Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, December 10, 1997

Lindsey report
sounds eerily familiar

ONE of the weirdest things about this firestorm swirling around Bishop Estate is that I suddenly have a bunch of people who want to be on "my side."

The thing is, I don't have a side. Never had a side.

Ten years ago, I began a series of investigations that exposed a number of problems with the estate and Kamehameha Schools. That resulted in the mobilization of students, alumni, employees and other estate blindly faithful to brand my series as a personal, uncalled for attack by an evil outsider. Day after day, the newspaper was filled with vicious letters from everyone from students to the estate propaganda minister, er, spokesman.

Here are some of the remarks:

"Your series on the Kamehameha Schools was an offensive mess." -- A former student.

"(Should) I believe a series of poorly written articles loaded with innuendo and based on biased information?" -- A schools graduate.

"(The report is) nothing more than a vicious, unwarranted attack on a fine educational institution." -- A reader.

"Here we go again. Another round of the outsiders telling the Hawaiians what's good for them ... It's a pity the Star-Bulletin would attempt to crucify Kamehameha." -- A graduate.

What had I done to win such venom? I had simply reported the huge amount of money spent at the schools yearly (then it was only $30 million a year), the fact that standardized scores had not risen between 1977 and 1986, trustees were uninformed about those scores and that an experimental early education program had serious problems.

NOW the strangest thing has happened. Trustee Lokelani Lindsey has released a report making the same allegations. In fact, she told a Star-Bulletin reporter to go back and look at my 1987 series because "those things he said then (are) just as true today. So necessary corrections were not implemented to change the trends."

Lokelani! My buddy! My pal! It only took 10 years for someone from the estate to admit that what I wrote wasn't a personal, vindictive, one-sided, mean-spirited, uncalled for attack but a regular old, run-of-the-mill newspaper report about serious problems at the richest school in the country.

Where was Lindsey when Bishop Estate's patsies in the state legislature actually attempted to introduce a resolution attacking my series? When was the last time the legislature was bullied into such a personal attack?

Now that a Bishop Estate trustee has vindicated me, will the legislature introduce a resolution saying that I'm not an evil haole outsider hellbent on destroying the Hawaiian people? Because that's pretty much the image the estate tried to create.

The thing is, my reporting on Bishop Estate was never personal. The estate just tried to make it that way because it was an easy way to deflect legitimate criticism. The estate didn't care that their misrepresentations resulted in threatening phone calls to my home. Or that I've had to live with being known as "the guy who hates Bishop Estate" for the past 10 years. I don't hate the estate. Never have. I was just doing my job.

So, with all due respect, Ms. Lindsey, I don't want you on my side. I don't have a side. There were serious problems at Bishop Estate 10 years ago and they are worse now. The fault doesn't lie with the president of the schools, it lies where the big bucks stop: in the trustees' laps.

If the General Motors board of directors knew 10 years ago that the company was producing cars with only three wheels, do you think they'd be able to blame it on plant foreman?

Bishop Estate Archive

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or

The Honolulu Lite online archive is at:

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1997 Honolulu Star-Bulletin