By David Shapiro

Saturday, August 30, 1997

Politics and
Bishop Estate trustees

SUPREME Court justices, Bishop Estate trustees and former Gov. John Waihee hotly deny there's political manipulation in the appointment of trustees.

Well, let's examine the appointments of the two most political trustees -- former House Speaker Henry Peters and former Senate President Richard Wong -- and see if there's reason to be suspicious.

When Peters was House speaker in 1981, he also worked for Dura Constructors Inc. He raised eyebrows when he appointed Tom Enomoto, a part-owner of Dura, to the state Judicial Selection Commission.

As a member of the commission, Enomoto was involved in the selection of three of the five Supreme Court justices who in 1984 appointed Peters a Bishop Estate trustee.

As Senate president in 1987, Wong appointed attorney Gerard Jervis to the Judicial Selection Commission. Jervis was involved in the selection of three of the justices who in 1992 appointed Wong to the Bishop Estate.

Two years later, the justices made Jervis himself a Bishop Estate trustee. According to the authors of "Broken Trust," the justices wanted to appoint Waihee, who had appointed all of them, but feared a public outcry.

So instead of filling the Bishop Estate with qualified CEOs, which they say is their goal, justices gave three of the last five lucrative appointments to two legislators who appointed members of the Judicial Selection Commission and one member of the commission.

Those who defend the way judges and trustees are selected dismiss the pattern as coincidence. They protest that members of the Judicial Selection Commission merely advise the governor on judicial appointments and have no part in selecting Bishop Estate trustees.

Well, that argument lost weight when Michael Hare, a former member of the Judicial Selection Commission who also does legal work for the Bishop Estate, admitted that he questioned applicants for the Supreme Court about their criteria for Bishop Estate appointments.

It's an improper question since justices act as private citizens in appointing trustees. It's no business of the selection commission or the governor whom they would appoint as trustees. Unless, of course, they're incorporating Bishop Estate jobs into the political patronage system.

Hare denies political motives, recently saying, "I don't do political work."

Well, that depends on how you define political work. In 1995, Hare represented then-state Sen. Milton Holt -- also a Bishop Estate employee -- before the Democratic Party when Holt was up for censure for supporting another party's gubernatorial candidate.

The thing about making politicians Bishop Estate trustees is that they'll continue to act like politicians. It's their nature.

WONG and Peters organized the trustees more like a legislative panel than a corporate board. They gave Trustee Lokelani Lindsey unprecedented power over Kamehameha Schools to gain the third vote they needed to control the five-member board -- and the estate's estimated $10 billion in assets.

Lindsey moved her office to the school, usurped the authority of popular President Michael Chun and ruled in such a dictatorial manner that usually timid alumni, parents and faculty took to the streets in protest.

Now Wong and Peters are paying the price. If they hadn't virtually given away the school they profess to love so dearly to a new and untested trustee, they wouldn't have the attorney general examining their dealings with the legal equivalent of a proctoscope.

The Japanese have a word for it. Bachi.

Bishop Estate Archive

David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at
Volcanic Ash runs every Saturday in the Star-Bulletin.

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