- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has appealing a ruling that its board violated the state’s open-meeting law during a dispute over CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe’s conduct.

The agency appealed the ruling in Circuit Court earlier this month, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1sufx7a) reported.

The alleged violations stem from a letter Crabbe sent to Secretary of State John Kerry in May asking whether the Hawaiian kingdom exists as an independent sovereign nation under international law.

The trustees, fearing that OHA’s nation-building efforts would be undermined, quickly sent a letter to Kerry rescinding Crabbe’s note.

But the Office of Information Practices last month ruled the board members violated the law by calling and sending emails to each other about the letter without holding a public meeting.

The office says the board also violated the law by not allowing public testimony before they met to discuss Crabbe’s conduct. About 100 people, including numerous would-be testifiers, were asked to leave the room before the board held a closed-door executive session.

OHA told the Office of Information Practices its actions leading to creating “the Rescission Letter” did not constitute a “meeting” as defined in the state’s Sunshine Law. Under the law, a “meeting” is defined as the convening of a board for which a quorum is required to deliberate on a matter.

The rescission letter, the agency said, “was simply a restatement of OHA’s officially adopted policy on nation-building,” adding, “There is simply no authority, nor is there any rational reason, why a quorum is necessary to identify that a given employee acted without authority where he so clearly did or to restate a position previously adopted by the Board.”

In addition, the agency said nothing prohibits OHA from holding an executive meeting closed to the public regarding personnel.

Jennifer Brooks, an Office of Information Practices attorney, said this is the first time one of the agency’s opinions has been appealed under a new law allowing such appeals.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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