Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Tuesday, November 4, 1997

A vision of a
reformed Bishop Estate

IT is startling to contemplate, but one of these days a new tranquility will settle over the Bishop Estate and the Kamehameha Schools. They will fade from the focus of our daily newspapers and other media.

It probably won't happen at least until after the 1998 elections a year from now -- but it will happen.

Will there be a new order then? Or will things be much as they were before the May 14 march by nearly 1,000 Hawaiians from the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu Valley to the Bishop Estate offices downtown...and before the Aug. 9 "Broken Trust" article in the Star-Bulletin? If there is change, what will the new order look like?

Beadie Kanahele Dawson is attorney for the beneficiary group of 2,200 students, parents and alumni who are seeking standing in court to press for change in both estate management and Kamehameha Schools operation. Many of them were marchers. Their name, Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi Inc., translates as "the Flowers of Princess Pauahi."

In a speech to the Federation of Republican Women's "Salute to Women Leaders," where she was honored, she painted her vision of what the new status quo may be:

Some present trustees will have been removed for breach of fiduciary duty.

The IRS may have hit some of them with possibly immense damage awards for which they will be personally liable.

The state Supreme Court justices, who appointed the present politically oriented board, will choose new trustees under a selection process worked out in consultation with the Hawaiian community.

The new board will confine itself to policy-making and hire the very best and most qualified CEO in the country to run day-by-day affairs. Replacement for non-performance will be a possibility.

The board will adopt more conservative investment policies aimed at producing higher income yields for the $10 billion trust through stable and secure assets.

The old arrogance and secretiveness of management will be history. Investments will be fully disclosed. The school will teach 12,000 Hawaiian children and youths full time instead of 4,000 now. In addition, it will restore some of the outreach programs suddenly chopped in 1995 that had given at least a taste of Kamehameha to 30,000 others.

Dawson noted that many criticisms of particular actions of the estate were publicly aired in the past, kept in headlines a few days, then dropped from attention because the Hawaiian community wanted no ill to come to the estate and thus rallied around the trustees, right or wrong.

A sense of too much wrong activated the May 14 march. The rebuff the marchers received from the trustees at their destination simply heightened their sense of wrong needing fixing.

The "Broken Trust" article by a University of Hawaii law professor and four respected senior leaders of the Hawaiian community provided ammunition that caused Gov. Ben Cayetano to order the investigation still in process under Attorney General Margery Bronster.

Dawson says the new crusaders won't stop until change happens. How much it will take to appease them may be the big question.

Bishop Estate Archive

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

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