Ten Who Made a Difference

Each year, the Star-Bulletin recognizes 10 individuals or groups instrumental in bringing about change in Hawaii. Some worked quietly behind the scenes; others were bold in their public acts.

The people selected come from the areas of education, entertainment, sports, community activism, law and government. Their actions have not always been popular, but their devotion is without question.

Broken Trust authors
By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
'Broken Trust' authors Walter Heen, Samuel King,
Gladys Brandt, Msgr. Charles Kekumano and
Randall Roth, left to right.

Authors of
‘Broken Trust’

Law professor worked with four civic leaders to pierce a 'broken trust'

Last July, 49-year-old UH law professor/trust expert Randall Roth sought out and began working with four prominent citizens -- 91-year-old educator Gladys Brandt; former appellate judge Walter Heen, 69; Msgr. Charles Kekumano, 78-year-old chairman of the Liliuokalani Trust, and senior District Court judge Samuel King, 81 -- on an editorial essay that would blow open the biggest local story of the year.

On the afternoon of Aug. 9, "Broken Trust" hit print in the Star-Bulletin.

"The time has come to say 'no more,' " the blunt opinion piece began. "The web of relationships between the Judiciary and our beloved Kamehameha Schools / Bishop Estate has pushed two great institutions to an absolute critical point. Immediate action must be taken."

The commentary continued, methodically describing -- complete with names, dates and anecdotes -- how a secretive web linking the justices, members of the Judicial Selection Commission and KS/BE trustees was as deadly to the well-being of the Kamehameha Schools, Bishop Estate and community as a venomous spider.

Due in large part to the five co-authors of "Broken Trust," two daunting and seemingly immovable groups -- the justices of the state Supreme Court, and the trustees of the largest private landowner in Hawaii and one of the richest educational trusts in the world -- were ensnared in a web of public scrutiny.

Last month, bowing to the furor, a majority of the justices agreed to withdraw from the century-old practice of selecting Bishop Estate trustees, as had been requested in the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

Bishop Estate trustees
Bishop Estate trustees Richard Wong,
Henry Peters, Lokelani Lindsey,
Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis,
left to right.

Meanwhile, the KS/BE trustees still are being scrutinized by the state Attorney General, the Internal Revenue Service, citizen groups and the people of Hawaii. Openly being debated is their history of investments, the appropriateness of their $843,109 salaries, and the heavy-handed way in which they run their private school for Hawaiian children.

While the "Broken Trust" authors could easily retreat to the background now that their essay has given renewed hope and influence to Kamehameha alumni and teacher groups, their presence will continue to be felt.

They cannot rest, they say, until their mission culminates with the replacement of most or all of the current trustees by new appointees -- chosen, in large part, through input from the Hawaiian community.

They believe that only then can this broken trust be mended.

Diane Chang, Star-Bulletin

Joan Husted
By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Joan Husted peers out of the "war room"
during talks between the HSTA and state.

Joan Husted

The veteran negotiator helped win a contract 'fair for teachers and students'

Hawaii's 11,700 public-school teachers came within an hour of striking Feb. 20, when union and state leaders agreed to a four-year contract.

Joan Lee Husted, deputy executive director for the Hawaii State Teachers Association, was a key player in the settlement giving teachers a 17 percent pay increase.

It wasn't her first negotiation.

Husted has been with the union since its inception in 1971 and has sat at the bargaining table each time for HSTA.

Husted, who turned 60 yesterday, shrugs at the distinction and how she got her start with labor negotiating in Hawaii.

"I was a teacher leader in a small district outside Ann Arbor, Mich.," she said. When she later moved to Hawaii, she was one of the few teachers in the state who had actually sat at a bargaining table before.

The secret to successful negotiating, she said, is "a large part homework, some instinct and a willingness to try to iron out an agreement."

Among Husted's admirers is Charlie Toguchi, Gov. Ben Cayetano's chief of staff. Toguchi sat across from her at the bargaining table in February.

"She was very tough but also very fair," said Toguchi. "Joan was able to negotiate a very fair contract not only for the teachers but for the students of the state of Hawaii."

The reason for that, she said, is "teachers are not simply interested in the size of their paychecks or the hours they work.

"We're committed to producing quality students and that's what really makes (HSTA) different from (other unions)."

Still, Husted called this year's bargaining sessions among the toughest she's been in.

