Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Strange Bedfellows: Hawaii's Former Governor & Detroit's Gambling Promoter?

Strange Bedfellows: Former Hawaii Gov. John Waihee & Detroit Gambling Promoter Michael Malik?

Former Governor John Waihee and restoration of Native Hawaiian Sovereignty
For generations, Hawaiians of native ancestry have sought restoration of sovereignty and/or some other form of Federal Recognition; among them, former Hawaii Governor John D. Waihee III and his son John D. Waihee, IV, an elected trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). The elder Waihee was the first Native Hawaiian to be elected Governor, serving from 1986-1994.

When U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga died in 1990, then-Gov. John Waihee appointed U.S. Rep. Daniel Akaka to finish out his term. By Waihee's appointment, Akaka became the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the Senate.

Akaka has become known as a champion for Native Hawaiian causes. He authored the 1993 apology resolution, in which the United States apologized for its role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Since then, Akaka has fought to pass the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act, now known as the "Akaka Bill."

Controversy erupted in 1993, when Gov. Waihee ordered the U.S. flag not be flown over state buildings in the Capitol-'Iolani Palace area during a 5-day pageant marking the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy.

During his tenure Gov. Waihee created and established OHA during his first term and it has become one of the leading advocates for restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty in one form or another.

Since it's introduction, Waihee III has been a champion of the so-called Akaka Bill which again failed to receive congressional approval during 2011.

In September, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Waihee III the at-large commissioner of the newly formed (Act 195) Native Hawaiian Roll Commission. The Roll is to be used as the basis for participation in the organization of a Native Hawaiian governing entity.

Although Waihee III is on record opposing casinos and gambling in Hawaii; one must remember how personally the sovereignty/Recognition matters to him. And should Americans of Native Hawaiian ancestry be Federally Recognized, they could be eligible for 'Indian Lands.' Such is the designation for property that provides for casino gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Detroiters with Hawaiian Casino Dreams
For a decade and without success, controversial wheeler-dealer Michael Malik and his Detroit-based cronies have been trying to legalize commercial gambling in Hawaii. Ideally, they want to develop a casino in the general Waikiki Beach area.

Strange Bedfellows
That these Detroiters are credited with helping the Shinnecock Indian Nation gain Federal Recognition, may be a reason that otherwise strange bedfellows, Waihee & Malik, were spotted together on Long Island (NY) at a presentation Malik made to the Elmont Chamber of Commerce regarding his latest schemes for a casino nearest New York City. It was reported in the Long Island Herald that Malik introduced or explained Waihee at the Elmont Chamber event as an "Associate."

Stranger Bedfellows There Have Been
Should Malik/Detroiters be willing to dedicate valuable or unique resources (time, talent/expertise, money) to successfully advance Gov. Waihee's Native agenda, and should Waihee be personally enriched by any future ability to develop and operate Native Gaming facilities on Waikiki, might be enough to cause Gov. Waihee to abandon his earlier position on casinos or gambling in Hawaii and bring the pair together for mutual gains.

Afterall, like Malik, Waihee has often been embroiled in controversy (Broken Trust) and in recent years has fallen upon tough financial circumstances. Waihee was sued by American Express for being delinquent on a bill of over $72,000 and the Bank of Hawaii foreclosed on Waihee’s Nuuanu home on a $828,598 delinquency.

Hitting a personal jackpot with a Native casino on Waikiki and balancing a somewhat tarnished legacy with a place in the history books as a champion of the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty might sound pretty darn attractive. To say it would be satisfying to Malik too, is a gross understatement. It would be a dream come true.

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