Thursday, June 21, 2012

Give Lanai back to the Hawaiians: Commentary

copyright 2012 All Hawaii News
Former Gov. Linda Lingle in effigy (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
The island of Lanai is for sale! And with that sale comes a solution to the Hawaiian sovereignty problem.

copyright 2012 All Hawaii News
Native Hawaiian protest at the governor's mansion
 (c) 2012 All Hawaii News

We've been hearing about Native Hawaiian rights and sovereignty for decades. Numerous boards and commissions have been authorized.

 Gov. Neil Abercrombie created yet another one just this year. The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission "starts the process that will eventually lead to federal recognition of Native Hawaiians," his website says. Yep, sounds like they're going to get right on it, doesn't it?

Countless reams of reports have been generated, special schools and all-Hawaiian language programs created, tax incentives proposed. The battle over sovereignty made its way to Congress in the form of the Akaka Bill, where it died a quiet death.

Meanwhile, racial tensions simmer, occasionally bubbling to the surface in the Aloha State. Just this week, two commentaries caught my eye.

copyright 2012 All Hawaii News
Rep. Mele Carroll, ceded lands protest
(c) 2012 All Hawaii News

 Civilbeat's "Can a White Federal Agent Who Killed a Hawaii Local Get a Fair Trial?" explains how a Honolulu attorney representing U.S. special agent Christopher Deedy, who shot a local man in a Waikiki McDonald's, wants to make sure this long-simmering tension doesn't keep his client — who is charged with murder — from getting a fair trial.

Maui Now's "Once a Haole, Always a Haole," appears to be an attempt at humor, but it has generated a lot of controversy on the Maui Now website and Facebook page.

But it all boils down to land. You cannot be a self-governing people without land.

The solution is so simple, government will never consider it. But it's time the state of Hawaii stepped up and did the right thing.

copyright 2012 All Hawaii News
(c) 2012 All Hawaii News
With the island of Lanai on the real estate market, the state could purchase it and turn it over to the Hawaiians for self-governance. Abercrombie has been meeting with Castle & Cooke, the sellers, and the price is expected to be in the neighborhood of $500 million.

The state already owns about 2 percent of the 141 square miles of the sixth-largest Hawaiian Island, which became the property of billionaire David Murdock in 1985. It's already got infrastructure, roads, a school, an airport.

How hard could that be? Float a bond, buy the land, set up a temporary government -- using, say the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ($8.3 million annual budget) and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (annual general lease revenues of $8.1 million). Start the government, dismantle those two agencies and use the savings  to pay off the bonds.

Give Hawaiians a choice which government they want to belong to, or allow them to hold dual citizenship. Hawaiian sovereignty? We can, brah.