"The Department of Education put a very negative, regressive bargaining package on the table, probably the worst bargaining package we had seen in our existence," Husted said. "It had huge pay cuts, open-ended work days "

Not one to mince words, Husted has also criticized the performance of embattled schools Superintendent Herman Aizawa.

"Unfortunately, Herman has not demonstrated the level of leadership that HSTA feels is necessary," Husted said.

Husted said her devotion to education is what drives her.

"Schools are the linchpin of a democracy and teachers are the key to making schools work," Husted said. "And that's what gets me up in the morning."

Gordon Y.K. Pang, Star-Bulletin

Nona Beamer
Nona Beamer

Nona Beamer

The noted Hawaiiana authority made headlines as an author of 'Broken Trust II'

Nona K.D. Beamer, 74, often winces when she hears someone call her by her given name, Winona.

Labeled a willful Kamehameha Schools student in the late 1930s, Beamer disagreed with the school principal that the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop didn't allow the stand-up hula performed or the Hawaiian language spoken at school.

Beamer stormed out of the principal's office in utter disbelief while the administrator called out after her.

"That's why I never liked the name Winona," Beamer explained.

"I prefer 'Nona' because I can (still) hear her voice in those awful screechy tones."

Beamer, who later became good friends with the principal, said those same emotions came to heart when she penned her May 3, 1997, letter to the Hawaii Supreme Court that asked justices to remove Lokelani Lindsey as a Bishop Estate trustee.

It was the first public sign in 1997 that the swell of discontent building within the school would turn into a tidal wave of controversy for the estate.

Last Aug. 9, the Star-Bulletin published "Broken Trust," a scathing essay by five prominent Hawaiian leaders about the trustee selection process that prompted investigations into the estate by government agencies.

It was followed in November by "Broken Trust II," which Beamer co-authored with four other prominent educators on the alleged abuse of power of school management by Lindsey.

Roy Benham, president of the Oahu region of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association, has known Beamer since they were classmates in 1935, and later when both were Kamehameha teachers.

He said it was not out of character for Beamer to speak her mind, especially when it comes to teaching things Hawaiian.

"She was a leader in our class," Benham said. "And she always made sure that we considered the Hawaiian aspect of whatever we were doing, which was valuable."

Beamer, who retired 10 years ago as a Hawaiiana consultant for the school, is recognized as a noted storyteller, dancer, singer, composer who continues to work to support seven scholarships for Kamehameha seniors who study Hawaiiana.

The Puna, Big Island, resident and mother of local recording duo Keola and Kapono Beamer, said she had nothing to lose by speaking out. In fact, it's a lesson she constantly reminds others to this day.

"We had said to our students, speak up," she said. "We can do no less ourselves."

Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin

Gary Rodrigues

Gary Rodrigues

The UPW boss works to head off privatizing of government jobs

He's a powerful union leader with a lot of pull behind the scenes. But Gary Rodrigues, head of the 15,000-member United Public Workers union, has come out to fight against the privatization of government services.

The UPW's successful lawsuit against a government contract on the Big Island touched off a firestorm over the private contracting of landfill, parks, bus and other county services across the state.

Some who fear for job security see Rodrigues as a hero. Others, looking for ways to cut costs and improve efficiency, say he's blocking progress.

"Rodrigues is doing the best job he can for the people he serves," said Kauai Mayor Maryanne Kusaka. "As mayors, we need to do what we were elected to do -- protect the best interests of the public, provide the most cost-effective services and provide them expeditiously."

On Maui, Mayor Linda Lingle is blunt. "I've got 20 private contracts now being challenged by unions," she said. "If they're successful and the companies no longer have contracts, they no longer pay taxes and there's less revenue to the state. We're not going to be able to replace these employees with government workers because we won't be able to afford it."

Increasingly reliant on private companies to help cut costs, county governments were shaken in February by a ruling of the Hawaii Supreme Court that voided a Hawaii County contract with Waste Management of Hawaii to run a Big Island landfill. The court ordered the county to reinstate county workers reassigned when the contractor took over at the Puuanahulu landfill in 1993.

The ruling threw hundreds of government contracts into doubt across the state, prompting neighbor island mayors to cancel some and seek court clarification of others.

The 55-year-old Rodrigues, makes his priorities clear. "If we don't keep the right people in office and throw out the bums ... we may as well give up," he said at a recent convention of union delegates. "There's only one issue you want them elected for your job."

