs meeting with the trustees that appears to be in violation of the Sunshine Law.  

I’m am NOT a native Hawaiian, but a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the state of Hawai`i since 1976. 

This is in regards to the so-called “Rescind Letter” dated May 9, 2014 in which the OHA Board of Trustees demanded that the letter issued by CEO Dr. Kamana`opono Crabbe dated May 5, 2014 to Secretary Of State John Kerry requesting that the State Department investigate the legal status of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s relationship to the United States be rescinded.  A copy of that letter is attached.  

I am not able to access any information that any minutes were filed in regards to the meeting held on May 9, 2014.  The signatures on the letter indicate that a meeting was held and that a vote was taken.  There are no minutes to indicate the discussion that was held, what the subject was, or why a vote was taken.

Mahalo for your time,

Nanci Munroe
Ph:  808-223-3359

OHA’s “Executive Meeting” Monday Another Violation of Sunshine Law?

As a State of Hawai‘i government agency, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs comes under the Sunshine Law. The purpose of the sunshine law is to provide public input and oversight for board and commission meetings of the State of Hawai‘i government. The State of Hawai‘i Office of Information Practices (OIP) oversees compliance to the Sunshine Law, which is a criminal statute.

According to the OIP Guide to the Sunshine Law for State and County Boards, “the intent of the Sunshine Law is to open up governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation by requiring state and county boards to conduct their business as openly as possible. The Legislature expressly declared that ‘it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy—the discussions, deliberation, decisions, and actions of governmental agencies—shall be conducted as openly as possible.’”

All meetings of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees (BOT) must be open to the public and the BOT must accept testimony, both written and oral, at its meetings. The BOT, however, can hold meetings that are not open to the public, which are called “executive meetings.” Executive meetings can only be convened for eight reasons: licensee information, personnel decisions, labor negotiations/public property acquisition, consult with Board’s attorney, investigate criminal misconduct, public safety/security, private donations, and State/Federal law or court order.

The OIP Guide states, that in order to “convene an executive meeting, a board must vote to do so in an open meeting and must publicly announce the purpose of the executive meeting. Two-thirds of the board members present must vote in favor of holding the executive meeting, and the members voting in favor must also make up a majority of all board members, including members not present at the meeting or membership slots not currently filled. The minutes of the open meeting must reflect the vote of each board member on the question of closing the meeting to the public.”

The BOT, however, could hold an “emergency meeting” that does not require notification with the Lieutenant Governor’s office and agenda only if there’s “an imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare.”

The OIC Guide states, “A willful violation of the Sunshine Law is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, may result in the person being removed from the board. The Attorney General and the country prosecutor have the power to enforce any violations of the statute.”

As reported by Larry Geller of the Disappeared, there is no evidence that the BOT complied with the Sunshine Law and that the BOT’s meeting in Washington, D.C., where the Trustees voted to rescind the CEO Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe’s letter to Secretary of State Kerry, was held in secret. Information is now surfacing that there was no meeting of the BOT in Washington, D.C., and consequently if there was no meeting then there could have been no votes. The only evidence to confirm that a meeting was held is to have minutes of the meeting that would signify each of the Trustee’s votes and the discussion that preceded it. Furthermore, in order for this meeting to be in compliance with the Sunshine Law, the Lieutenant Governor’s office was supposed to have been notified six days in advance with the agenda for the meeting that was supposed to have been open to the public. But the Lieutenant Governor’s office has no record that any meeting took place in the month of May.

If there was to be a meeting, which we know there wasn’t, the Chairperson of the BOT could have convened an “special meeting” in Washington, D.C., where there existed an unanticipated event that requires a board to take immediate action. On this matter, the OIC Guide states that a “board may convene a special meeting with less than six calendar days’ notice because of an unanticipated event when a board must take action or a matter over which it has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.” However, as confirmed by Mr. Gellar of Disappeared, the Lieutenant Governor’s office has no record that notice of the May 9, 2014 BOT meeting was filed, thereby signaling a clear violation of the Sunshine Law and calling into question the validity of the May 9, 2014 BOT meeting and all actions allegedly discussed and voted on by the BOT.

