As the standoff on Mauna Kea, between the Kia’i and the government continues, one has to wonder if this whole episode is reaching the level of what happened in the state the last time Hawaiian’s rose up and made a lot of noise about a matter.
I’m talking about the 1997-2000 period in Hawaii known as “Broken Trust”. It was the name of an article published by the (then) Honolulu Star Bulletin, outlining real issues going on with the trustees of the Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate (KSBE) Trust. Stories of bullying students, mismanagement and greed filled the papers while students and alumni from the Kapalama Campus of Kamehameha Schools marched on Kawaihao Plaza – the headquarters of KSBE, demanding change.
The greed issue leached from the school to the halls of the Hawaii State Legislature, where a number of high-powered legislators like Sen. Milton Holt, were on the KSBE dole to do its governmental bidding.
This greed was laid open when, in 1999, Governor Ben Cayetano’s reappointment of his Attorney General-designate, Margery Bronster, was rejected on the floor of the Senate by a thin-hair vote. Brosnster, after getting orders from then first term Governor Cayetano, used the power of the office to open up investigations on KSBE, leading to links that touched the rich and powerful.
The votes to reject came from a cadre of Senators that were aligned with the trustees of KSBE, of which their marching orders were to “put this stupid thing to bed FAST”- some of whom were already under investigation by the Attorney General (funny how that works out).
Instead of it just being put to bed, it roused up rank and file voters in the state, looking at the Democratic Party (which it was, then, and still is now the ruling party of Hawaii) and asking “what the hell is going on”.
That question eventually gave a entré to the nascent opposition party, the Republicans, to maximize on the feelings, put forward a candidate that spoke to the voters with a new vision message, and proceeded to defeat (twice) Democratic candidates for Governor of the State of Hawaii.
Keep in mind that the level of “issue” KSBE’s trials had blew open the door to opportunities for others to step in and be leaders. When all the dust settled, though, the Democrats came back into power and have made it very clear that they are in charge and intend to stay in charge for a good long time.
Could the Mauna Kea blockade rouse the same emotions in voters this time around and really evaluate alternative candidates for Governor in 2022? Could the (now really irrelevant) Republican Party of Hawaii figure out a path to maximize on this opportunity?
Or are we just left with choosing tweetle dee or tweetle dum from the ruling party to be our next generation leaders?