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Friday, September 1, 2000

Seven finalists named for trust

Interim trustees Constance Lau
and Robert Kihune are
among the candidates

By Rick Daysog

A special court-appointed panel today nominated seven business and community leaders as finalists for the trusteeship of the Kamehameha Schools.

The Trustee Screening Committee selected attorney Douglas Ing, former Amfac/JMB Hawaii Inc. president Chris Kanazawa, retired Adm. Robert Kihune, American Savings Bank chief operating officer Constance Lau, former Hemmeter Corp. executive Diane Plotts, Grace Pacific Corp. chairman Dwayne Steele and Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Kihune and Lau currently are serving as interim trustees of the $6 billion charitable trust.

The selection committee filed its list of finalists with the state Probate Court this morning. The court will name the five permanent trustees from the list but not before a 30-day period during which the public will have the opportunity to comment.

The selection process marks a milestone in the 116-year history of the Kamehameha Schools, whose most recent past has been wracked by controversy and dissension.

Previously, trustees were picked by the state Supreme Court as spelled out in the will of the estate's founder, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. But the turmoil prompted the high court to step away from the selection process in December 1997.

Critics have charged that politics tainted the Supreme Court's selection of previous trustees.

The screening committee said the nominees, who were picked from a field of more than 200 applicants, represent a deep sense of commitment and have the ability to ensure that Bishop's legacy continues.

The nominees -- screened for their business experience, community involvement and leadership experience -- represent a diverse cross-section of the local community. Ing is a Kamehameha Schools graduate who represented former trustee Oswald Stender in his successful suit to remove ex-board member Lokelani Lindsey. Thompson is well known as the navigator on the Hokulea voyages across the Pacific.

Plotts served as developer Christopher Hemmeter's top executive as he built several five-star hotels during the 1980s economic boom, while Kanazawa headed Amfac during the late 1990s as the company was phasing out its agricultural operations.

Lau and Kihune have served as interim trustees of the Kamehameha Schools since May 1997, replacing ousted trustees Oswald Stender, Henry Peters, Richard "Dickie" Wong, Lokelani Lindsey and Gerard Jervis. Steele is chairman of Grace Pacific, an asphalt paving company, and is an outside director of Pauahi Management Co., a for-profit unit of the Kamehameha Schools.

Under a court-revised plan, the annual pay for permanent trustees is capped at $97,000. The chairman will receive no more than $120,000 a year. Screening committee members include Hawaiian educator Nona Beamer, business executive Kenneth Brown, attorney Melody MacKenzie, Kamehameha Schools alum Mike Rawlins, the estate's court-appointed master Colbert Matsumoto, Hawaii Community Foundation head Kelvin Taketa and Roy Benham, president of the Oahu region of the Kamehameha Alumni Association.

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