There was apparently some serious behind-the-scenes maneuvering relating to geothermal development in advance to today’s scheduled meeting of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.
Last week, a group of six trustees filed their own agenda calling a trustees meeting for this morning. It contained a single agenda item under new business: “Proposal for OHA to invest in geothermal development in Hawaii.”
OHA rules provide that meetings can be called by the chair, or by any six trustees. OHA Chair Collette Machado did not sign off on this geothermal agenda. It was instead backed by trustees Peter Apo, Rowena Akana, Dan Ahuna, Hulu Lindsey, Bob Lindsey, and John Waihee. Also conspicuous by their absence were former chair Haunani Apoliona, and Oz Stender.
Stender is the chair of OHA’s Committee on Asset and Resource Management, which would normally vet any proposal of this kind before it was presented to the trustees. His committee met yesterday with no geothermal-related item on its agenda.
The agenda was time stamped by OHA at 10:08 a.m. on Friday, February 1, 2013.
An official agenda was filed 22 minutes later by Machado at 10:30 a.m., according to its time stamp. A link to the official agenda is included on the OHA website. The site does not mention the alternative agenda filed by the six trustees.
According to one source, the question of what to do with the conflict agendas was referred to the board’s counsel.
When I called Machado’s office yesterday afternoon to ask about the conflicting agendas, one of her staff said, “I’m not sure. I’m confused myself.”
The confusion apparently resulted in neither agenda being posted on the official state calendar, calling into question the validity of today’s meeting. The calendar contains ten other agency meetings, but nothing related to an OHA meeting.
Governor Abercrombie issued an executive order in September 2011 requiring all meetings to be publicly posted in advance on the state calendar. Several other meetings have been cancelled after being challenged for not appearing on the calendar.
Geothermal became a key campaign factor last year when companies and individuals associated with Innovations Development Group, a Hawaiian geothermal developer, poured thousands of dollars into the campaign of OHA candidate Cal Lee, in an attempt to oust Apoliona from the board.
Lee’s campaign was later fined $2,500 by the Campaign Spending Commission for violations relating to a series of related contributions and loans from the geothermal-related donors.
Whether Innovations Development Group was part of the proposal referred to in the alternate agenda proposed for today’s meeting won’t be known until the proposal is disclosed.