‘Ano‘ai kakou… Due to the recent state audit, some have been calling for the ouster of all current Trustees. Before people “throw the baby out with the bath water,” I think it’s important to understand how the politics at OHA allows six individuals to have complete control over OHA. It’s a simple formula:
Five Trustees choose the Board Chair, which gives them an enormous edge over the remaining four Trustees.
The Board Chair serves as OHA’s Chief Procurement Officer and has complete control of OHA’s checkbook. However, she has handed over this responsibility to the CEO so he can cut checks on a daily basis. Some of the Trustees have questioned the CEO’s spending but the Board Chair is still OHA’s Chief Procurement Officer and if she is unwilling to investigate it, then nothing happens.
Another problem is legal representation for the “whole” Board as opposed to a few Trustees.
+ ONE CEO
Only Five Trustees are needed to hire the CEO, so he can ignore the remaining four if he chooses. And that is exactly what he has done! He has even gone so far as to tell his department heads to not meet with Trustees unless they have his permission.
The CEO has far more power over OHA than any Trustees or even the Board Chair. Only the CEO (not the Trustees) has the power to hire and fire any OHA employee.
The CEO has complete control of OHA’s legal department and OHA’s Corp. Counsel answers directly to him. So good luck asking the Corp. Counsel for help if you have a problem with the CEO. Also, all of OHA’s legal department opinions must go through the CEO before the Trustees can see them.
= COMPLETE CONTROL
I’ve heard people argue that the Trustees should have known the CEO was misspending OHA Trust funds and that all Trustees share the blame for his misconduct. Normally, I would agree with that statement. However, when Five Trustees and the CEO form a political partnership, it is nearly impossible for the remaining Four Trustees to discover the truth.
As most people know, I have even gone so far as to sue the Board of Trustees to get some transparency. That is the only option that minority Trustees have – go to court against the Board to allow information to flow to all Trustees and the public.
Aloha Ke Akua.