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Wednesday, March 4, 1998

Committee was justified in ordering task force study

The decision by the House Judiciary Committee to form a task force to study the compensation of charitable trusts was not an attempt by the Legislature to avoid dealing with the compensation for Bishop Estate trustees. It was a matter of fairness.

The purpose of HB 2362 was to repeal the statute setting the commissions on trust income paid to trustees of a charitable trust. By creating a task force to study and make recommendations, we are asking the task force to study all charitable trusts, since this law will affect all charitable trusts, not just Bishop Estate.

We know that this is a very emotional issue. Committee Chairman Terrance Tom recused himself from participating because of the public cry of conflict of interest, even though the statute that the legislation addressed dealt with all charitable trusts.

Although there was much discussion surrounding trustee compensation, a consensus could not be reached as to what constituted "reasonable" compensation.

Therefore, the House Judiciary Committee felt that, by creating a nonpartisan task force to make recommendations on this matter, the legislative bill that will be discussed next year will be based on facts and not just emotions.

Brian Yamane
Vice Chairman
House Judiciary Committee

'Reasonableness' standard was a good idea but...

Your Feb. 23 editorial regarding the issue of excessive compensation for Bishop Estate trustees was right on point. The Legislature can and should have directly addressed this issue. Instead, the House Judiciary Committee passed out a bill that merely set forth a task force to "study" the issue.

The testimony during the hearing resulted in a clear consensus that the "reasonableness" standard would be an improvement over the status quo. Under this standard, any party with standing can seek a hearing before a court to have the question of excessive compensation decided. Trustee Henry Peters conceded as much.

This is why I voted with strong reservations in favor of the task force bill. The task force was marginally better than the status quo, but not as good as a reasonableness standard, which we should have passed.

Rep. David A. Pendleton
House Minority Whip

Bishop Estate Archive

Missionary roots block need for legalized gambling

Like Governor Cayetano, the Star-Bulletin sends mixed messages on gambling. In your Feb. 18 issue, columnist Richard Borreca urged Cayetano to copy Georgia's governor, who initiated and now operates a successful lottery. Yet in the same edition, an editorial said legalized gambling in Hawaii would be a mistake.

Your editorial carries the same missionary passion of the 1800s. Prior to Captain Cook's arrival, piliwaiwai or wagering something of value on the outcome of a contest was a traditional Hawaiian practice. Seven years after they landed, the missionaries influenced Kaahumanu to declare it illegal. The hula was close behind.

Likewise, Queen Liliuokalani wanted a lottery to free the kingdom from debt to haole-owned banks. A Maui legislator introduced her lottery bill but the business/missionary combine successfully defeated it.

If the Star-Bulletin wants to stress moral values to the Legislature, you had better start with abortion. The fact that Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion is a more salient moral barometer than being proud it is one of two states without gambling.

David Heaukulani
Hilo, Hawaii

Government's generosity got economy in trouble

Since everyone is voicing an opinion on how to correct the failing economy, I shall add mine. What the Economic Revitalization Task Force failed to do is examine the real problem.

Our economy, a few years back, was booming with a huge surplus. Then-Governor Waihee added 40,000 people to the state payroll and that is what is hurting our economy today.

The overhead (state bureaucracy) boomed but the income base (loss of Japanese tourism and investments, plus a long standing negative business environment) plummeted.

Legislators and judges need only work 10 years to reap plush benefits. No other state has such great benefits for such a large segment of workers and this, of course, is paid for by taxes. We are no longer able to pay this kind of overhead.

Our legislators should forget about diddling with taxes. If they must, install a 6 percent tax on goods, with food exempt, like other states, and get rid of that awful pyramiding excise tax.

And if the state is so desperately strapped for money, why the stupid and expensive ad campaign to sell the task force's unpalatable program?

Anneliese Chun

How to solve problem of parking at the stadium

The good news is that the Rainbow football team is competitive once again. The bad news is still the same: The Aloha Stadium parking lot cannot accommodate large crowds, successful parkers will have to race madly for a space and wait for hours for the game to start, and those who are cut off at the closed gates will have to gridlock the streets for hours looking for parking, often unsuccessfully.

Since the state has not named a blue-ribbon task force or hired mainland consultants, here are a few solutions:

° Add a second layer to the stadium parking lot.

° Select and staff a few schools and/or parking lots, and shuttle fans to the game at no cost. This has worked for years at the Hawaiian Open.

° Refine the plan for free parking and shuttle from the Manoa campus, with or without an inexpensive buffet on campus or at the stadium.

° Enlist free enterprise by encouraging malls and restaurants to provide parking and shuttles for customers.

° Enlist the U.S. Navy and have them develop a mutually beneficial package of parking, shuttles, etc.

° Forget the shuttles and parking, and just put all of the games on TV. The UH could be compensated for lost gate receipts by giving it all of the revenues from a 1 percent increase in the state's general excise tax.

Richard Y. Will

Discordant legislation would hurt songwriters

I had the good fortune of attending the Hawaii Opera Theater's recent production of "Don Giovanni." Although Mozart's music enjoyed great popularity in his own time, he died at the age of 36 and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave.

In those days, there was no copyright protection or other method to compensate composers or songwriters for the performance of their music.

