This gift of truth belongs at the top of Hawaii's must-read list
THERE is an unwritten list of requirements before someone can claim to be from Hawaii. Generally, that list includes speaking pidgin without someone's hair standing on end; having at least two pairs of "rubbah slippahs" for formal and informal occasions; and being able to sing "Hawaii Pono'i" and "Hawaii Aloha" from memory. That list should now include the compulsory reading of the recently published book "Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement and Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust."
This book is a milestone in our state's history. It traces the history of Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estate and provides a deeper look at the controversy that engulfed KS/BE after the publication of the original "Broken Trust" essay in the Star-Bulletin in August 1997.
The new book is a succinct, clear and compelling statement about Hawaii's recent history, its present and future. The authors, Senior U.S. District Judge Samuel P. King and University of Hawaii law school professor Randall Roth, connected the dots in the scandal, which until then consisted only of rumors and speculation whispered in hallways, into cell phones and at private parties around the state. In connecting the dots, the authors paint a picture of incredible greed, corruption and abuse of power by an incestuous elite. The authors detail how people at the highest levels of government, unions and the private sector conspired to line their own pockets at the expense of the schools. The authors even point out how we, as Hawaii citizens, have been beaten down by this corrupt system for so long that we simply accept it as a fact of life.
What is striking about this book is the contrast between the courage and integrity of some people and the unabashed greed, almost a sense of entitlement, exhibited by others. In addition to the original authors of the "Broken Trust" essay (who, besides King and Roth, included former appeals court Judge Walter Heen, the late Monsignor Charles Kekumano and the late Gladys Brandt, a former Kamehameha principal), the Star-Bulletin must be recognized for taking that doozy of a first step to publish the essay. Due recognition also is given to the students, parents, teachers, alumni and staff of Kamehameha Schools and deputy attorneys general for their courage and perseverance in facing down such overwhelming adversity.
Many others are also rightfully credited for choosing to do the right thing instead of turning a blind eye. If you're looking for commentary about some of the villains in the book, the authors' facts as written are much more devastating than I could hope to include here.
Finishing the book reminded me of the scene in the prophetic movie "Network," where ordinary citizens threw open their windows and yelled, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" The more people in Hawaii who read this book, the more I expect to see them standing at their screen doors yelling out, "Nuff Already!" That should be our theme as we are asked to re-elect many of the legislators who were and are part of this corrupt political machine. "Broken Trust" details how this powerful political machine broke faith not only with the beneficiaries of Princess Pauahi's will, but as political leaders, they broke faith with all of us.
As a citizen and lifelong student of politics in Hawaii, I want to thank Judge King and Professor Roth for their great gift of truth. Let us hope their gift is not wasted or forgotten.
The "Broken Trust" authors will participate in a panel discussion at noon tomorrow at the Hale Koa Hotel. The presentation is part of a Small Business Hawaii luncheon meeting and is open to the public.|
Ted Hong, a Hilo attorney, served as the state's chief labor negotiator until 2004.