Aila confirmed as head of DHHL
William Aila won confirmation as chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on Monday by a 21-3 vote of the state Senate. He will serve through Dec. 21, 2022.
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William Aila won confirmation as chairman of the
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on Monday by
a 21-3 vote of the state Senate. He will serve through Dec. 21, 2022.
Sens. J. Kalani English
(D, Molokai-Lanai-East Mau), Kurt Fevella (R, Ewa Beach-
Iroquois Point) and Kai Kahele (D, Hilo) voted no. Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo) was absent from the vote.
Aila’s confirmation was successful despite stiff opposition from the leadership of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, an organization dedicated to the sovereignty and self-determination of
Among SCHHA Chairwoman Robin Danner’s chief criticisms is that Aila, for many years the harbor master at the state’s Waianae Boat Harbor, does not have the financial management skills or experience to manage tens of millions of dollars in trust funds.
Aila, after his confirmation, said he will work harder to listen to opposing voices.
Sen. Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kaimuki-Palolo) said he’s had dinner with Aila and Danner and believes a more cooperative relationship between DHHL and Danner’s organization is possible.
Fevella, the only senator to speak publicly against the nomination Monday, criticized Aila for hiring Jobie Masagatani as his executive assistant after Gov. David Ige chose not to renominate her due to criticism about her performance.
Aila told reporters after Monday’s vote that Masagatani “still has much to give to DHHL and its beneficiaries” because of her intelligence and experience.
Senate Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Maile Shimabukuro (D, Kalaeloa-Waianae-Makaha) acknowledged the Native Hawaiian community is split on Aila’s nomination. Subtracting out supporting testimony from state employees, Shimabukuro’s staff counted 136 testimonies in support and 127 against the nomination.
While many of the concerns raised are valid, she said, “much can be contributed to the lack of funding, resources and landmass given to a department tasked with the impossible: writing a wrong done to an indigenous people over
100 years ago.”
Aila has a strong moral character and commitment to serving his community, Shimabukuro said.
Aila said his top priority will be to increase the types of properties available to DHHL beneficiaries. “There’s no idea that’s off the table. We will partner with anyone,” he said.
Winning confirmation as deputy DHHL director by a 24-0 vote was Tyler Gomes.