Program supports
folks who speak out
about Bishop Estate

A Kamehameha Schools group
assists those intimidated about talking
to Yim and Bronster

By Jim Witty

Most people would probably rather recline in a dental chair and open wide than open up to court-appointed Bishop Estate fact-finder Patrick Yim or Attorney General Margery Bronster.

That's the theory behind a program developed by a growing group of Kamehameha Schools students, teachers and alumni designed to ease people through a potentially intimidating process.

"We know most of us are very reluctant to come forward," said Jan Dill, vice president of the Oceanic Institute and a facilitator for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi. "Our purpose is to encourage them and give them confidence when they go in to see Judge Yim (or the attorney general)."

They also try to help prospective witnesses clarify their thoughts, without influencing them, Dill said.

Yim was appointed by the Probate Court to conduct an inquiry into the management of Kamehameha Schools. Subsequently, Gov. Ben Cayetano directed Bronster to launch an investigation into allegations that Bishop Estate trustees were mismanaging the $10 billion trust and may be breaching their fiduciary duties.

Na Pua is supporting Yim's inquiry, but has been critical of what members perceive as a lack of aggressiveness in spreading the word. The group initially pushed for a team of experts, including Yim, to conduct the inquiry, said Na Pua attorney Beadie Dawson. But, she added, Na Pua has "confidence" in Yim.

"I'm puzzled that he hasn't gone out and made people comfortable," Dill said. "The longer you drag this out, who wins? The children don't win."

Yim declined to comment on the criticism or on Na Pua's facilitators.

But Cynthia Quinn, special assistant to the attorney general, said Bronster supports Na Pua's aim of getting those with information to come forward. "Whatever they can do to get the information to us, we welcome the help," Quinn said.

Dawson wouldn't say exactly how many people have come forward to tell their stories to the group's dozen or so facilitators, but claimed they have "talked to a lot more than Patrick Yim has."

As of the end of August, when he filed his first progress report, Yim told the court he was proceeding "as expeditiously as possible," had conducted 60 interviews since July 22 and had about 30 more scheduled.

Bishop Estate spokeswoman Elisa Yadao said the trustees are encouraging participation by those who have information to advance the investigations.

"It's been made absolutely clear that the trustees are committed to people participating in the fact-finding process," Yadao said last month. "They have said there are going to be no reprisals for that."

Facilitators spent 10 to 12 hours in training, given by members of the group who are professional investigators, Dill said.

"We're fortunate we have people who are experienced in taking testimony," he said. "Our role is not to put words into anyone's mouth, but to help people express themselves."

Controversy featured
in national periodical

By Star-Bulletin Staff

The latest edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a national periodical focusing on nonprofit organizations, includes an article on the controversy of Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate.

Writer Stephen C. Greene wrote "Misplaced Trust?," which details the investigation by state Attorney General Margery Bronster, a reported federal inquiry and fact-finding by retired Judge Patrick Yim.

Included are some of the charges lodged at the $10 billion estate, including those made in the "Broken Trust" essay published in the Star-Bulletin.

Also in the Oct. 2 issue is a sidebar story entitled "Hawaii Case May Test New Law on Excess Compensation of Charity Officials."

That story says that if the personal financial dealings of trustees are found to be in conflict with those of the estate, the Internal Revenue Service could require them to give back any assets they acquired and to pay stiff penalties.

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