Republicans say Rodrigues is blocking efforts to streamline a union-dominated government bureaucracy.

"Private unions recognize privatization as an option -- not panacea -- for addressing mounting government costs and lost jobs," said Sam Slom, State House Republican and small business advocate in a recent commentary. "Public unions condemn privatization as 'job

stealing.' "

But John Radcliff, associate director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, says Rodrigues is trying to head off the inevitable downsizing that comes with private industry in its efforts to increase productivity.

"He's fighting a rear-guard action on the part of the people of Hawaii, who might not appreciate it," Radcliff said. "Everybody thinks 'this isn't about me,' but it sure is."

While the high court ruled that jobs traditionally held by civil servants must be protected, it also recommended that the State Legislature clarify state laws dealing with privatization. The question, dodged by lawmakers last session, may be back for another try.

Peter Wagner, Star-Bulletin

Darryl Choy

Darryl Choy

He navigated uncharted waters in one of the year's biggest trials

When Family Judge Darryl Choy received a request from City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle to open a bail hearing for Gabriel Kealoha, it was a defining moment for the juvenile justice system.

"We never did it before," Choy said recently. "Opening records was tantamount to burning down a church."

But Choy also said he had never had a juvenile who held a press conference to tell his story.

The Kamehameha Schools senior was sentenced in April to the system's maximum term to age 19 for manslaughter for the 1996 death of Arthur Miller, a drunken, off-duty police officer.

Kealoha had said he pushed Miller, who initiated the deadly traffic conflict, in self-defense. In June, he asked for early release to attend a college program.

Choy, the court's most senior judge, opened the hearing over defense objections, saying the teen had waived his right to confidentiality by going public.

"This clearly was going out on a limb," Carlisle said in support.

Choy then denied bail, saying anything less than a full sentence would trivialize the seriousness of the offense. He also released documents with state evidence to justify Kealoha's conviction during his closed trial.

"Judge Choy did the public an enormous service by showing both sides," said First Deputy Prosecutor Iwalani White, also a former Family Court judge.

Hayden Aluli, Kealoha's attorney, declined comment.

The state Legislature this year approved a bill to open hearings and records for some juvenile cases. Choy said lawmakers told him his ruling validated the law, now in effect.

White described Choy, 51, as a man with a "rock-solid moral compass" who takes guarding public safety as seriously as rehabilitating minors.

A Roosevelt High School graduate and Family Court judge since 1982, Choy described himself as having "old-fashioned values" with little tolerance for excuses.

He said he was more punitive than other judges when he began, but now sees a trend for stiffer sentences.

Choy said he once confronted a juvenile whose case he dismissed for lack of proof, saying:

"Did you feel the lion's breath? He almost got you. You came that close to being convicted. Now use this as a lesson."

Linda Hosek, Star-Bulletin

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole

The Hawaiian singer, who died this year
at 38, had a huge following

Near the beginning of his professional career, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was performing at Leeward Community College with the Makaha Sons of Niihau when he began rapping onstage about a term paper he had been assigned in high school.

It was supposed to be about preserving Hawaiian culture, Kamakawiwo'ole said, and rather than doing a traditional paper, he had instead written a song about the subject. The teacher was not amused, and withheld credit.

"So I never got the grade," said Kamakawiwo'ole, and then he grinned slyly. "But I recorded the song on a record, so everyone can hear it."

Typically, Kamakawiwo'ole had done things his own way, in his own style.

"Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole passed away this year at age 38, and the statewide outpouring of respect surprised even fans of the musician.

His body even lay in state in the Capitol building, a gesture not even awarded to Hawaiian-music legends like "Gabby" Pahinui.

He was eulogized as an artist cut down in his prime -- "A tremendous loss to the world," said producer Jon de Mello -- and a victim of Western culture, dying of a "broken heart" inflicted on all Hawaiians since first contact, characterized activist Haunani Kay Trask.

Officially, Kamakawiwo'ole died of respiratory failure, aggravated by his weight of nearly 800 pounds.

Israel and brother Skippy Kamakawiwo'ole were the bookends of the Makaha Sons in the 1970s, and when Skippy died in 1982 at age 28, Kamakawiwo'ole continued with musicians Moon Kauakahi, John Koko and Jerome Koko, creating a solid body of work in the 1980s.

During this period, Kamakawi-wo'ole's appetites and mood swings became legendary, and he left the Sons in 1993.

