Wednesday, February 18, 1998

Task force will study
Bishop trustees’ pay

‘We're not going to apologize for our
success,’ a defensive trustee says

By Rick Daysog

The House Judiciary Committee wants to set up a task force to study the compensation received by trustees of the Bishop Estate and other charitable trusts.

The committee last night passed an amended bill establishing a six-member task force appointed by the House speaker and Senate president which would put together a study on trustees' pay for the Legislature by next session.

Legislature '98 The committee also shelved proposals that would have capped trustees' pay at three times the governor's salary or limit their pay to that of the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

House Judiciary Vice Chair Brian Yamane, who conducted the hearing, said he prefers a task force since it could examine the complex issue of trustees' compensation in greater detail than legislators.

Two committee members -- Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua) and Rep. Ed Case (D, Manoa) -- voted against the measure, saying it doesn't do enough to address the problem of high pay for trustees, which critics believe is a major cause behind the controversy at the Bishop Estate.

"It's somewhat chicken not to deal with the issue now," said Thielen. "It merely punts on an issue that we need to address."

Under current law, Bishop Estate trustees earn up to 2 percent in commissions on all income rents and interest above $205,000.

For fiscal year 1996, the five trustees each earned about $840,000.

Beadie Dawson, attorney for Na Pua Ke Alii Pauahi, which represents Kamehameha Schools parents, alumni and students, said she was disappointed by the committee's decision.

She said a cap on trustees' commissions would have taken away the "political manipulations for the lucrative trusteeships."

Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters defended the compensation, saying it is performance based.

"We're not going to apologize for our success," Peters said.

Council delays condemnation vote
as more ask to join leaseholders' bill

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

A key City Council vote on lease-to-fee conversion won't take place today after all.

The Council had scheduled a final vote on whether the city should begin condemnation proceedings against Bishop Estate on the Kuapa Isle townhouse project in Hawaii Kai.

But the Department of Housing and Community Development is asking the Council to consider eminent domain proceedings on two additional units not in the current bill.

That would raise to 34 the number of Kuapa Isle units being considered for condemnation. As a result of the change, city attorneys have advised holding the matter another month to allow proper time for comment, according to Council officials.

Kuapa Isle is the first case to come to the Council under the mandatory conversion law governing leasehold condominium units.

The Council is being asked to force a landowner to sell the fee under leased property at a price decided by an independent appraiser.

Kuapa Isle leaseholders and their supporters say mandatory conversion allows them to remain in their homes.

Bishop Estate and smaller landowners say the city is taking away land to please people with a special interest.

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