Thursday, March 12, 1998

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Justices recuse

They follow the recommendation
of a judicial commission and step back
from Bishop Estate matters

By Ian Lind and Harold Morse

The five justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court today voluntarily stepped aside from further involvement in appeals on Bishop Estate matters.

The recusal order was signed by all five justices and filed late this morning at the Supreme Court Clerk's office.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct yesterday recommended that justices recuse themselves, and a copy of that opinion was attached to the order.

Under terms of the order, the justices' only involvement in estate matters would be the assignment of other judges to sit as substitute justices. The assignments will be made by Chief Justice Ronald Moon.

Moon was not available to comment this morning.

Although the commission's seven-page opinion said there is no legal reason for recusal, it also said the justices should recuse themselves, given the unique circumstances.

It's a matter of dealing with Bishop Estate trustees, who were appointed by Hawaii Supreme Court justices, a practice in effect until recently.

"They should recuse and we should get on with business immediately," Cynthia Quinn, special assistant to state Attorney General Margery Bronster, said yesterday.

Gerald Sekiya, commission chairman, yesterday declined to discuss the decision in detail.

Three members of the commission had recused themselves from taking part in the advisory opinion sought by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Bishop Estate matters.

Darolyn Lendio, an attorney for Bishop Estate; Benjamin Matsubara, a former court-appointed master over the estate, and local IBM Corp. executive Anton Krucky recused themselves last week.

Beadie Kanahele Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi, which represents students and parents at Kamehameha Schools, called the commission's opinion thorough and said she was pleased it acted so quickly.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court asked the seven-member commission for its opinion on whether the high court can hear appeals filed by the Bishop Estate to subpoenas issued by Attorney General Bronster.

The court thus rejected her request for an expedited ruling on her petition that the court recuse itself.

Bronster said then that she is investigating the trustee selection process and may have to subpoena the justices who selected the trustees.

The remaining four commission members who took part in formulating the opinion were Sekiya, retiree Judith Fong; Shigeo Iwamoto, a retired insurance executive, and Sharon Narimatsu, a vice chancellor for the University of Hawaii community college system.

Estate hires firm
to audit Kamehameha

By Rick Daysog

The Bishop Estate has hired a Chicago-based consulting firm to conduct a financial and management audit of Kamehameha Schools.

Peterson Consulting L.L.C. will review operations of the schools, in an effort to address criticisms raised in December by court-appointed fact-finder Patrick Yim.

Kekoa Paulsen, Bishop Estate's spokesman, said the estate chose Peterson partly because the firm has not worked for the estate. He said trustees hope to get the audit started as soon as possible.

The study will be conducted by Peterson's San Francisco office and will include a team of educators and financial experts.

Peterson, with 16 offices nationwide and in London, has worked in fields such as aerospace, heavy manufacturing, telecommunications, as well as education.

In Hawaii, the company has worked for the state Insurance Division in its investigation and successful rehabilitation of Investors Equity Life Insurance of Hawaii. Investors Equity was seized by the state in 1994 after losing some $60 million, in what had been the state's largest insurance failure.

Peterson also is working with the Insurance Division in its takeover of Pacific Group Medical Association, seized last year.

Calls to Peterson's San Francisco office were not returned.

Beadie Kanahele Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi which represents students, parents and staffers at Kamehameha Schools, said she was concerned since the firm doesn't focus primarily on educational matters.

Previous audits conducted by St. Louis-based Corporate Psychology Center Inc. and Ernst & Young L.L.P - which were instrumental in cutting the school's popular outreach programs - had been criticized as biased.

"This could be problematic," Dawson said.

Teachers, librarians of
Kamehameha Schools will vote
on union tomorrow

By Debra Barayuga

More than two months after seeking a union election, Kamehameha Schools faculty will speak up at the voting booth tomorrow.

Two hundred thirty-eight teachers and librarians are expected to vote on whether they want the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association to represent them in collective bargaining.

Teachers at the Kapalama Heights campus said they wanted union representation because they lack authority over decisions that directly affect their work.

Uncertainty over contracts -- issued only days before the school year began -- also played a role.

They said higher wages or working hours were never an issue in considering whether to unionize.

The turmoil at Bishop Estate offices -- fighting subpoenas and delaying hearings -- has not convinced faculty that the trustees are sincere about making changes, said Dean Choy, who represents the faculty association.

"It's at that level of authority that fundamental changes can occur, but the most recent signs seem to indicate that trustees are holding onto that power and as opposed to embracing those changes," Choy said.

A campaign waged by Kamehameha Schools' administration in favor of a nonunion professional assembly has been difficult for teachers to accept, he said.

"There's a sense of broken trust, so right now the promise of a professional assembly is very difficult for teachers to rely on as a promised vehicle to address their concerns," he said.

The campaigning by the administration thus far has been somewhat restrained, unlike stronger tactics used by other union organizations, he said.

At least two memos have been sent by President Michael Chun discussing his preference for a nonunion professional assembly to achieve the same kinds of objectives faculty members are seeking, said Kekoa Paulsen, Bishop Estate spokesman.

The literature the administration has circulated, however, sums up its view that a union will cause more problems than bring about solutions, Choy said.

One of the messages teachers are getting is that there's no guarantee the benefits they currently have will remain intact once they unionize.

Although there's some measure of truth to what's being circulated, that's not really what happens, Choy said.

An employer can't reduce employee benefits or discriminate simply because employees have joined a union.

"There's laws against that," he said.

For teachers to have come this far when they hadn't even considered unionization at the outset is a significant commentary, said Beadie Kanahele Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i o Pauahi.

"At this point they're not interested in promises anymore.

"Their dedication and unity tell you they will stick to their guns."

The National Labor Relations Board will conduct the elections at the Ke'elikolani Auditorium from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m., then continue at 2:30 p.m.

The polls will close at 5 p.m., and results will be available as soon as ballots are counted.

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