On May 13, 2014, the Lieutenant Governor’s office received a request from OHA Trustee Colette Y. Machado, Chairperson, Board of Trustees announcing an “Executive Session” meeting of the BOT for Monday, May 19, 2014, to “consider appropriate action with respect to the conduct of Dr. Crabbe,” and “questions and issues pertaining to the Board’s powers and duties under its governance initiate.” This is an executive meeting not open to the public.

BOT_5_19_14 Agenda

The glaring problem with having this closed “executive meeting” is that it required an open “meeting” first. According to the Sunshine Law, “two-thirds of the board members present must vote in favor of holding the executive meeting, and the members voting in favor must also make up a majority of all board members,” and that “the minutes of the open meeting must reflect the vote of each board member on the question of closing the meeting to the public.” If there was no open meeting in Washington, D.C., to begin with, how could Trustee Chairwoman Colette Machado call for an “executive meeting” without first having a open meeting? Simply answered, she can’t because there was never a meeting to begin with.

Further complicating this issue for the BOT is that the Sunshine Law was directly addressed in an open meeting at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on January 13, 2014. The issues centered on the commercial development of Kaka‘ako and whether or not actions taken by the Board violated the Sunshine Law. Former Associate Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and now BOT Counsel, Robert Klein, made the following statement to the Board’s open meeting of the Committee on Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment, which are reflected in the minutes. All nine of the Trustees were present.

Minutes of January 13, 2014:
Robert_KleinBoard Counsel Klein shares that there are a few exceptions. We operate on the principle that if you have two trustees, you’re fairly safe in not filing agendas for meetings between the two. The whole point of the sunshine law is to give notice to the public; if you’re having something that resembles a meeting (a quorum of Trustees that are meeting about anything).

In the case where you have two trustees who are meeting, in most situations that is way short of a quorum. Whatever they’re discussing, as long as they’re not trading votes or making arrangements on a certain issue, you’re not going to run afoul of the sunshine law.

When you get to three trustees, you need a special exemption. Many boards and commissions have 5 members, so when you have 3 together, you have quorum. However, this is a large board where there are 9 of you, so you don’t have a quorum until there are 5 you; so 3 is a safe number. The question is whether you can find an exception in the sunshine law for 3 trustees to meet together and when you look at the sunshine law there are certain exceptions called “Permitted Interactions” and what that means is you can have interactions with 2 or more trustees short of a quorum as long as you’re not trading votes and deciding things away from the public eye.

Under these circumstances the legislature has provided for exceptions. In this situation, the only exception that potentially applies is the exception where two or more but less than a quorum of trustees meet to discuss or negotiate a point that the trustees as a whole in public have already agreed to be the position of OHA and that commission or committee of the Board is moving forward running with the proposal already approved in public by the trustees.

Colette MachadoTrustee Chairwoman Machado cannot claim ignorance of the Sunshine Law and nor can all nine of the Trustees. The actions taken by the Board in Washington, D.C., clearly was in violation of the Sunshine Law. The irony of the whole situation is that the May 9 letter to Secretary of State Kerry attempting to rescind the CEO’s letter of inquiry, which has all nine signatures of the Trustees, is the evidence of the violation of the Sunshine Law. As such, this would consequently render the Trustees’ letter to Secretary of State Kerry “void” because it stemmed from a direct violation of the law itself.

Trustees Dan Ahuna and Hulu Lindsey took the right steps in removing their names from the May 9, 2014 rescinding letter because it shows that there was no “willful violation of the Sunshine Law,” which is a misdemeanor, on their part. It would make sense for all of the Trustees to follow their example before its too late.

CORRECTION: It was incorrectly stated that the meeting scheduled for Monday, May 19, 2014, was an executive meeting closed to the public. The meeting is an open meeting, but a portion of the meeting would be closed to the public. Since the closed meeting is an extension of the original violation of the Sunshine Law that took place in Washington, D.C., the Monday meeting is illegal.

