69% say trustees
fall short

Bishop Estate's leaders
micromanage and are overpaid,
polled residents say

By Jim Witty

Public opinion has crystallized against Bishop Estate trustees during the past few months: Nearly seven out of every 10 Hawaii residents now fault their stewardship of Kamehameha Schools.

In addition, 91 percent of the 420 registered voters responding to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin/KHNL NBC Hawaii News 8 Poll believe that the trustees' paychecks are too fat. Just 7 percent said the $834,000 trustees pocketed last year was "about right," and 1 percent said it was "too little."

The statewide telephone poll was conducted Sept. 11-14 by Mason Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. of Columbia, Md. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Respondents gave a thumbs down to trustees Lokelani Lindsey, Henry Peters and Richard Wong. Just 1 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Peters, while 47 percent said they had an unfavorable impression. Seven percent said they had a favorable opinion of both Wong and Lindsey, while 41 percent responded unfavorably to Wong and 52 percent to Lindsey.

While only 7 percent view trustee Gerard Jervis in a favorable light, a majority said they didn't recognize his name.

Poll Graphic

Oswald Stender, the trustee who went public with questions about estate management practices, garnered a 31 percent favorable rating, while 10 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.

Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun received a 33 percent favorable response, with 43 percent saying they didn't recognize his name.

In a Star-Bulletin Poll conducted last June, a majority of respondents were undecided about whether individual trustees were performing well. At that time, 42 percent of 421 residents, a mix of registered and nonregistered voters, said the trustees were not doing a good job running Kamehameha Schools; 26 percent said they were.

Gov. Ben Cayetano ordered an investigation of the $10 billion charitable trust in August after publication in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of "Broken Trust," written by five prominent community members, which raised allegations of mismanagement of the estate.

Most respondents now believe the trustees are not doing a good job of running Kamehameha Schools or communicating with the public, according to the latest poll. And almost three-quarters of the respondents said the trustees have become too involved in micromanaging the daily operations of Kamehameha Schools.

As for the trustees' pay, "$843,000 a year is asinine," said 72-year-old Leonard Ignacio of Oahu. "It's ludicrous."

Barry Walls of Kaneohe agreed.

"What are they doing that's so important to make $843,000 a year?" he asked. "That blows my mind."

Poll Graphic

Kauai resident Chris Faye said the trustees are "grossly overcompensated" while Hawaiian children struggle for an education.

"I don't think they should be getting all that money when all the Hawaiian students that could be receiving an education there are not," she said.

"I don't think that's what the (princess) had in mind," said Tovi Daly, a Kailua-Kona graphic designer.

Hawaiians registered the greatest dissatisfaction with the trustees' management of Kamehameha Schools, with only one of 55 in the poll saying trustees are doing a good job.

All Hawaiian respondents except two said the trustees are not doing a good job in communicating with the public.

"The fact that they aren't cooperating with the (attorney general's) investigation bothers us," said Daly, 48.

"Perhaps we don't have all the information, but I think that engenders distrust in the public."

Faye said: "I'm sorry to see this all happening so publicly, but this all needs to be sorted out. It's time."

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