Monday, December 15, 1997

Bishop probe must not
stop with Lindsey

THE report of retired judge Patrick Yim confirms the allegations of arbitrary and oppressive micromanagement of the Kamehameha Schools that have dominated the concerns of Hawaiians as well as the rest of the community for months. Yim's conclusions regarding the behavior of Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey as "lead trustee" for the schools are devastating.

Now that Yim's report has been made public, it is no wonder that Lindsey sought to divert attention from it in advance by launching a reckless attack on the academic record of the schools under President Michael Chun. Yim's conclusions after months of investigation make it unmistakably clear that Lindsey's performance has been a disaster.

In accordance with Yim's recommendation, Lindsey has relinquished her leadership role on the board with regard to the schools, but that is not sufficient. Her irresponsible attempts to impose her will on the schools and defiant rejection of criticism show that she is unfit to remain on the Bishop Estate board.

Trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender have called for her resignation, but it may be necessary to force her out, probably by court order.

However, the current focus on Lokelani Lindsey should not be permitted to obscure the other issues confronting the trustees. Even with regard to the schools, the other four trustees bear responsibility for authorizing Lindsey to take the lead trustee role.

Moreover, the charges against the trustees leveled in the Aug. 9 "Broken Trust" essay in the Star-Bulletin go beyond management of the schools and deal with self-serving deals and other improprieties in management of the estate's vast assets. It was these charges that prompted Governor Cayetano to order the investigation by the attorney general.

That investigation could result in a recommendation to the probate court that some or all of the trustees be removed. There is suspicion that Henry Peters and perhaps other trustees are trying to make Lindsey a scapegoat for the board's failings. That should not be allowed to happen.

The removal of Lindsey as lead trustee was an essential step, but it is far from sufficient to deal with the entire problem. The process of determing the extent of abuses of trust by the members of the board and the appropriate remedies still has far to go. It certainly should not stop with the removal of Lindsey from direct responsibility for oversight of the schools.

Bishop Estate Archive

Bill Lann Lee's job

BY making a recess appointment of Bill Lann Lee as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, President Clinton would have thumbed his nose at Senate Republicans who blocked confirmation of Lee in the job. When Congress is not in session, the president can make temporary "recess" appointments that can last until the end of the next session. Instead Clinton chose the less confrontational course of naming Lee to the post in an acting capacity, which could avert retaliation by the GOP.

The Republicans oppose Lee because he supports affirmative action programs for women and minorities. But Lee insists he is opposed to quotas, saying they are both wrong and illegal. His qualifications for the position are strong. The son of Chinese immigrants, he is a veteran attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

But this fight is not simply about Bill Lann Lee. It's also about the politics of race. Clinton hopes to galvanize minority voters behind Lee. Senate Republicans wanted to impress their party's conservatives by standing up to Clinton on the issue.

If Clinton had decided on a recess appointment, the Republicans could have fought back by holding up other presidential appointments and blocking White House legislative initiatives, in effect destroying bipartisanship.

The GOP blundered two years ago when it forced the closure of some government agencies in a budget battle with Clinton. The public blamed the GOP-controlled Congress and took out its frustrations on Republicans at the polls. The Republicans could have repeated that mistake by adopting obstructionist tactics to retaliate for Lee's appointment.

Fresh start-up capital

HOW appropriate that the Hawaii Community Loan Fund, the state's newest broker for loans to small businesses and community projects, introduced itself to the public during the Christmas season. Led by Executive Director Patricia K. Brandt, the just-born nonprofit is ready to play Santa Claus beginning Jan. 1 by approving modest but needed start-up loans and offering business support, especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

This largesse was initially funded by $1.5 million donated through the generosity of four financial institutions: American Savings, Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank and First Federal. The Hawaii Community Foundation and City and County of Honolulu also made contributions.

The fund's five-year goal is to raise a total of $5 million, mostly from banks, S&Ls, government and foundations. The loans will then be funneled out into the community via Hawaii agencies, which will train and qualify small-business owners for the capital. Community organizations can also apply for loans and assistance to encourage economic development.

Brandt points out that while the Governor's Economic Revitalization Task Force looked at the big picture, and the Sustainable Oahu Initiative examined economic renewal at the grass-roots level, "our fund is one more step: We're providing capital and technical help that communities and small businesses need."

For more information, call the HCLF at 523-0075. Tell 'em Santa sent you.

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