Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, May 28, 1999

Life after being the A.G.

Part II: Bronster aftermath


ONE month after she was denied reappointment as state attorney general, Margery Bronster's two-story home on Wilhelmina Rise is immaculate -- except for the formal dining room.

It's cluttered with big boxes packed with hundreds of cards, letters, telephone messages and gifts, all remnants of an amazing display of public support after her rebuke by the state Senate in a controversial 14-11 vote.

Margery still marvels that hundreds of isle residents -- men, women and children, from all ethnicities and walks of life, mostly people she didn't know -- sincerely praised her after the legislative rejection left her unemployed.

"Never mind, dear," reads one of the hand-written cards. "You can do so much better than working with those slimy politicians. Thank you for all you've done."

Mahalo, indeed. Now that the heavy load is behind her, Margery can divulge things that were strictly hush-hush during her term, like how:

Bullet She got threats in the early days of the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate investigation, so ominous in nature that security guards were briefly posted outside her home.

Bullet KS/BE trustee Os Stender asked her to investigate his fellow trustees -- after he had been turned down by previous representatives of the A.G.'s Office over the course of several years -- and that he had warned her she could lose her job in the process.

Bullet Margery learned, the hard way, that the KS/BE trustees were far more powerful than she had initially thought.

Yet the disappointment of being ousted, and not continuing on as lawyer for the people, has been salved somewhat, Margery says, by the flood of correspondence, flowers and gifts that continues to this day.

Among her presents are a Hawaiian quilt, framed photographs, yummy food like haupia-filled malasadas, koa boxes and pens, T-shirts, books, plaques, gift certificates and a cut plumeria branch that will be replanted in her yard.

In Hawaii, she's almost like a superstar. When Margery goes grocery shopping, folks stop her cart to share a hug. Motorists relentlessly honk at her while she's driving. And once, when Margery ate lunch at the Kahala Mandarin, the food servers all chipped in, paid her tab and gave her a standing ovation.

NOW that she has oodles of free time, Margery is doing what didn't seem possible with her previous 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. office grind. She exercises three times a week, pursues her passion for cooking (she recently made clams Mariniere, roast leg of lamb, opah and some banana bread), and interacts a lot more with 9-year-old daughter Emily and hubby Mark Fukunaga.

As for Margery's career plans, she'll announce that soon -- but only after a lengthy and long-awaited family vacation to the mainland.

Asked if she plans to run for public office herself, Margery wrinkles her nose. "Oh, I can't even think about that right now," she says with mock revulsion.

Maybe her abhorrence to leaping into politics dates back to the 14 senators who gave her the irrevocable thumbs-down on April 28. It was an experience that even now, Margery admits, has amazing parallels to the KS/BE debacle that led to the downfall of the Bishop Estate trustees.

And that could portend a very interesting next election.

Bullet On Monday: Margery Bronster's assessment of the Senate vote that fired her.

Bishop Estate Archive

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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