Disappeared OHA Board of Trustees Violated Sunshine Law

Disappeared reports “OHA apparently violated state Sunshine Law with secret meeting(s) in Washington, DC

Dissapeared News Photo 1Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser reported a meeting of OHA trustees held in Washington DC at which the trustees discussed a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by OHA Chief Executive Officer Kama­na‘o­pono. The trustees then voted to send a rescinding letter:

“After learning about the letter Friday while on business in Washington, OHA trustees voted unanimously to fire off another letter to Kerry rescinding Crabbe’s letter, explaining that it doesn’t reflect the position of the board.” [Star-Advertiser p. A1, OHA executive defends letter to Kerry, 5/13/2014]

It appears that whatever meetings the OHA trustees may have held in Washington, or any meetings since that time, were held in secret—that is, no agendas were filed in advance with the Lieutenant Governor’s office, and no public notice appears to have been given.

I attempted to call OHA Chair Colette Machado, but was routed to voicemail, so I checked instead with the Lieutenant Governor’s office. They were able to confirm that no notice is on record with them, a requirement of the Sunshine Law.

The calendar page for the OHA Board of Trustees on the website shows no events for the entire month.

Dissappeared News Photo 2

I learned yesterday that someone has filed a complaint on the same issue with the Office of Information Practices. Today, since telephone contact with the Chair was not successful, I faxed a request for any agendas that might have been filed, and a request for minutes of the meetings.

Stay tuned.

Although a board or commission may be traveling outside of Hawaii, the responsibility for complying with the Sunshine Laws still holds. Otherwise, boards could (for example) escape to Vegas and hold meetings outside of public scrutiny. So it’s appropriate that someone filed a complaint, and I don’t mind that they beat me to it.

[Thanks to the astute Disappeared News reader who called this to my attention. I’ll have to admit that in reading the article, I was drawn to the significance of the letter to Kerry and didn’t notice that the trustee meeting might itself be illegal under state law. OHA is a state agency and subject to open meeting and open records laws.]

KITV News: OHA rift reveals governance struggle

KITV News reported “OHA CEO defends decision citing risk management

KITV photo

HONOLULU“I take this responsibility very, very seriously,” said Kamana’opono Crabbe, chief executive officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs during a morning news conference.

Flanked by his chief financial officer and other Native Hawaiian scholars and lawyers, Crabbe defended his decision to send a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry without consulting with OHA trustees first.

The letter asked for a legal opinion to clarify whether Hawaii’s sovereignty is recognized under  international law.

“It is imperative for us to move forward to have at least accurate information, and truth so that our people can make well-informed decisions,” said Crabbe.

The rift went public when OHA trustees asked to have the letter rescinded, although at least two trustees, Dan Ahuna and Carmen Hulu Lindsey, are now siding with Crabbe.

The Hawaiian community is in the process of political self-determination. The deadline for signing up for the Native Hawaiian Roll in order to be counted ended May 1.

“A well-informed decision may be, in our Hawaiian community, is that we need to stop this whole process until these questions are answered. There are reasonable questions to ask of the right authority,” said attorney Dexter Kamiama.

But this internal clash has trustees scrambling for damage control.

Supporters of OHA’s CEO were out in force Monday. Although Crabbe says he has not been asked to resign, some fear he may lose his job over this.

“Over 800 Hawaii residents have signed on to this petition we simply want to support pono leadership and we feel Dr. Crabbe has embodied that,” said University of Hawaii professor Kamana Beamer.

OHA Chairwoman Collette Machado said she sent a two-page letter to staff outlining the difficult position Crabbe’s letter has put the office in.

OHA chairwoman Collette Machado said trustees will meet with Crabbe next week to talk about the letter and the breach of process and take appropriate action.
Machado said Crabbe disrespected the trustees, Hawaii lawmakers and the 125,000 native Hawaiians who signed the roll.

Former Gov. John Waihee who heads the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission said he does not believe this rift will affect the process.

