Tuesday, December 9, 1997

Lokelani Lindsey’s
attack could backfire

LOKELANI Lindsey's attack on the operation of the Kamehameha Schools, in particular the performance of President Michael Chun, was a transparent attempt to shift attention from the report of retired Judge Patrick Yim, submitted last week but not yet made public. It was the vehement protests by Kamehameha alumni and parents of students against Lindsey's heavy-handed management of the schools that forced the trustees to commission Yim's study.

The attack makes it all the more important that Yim's report be released; indeed, it is unthinkable that it be kept secret. A hearing on that question is scheduled for Friday before Circuit Judge Colleen Hirai.

Lindsey's broadside coincided with the trustees' tentatively agreeing to accept the recommendations of the court-appointed master, Colbert Matsumoto, which mainly concerned the need for improved reporting of the estate's return on investment. That agreement appeared to be a reversal of policy and a gesture of cooperation by the trustees.

Lindsey's criticism of the operations of the Kamehameha Schools attack was certainly not a conciliatory gesture. Whether it was approved by a majority of the Bishop Estate trustees is not known, but trustee Oswald Stender strongly criticized Lindsey, saying the attack was irresponsible. Stender charged that Lindsey was "attempting to shift blame and discredit others, instead of remedying the damage caused by (her) own wrongdoing." Lindsey fired back, accusing Stender of orchestrating the campaign against her.

Far from helping her cause, Lindsey's reckless attack provides further evidence that she is unfit to serve as a trustee. In her attempt to discredit Chun, she has discredited herself.

Bishop Estate Archive

Waikiki Natatorium

THE City Council has put on hold the Harris administration's plan to restore the Waikiki Natatorium. The Council Zoning Committee deferred action on a request for a shoreline management use permit and a shoreline setback variance while it examines the issue further.

After due consideration the Council should proceed with the $11.5 million plan for full restoration of the World War I memorial -- most definitely including the swimming pool. As the Friends of the Natatorium have consistently argued, the pool is the memorial. The proposal to raze the pool and grandstand and preserve only the memorial arch would constitute destruction of the memorial. Because the memorial is on the National Historic Register, anything short of full restoration might encounter legal problems.

The problem of water quality in the pool has been addressed with an improved design for flushing it up to 10 times a day. Other steps to avoid health problems are also planned. State Health Director Bruce Anderson testified that he could not issue a permit for a salt-water pool. However, the city corporation counsel believes that a state permit isn't necessary. If it is, the Legislature could and should issue a variance.

Critics who point to the cost of full restoration often fail to note that it would cost several million dollars just to demolish the existing structure and create a beach there. In any case the money would be well spent in removing the blight that the Natatorium has become through neglect.

Some users of the Sans Souci beach nearby oppose restoration on the ground that it would attract more people to the area, to their inconvenience. The beachgoers should not be given the final say. This memorial was built by the people of Hawaii in honor of our war dead. The City Council has already given preliminary approval to the plan to correct the disgraceful deterioration of the Natatorium and restore it to usable condition. It should not change course now.

Ramos' preference

PRESIDENT Fidel Ramos has announced his preference of a successor when he steps down upon completing his six-year term next year -- under the Philippine constitution, the president is limited to one term. Ramos' choice is Jose de Venecia, the speaker of the House of Representatives. As they put it in the Manila newspapers, Ramos "anointed" de Venecia as the candidate of the ruling Lakas Party in the election next May.

But such an anointment is not tantamount to election in the Philippines these days. De Venecia has done poorly in the opinion surveys to date and faces an uphill fight. Elected to the House in 1987 after the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos, de Venecia has been speaker since 1992. He has been effective in guiding Ramos' legislative program through Congress, but is not very popular. Ramos' endorsement should help, but isn't likely to be decisive.

A much stronger contender at this point is Vice President Joseph Estrada, a former movie star. One of the peculiarities of the Philippine system is that the president and vice president are separately elected.

Estrada has never been a member of the Ramos team. There is some concern that as president he might reverse the achievements of Ramos. This concern helped to fuel speculation that Ramos might try to amend the constitution in order to seek a second term, but that no longer appears possible.

The announcement of Ramos' decision came only hours after the House, under de Venecia's leadership, finally approved a long-awaited tax reform bill. The measure is a key step for the Philippines to end more than 30 years of supervision by the International Monetary Fund.

Ending IMF supervision will be an important achievement for Ramos, signifying the success of his efforts to strengthen the economy. But de Venecia may have trouble translating his role in that success into victory in the presidential contest.

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