Thursday, August 12, 1999

Selection of
Bishop Estate trustees

Bullet The issue: The interium Bishop Estate trustees have submitted a plan for selection of future trustees.
Bullet Our view: The plan would achieve the goal of removing the selection from politics.

THE controversy over the Bishop Estate is mainly about the conduct of the former trustees, which led to their temporary removal, to be followed in all probability by permanent removal. But there is also the important issue of how future trustees are selected.

The "Broken Trust" article written in 1997 by five distinguished community figures, four of them of Hawaiian ancestry, was scathing in its criticism of the Supreme Court justices, accusing them of letting political considerations prevail in their appointments of trustees.

Although the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop provided for selection of trustees by the justices, four of the five current justices announced after the appearance of the "Broken Trust" article that they would no longer appoint the trustees, explaining that the practice tended to undermine public trust in the judiciary. Associate Justice Robert Klein was the lone dissenter.

Now the five interim trustees have asked the Probate Court to adopt a method for selection of future trustees. Probate Judge Kevin Chang, who ordered the temporary removal of four trustees and accepted the resignation of the fifth, scheduled a hearing for Oct. 1 to hear the interim trustees' proposals.

If the removal of the former trustees becomes permanent, the interim trustees may continue to serve until a selection process is adopted and the new board appointed. But it would be desirable to have the process in place beforehand.

The interim trustees propose that the new trustees be appointed by a probate judge, after candidates are screened by a selection committee appointed by the probate court. The committee would be comprised of representatives of the Kamehameha Schools alumni, teachers and parents of students, members of the Hawaiian community and members of the community at large.

The committee would submit the names of three finalists to the judge. If the judge rejected all three, the committee would submit new names.

If candidates were equally qualified, preference would be given to Kamehameha Schools alumni and persons of Hawaiian ancestry.

Appointments would be for five-year terms, with a limit of two terms.

Most important, candidates would not be elected officials or have held political office within five years of their nomination. This is a reaction to the wave of criticism of the appointment of politicians such as former House Speaker Henry Peters and former Senate President Richard Wong.

The proposal differs from one submitted last week by 16 Hawaiian organizations. That plan would continue the selection of trustees by Supreme Court justices, by leaving the task to Klein, the only justice who is still willing to make the appointments. As an alternative the organizations proposed that retired justices assume the task.

This wouldn't solve the problem, which is that the Supreme Court justices' selections have been discredited. The way to restore credibility is to reform the selection process in a way that removes it from the Supreme Court and from politics.

Bishop Estate Archive


Interisland cruises are
a growth industry here

Bullet The issue: American Classic Voyages is buying an ocean liner from Holland America Line for Hawaii interisland cruises.
Bullet Our view: Hawaii will benefit from expanded cruise operations.

EVERY tourist destination needs new facilities to stimulate interest and keep up with the competition. One of the problems of Hawaii tourism is that there has been a dearth of new hotels in Waikiki. The Hilton Hawaiian Village's announcement of a new hotel tower is therefore particularly welcome at this time.

Deserving a cheer for the same reason is American Classic Voyages' purchase of a 1,214-passenger liner for the Hawaii market. This will more than double the company's interisland cruise capacity. The company plans further expansion later with the addition of two more vessels that would add about 3,800 berths.

American Classic announced it is buying the 704-foot Nieuw Amsterdam from Holland America Line for $114 million and plans to put it into service in Hawaii interisland cruises in the fall of 2000. The ship is 17 years old and was built in France. It is now sailing mainly in the Caribbean and on Alaska cruises.

This will be in addition to the company's current vessel, the 1,021-passenger SS Independence. A sister ship, the Constitution, also operated between the islands until it was taken out of service in 1995.

The purchase is based on federal legislation giving American Classic a monopoly in the Hawaii interisland cruise market on condition that it builds two cruise ships in the United States.

While the vessels are being built, the law permits the company to use a foreign-built ship on the interisland cruises -- an exemption from the ban on foreign vessels carrying passengers or cargo between U.S. ports.

Now the company is acquiring the foreign-built vessel as permitted. The two American-built cruise ships are scheduled to go into service in 2003 and 2004.

The introduction of another cruise ship is comparable to the opening of a new hotel. It means jobs for Hawaii residents, sales for Hawaii businesses and taxes for government.

Cruising has become an important aspect of tourism, and it's encouraging to see Hawaii get on board.

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