So, what ever happened to the much-ballyhooed OHA petition to force money out of the Hawaii legislature? I remember when they filed it with the Hawaii Supreme Court. How could I forget? I got two separate press releases, a print newsletter article, an e-newsletter brief, and multiple links to the story as picked up (and especially endorsed) by other media outlets. No one would let me forget it. As I recall, the spin went something like this: the Hawaii legislature was resistant to approving the payout plan for a $200 million settlement between OHA and the Lingle Administration related to ceded land revenues, so OHA petitioned the Hawaii Supreme Court to force the legislature to pass a law regarding this pay-out In the OHA version of the story, the reason for the Legislature’s foot-dragging is unexplained, though one is free to conclude that the Legislature is just full of culturally-insensitive money-grubbing politicians. (Not that this is necessarily totally inaccurate, but fairness compels me to point out that our current economic and budget woes make this a bad time for the legislature to try to carve out another $200 million for OHA.)
Anyway, it turns out that the State Supreme Court has ruled on OHA’s petition for a Writ of Mandamus, though in order to learn what happened, I had to read a small column in the lower right corner of page 7 of OHA’s monthly newspaper. No email blasts for this one, I guess. As you may have surmised, the OHA petition was denied based on (in the article’s somewhat mendacious words) the court’s, “understanding of the technical requirements for a mandamus action.” Allow me to translate this into plain language: The court said no, based on the fact that the OHA petition was a bit of public grandstanding with no legal merit.
As I said in my earlier entry on this issue, to me, the big problem is not whether the state owes OHA the money or how they should pay. I just continue to be amazed at the insensitivity of the powers-that-be at OHA. After such a difficult economic year, these kinds of stunts don’t do much to bolster the agency’s image. And trying to obscure the evidence of their miscalculation doesn’t help much either.