BY DICK ROWLAND – It is noticed that virtually every political talker who says they support the Akaka bill likes to say, in response to the “why” question, something like:

“I am in favor of the Akaka bill because it will be good for all of the people of Hawaii”
Duke Aiona says that. So does OHA. It seems reasonable to assume Governor Lingle thinks that. Otherwise she would not be in favor of the bill. Or, would she, could she, be in favor of a law that she knew was going to hurt some people in Hawaii just to look like she was helping others?

But, I digress. When a public figure makes the above statement, here is the logical, practical response:

What are three ways that passage of the Akaka bill will help all Hawaii residents? Let’s look to former US Representative Neil Abercrombie for the answer. In public testimony before the Resources Committee of the US House in 2009, Abercrombie confidently (arrogantly?) explained that most do not understand the real depth of the Akaka bill. He then stated that it was all simply about ownership of land and control of money and who would do that.

Think about that. What do those two factors, controlled by a political leader, lead directly to? If you said “political power” you go to the head of the class. So, if we apply Abercrombie’s testimony to the three questions theme we get:

Question One: What will happen to land? Abercrombie says we are dealing with 1.8 million acres of it all now under control of the state of Hawaii. In accordance with the Akaka bill, that land will be carved up and the new Akaka Tribe will get all or a lot of it, probably scattered all over the place in four counties. The question to Akaka bill supporters is thus; “What is good about this for all residents of Hawaii?

Question Two: What will happen to money? OHA has a lot of it. That would go into the new tribe. Also,see for identified government expenditures directed to Native Hawaiians now, before there is a tribe. That would probably continue via the new tribe. All revenues from the carved out lands (as from leasing) would go from the state of Hawaii to the tribe. The state will need to find more money or spend less. Who would provide infrastructure like sewage and water or roads for the new tribe? On the mainland, 565 tribes rely much on cities and counties for that. Some tribes pay and some don’t. It seems to be mostly up to the tribe as to whether they pay or not. The cities and counties cannot tax the tribe. The question for the Akaka bill supporters: ”Is all this good for all residents of the State?”

Question Three: What happens with political power? There is a new tribe formed. It will have a Chief; he/she will have a staff. Hawaii will still have a Governor and staff, etc. The tribe will have laws. It will have police. It will have taxes. It will have boundaries. Conflicts will occur. People will get mad. To the extent the Akaka Tribe has power, the state will have less people, land and power. For Akaka bill supporters, “How would this be good for all of Hawaii residents?”

Please view Abercrombie’s testimony here. Then ask some questions of your politicians and the newsmedia. We need some answers— pronto.



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Richard O. Rowland, a graduate of Texas A&M University (BS) and Columbia University (MA) came to Hawaii in 1971 as a key officer on the PACOM staff. Retiring as a Colonel in 1975, he was a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual for 26 years before co-founding Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Mr. Rowland is a former life member of the MDRT, former President of the Hawaii Society of CLU, twice candidate for the U.S. Senate and once for the Honolulu City Council, a former member of the Small Business Hawaii Board of Directors, and the 1997 SBH Small Business Person of the Year. Mr. Rowland is married to Marie with three grown children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.