LETTER: Support—With Conditions—Bill Relating to OHA Budget
OHA has reached out to all of its members by email on this matter. I hope my testimony reaches you and is reviewed with compassion for Hawaiians everywhere and is also taken under consideration with regard to the suggestions provided.
I strongly RECOMMEND financial safe guards be put in place BEFORE APPROVING SB190, which appropriates funds for Fiscal Biennium 2019-2021 for operations of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Hawaii island rarely sees the funds, at least in the District of Ka’u, so when our project came up, in which the Chief of Operations and Trustee for Hawaii island scheduled a meeting at the Hilo office January of 2017 requesting we attend, we were thrilled! During the 2-hour meeting we conveyed our immediate and 5-year plans. We were then presented with a verbal “gentlemen’s handshake” promising that if we jumped through specific hoops, we would receive $50,000.00 to build our sales model, the Gable, “Hana” because, “it was a project OHA could stand behind.” However, when we jumped through the hoops within a couple of weeks, our emails were ignored and no funds were ever provided.
And, to further drive the knife of disappointment in further, we were told last year in July 2018, after patiently waiting and persistently communicating, that we’d now have to compete against businesses statewide for only $25,000. It was a huge slap in the face to Hawaii island and the District of Ka’u.
I do understand that OHA is due its funding, but what about businesses like ours that are promised funding and we never see it?
What is our recourse as they receive millions of dollars to spend on, “Hawaiian Cultural Activities”?
Then, to hear in the Tribune Hearld newspaper of a “State audit and misappropriations of funds” some of which was used for OHA Trustees to go to Las Vegas for a rodeo as we struggle to develop affordable housing and provide jobs to feed families on Hawaii island!
We have since completed a soft launch in December of our first product, 7-dwelling models/1-mobile office. We received press coverage from “Big Island News Now”, but was denied coverage by Oahu TV for not having a model to showcase. And, some customers have mentioned their interest to purchase yet because they don’t have a model to physically see its difficult to invest in us.
We were denied funding by the State 2018.
We are not a 501(c)3 to receive County funding.
We are not shiny enough for investors.
We have 15 people waiting to be hired by our company all local residents to the District.
OHA would have given us that launch pad.
We have to build this business solely through print sales and marketing and its moving very slow due to lack of visibility and funding!
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help us with direct mail flyers, our Draftsperson, Architect stamp, etc and the $50,000 to build our sales model.
As a “card carrying OHA member”, I support that OHA be granted a continued partnership between the State and OHA to fund their “programs” on Oahu, HOWEVER, I feel the State NEEDS to have an impartial entity to govern the spending activities and authorize the use of said funds therefore preventing others from experiencing our disappointment and making sure that all funds received are used appropriately.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: SB190 will be heard on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at 1:15 p.m., Hawaiʻi State Capitol, Conference Room 016.