Bronster going all out
in search for answers
If we go to court, we willBy Jim Witty
need witnesses, evidence
Attorney General Margery Bronster says she won't hesitate to use her subpoena power during her quest for answers in the investigation of Bishop Estate trustees.
"I don't think information can be kept confidential in our inquiry just because of a contractual agreement between the estate and that individual," Bronster said yesterday, referring to employees of the $10 billion charitable trust who might be reluctant to talk for fear of reprisal. " ...If we go into court, we will need witnesses. We will need evidence."
Bishop Estate employees sign a confidentiality agreement when they are hired.
The state attorney general's office has been sorting through a list of allegations against Bishop Estate trustees, discarding some, highlighting others, Bronster said, shortly after briefing Gov. Ben Cayetano on the inquiry.
"I do believe there is a valid public purpose to pursue the investigation," she said. "... A number of specific allegations have been raised and we're looking at them and deciding which ones we will pursue. Our role is to make sure that the will is being followed and the trustees are operating properly."
She called appointment of the trustees by state Supreme Court justices a peripheral issue that won't be the focal point of the probe.
Cayetano is reviewing a draft report on the attorney general's preliminary investigation and is expected to decide what documents will be made public later this week.
Bronster said she will be in charge of the investigation but needs Cayetano's approval to hire extra staff and sign the contracts.
The end result of what promises to be a months-long investigation could range from developing recommendations for trustees and lawmakers to removal of the trustees and levying fines, she said.
Bronster reiterated her intention not to duplicate the work of court-appointed fact finder Patrick Yim, whose report on charges that trustees are micromanaging Kamehameha Schools is due out later this week, or the so-called master's report on the estate's financial dealings, due in September.
The attorney general said she invites anyone with specific information pertinent to the investigation to come forward but discourages generalized allegations that are difficult to prove.
"We do have the right to a tremendous amount of information," Bronster said, citing an 1887 requirement that annual reports be published in the newspaper. "The will shows that (Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop) really wanted a lot of openness."
Cayetano ordered the inquiry after an opinion piece published in the Star-Bulletin and written by Senior U.S. District Judge Samuel King, Msgr. Charles Kekumano, retired state Appellate Judge Walter Heen, former Kamehameha School for Girls Principal Gladys Brandt and University of Hawaii law Professor Randall Roth.
Bronster said the office of the attorney general has long had a hand in investigating Bishop Estate trust issues. "What's unusual is that so many things have come out at the same time."
By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Entertainer and Kamehameha Schools parent Karen
Keawehawaii Farias talks about parents' concerns over
Bishop Estate's administration of the school. She spoke
last night at a meeting of Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi.
Group wants trustee
The organization of the KamehamehaBy Harold Morse
Schools 'family' defines its goals
For more than 100 years, Bishop Estate trustees had no one to be accountable to.
Beadie Kanahele Dawson says there were no beneficiaries asking for better performance.
But that's changed, Dawson said.
Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi, an organization of Kamehameha Schools students, parents, teachers and alumni, demands "some kind of accountability for what is going on at the school," said Dawson, attorney for the group.
Na Pua, formed in June to support the school and its president, Michael Chun, elected officers last night and further defined its purpose and viewed progress toward its goals.
The two-hour, 40-minute meeting of more than 300 in Likeke Hall at Kawaiahao Church focused on more accountability on the part of Bishop Estate trustees to beneficiaries and making results of Judge Patrick Yim's fact-finding into estate matters known.
By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Beadie Kanahele Dawson, left, attorney for
Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi, addresses the
membership last night at Kawaiahao Church..
"Protecting the trustees does not necessarily mean protecting the trust. They're not the same," Dawson said. "We support the fact-finding; we are also supporting the attorney general's investigation."
"We are the only organization that brings together the students, the parents, the faculty and the alumni," said new President Toni Lee.
The group has a voice mail operation set up with the number 521-7767. Yim's first status report is to be released Friday.
Members were urged to call Yim's office at 523-1234 if they have not received surveys that are being sent out.
There was much discussion about confidentiality for witnesses who come forward in the fact-finding investigation. There are guarantees of confidentiality and protection of witnesses, but many are still said to be holding back.
A court order is in place in the fact-finding that doesn't suggest confidentiality for witnesses but requires it, Dawson said.
Dawson called for a return of authority to the president of the schools "so that administration can function smoothly."
She also called for alumni involvement with no retribution for those who come forward to point out shortcomings.
"The issue is no longer of what's going on at the school. The issues are how is the trust being managed and run," she said. "Whatever the trust does, it affects the school. ... Tens of millions of dollars have been lost and have not been available to the school," Dawson said.
By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Guy Kaulukukui, a Kamehameha graduate,
presents a report to the meeting.
Trustees have decided to grow and grow the estate and not grow and grow the school, she said. "I think our Princess (Bernice Pauahi Bishop) would have something to say about that."
Dawson called for selection of trustees with safeguards.
"We may also have to correct the judges who I believe are barking up the wrong tree and looking for CEOs (chief executive officers). You cannot run an organization with five CEOs."
Chun is the best CEO for the Kamehameha Schools, she said.
Four school faculty members said they are taking exploratory steps toward union organization but were initially denied using a meeting place at the school. They met elsewhere instead. They will meet again Sept. 3, they said.
New officers Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi are:
President: Toni Lee
First vice president: Jon Dill
Second vice president: Tomi Chong
Secretary: Marion Joy
Assistant secretary: Melva Ferreira
Treasurer: Pat Iona
Assistant treasurer: Julie Nurre
Directors: Leroy Akamine, Roy Benham, Karen Farias, Carol Kapu, Dutchie Kapu Saffery, Paulette Moore, Victor Punua, Mervyn Thompson and Rocky Tokuhara
Bishop Estate Archive