The ex-governor says he wasBy Gregg K. Kakesako
not in line for the Bishop Estate board
Former Gov. John Waihee says there is no truth to the allegation made by five prominent native Hawaiian and community leaders that he was in line to become a member of the highly lucrative Bishop Estate board of trustees when he left office in 1994.
Despite the "public speculation" surrounding the pending vacancy following the retirement of Myron "Pinky" Thompson in 1994, Waihee said he told Chief Justice Ronald Moon before the selection process began that he "would not under any circumstances accept an appointment as a trustee."
Former Gov. John Waihee
In a two-page letter to the Star-Bulletin, Waihee said he was "personally disappointed" that leaders who wrote a commentary on the current Bishop Estate-Kamehameha Schools controversy "did not have the courtesy to call to check the facts."
The five local leaders in Saturday's Star-Bulletin called on Attorney General Margery Bronster to investigate Bishop Estate trustees' management of Kamehameha Schools and the estate's financial assets.
The writers were Gladys Brandt, former principal of Kamehameha School for Girls and chairwoman of the University of Hawaii board of regents; Walter Heen, retired state appeals court judge and a former state legislator and city councilman; Msgr. Charles A. Kekumano, chairman of the Queen Liliuokalani Estate and retired Catholic priest; Samuel P. King, senior U.S. District Court judge; and Randall Roth, University of Hawaii law professor who specializes in wills, trusts and taxes.
They said the selection of Bishop Estate trustees by Supreme Court justices and failure to hold trustees accountable after their appointments undermine the credibility of the estate and the Judiciary.
The call for accountability comes while an independent investigation is under way by court-
appointed fact-finder Patrick Yim into allegations that trustees are micromanaging Kamehameha Schools.
Yim is expected to provide the court with a report Aug. 29.
Waihee said that after a panel appointed by the justices to screen candidates to replace Thompson completed its task, Kekumano, a panel member, came to see him.
"He said he was speaking on behalf of the panel in asking whether I wanted to be included with the five other names. I told the monsignor that although I would be flattered to be considered, I would not accept an appointment, and that I had already told the court of my decision."
Waihee also disputed the authors' contention that it was common practice for him as governor to confer with the Judicial Selection Commission ahead of time to get a name on the list of potential candidates for judges.
The commission was created by the 1978 Constitutional Convention, where Waihee served as a delegate, and its purpose is to review potential judicial applicants and submit a list to the governor for selection. Previously, the governor alone nominated judges.
Waihee said he conferred with the commission only after he received a list of judicial applicants "in order to get a better understanding of their choice and their views of the merits of each selection."
Brandt, Heen, Kekumano, King and Roth also maintained that there were members of the commission whose "first and foremost allegiance" was to Waihee. Singled out were Warren Price, Tom Enomoto, Michael Hare and Gerard Jervis, currently a Bishop Estate trustee.
Waihee said he did not appoint any of those singled out by his critics.
Waihee maintains that Price and Enomoto, whose term ran from 1981 to 1984, were not members of the commission while he was governor from 1986 to 1994.
Price was appointed to the Judicial Selection Commission in April 2, 1985, and served until Jan. 15, 1987, when he resigned to become Waihee's first attorney general.
The Bishop Estate critics also maintain that Associate Justices Robert Klein and Steven Levenson's names were not on the first list submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission to Waihee in 1992.
The initial list was returned to the commission by Waihee who said he wanted a new one or an expanded one, the critics said.
But Waihee said that's not true. Levinson's name was on the first list, Waihee said.
He said the commission sent him four lists for four judicial vacancies, "but the lists were almost identical."
Waihee said he believed the lists did not meet the requirements of the state constitution, which requires a minimum of six applicants for every vacancy.
"I asked the commission to either send me one list at a time," Waihee said, "or send me lists that, if I appointed someone off one list, there would be at least six names on subsequent lists."
"Otherwise, the appointments could have been challenged as to their legality."
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