BY MALIA HILL – So, what ever happened to the much-ballyhooed OHA petition to force money out of the Hawaii legislature?  I remember when they filed it with the Hawaii Supreme Court.

How could I forget?  I got two separate press releases, a print newsletter article, an e-newsletter brief, and multiple links to the story as picked up (and especially endorsed) by other media outlets.

No one would let me forget it.  As I recall, the spin went something like this: the Hawaii legislature was resistant to approving the payout plan for a $200 million settlement between OHA and the Lingle Administration related to ceded land revenues, so OHA petitioned the Hawaii Supreme Court to force the legislature to pass a law regarding this pay-out

In the OHA version of the story, the reason for the Legislature’s foot-dragging is unexplained, though one is free to conclude that the Legislature is just full of culturally-insensitive money-grubbing politicians.  (Not that this is necessarily totally inaccurate, but fairness compels me to point out that our current economic and budget woes make this a bad time for the legislature to try to carve out another $200 million for OHA.)

Anyway, it turns out that the State Supreme Court has ruled on OHA’s petition for a Writ of Mandamus, though in order to learn what happened, I had to read a small column in the lower right corner of page 7 of OHA’s monthly newspaper.  No email blasts for this one, I guess.

As you may have surmised, the OHA petition was denied based on (in the article’s somewhat mendacious words) the court’s, “understanding of the technical requirements for a mandamus action.”  Allow me to translate this into plain language: The court said no, based on the fact that the OHA petition was a bit of public grandstanding with no legal merit.

As I said in my earlier entry on this issue, to me, the big problem is not whether the state owes OHA the money or how they should pay.  I just continue to be amazed at the insensitivity of the powers-that-be at OHA.  After such a difficult economic year, these kinds of stunts don’t do much to bolster the agency’s image.  And trying to obscure the evidence of their miscalculation doesn’t help much either.

For more information, check out  4HawaiiansOnly.com

Malia Blom Hill is a policy analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

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