HONOLULU – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was left in limbo Friday after all
nine trustees resigned.
The state attorney general’s office said trustees
had to resign by 4:30 p.m. Friday, or Gov. Ben Cayetano by law could name
replacement trustees to serve out the terms of five trustees whose terms
wouldn’t have expired until November 2002.
The four other trustees had
terms expiring in November.
State elections officer Dwayne Yoshina said
resignations from all nine trustees were received by the deadline.
resigned at various times throughout the day,” Yoshina said.
followed a day of meetings Thursday among the trustees and informal contacts
with Probate Judge Kevin Chang and with the governor’s office.
weighed the alternatives and the probable outcomes, not only from a legal point
of view, but from the point of view of the good of the Hawaiian community and
the good of the broader community,” OHA chairman Clayton Hee said.
end of the day the board decided, individually, to submit their
The governor went to court Tuesday to seek removal of the
trustees if they didn’t resign. The trustees decided to step down to avoid a
protracted legal fight, and to do what was in the best interests of the
Hawaiian people and the trust, Hee said.
“As trustees, we feel a duty to
resign to prevent prolonged legal wrangling and further opportunities for those
who are intent on dismantling native Hawaiian trust assets and entitlements,”
trustees Haunani Apoliona, Collette Machado and Donald Cataluna said in a joint
Cataluna was appointed by the governor and wasn’t subject to his
efforts to remove the other trustees.
“We must emphasize that the electoral
process is the only way to cure the pain and suffering,” he said.
all nine intend to seek re-election, but trustee A. Frenchy DeSoto said
Thursday night she had no plans to run again.
“I’m 72 years old and I’m
tired,” DeSoto said. “I’d rather resign than get kicked out.”