A letter in the Advertiser with my response below.

GOP is Grand Old Party for Native Hawaiians, too

The Honolulu Advertiser
Sunday, May 7, 2006

I was extremely disappointed to read that U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Charles Maxwell believes Republicans are insensitive to issues affecting Native Hawaiians ("Maxwell won't resign from civil rights panel," May 6).

I met Uncle Charlie many years ago and with all due respect, his comments are way off base and just plain wrong. Here in Hawai'i, Republicans are some of the staunchest supporters of S. 147, known as the Akaka bill.

Gov. Linda Lingle has testified on Capitol Hill, spoken on multiple occasions with the president and high-ranking members of his administration, convinced Republican senators to become co-sponsors and delivered speeches at home as part of her ongoing efforts to win approval for the bill.

Uncle Charlie's biased remarks about Republicans blindly overlooks the outstanding work being done by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). Micah Kane and his team have given more families a chance for homeownership in three years than was done in the previous 10 combined.

And, the DHHL team is not just building homes, it is building communities. That is probably why the Building Industry recently awarded Micah its Housing Advocate of the Year Award. By the way, Micah Kane is the former chairman of the Hawai'i Republican Party.

One thing the Civil Rights Commission has always advocated against is stereotyping. Then why is Uncle Charlie coloring all Republicans the same? It is not only unfair, it is hypocritical and out of touch.

Democrats don't wear halos and Republicans don't wear horns. Uncle Charlie should know that.

Sam Aiona
Chairman, Hawai'i Republican Party

My Response

In response to the letter from Sam Aiona in Letters 5/13/06, "GOP is grand old party for Native Hawaiian, too" was totally misunderstood by Mr. Aiona. I concur with the success that Micah Kane & Governor Lingle had with bringing more Hawaiians to participate in the Hawaiian Homes Program

I welcome and commend Governor Lingle for publicly supporting federal recognition of the political status of Native Hawaiians, as all major Hawai`i politicians have done. Her leadership and visibility is important. However, she publicly and conspicuously claimed during the election that her access to and affiliations with national Republican leaders would count in the effort to pass the Akaka bill. That claim was targeted to attract support from Hawaiians who relied on it to vote for her.

That representation has simply not borne fruit. The position on this issue of a Republican governor has meant nothing to the Bush Administration or to certain Republican members of the U.S. Senate (Kyl of Arizona, Alexander of Tennessee) who have led the opposition to the Akaka Bill. The truth is that national Republican leaders lay at the heart of the opposition and haven't changed their positions, despite Governor Lingle's prior claim of access to and affinity with President Bush and his administration. The truth is that it was his appointments to the formerly bipartisan U.S. Civil Rights Commission who recently brought the roof down on the Akaka Bill. The truth is that the commission, without even the courtesy of prior consultation, disrespected its own Hawai`i Advisory Committee, which had reached the opposite conclusion and advised the USCCR to support federal recognition for Native Hawaiians in 2001. As a member of the HAC for over 20 years, I was shocked by this unprecedented refusal to accept our recommendations. It has never happened to us before.

Attempting to deflect attention from this national agenda of the Republican Party by pointing to actions of local Republican politicians, Mr. Aiona misses the crucial point. The buck stops with the Republican Party in Washington and President Bush in particular. Mr. Bush has never publicly supported the Akaka bill, despite Governor Lingle's urging. It is just unfortunate that local input from both the governor and the Hawai`i Advisory Committee has proven so ineffectual. It does point to the irony that this party, long champions of decentralized government and state rights, appear to favor making decisions that affect all Hawai`i resident from 5,000 miles away, ignoring directly contrary majority opinion in our midst.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr.
Pukalani, Maui Hawaii

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