Editorial | On Politics Decision to forgo election toxic for sovereignty effort By Richard Borreca firstname.lastname@example.org Dec. 18, 2015 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! It turns out that the only way around the U.S. Supreme Court’s Rice v. Cayetano decision is to not hold an election. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. It turns out that the only way around the U.S. Supreme Court’s Rice v. Cayetano decision is to not hold an election. So coming to an undetermined Windward Oahu spot next year is the convention of the unelected, paid for by Na‘i Aupuni, the organization formed by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs to get around the 15-year-old Rice ruling. Because, the nation’s highest court said that if an election is held using government funds, it has to be open to all voters. Na‘i Aupuni’s election was not for everyone, only for those who said they were of Hawaiian ancestry. OHA wanted to have an election of delegates to a convention to come up with a constitution to set the rules for a Hawaiian government that would be recognized by the federal government. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii sued in federal court and after being rejected in lower courts, the Supreme Court then actually stopped the election, asking the lower courts to recheck their thinking. Na‘i Aupuni suddenly had an Oprah moment (“You get a car, you get a car, everyone gets a car”) and said that all 196 people who filed as candidates would go to a convention of sorts to be held next year for 20 days in February. Everyone was a delegate, if not an elected delegate. Instead of making a constitution, the 196 unelected will chat. “Na‘i Aupuni’s goal has always been to create a path so Native Hawaiians can have a formal, long- overdue discussion on self-determination,” said Kuhio Asam, Na‘i Aupuni president. On an elemental level, one could argue that everything starts without rules, so if a Hawaiian nation is to be created, it starts from the beginning and the rules flow as it grows, so maybe that is why this looks like the rules are being made up as they go along. Of course, this new nation is not being chatted up on virgin ground; there are centuries of rules, rights, customs and traditions about forming a government in America. For instance, there is apportionment. It makes sense to divvy up the delegates according to how many people live in different places. The original Na‘i Aupuni rule was to have 20 delegates from Oahu, seven from Hawaii, two from Kauai, one from Molokai and Lanai, three from Maui and seven from Hawaiian constituencies living out of state. According to the Na‘i Aupuni breakdown, February’s “Talk Story” convention could have as many as 110 Oahu delegates and 43 from out of state. Another question is: Where did Na‘i Aupuni come from, anyway? “OHA reached out to the ali‘i trusts, royal societies and other Hawaiian organizations to discuss reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government and nation,” Na‘i Aupuni’s web page explains. Na‘i Aupuni got $3 million from OHA, but because it is a private nonprofit. Na‘i Aupuni’s meetings, books and records are not public. “Na‘i Aupuni will continue to provide information on the processes and decisions as they unfold,” Na‘i Aupuni says in a less-than-reassuring web page statement. Na‘i Aupuni did say that it will help out all the unelected with a per diem of $1,000 for Oahu delegates, $4,000 for neighbor islanders and $5,000 for those from the mainland. If everyone comes, that would be an additional $550,000. Of course, there will be many, many more expenses for clerks, office rent, phones and meals to add to the $6.5 million that critics say has been spent to ready the voter rolls for the election that wasn’t held. Little-kid soccer teams regularly give all the players a trophy for being “a participant.” It is doubtful that the meeting in February will result in anything more meaningful. Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at email@example.com. Previous Story Sun Yat-sen’s park gets a makeover Next Story How will president deal with influx of drones?