By Star-Bulletin Staff

Saturday, December 20, 1997

Abolish system of
‘lead trustees’ now,
Bronster says

Judge Patrick Yim's
Fact Finder's report now online.

State Attorney General Margery Bronster says she could seek a court order to abolish Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate's much-maligned "lead trustee" management system.

Bronster yesterday said she plans to study an agreement finalized yesterday by Circuit Judge Colleen Hirai which calls for a review of the lead trustee system only after a management and financial audit of the estate's operations is completed.

The pact -- reached between the estate, the trust's court-appointed master Colbert Matsumoto and the attorney general's office -- represents a step back from a previous agreement to eliminate the system outright, Bronster said.

She agreed with nearly all of the remaining recommendations, which seek to streamline the estate's accounting process and financial reporting requirements.

"The time is now to abolish the practice of the lead trustee," she said. "We think the law is clear."

Bronster and Matsumoto have argued that the system -- which gives individual trustees authority over specific administrative areas -- may violate the will of the estate's founder, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, and may breach the trustees' fiduciary responsibilities since it delegates too much responsibility to one trustee.

William McCorriston, one of the estate's attorneys, disagreed, saying the informal lead trustee system is not for decision-making purposes but largely exists for reporting or oversight purposes.

All policy decisions are made by the whole board and not by individual trustees, he said. McCorriston added that many trusts use a similar system to manage their affairs.

"I don't know if we will ever be able to satisfy the attorney general," McCorriston said. "She doesn't have a good understanding of how the system works."

Under the system, the estate's asset management is handled by trustee Henry Peters and its government affairs programs are headed by Chairman Richard Wong. Trustee Lokelani Lindsey headed estate's educational programs, while Gerard Jervis ran the estate's legal affairs. Oswald Stender was in charge of the trust's Kukui Inc. subsidiary, which represents the estate's interest in a mainland methane gas drilling operation.

For many critics, Lindsey's role as lead trustee for education played a big role in the ongoing controversy. Student and alumni groups say she usurped the duties of popular Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun and hurt school morale. Court-appointed fact-finder Patrick Yim went further, saying Lindsey managed by intimidation and played favorites.

Lindsey was removed as lead trustee more than a week ago in anticipation of Yim's report. Jervis also has relinquished his duties as lead trustee for legal affairs, according to McCorriston.

Matsumoto initially recommended abolishing the lead trustee system but said he was willing to grant the estate additional time to make the transition.

He said the estate has agreed to have its finances audited by an national accounting firm and that the audit will likely take six months to complete.

Matsumoto said he's confident that the audit of the estate will find that the lead trustee system should be eliminated and that trustees eventually will agree.

Matsumoto also had recommended that the court not approve the estate's accounting for the 1993-1994 fiscal year until the Internal Revenue Service completed its audit of the estate.

But Matsumoto said he now feels that may not be practical since it may be some time before the IRS completes its audit.

Judge Patrick Yim's
Fact Finder's report now online.
Bishop Estate Archive

Thefts from pharmacies
alarm state drug officials

State narcotics agents have arrested three health-care professionals in the past week for allegedly stealing drugs from their workplaces.

Agents on Thursday capped a two-week investigation with the arrests of two pharmacy technicians for allegedly stealing painkillers and diet pills from the Longs Drugs store in Kaneohe.

A Kailua woman, 39, was booked on six counts of theft of a controlled substance. She allegedly stole more than 4,000 Vicodin painkiller tablets, with a street value of about $12,000 to $20,000, over eight months, a state public safety official said.

A Kaneohe woman, 36, was arrested on one count of theft of a controlled substance and promoting harmful drugs. She is accused of stealing 120 Fastin diet capsules, with a street value of $480 to $720, during a one-year period.

In addition to those arrests, a 45-year-old registered nurse at Queen's Medical Center on Dec. 12 was booked on 14 counts of theft of a controlled substance.

Hawaii Supreme Court
dismisses same-sex appeal

Eight present and former legislators have lost an appeal to intervene in the same-sex marriage case, reinforcing a ruling that the state attorney general has the exclusive right to control state cases.

The state Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the 1996 appeal, which was an attempt by legislators to use all possible arguments -- including homophobic, emotional, social and economic -- to fight same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Gene Ward, one of the legislators, said he wasn't surprised by the ruling to not allow them to play a legal role in the same-sex case.

But Ward (R, Mariner's Ridge-Aina Haina) added that the high court should wait until after November 1998 to make its final ruling.

