Akina: Why Cal Lee Should Not Become an OHA Trustee

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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 https://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, https://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: https://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:   https://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, https://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2012/10/15/17363-cal-lee-ill-bring-teamwork-to-oha/ Downloaded 10/31/12







  1. I previously endorsed Keli'i Akina for OHA trustee, and am pleased to reiterate that endorsement here.

    There are some additional reasons why Cal Lee should not become an OHA trustee. According to Ian Lind's blog of Sunday November 4, "Innovations Development Group Inc. and an affiliate, Honua Group LLC, which advocate development of geothermal resources on behalf of Native Hawaiians, have been the backbone of Lee’s campaign, according to reports filed with the Campaign Spending Commission. With early and continued campaign support from the two companies, Lee has raised $71,019.83 as of October 22, compared to Apoliona’s total of $53,894.19." See Lind's article at https://www.ilind.net/2012/11/04/geothermal-develo

    • Why has Akina been gunning for Cal Lee since day 1, rather than the incumbent? At least TRY to hide the desperation. I find it laughable that Lee would be criticized for raising more campaign funds than Haunani. AND since you're all TROLLING, you have seen that Lee has organized and structured the best grassroots campaign of all the candidates. His support is from generations of families in every community across the state.. Wow! The campaign isn't even over yet and SO MANY SORE LOSERS!!

      Stand on your own record, Akina, or stay home.

  2. Lee just like Hirono have no record to run on unless you throw Lee a football. That’s all he can run on. That’s why he pulled a Hirono and didn’t attend any forums. He’ll make himself look just as stupid as she did.

  3. Dr Akina has a delusional view of OHA if not miopic and misinformed.
    First of all it is not CAL Lee's decision to direct funding to native Hawaiians from its ceded land trust.
    It is based on a compact agreement between the State of Hawaii and the US Congress as a condition of Statehood in 1959.
    Secondly, OHA was formed by Constitutional Amendment in AUGUST 1978 and ratified by the general Public in NOVEMBER 1978 elections so that 20% of all revenues derived from ceded lands under State jurisdiction go to OHA.
    Thirdly, Coach Lee has stated many times that he hopes to build investments through development of the Kaka'ako Makai lands that impact the general public through the many industries that will benefit from the build up.
    It represents the largest undeveloped commercial lands in Honolulu. His position has been and remains to increase revenues to expand programs that BENEFIT OHA BENEFICIARIES…

    In sum, Cal Lee is all about getting the facts together and wanting to hold statewide meetings to gain input from citizens and native Hawaiian beneficiaries as well as conferring with fellow trustees. That includes the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill as well as its request for $4m in funding by the Roll call Commission to register native Hawaiians. He has spoken about transparency and accountability. That applies to the Kau Inoa project which Dr Akina for some odd reason has been silent. Especially strange since it has involved millions of dollars in questionable fundings..

    Coach Cal has made these statements countless of times. Dr Akina has selective memory.

    Coach Cal has also been busy speaking to scores of beneficiaries across the islands and has appeared in Hawaii, Maui, Kauai and over 30 venues on Oahu.
    His road game speaks for itself and is comprised of folks from all over the broader community. Coach Cal has stood in over a hundred of these events in 9 weeks.

    Dr Akina has waged a negative campaign from day one. Stalking Coach Lee on his websites, on the road and where he places his signage. He is obsessed with Coach Lee.
    Taking aim at a preferred candidate to build his image while WISHFULLY marginalizing his opponent.
    Coach Cal is not one to criticize his opponents and instead prefers to let the voters decide.
    He has worked hard to build his base and to listen.
    That is Coach Cal's game, hard work ethic, listen well and build consensus through TEAM effort.

    Without a personal attack, Dr Akina has no game.
    Except to take aim at what he regards as his prime target and toss a Hail Mary….Dr Akina, you aint no Doug Flute”.

  4. Michelle Simpson is entitled to rant and rave all she wants against Keli'i Akina. But some of her statements are factually false, which raises doubts whether her other statements might also be false. Here's one falsehood she wrote: "OHA was formed by Constitutional Amendment in AUGUST 1978 and ratified by the general Public in NOVEMBER 1978 elections so that 20% of all revenues derived from ceded lands under State jurisdiction go to OHA." That sentence creates the false impression that OHA's 20% share of ceded land revenue is required by the state Constitution under the amendments made in 1978 con-con. But that's false. OHA's share was set at 20% by an ordinary statute law passed by the legislature; it's not part of the Constitution. The legislature has every right to change the percentage anytime it wishes; and could even reduce the percentage to zero.

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