We live in more enlightened times: A song is considered to be the property of the songwriter by virtually every nation that recognizes the right of individual ownership. Copyright laws protect the songwriter's interests, and performance-rights organizations like ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers) collect money from users of music and distribute it to songwriters.

But SB 2601, sponsored by Sens. Wayne Metcalf and David Ige, would severely cripple -- if passed -- the ability of performance-rights organizations to collect and distribute money that by right and law should go to songwriters.

Therefore, I oppose SB 2601 as should all authors, composers, songwriters and right-thinking people.

H. Doug Matsuoka
Songwriter and ASCAP Member

Chevron is good citizen in a struggling community

Ken Harding's Feb. 18 letter surprised me. While I cannot speak to the details of Chevron's profits and losses, I do have a long history of working with Chevron and its spokesman, Dave Young. They are extremely committed to our community.

When times get tough -- and they are -- everyone looks for someone to blame. Pointing fingers won't solve the problems of our economy. Rather, we need to work together and support those who contribute to improving both our prosperity and social welfare. This means looking at the overall actions and intent of individuals and corporations.

Chevron, thanks to the encouragement of people like Young, supports important community programs. They have helped make it possible for thousands of our elementary school children to attend environmental education programs.

They support Hawaii Public Television's "Spectrum Hawaii," which encourages community debate.

And they have increased their support of social programs during the past year to meet increasing demand.

Tamar Chotzen
Executive Director
Hawaii Nature Center

Non-discrimination policy must be instituted by DOE

State School Superintendent Herman Aizawa should be applauded for his positive policies during his four years with the Department of Education. The most outstanding policy that remains to be implemented is the Non-Discrimination Policy Memo, issued on Aug. 17, 1996.

This policy could be the basis for creating a safe environment in the schools for many diverse groups within our multi-ethnic and multi-cultural population in Hawaii. The policy reads, in part:

"The Department of Education shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, assignment of income for child support obligations, arrest and court records, National Guard participation, or sexual orientation as prohibited by federal and state laws."

This policy has great potential to safeguard our precious children and prevent abuse to the groups listed in the policy.

Carolyn Martinez Golojuch

Here is what's needed from new superintendent

Charles Toguchi brought School/Community-Based Management to the Department of Education and, for schools ready to make change, this was a useful tool. Herman Aizawa brought the Success Compact ("Reading, Writing and Relating"), and content and performance standards.

The next superintendent needs to continue with this focus on learning, while having the vision and courage to take on the areas of safety, discipline and character education. Support should be provided to the teacher-student-parent triad, while still recognizing that the "common good" of the classroom must prevail.

Also, the classroom teacher is being bombarded with legal demands, which have grown unchecked in recent years. A careful review of individual rights vs. the "common good" must look beyond narrow self-interest groups, lawyers collecting fees, class-action law suits and federal mandates.

Lastly, the new superintendent must learn to accommodate the political wannabes on the Board of Education before being fired.

Jim Wolfe

Abuse treatment center helps victims, families cope

There is a chance the Sex Abuse Treatment Center of Honolulu may experience a large budget cut that may cause the center to close down.

This would be extremely damaging to the victims of sexual abuse and their loved ones. The SATC staff is trained and very experienced in dealing with cases involving sexual abuse.

This treatment center's aim is to help heal the emotional wounds of the victims of sexual abuse. When a relative of mine became a victim, we experienced a void and loneliness that is like no other. Without the SATC, we would not have come as far as we have today.

Will we discontinue a place that has been such a refuge and lifesaver, and ignore the needs of sexual abuse victims? They are innocents, and many of them are our children.

E. Steinhauser

CPS is doing its best to protect children

I am writing in response to news reports about the tragic death of Cedra Edwards, and the comments made by her foster parents about Child Protective Services.

The goal of CPS is to ensure the safety and security of children, whether living in their own home or in a foster home. People are rightly outraged when a child is abused or murdered anywhere. Fortunately, this is a very rare occurrence in Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services protects over 3,200 children every day. CPS staff consult with other professionals, the Family Court, private-sector agencies and foster parents. We listen, investigate and consider the information before making recommendations to the Family Court about the lives of children and families.

As director of the department, I hear complaints from family members who think our workers "yanked" their children for no good reason. I also hear complaints from people who say we shouldn't reunify children with their families.

CPS staffers often receive conflicting information about what is best for the children and their families. No one person makes a lone decision to return a child to a family or to take a child from a family.

The best way to prevent child abuse is to support families. CPS plays a vital role in this effort, and so does the community.

Susan M. Chandler
State Department of Human Services

Abusers should not be exempt from gun ban law

A Feb. 19 article, on the 1996 federal law that prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from owning or carrying firearms, named three organizations whose members are trained to prevent violence but who may not believe that committing domestic violence is wrong.

They believe that no one should be afraid that their members who have committed domestic violence have ready access to firearms.

They want us to have total confidence in their self control not to use their firearms in their next episodes of domestic violence.

They say, since they carry the title of "law enforcement officer," they should be exempt from the law.

Who are they? They are members of the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Union of Police Associations and The National Center for Women and Policing.

Dr. Clifford Y.C. Chock

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