Friday, May 7, 1999

Cayetano’s blast
at the Legislature

Bullet The issue: The governor's call for the ouster of Democratic senators who resist change.
Bullet Our view: The rejection of the Bronster and Anzai nominations leaves the Democratic Party in disarray.

THE Hawaii Democratic Party is reeling in the aftermath of the legislative session. Governor Cayetano, smarting under the Senate's rejections of his nominations of Attorney General Margery Bronster and Budget Director Earl Anzai for second terms, gave reporters a withering assessment of the Legislature's performance. Citing "very disappointing" results from the 1999 session, Cayetano said voters should get rid of Democratic senators who resisted making changes and elect ones who want to "hit home runs."

The governor has never been known to pull his punches, but even he has rarely been so blunt. "The biggest problem that we have in the Senate are Democrats," said the leader of the Democratic Party, "and these are Democrats who don't have a feel that there is a need to possess a sense of urgency for change, who are very difficult to adapt to change."

Cayetano said, "people expected a sea change, and what you got was the water rippling a little bit." The governor said even the three business-backed bills salvaged on the Senate floor on Tuesday were the result of the public outcry over the Bronster and Anzai rejections. He spoke of the need for trust in politics and how some senators had betrayed his trust on the confirmation of his cabinet nominees.

If that wasn't enough of a slap, the state party central committee blasted the rejections of Bronster and Anzai, calling the actions an embarrassment to the party.

House Speaker Calvin Say went so far as to urge the public to distinguish between the House and the Senate. The House, he said, would have confirmed Bronster.

Senate President Norman Mizuguchi tried to roll with the punches, saying the Legislature and the governor had taken "small steps to bring the economy around." He deplored the central committee's repudiation of the votes on Bronster and Anzai.

Politicians have their disagreements, of course, but rarely do members of the same party attack each other so openly. The rejection of Bronster's nomination produced an extraordinary outcry from the community because she was seen as leading the battle to hold the Bishop Estate trustees accountable for their flagrant abuses of power. Other Democrats are infuriated because the party is being blamed for the machinations of the 14 senators who voted her nomination down.

Despite the denials of Bronster's opponents, their action is widely viewed as a reaction to her office's attempts to remove the trustees. The influence of the public employee unions was also clear.

Cayetano's call to elect lawmakers who aren't afraid of drastic change is a repudiation of much of his own party's grip on the Legislature. How the Democrats can effectively govern the state after this disaster is a real question. Another question is whether the Republicans can capitalize on the disarray in the Democrats' ranks.


Lindsey’s removal

Bullet The issue: The ouster of Lokelani Lindsey as trustee of the Bishop Estate
Bullet Our view: The decision by Circuit Judge Bambi Weil was fully justified.

THE removal of Lokelani Lindsey as trustee of the Bishop Estate -- the first such action in the 114-year history of the estate -- is a major step toward holding the entire board of trustees accountable for their abuses. The order by Circuit Judge Bambi Weil came one day before a hearing before Probate Judge Kevin Chang that could result in the removal of the remaining four trustees.

Lindsey's case is different because she was the target of a suit brought by two of her colleagues on the Bishop Estate board, Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis. The action against the full board of trustees was brought by the attorney general's office.

Lindsey ignited the controversy that soon engulfed the entire Bishop Estate board. Her autocratic manner and arbitrary decisions as "lead trustee" for the Kamehameha Schools angered the Kamehameha community. The outrage resulted two years ago in an extraordinary march by Kamehameha alumni and parents of students to the Bishop Estate offices to protest Lindsey's "micromanagement."

That was soon followed by the "Broken Trust" article in the Star-Bulletin by five distinguished citizens assailing the trustees on a variety of counts, and then by Governor Cayetano's order for the investigation of the board.

The dispute has dominated the headlines for two years and brought the Bishop Estate board into unprecedented disrepute. The community longs for a prompt and decisive resolution.

During the trial, compelling evidence was presented of Lindsey's tactics of intimidation and interference with decisions that properly belonged to the schools' administrators.

Lindsey's attorney vowed to appeal Judge Weil's decision, so the ultimate disposition of her case is uncertain. However, it appears unlikely that the removal order will be reversed.

To many it must seem that Lindsey's downfall is the beginning of the end of the struggle for control of the Bishop Estate.

Judge Chang was expected to remove Stender, Jervis, Richard Wong and Henry Peters on a temporary basis. Both Stender and Jervis have expressed willingness to step down in order to preserve the estate's tax-exempt status.

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