Thursday, December 30, 1999

State questions
panel’s advice on
trustee pay

The attorney general's office
says a court-appointed panel
ignored expert findings and let
Bishop's interim board
in on the process

By Rick Daysog


The paychecks of Bishop Estate trustees, a longtime source of controversy at the trust, continue to generate criticism even though the former $1 million-a-year board members have stepped down.

In papers filed in state Probate Court today, the attorney general's office is questioning a court-appointed panel's recommendations on trustee pay, saying the committee ignored the findings of their own expert and allowed the current interim board of trustees to influence their decision.

The trustee compensation committee -- whose members include Colbert Matsumoto, the estate's former court-appointed master; attorney Allen Hoe; and Kamehameha Schools alum Mike Rawlins -- recommended in October that the pay of future Bishop Estate trustees be capped at $97,500 a year.

The committee also said the future chairman of the Bishop Estate board should receive no more than $120,000 a year.

The attorney general's office, meanwhile, has recommended that future trustees receive no pay for serving at the trust.

"The committee's recommendation is plain wrong, and despite the respect the committee members have earned in other circumstances, the court in this circumstance cannot allow the recommendation to stand," said Hugh Jones, deputy attorney general.

Jones noted that the compensation committee ignored their own outside consulting firm, Towers Perrin, which recommended a lower pay scale for future trustees.

Towers Perrin suggested a $50,000 cap for each board member and a $75,000-a-year cap for the board's chairman for their first year of service.

Jones added that the committee permitted the estate's court-appointed interim board and their experts to have "pervasive access" to its proceedings on determining trustees pay, in violation to the court order establishing the committee.

He asked the probate court either to modify the committee's recommendations so they do not exceed Towers Perrin's findings or to appoint a new committee to conduct a new study.

Rawlins, chairman of the trustee compensation committee, had no immediate comment.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 14.

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