The solo work he did later with producer de Mello such as "Ka 'Ano'i," "Facing Future" and "n Dis Life" were more musically adventuresome than with the Makaha Sons.

This year ended with Kama-kawiwo'ole at 10th place in Billboard's World Music charts, the only Hawaiian to score that highly so far.

Kamakawiwo'ole and the other Makaha Sons had a tearful reunion at the 1996 Na Hoku Hanohano awards ceremony.

By all accounts, Kamakawiwo'ole had come to peace with himself in the last couple of years.

At the same ceremony, Kamakawiwo'ole cautioned against drug use, and seemed to be speaking from personal experience.

Kamakawiwo'ole was also one of the first Hawaiian artists to embrace the Internet, and izkestrok.com became a well-known signature address on Hawaiian-culture chat groups.

Burl Burlingame, Star-Bulletin

Don Murphy

Don Murphy

This 'get-it-done guy' 'epitomizes unselfish involvement with whatever cause needs help'

It is arguable that there are three types of people in the world: those who lead, those who follow and those who get out of the way.

Don Murphy is a leader.

Murphy, owner of Murphy's Bar and Grill in downtown Honolulu, and his wife, Marion, have taken the lead many times to help those less fortunate or to boost worthwhile causes. The past year was an exceptional example, and these are just a few of their efforts.

When Donna Collins, the wife of University of Hawaii football player Sam Collins, was diagnosed with breast cancer and was told she would need extensive chemotherapy treatments, the Murphys organized a fund-raiser. An auction generated more than $24,000 in a single night, and money is still coming in from various other efforts.

"He epitomizes unselfish involvement with whatever cause needs help," UH football coach Fred vonAppen said. "We mentioned we had a player whose wife was in harm's way, and he said, 'We've gotta do something for them.'

"He's a get-it-done guy."

The folks at the Ronald McDonald House in Manoa feel the same way.

"He and Marion have been terrific supporters," said Jan Nagahiro, manager of the house, which offers families of seriously ill children a place to stay during their children's medical treatment.

Each year Murphy holds a dinner and gift-wrapping party at his restaurant for the children, their families and those who work at the house. People from throughout the community donate toys and gifts for the children and also volunteer their time to wrap them. The gifts are then taken to the house and given the children.

"The house is always filled through the holidays," Nagahiro said. "For the families at the house, it really does touch them in a special way."

In July, Murphy's second fund-raising dinner to benefit the UH football program generated $50,120. That virtually bankrolled the team's training table for the season.

I don't know where we'd be if he hadn't jumped in the breach and started the auction," vonAppen said. "He's up for sainthood, for us."

Said athletic director Hugh Yoshida: "From the university's standpoint, we really appreciate his efforts. I think that's what makes Hawaii so special. People like him."

Joe Edwards, Star-Bulletin

Bart Kane

Bart Kane

The librarian's moves have drawn fire, but he's always tried for change

Bringing about change in tough economic times is not easy, as embattled state Librarian Bart Kane learned this past year.

"It has been the most stressful and challenging year of my life," said Kane, at the helm of the Hawaii State Public Library System for 15 years. But "I know each day that I make decisions and behave in the best way possible within my value system and the resources the public library system has."

He's been called a risk taker, an innovator, a visionary, a leader with integrity who deeply cares for Hawaii's libraries. He has been praised for doing more with less and taking the heat for unpopular decisions, notably the Baker & Taylor outsourcing contract to select and acquire books for Hawaii's libraries.

"There's few people in government today initiating change, and he's one of them," said Sen. Mike McCartney, who supported Kane and his re-engineering efforts for the libraries beginning with Project Slimmer in 1993.

But Kane has also been harshly criticized by usually quiet employees who are calling for his ouster.

Kane accomplished things when he became state librarian, particularly with his ability to acquire more money for the libraries, said librarian Sylvia Mitchell. "Politically, he knows how to do things." Changes to the library system in recent years, however, have been devastating to employees. And no governor or president has been in office as long as Kane has. "I think it's probably good for the system for a change," she said.

Morale among library employees has plummeted. Many feel Kane has insulted their professionalism and ignored their input on major decisions that directly affected them. More than 81 percent of library employees cast an overwhelming vote of "no confidence" in his leadership after problems with the Baker & Taylor contract surfaced.