Residents will vote in the November elections on a constitutional amendment to let lawmakers define marriage.

Justices have the state's appeal of the same-sex issue before them. If they affirm a 1996 lower court ruling that found the state failed to show a compelling reason to ban same-sex marriage, it would make Hawaii the first state in the nation to allow such unions.

Dan Foley, the attorney representing the three couples who sued for the right to marry, said Ward was trying to turn a constitutional issue into a political one to advance his own career.

He said Ward's proposal to let the majority rule or to determine issues through polls leaves the minority without rights.

Cops play Santa for needy kids

Santa wore blue today to deliver a special Christmas treat for 76 Kalihi youngsters.

"This day you go home with a wonderful feeling that you did something positive outside of police work," said Maj. Stephen Watarai of the "Shop with a Cop" program, sponsored by Kmart Stores.

Kmart gave each child $20 and let them shop before regular business hours. The children were escorted by police officers, many of whom spent their own money to make up the cost difference for a gift.

"I like it because my kids are excited about getting a present," Katerine Taimi said. "My husband died last Christmas Eve and he used to be the one to take the kids shopping. This year they going shopping with a policeman."

This is the second year for "Shop with a Cop" in the Kalihi patrol district. The Pearl City patrol district has been involved with the program for five years at Kmart's Waikele and Stadium Market Place locations.

The program is not active in other police districts.

"We try to find kids on our beat 4 to 10 years old who might need an extra gift," Kalihi Sgt. John Kauwenaole said. "I think it shows the kids we're not always the bad guys."

It's an effort that comes from the heart as officers involved in both the Kalihi and Pearl City programs volunteer their time.

"Our officers spent $300 out of their own pocket this year to help pay for gifts, and I know one officer spent $70," said Officer Arleen Apuna, coordinator of Pearl City's program.

Apuna had one interesting child-officer match this year that proves what the program can accomplish.

"When we match officers with a child, we do it randomly, but this year, we teamed up one officer with a child whose father he had arrested at their home," Apuna said. "The child and the officer came away with a positive feeling for each other because of the program."

Grandma says Cedra could have been saved

Cedra Edwards might be alive today if her injuries had been attended to earlier, says the girl's grandmother.

The 20-month-old girl died early Wednesday morning at Kaiser Hospital, the victim of a beating that ruptured her intestines, causing a fatal infection.

The child's 18-year-old mother, Jennifer Edwards, has been charged with second-degree murder. Mika Mika Jr., Edwards' 24-year-old boyfriend with whom she lives, has been released pending further investigation.

"They didn't want to take her to the hospital because they were more concerned about Child Protective Services finding out about the injuries than having the child taken care of," said Renita Edwards, Jennifer's mother.

"Too many people are concerned about cases like these but not concerned enough to report it," added Edwards, who reported her own daughter to CPS for neglecting Cedra when the girl was 3 months old.

Edwards said her daughter admits striking Cedra on Sunday following an ongoing argument with her boyfriend.

"I asked her why, and she said she couldn't take it anymore," she said. "I asked her what that meant, and she said Cedra kept whining and whining.

"I don't think she understood that Cedra might have been acting that way because she was hurt," she added.

Cedra began vomiting and not eating over the next 48 hours. By the time she was taken unconscious to the hospital with a high fever it was too late, Edwards said.

"They put their own needs ahead of hers and that was a selfish act," she said.

"Enough people were aware of what was happening, but no one thought it was important enough to call," she added. "Maybes can't help the child after she's gone.

The musical group Kapena plans to do a Jan. 26 benefit concert, and First Hawaiian Bank has set up a "Friends for Cedra Edwards" trust fund to help with funeral expenses.

Contractor to blow up excess chemicals at UH next week

If you hear loud noises and see smoke coming from the University of Hawaii-Manoa's upper campus next Saturday, it's not because of an early New Year's Eve celebration.

It's because a contractor hired by the university will be disposing of several small containers of excess chemicals by detonating them in a series of explosions.

The UH plans to blow-up about 20 pounds of chemicals, including some 15 pounds of picric acid and a half pound of trinitrotoluene, the basic material for dynamite.

The chemicals were left over from completed research projects, and accumulated over several years.

Roy Takekawa, the university's director of environmental health and safety, said there is no danger to the public.

"These materials become unstable with age and that's the only way we can get rid of them," he said.

Access to the upper campus where the detonations will take place will be limited between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 27.

See expanded coverage in Saturday's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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