He said the next step is to verify the signatures on the roll and to elect delegates to a convention, something he hopes is still possible.

Maui OHA to Host Two Maui Meetings Amid Nation Building Concerns

Maui reports “OHA to Host Two Maui Meetings Amid Nation Building Concerns

Maui Now Photo 1Two meetings are planned on Maui following public concerns raised over a letter sent from the top executive at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to the US Department of State, seeking an opinion on the legal status of Hawai‘i under international law.

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana and CEO at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs submitted the formal request to US Secretary of State John Kerry, “as part of the organizationʻs broader effort to facilitate a Hawaiian nation-building process.”

Crabbe explained in a press release statement that the action was prompted by a presentation and panel discussion last month that featured former Hawai‘i Governor John Waihe‘e, III, Chairman of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, senior Law Professor Williamson Chang, and Dr. Keanu Sai, a political scientist.

“The presentations of Professor Chang and Dr. Sai provided a legal analysis of the current status of Hawai‘i that appeared to undermine the legal basis of the Roll Commission, and, as alleged in the panel discussions, the possibility of criminal liability under international law,” Crabbe said in a press release.

Maui Now Photo 2Crabbe continued saying, “These matters have raised grave concerns with regard to not only the Native Hawaiian community we serve, but also to the vicarious liability of myself, staff and Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and members of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission. The community we serve, the Trustees, and many of my staff members, to include myself, and the members of the Roll Commission are Native Hawaiians, who are direct descendants of Hawaiian subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom.”

In a press conference held on Monday, Crabbe said, “I continue to believe my decision to send the letter was in the best interest of OHA and the beneficiaries we serve. I stand behind this decision and accept full responsibility for it.”

Maui Now Photo 3Maui Trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey wrote a formal request on Monday asking that her name be removed from a letter in which trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs rescinded Crabbe’s letter sent to the Secretary of State.

Lindsey said she called Crabbe and listened to his account of what transpired, and said, “I am now confident that he acted in good faith and with the powers vested in him as CEO to safeguard the interests of those we serve.”

She continued saying, “I have attended the many community town hall meetings OHA has held throughout the islands and heard the concerns articulated in Dr. Crabbe’s letters expressed by several people.  While those questions may be troubling and difficult to address, it is precisely because they are so that I now believe Dr. Crabbe demonstrated courage and integrity in moving those concerns forward to try to get the clarity we need.”

In conclusion, she stated that, “I regret the circumstances that led me to allow my name to be added to a letter that I now believe was sent off without adequate reflection and discussion among the trustees.”

Native Hawaiians on Maui will get an opportunity to provide feedback to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs at a community forum as well as a regular meeting scheduled by the Board of Trustees this week.

The community meeting is designed for OHA officials to listen to concerns and highlight efforts to improve conditions within Hawaiian communities.  That meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at the Waiola Church Hall on Waineʻe Street in Lahaina.

The Board of Trustees meeting will be held the following day at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at the Cameron Center Auditorium in Wailuku.

Both meetings are open to the public.

KHON News: Embattled OHA official receives community support

KHON News reports “Embattled OHA official receives community support

KHON News Photo

Controversy continues to grow at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

Last week, the CEO of OHA, Kamanaopono Crabbe, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking for legal clarification on the issues surrounding the re-building of a Hawaiian nation. Crabbe said that “the Hawaiian community needed to know that I was inquiring about the very matters they sought to bring forward.”

But OHA trustees quickly rescinded the letter, essentially scolding Crabbe by claiming he exceeded his powers.

But now members of the Hawaiian community are coming to Crabbe’s defense with an online petition.

“There’s been over 1,100 people that have signed on in a little over two days,” said Dr. Kamana Beamer of the University of Hawaii. “We have about a thousand Hawaii (signees), as well as (those from) 19 other countries.”

Beamer supported Crabbe’s decision to ask for legal clarity when it comes to Hawaiian independence.

“What is the status of the Hawaiian kingdom under international law? We’re not committed to any particular outcome per se, but we feel like we need to get these questions addressed so we can make informed decisions in the future,” he said.

