Fuse is lit; issue is nowBy Rod Ohira
out of the bottleRoth
Randall Roth, who co-authored the Star-Bulletin story "Broken Trust," which prompted Gov. Ben Cayetano to call for an investigation of Bishop Estate, says the fuse is lit.
"This is not the explosion," Roth said. "People have felt strongly about this for a long time, and now that it's out of the bottle, it's not going back in.
"It's obvious the (state) attorney general has to take a look," he added.
The story criticizes the appointment and selection process of Bishop Estate trustees, breaches of fiduciary responsibilities and overall management style of the trustees, with the exception of Oswald Stender.
Roth, a University of Hawaii law school professor, co-authored the article with U.S. District Judge Samuel King, Queen Liliuokalani Trust chairman Monsignor Charles Kekumano, retired state judge Walter Heen and Gladys Brandt, former principal of Kamehameha Schools for Girls.
King agrees an investigation is warranted.
"The problem is we've got a bunch of trustees, except for Os Stender, who don't know how to be trustees," King said. "For how that happened, you have to look at the selection process.
"When the money got good, people started manipulating the system so they could get there," King said. "Right now, you don't know who's scratching whose back."
Brandt also supports the investigation.
"My concern is the faculty and parents have been disturbed by something that has been allowed to linger as long as it has, and now the students are involved," Brandt said. "That's a no-no as far as I'm concerned.
"I want to see everything put out on the table and aired out so corrections can be made if needed," she said.
Roth's only concern about an investigation is how far it will go.
"I'm optimistic the attorney general will do the investigation, but it might get expensive, and Bishop Estate trustees have unlimited resources to fight her off," Roth said. "The attorney general has to be concerned that she has only limited resources, and depending on her strategy, we're talking a few months or a long period of time.
"It's so important to resolve this that I'm willing to resign to help out," he added. "There's enough in public domain to get four of them (trustees Henry Peters, Richard Wong, Lokelani Lindsey and Gerard Jervis) removed."
Roth pointed to Adelphi University, where 18 of the 19 current trustees were removed Feb. 5 for alleged neglect of duty, misconduct and failing to carry out the educational purpose of the school.
"An investigation by the attorney general will turn up more egregious conduct than they found at Adelphi," Roth said.
As an example he cited the lobbying efforts by Bishop Estate against the Intermediate Sanctions law, which would authorize the Internal Revenue Service to force individuals to repay any charity that is found to have paid them excessive compensation.
Former Gov. John Waihee is a member of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand, which has allegedly been paid millions of dollars by Bishop Estate to lobby against the Intermediate Sanctions law.
"It's a nuclear bomb," Roth said. "Losing the tax-exempt status would be catastrophic. All of this lobbying is being done for the benefit of certain trustees rather than the charitable interest they represent."
[The report that started it all -- no frames version]
Bishop Estate facing inquiry
Change could be simple
Peters: No one scrutinized more
Alumni group welcomes probe
Waihee disputes allegations
Roth: Fuse is lit...
Capitol View by Richard Borreca
The Report that Started It All