Elections 2012
Graphic: Emily Metcalf
Elections 2012
Graphic: Emily Metcalf

This article focuses exclusively on the policy positions of OHA Trustee-at-Large candidate Cal Lee.  It is not about the person, character or contributions of Cal Lee to the community.   In that regard, Lee is an outstanding coach who has served thousands of our island youth.  I admire his career and acknowledge the well-deserved love many have for the man.


In this essay, I want to allow voters to know what Cal Lee’s impact upon the state of Hawaii will be if elected as an OHA trustee, based upon his own written statements.


According to the Issues section of his campaign website, Cal Lee is an advocate of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission Act (Act 195) and he also supports OHA’s role in funding the process.[1]  Elsewhere on his issues site he states his understanding of the role OHA will play in the NHRCA: “Funding to facilitate the activities of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission will be provided by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.”[2]


In contrast to Cal Lee, I am on record in opposition to the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission Act (Act 195) on the grounds that it violates Hawaiian and American Democratic values by establishing a race-based nation which excludes all who do not have Hawaiian blood.  I have written elsewhere that the original Hawaiian nation, under the first monarch, Kamehameha, through the last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, welcomed individuals without Hawaiian blood as citizens.  If these citizens, of Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian and other ancestries were alive today, their Hawaiian citizenship would be stripped away by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission Act.


Also in contrast to Cal Lee, I am on record in opposition to the use of OHA’s resources for the purpose of financing the establishment of a race-based nation through the Roll Commission Act.  In a recent audit of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the State Auditor determined that a significant percentage of OHA’s spending goes to administration and advocacy costs.[3]  Yet, OHA documents the plight of Hawaiians as being over-represented amongst the unemployed, homeless, under-nourished, physically ill, incarcerated, and under-educated.   Now, with Act 195 and Cal Lee’s interpretation and support of OHA as the funder of its activities, more money will be drained away from needed services for Hawaiians.


To get an idea as to how much funding OHA trustees have been willing to spend on advocacy, one need merely look at their expenditures on the so-far failed Akaka Bill, which until recently, was the chief means of promoting the race-based nation concept Lee advocates.  At a time when homelessness has been on the rise in Hawaii, the trustees have spent undisclosed millions of dollars on lobbying, an in-house legal department, Washington D.C. offices, D.C. and Hawaii legal firms, and entertaining members of Congress.[4]  Cal Lee must be aware of these costs based upon his written criticism of the current incumbent and Trustee-at-Large candidate: “OHA spent millions of dollars in lobbying the Akaka Bill, under Chairperson Haunani Apoliona.  A steep price to pay…” [5]


It would be incorrect to single out Cal Lee as the originator or driving force behind the ideas of a race-based nation and that OHA should devote large sums of money to its realization.    These ideas were in place before Lee entered the contest to become an OHA trustee.    Credit for the plan of racial separatism goes to the existing OHA trustee board under the long-term leadership of Haunani Apoliona who hopes to be granted a fifth four-year term by the voters this General Election.   Cal Lee’s support of OHA’s stance demonstrates that if he is elected a trustee, voters can expect more of the same from OHA.  Regardless of the “teamwork” Lee says he will bring to the OHA board[6], with his consent, it will continue to divert resources from its mission to serve real needs of Hawaiians to the harmful advocacy of a race-based nation.


In closing, I want to reiterate that my comments are not a criticism of Cal Lee on a personal level, but an analysis of the positions he has made public.  Additionally, I must point out that Cal Lee has failed to participate in public forums where he could discuss and explain his views and has turned down my request that he meet me to debate these issues so that the public can compare where we stand.  This essay was written so that can take place.

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., is a philosopher who lectures on human rights and business ethics in Chinese and American universities.  Dr. Akina is currently a candidate for Trustee-at-Large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  His website is www.Akina2012.com and his e-mail address in wkaina@EWLE.net.



[1] Cal Lee for OHA campaign website at http://www.votecallee.com/issues/hawaiian-self-determination-sovereignty-and-nationhood/ Downloaded 10/31/12

[3] See Hawaii State Auditor,  Investment Portfolio Review of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, http://hawaii.gov/auditor/Reports/2009/09-10.pdf Downloaded 10/31/12


[4] See, as one attempt to research the costs of OHA spending on Akaka Bill advocacy, Chad Blair in Civil Beat: http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/01/24/8335-akaka-bill-fails-lobbyists-collect-32m-from-oha/ Downloaded 10/31/12, and Gordon Pang in “OHA spends millions on trying to create a Native Hawaiian nation” in the Honolulu (Star) Advertiser:   http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2008/Jul/16/ln/hawaii807160384.html, Downloaded 11/1/2012

[5] Cal Lee for OHA campaign website, op. cit.

[6] Chad Blair, Cal Lee: I’ll Bring Teamwork to OHA, http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2012/10/15/17363-cal-lee-ill-bring-teamwork-to-oha/ Downloaded 10/31/12