All nine OHA trustees had originally signed a letter asking that Crabbe’s inquiry to the State Department be rescinded, although trustee Dan Ahuna wanted his signature be removed a day later, in support of Crabbe.

“All sides agree, Hawaiian independence, sovereignty, is a complex issue,” said trustee Colette Machado via a teleconference call. “This is just the latest in discussions that have been going on for years.”

Crabbe’s supporters say he did the right thing.

“When’s the last time that you’ve heard that the conversation is about doing the right thing, about the pono thing,” said University of Hawaii student Donovan Preza. “For me, that’s the takeaway from this experience.”

OHA’s Top Executive Holds Press Conference

From the Office of Hawaiian Affairs website

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, the Ka Pouhana and CEO at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, held a press conference today to address much-publicized concerns over a letter he sent to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as part of the organizationʻs broader effort to facilitate a Hawaiian nation-building process.

Below are the prepared comments of Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe.

Prepared Comments of Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Ka Pouhana and CEO
Press Conference of May 12, 2014
(Spontaneous comments were also provided in addition to what is noted below.)

Aloha mai kākou,

I called this media conference today to offer additional information about my letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, which was sent within my authority under OHA’s governing documents and Hawai‘i statutory law.

As with any leader, I am often called upon to make tough decisions, which are sometimes controversial. I continue to believe my decision to send the letter was in the best interest of OHA and the beneficiaries we serve. I stand behind this decision and accept full responsibility for it.

As Ka Pouhana and CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, I must ensure that the policies and commitments of the OHA Board of Trustees are implemented with thorough due diligence and a minimization of risk to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. I take this responsibility seriously. And that was the chief reason for my inquiry with Secretary Kerry.

As stated in the media release sent out this past Friday, I requested that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seek a legal opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the status of Hawai‘i under international law. I also posed additional questions to clarify how the answer to that primary question impacts current efforts to rebuild a Hawaiian nation.

Answers from the Office of Legal Counsel are needed for OHA to effectively facilitate a process of rebuilding a Hawaiian nation. We must start with agreed upon facts (or begin identifying points of disagreement that require clarification).
Highly qualified experts have provided their answers to the questions posed. However, the stakes are far too high for OHA to proceed under assumptions. We need clarity to understand the United States’ position.

A second reason for my questions to Secretary Kerry stems from our Hawaiian community. My staff and I have held some 30 community meetings in the past two months regarding our proposed process to rebuild our nation. In that same period we also held two governance summits with key community leaders. At these gatherings, and in other virtual contexts, we heard repeatedly concerns about engaging in a process of rebuilding a nation when—following the research of many legal, historical, and political experts—our nation continues to exist in the context of international law.

Such concerns have led our community to request more time in the nation rebuilding process to have questions—such as I raised with Secretary Kerry—fully explored and shared with our people so that they can make well-informed decisions throughout the process.

The Board of Trustees, OHA staff, and the Hawaiian community needed to know that I was inquiring about the very matters many of them sought to bring forward. And this is the reason I felt it was imperative not only that I ask the questions but that everyone be aware of the inquiry.

However, recognizing the gravity of the questions posed, I met with Chair Machado before making the letter public. I explained that my questions were a matter of due diligence and risk management to avoid OHA missteps in its nation rebuilding facilitation. I believed I had her assent to proceed with sharing publicly my letter to Secretary Kerry. Unfortunately, it is now apparent that we walked away from that meeting with a misunderstanding and misinformation.

Despite disagreements that will need to be worked out between myself and OHA’s trustees, I am certain that the Board and I stand firmly together in our commitment to do all that we appropriately can to reestablish a Hawaiian nation. I look forward to engaging with the trustees in the ho‘oponopono, which Chair Machado graciously suggested, so that we can work collectively to Ho‘oulu Lāhui Aloha, to Rebuild a Beloved Nation. We must succeed in our efforts for the good of our lāhui, our community, and our families for generations to come.