The criticism hurt Kane physically and emotionally, but he says he felt the decisions were made in the best interests of the taxpayer, library customer and his employees. He terminated the contract in July. The board gave him until January to pick up the pieces, implement a selection/acquisition plan and improve communication with his employees.

The failed experiment put Hawaii in the national spotlight because it was the first time any state or library system had attempted 100 percent outsourcing to select and acquire books for its libraries.

Debra Barayuga, Star-Bulletin

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

The ultimate sacrifice this UH football player made is a story that carried across the sea

Some will say there have been more important local stories than University of Hawaii football player Shannon Smith drowning while saving the life of Rainbow head coach Fred vonAppen's youngest son, Cody, but none had a bigger national impact than this accident last spring on the island of Kauai.

Late last month, a major Sports Illustrated article took one last look at the moments leading up to the drowning at Slippery Slide, and the effect it had on so many lives. The funeral was attended by 500 people and was reported in newspapers and on television throughout the country.

"It's not something you can forget," said senior safety Chris Shinnick, who was in the vonAppen party at the time of the tragic accident. "I catch myself thinking about it all the time."

Fred vonAppen hasn't forgotten Smith's heroics. The former walk-on's locker remains as he left it after spring football. In September, the new locker room facility was named after Smith. Family and friends attended the dedication.

"As long as I'm head coach, Shannon will always have a locker with his name on it," vonAppen said. "You have to go on with your life, but you can never forget. I'm reminded of Shannon every time I look at my son Cody. Shannon is a true hero."

Smith joined the Hawaii football team during the last year of former head coach Bob Wagner's regime. He played soccer in high school but had a strong leg and wanted to see if he could play football at the Division I level.

After Wagner was fired in November of 1995, vonAppen came in and kept Smith on the 1996 team. Smith kicked so well last spring, vonAppen planned on using him on kickoffs this season.

"It's still hard to talk about," vonAppen said. "I know I'll never forget what he did. Neither will my wife (Thea) and the rest of our family. He did the ultimate -- he gave his life to save another."

Senior quarterback Tim Carey, who also took part in the effort to save Cody vonAppen's life, was the last person to see Smith alive.

"I know I'll never forget what he did," Carey said. "We were so intent on saving Cody, we forgot about Shannon for just an instant. And then he was gone."

Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin

Tom Moffatt

Tom Moffatt

All ears are on this promoter and deejay, who has paved the way for big musical acts here since the '50s

Some people make a difference with a single bold or selfless act. Others keep plugging away for years, and they blend in with the daily flow of life. Tom Moffatt falls into the latter category -- a constant presence in local popular culture since the days of statehood, he is almost solely responsible for Hawaii being taken seriously as a performance site by the biggest names in show business.

When radio station KPOI went on the air May 18, 1959, one of the young disc jockeys was "Uncle Tom" Moffatt, who had transferred to the University of Hawaii from Detroit in the mid-'50s. Moffatt was already making a name for himself as a promoter, studying at the knees of Ralph Yempuku and Earl Finch, and Moffatt's early successes included bringing the 5 Satins to Civic Auditorium in 1957.

As a disc jockey with a keen ear for music, and a promoter with a keen eye for developing trends, Moffatt became a driving force in Hawaii's pop culture during the 1960s. KPOI became wildly popular, and disc jockeys such as Bob "The Weird Beard" Lowrey and Dave "The Moose" Donnelly ruled the air waves. Moffatt returned to radio this year in his old morning slot, making platter chatter on oldies station KGMZ and easily re-accomplishing the most difficult aspect of the disc jockey job -- listening respectfully instead of talking aimlessly.

Moffatt's career as a promoter during the '70s and '80s ranged all over the map, from Cecilio and Kapono shows to rescreening Abel Gance's classic "Napoleon" with the Honolulu Symphony at the Shell. Moffatt also broadened his clientele beyond rock 'n' roll and became known as a solid, dependable agent in Hawaii, which is important to acts with dozens of employees and tons of equipment. Without a professional promoter on this end, the costs of performing in Hawaii scare away top-notch acts.

This past year saw Moffatt bring in or sign acts as large or diverse as The Eagles, Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and the Rolling Stones. Acts don't get larger than these.

Not that Moffatt is concentrating only on the high end. It's the range that makes Hawaii a modern cosmopolitan city. Last week, for example, Moffatt brought in both Tony Bennett and Howie Mandel. Acts don't get more different than that.

Burl Burlingame, Star-Bulletin

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