Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Tuesday, September 2, 1997

Bishop Estate trustees’
flawed response

THE word is ad hominem. My dictionary says it means "appealing to one's prejudices rather than to reason, as by attacking one's opponent rather than by debating the issue."

We are seeing a lot of this in the current defense of the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustees, starting at the top with Chairman Richard Wong.

If Senior Federal Judge Samuel P. King is correct, Wong's several thousand word response to the "Broken Trust" article about KS/BE didn't rebut a single major contention.

Instead it tried to divide and conquer by labeling the Aug. 9 commentary as primarily the work of a haole law professor from the mainland, Randall W. Roth, who has either evil or greedy intentions in regard to the trust.

It was in anticipation of this defense that Judge King recruited himself and three other leading Hawaiians to join in the unmasking of KS/BE leadership that "Broken Trust" provides.

Along with Roth they have become a new "Fabulous Five," like the exciting University of Hawaii basketball team of 25 years ago. Like a team they worked together to develop a final product built on the original draft shown to King by Roth. Like a team, they have been melded closer together by the attacks on them and their joint defenses of their product in print, on the air and in person.

Their defense is so strong the other side seems reduced to mostly ad hominem attacks, as King foresaw.

"Broken Trust" said some things new to the public and some things already known. Its power, however, lies in linking these things together to paint a "whole picture" suggesting collusion among the Judicial Selection Commission created to increase the weight of "merit" in our selection process, Governor Waihee and the Supreme Court justices he appointed to deliver control of KS/BE affairs to politicians.

Since estate trusteeships now pay the incumbents at least several times what any of them ever made in occupations before appointment, and since they control the spending of Hawaii's biggest private landowner, eyebrows are justifiably raised over the links the "Broken Trust" authors suggest. They are further raised by suggestions the trustees may have funneled contracts and jobs to "old boy" friends and misused KS/BE revenues to lobby against a now-enacted federal intermediate sanctions law that endangers them but not the estate with Internal Revenue Service reprisals.

It is allegations like these that should be addressed by the trustees, rather than have them try to vilify one of the authors or suggest a hidden motive to raid KS/BE and hurt the school system it supports.

COULD hurting the school conceivably be the motive of the four Hawaiian co-authors of "Broken Trust" -- Judge King, Gladys Brandt, perhaps the most respected Hawaiian educator in the state; Monsignor Charles Kekumano, who heads another trust created by Hawaiian royalty to help Hawaiian children; and Walter Heen, a former appellate judge from a well-known Hawaiian-Chinese family? I think the answer is a clear NO. Quite the opposite. They think the trust is being hurt by its present leadership. They want change.

The joint report of this "Fabulous Five" was breathtaking to the community. It has stirred comment and interest like no report before it. Underlying the excitement is a feeling that this is "telling it like it is" by people too strong and too respected to be demolished by ad hominem attacks.

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community]
[Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1997 Honolulu Star-Bulletin