Tax chief's involvementBy Mike Yuen
welcomed by Bishop Estate
Bishop Estate attorneys are welcoming the entry of state Tax Director Ray Kamikawa into the state's probe of the $10 billion charitable trust.
They say Kamikawa's accounting and auditing specialists will vindicate how the estate has conducted business transactions.
But attorneys Nathan Aipa and William McCorriston also fired two volleys Friday:
Aipa branded as "outrageous" a class-action lawsuit that seeks to halt what it labels as the estate trustees' racially discriminatory admission policy - it favors native Hawaiians - for Kamehameha Schools.
Aipa blamed Senior U.S. District Judge Samuel King, one of the authors of the "Broken Trust" opinion piece in the Star-Bulletin that sparked the state's investigation, for the lawsuit. But King, reached in Chicago, said he has no connection to the legal challenge and favors Kamehameha Schools' current and long-standing admissions policy.
McCorriston, for the second consecutive day, lashed out at the media, saying the lead editorial in yesterday's Star-Bulletin again reinforces his belief that trustees of the estate, one of the nation's largest charitable trusts and Hawaii's largest private landowner, won't get fair treatment.
Star-Bulletin Editorial Page Editor Diane Chang stood by the editorial, which accuses McCorriston of having "twisted the facts."
While estate attorneys hailed Kamikawa's entry into the state's inquiry, they stopped short of saying they would give Kamikawa materials sought by Attorney General Margery Bronster. Again, they had a caveat: They would do so, as long as information the estate considers proprietary wasn't made public or turned over to third parties.
McCorriston said, "It is about time we have people with sophistication and understanding about business transactions" evaluating the estate's dealings that have been called into question. But, he added, "assuming the quality of the people who are going to be assigned to this project have the requisite expertise to judge these transactions."
Kamikawa's involvement, McCorriston added, "will lead to the inevitable conclusion that the Bishop Estate is a well-managed organization. So we do not view this with any sense of jeopardy, trepidation or any other feeling other than good. When the facts come out and if we are judged fairly, we will benefit from it."
Aipa said the lawsuit aimed at Kamehameha Schools by Big Island rancher Harold Rice, a fifth-generation Caucasian kamaaina, strikes at the heart of the estate's duty, educating native Hawaiians.
The lawsuit, Aipa said, will not stop the trustees' plan to expand Kamehameha's educational efforts to the neighbor islands and other areas of Oahu.
King was astounded that Aipa would assert that he's opposed to Kamehameha's admission policy.
"The policy adopted by trustees a long time ago to keep admission to people with some Hawaiian blood should remain in force as long as there are enough people with part-Hawaiian blood to benefit from it," King asserted. "As far as I can see, that's the indefinite future. I've never said anything else."
King added: "Nathan Aipa is an ass."
McCorriston's attack on the Star-Bulletin centered on yesterday's editorial that said he was the "new hired gun for the four beleaguered" estate trustees around whom suspicions have swirled.
"That's a lie," McCorriston asserted, saying he represents all five trustees.
Chang countered: "McCorriston says, in effect, that our Friday editorial was opinionated. We agree. It was based on Thursday's Page One story, which gave comprehensive and fair coverage of McCorriston's press conference, and expressed our views on that matter."
Pualani Akaka recalled how her father, the late Rev. Abraham K. Akaka, advised the children to choose between life and death. His advice: "Choose life. Love the Lord."
Akaka's life of aloha
inspires fond respects
Sarah Akaka-Truong said her father's time on Earth was brief, "a flash of light."
"Dad grew up here in Kawaiahao Church. His whole family came here and sat in a pew (filling it with family members).... I'm sure we all felt privileged to have known my father," she said. "He was a mirror of God's love."
Perhaps a thousand mourners paid respects to the Rev. Akaka at a wake Friday night as he lay in state amid a multitude of floral offerings at his beloved Kawaiahao Church, which he served 28 years as pastor and, later, pastor emeritus.
Akaka, 80, died Sept. 10, after he was hospitalized following a heart attack. His funeral was to take place today at Kawaiahao Church, with burial to follow in Hook Chu Cemetery in Pauoa Valley, where his parents are buried.
Family members participated in Friday night's wake services at Kawaiahao, also the church of Akaka's childhood. The services included his favorite childhood hymns, "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" and "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," as well as his favorite hymns in Hawaiian.
A repeat child molester who lived in Moiliili may serve close to his maximum term of 20 years.
may serve 20 years
Robert M. Fox, who pleaded guilty in July to seven counts of sexual assault involving five children ages 7 to 10, will receive a higher minimum from the Hawaii Paroling Authority, said Al Beaver, board chairman.
"As a repeat offender, the board will take a hard line, and it may mean we'll go as high as possible," Beaver said Friday after Fox's sentencing. "He may 'max' out. He's demonstrated he can't conform to the norms of the community."
Circuit Judge Richard Perkins sentenced Fox, 56, to up to 20 years for attempted first-degree sexual assault and up to five years for five counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of attempted third-degree assault.
Perkins also set the minimums at six years and eight months, based on Fox's status as a repeat offender and his plea agreement with the state.
A Kaneohe woman who was diagnosed with a serious lung disorder after taking a combination of popular weight-loss drugs has filed suit in federal court against nine drug manufacturers and distributors.
Woman files states
The first Hawaii "fen-phen" suit over the potentially health-threatening effects of combining fenfluramine and phentermine was filed Friday as a class-action complaint to include other people made ill by the appetite suppressant drugs.
It asks the court to order the drug companies to fund a medical-monitoring program to assist the drugs' users in detection and treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary injury. It also seeks reimbursement of hospital and medical bills, loss of earnings, legal fees and undetermined damages.
Similar suits have been filed on the mainland since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year issued a warning that the fen-phen combination could cause heart disorders. Monday the FDA asked for voluntary removal of fenfluramine from pharmacy shelves. More than 18 million prescriptions were written in the past year throughout the country.
Honolulu attorney William Hunt said the plaintiff, Katherine Aina, suffers from primary pulmonary hypertension which was diagnosed this year. He said she used fenfluramine and phentermine for two years. Hunt said she had been hospitalized for tests.
The suit said she has been "injured in health, strength and activity and suffered injuries to body and mind, the exact nature and extent of which are not known at this time. Plaintiff has sustained economic loss, including loss of earnings and diminution or loss of earning capacity, the exact amount of which is presently unknown."
Named as defendants were Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories Co., Interneuron Pharmaceuticals Inc., Gate Pharmaceuticals, Smithkline Beecham Corp., Abana Pharmaceuticals Inc., Richwood Pharmaceuticals Co. Inc., Ion Laboratories Inc., Medeva Pharmaceuticals Inc. and A.H. Robins Co. Inc.