Kamehameha teachersBy Rod Ohira
vote to form union
Kamehameha Schools faculty members Friday embraced a new sense of free speech after a months-long effort to unionize succeeded.
"We feel somewhat empowered," Diane Tanner-Cazinha said, referring to the faculty's 186-36 vote in favor of union representation. "We are empowered to now speak as a legal entity where we haven't had a voice before.
"So here we are in a space of 10 months being able to speak publicly. It's been very difficult to not be able to respond when we see things that are wrong or speak out and defend ourselves. That's probably been the most bothersome part, where freedom of speech was restricted."
The vote represents 91 percent of Kamehameha's 237 faculty members at the Kapalama campus.
Tanner-Cazinha, who teaches second grade, and Robert Holoua Stender, who teaches performing arts, Hawaiian language and Hawaiian culture, co-chaired the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association, which will become the bargaining unit for the teachers.
"This is not about money, not about benefits, although those kinds of things will come into play," said Stender, who has been teaching at Kamehameha for 19 years and is a relative of Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender.
"We're doing this for school improvement. We're looking to work with the president, the administrators and trustees to try to form a collaborative union to better our school."
Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said management will begin preparing for negotiations with the faculty union.
"We would have preferred a different outcome, it's no secret that the trustees were supporting (school President Michael Chun's) efforts to form some other type of assembly of teachers," Paulsen said.
"But now that the question has been answered, we'll go forward working with the union."
The No. 1 teacher issue involves year-to-year contracts.
"We were given five-year contracts up until five or six years ago, and that plan was disbanded," Tanner-Cazinha said.
"We feel a one-year contract does not show respect."
Stender added that teachers also do not receive their contracts until the beginning of the school year.
"I got my letter on the Saturday before school started on Monday," Stender said. "The letters have been getting later and later from year to year, and this year was the latest."
They indicated that the vote to unionize took courage on the part of faculty members.
"It was very scary when we began to meet in May (1997), people were afraid to come to a meeting," Tanner-Cazinha said. "Their fears are real, we have reason to be afraid."
Taking "one little step at a time," she said the next move was to join Na Kumu o Kamehameha, a faculty group that spoke out against trustees' management of the school in June at the risk of their jobs.
"As each hurdle was overcome, it gave us strength for the next thing," she said.
The first order of business for the new union is to elect a board of directors, said Stender.
"The board will take over and do the negotiations," he said.
Kamehameha evaluatorsBy Star-Bulletin staff
A nine-member accreditation team's review is critical of Bishop Estate trustees' management of Kamehameha Schools, say faculty members.
Robert Holoua Stender, co-chairman of the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association, Friday said the team validated the work of teachers but was "very, very concerned about school governance and school governance policies, or the lack of thereof."
"They wanted to have these things stipulated in written form so that trustees would know their roles and administrators would know how they factor in when dealing with the trustees," said Stender, who is related to Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender.
"Right now, there's no policies on those kinds of issues. And they're thinking that because there's no policies on this, the governance is very, very confused."
Attorney Dean Choy, who represents the faculty group, also said the report was positive toward the school except for management at the trustee level.
"What it says is (Kamehameha) is a very good institution but for the actions that the trustees have taken in intruding upon and imposing their management on the operations of the school," Choy said.
"I think the message is if the school were simply left to run its own operations without that intervention of top management, it would be a fine institution."
Students, alumni and faculty have criticized trustees for taking authority from school president Michael Chun and hurting morale.
Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate spokesman Kekoa Paulsen had no comment about the accreditation review.
The team of eight Hawaii educators and a professor of advanced studies from the California State university system evaluated Kamehameha this week and will submit a report to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The association in April or June will decide a term of accreditation. Schools are accredited for either three or six years.
Bishop lawyer's allegationsBy Star-Bulletin staff
mere 'smoke,' says Cayetano
Gov. Ben Cayetano says Bishop Estate attorney William McCorriston is blowing smoke when he claims that the state's investigation of the charitable trust is politically motivated.
And McCorriston has stepped out of bounds by publicly speculating that political insiders are pulling strings to influence how Attorney General Margery Bronster is conducting the probe, which is not true, Cayetano asserted Friday.
"There's an old adage in the legal profession: If you don't have the facts on your side, then you try to create a lot of emotionalism and smoke," said Cayetano, a 1971 graduate of Loyola Law School. "I'm sorry to say that's what Bill McCorriston is doing.
"I don't think that he has been fair to the attorney general, who has been doing her job. She, in my view, has been an outstanding public servant. His comments are utterly without proof or justification."
McCorriston's remarks on Thursday came as the state's Supreme Court justices, who select the estate's five trustees, decided to recuse themselves from cases involving the estate and have five Circuit Court judges hear appeals relating to the charitable trust.
The estate is Hawaii's largest private landowner, with assets estimated at $10 billion, and it runs Kamehameha Schools. It was established under the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop to educate children of Hawaiian ancestry. Bronster is trying to determine if trustees have breached their fiduciary responsibilities.
About 100 Maui sugar workers laid offWAILUKU -- About 100 workers at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. were laid off Friday because of continuing drought conditions on Maui, company General Manager Stephen Holaday said.
Holaday said the workers will return when there is enough rainfall to replant fields or the company harvests fields where well water is available for irrigation.
The layoffs affect workers involved in seed cutting, planting and field preparation.
Company workers were laid off last month for about a week for the same reason, Holaday said.
The water flow at the Wailoa ditch, which serves Upcountry residences and farms, was at 25 million gallons a day yesterday morning, about 13 percent of capacity, said Garret Hew, general supervisor for East Maui Irrigation.
"We haven't had any rainfall this past week," Hew said.
Meanwhile, Maui County water board members appear poised to ask Gov. Ben Cayetano to allow the county to use three wells for agriculture during the drought.
The board is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to make the decision.
The board's Finance Committee last week recommended that the board tap two wells at Hamakuapoko and one in Haiku. The use of the three wells has been pending a review of environmental impacts, according to the county water department.
Under the proposal, the board would connect water lines to the wells and pump the water to the Wailoa ditch, where it could be transported to Upcountry farmers.
Water spokesman Michael Quinn said the board is also to decide on whether to declare Maui in an emergency drought situation.
Firefighters plot how to douse Waiawa flamesFire officials were to survey the Waiawa area this morning and decide how to attack the feisty brush fires that have consumed more than 1,000 acres of central Oahu since Wednesday.
The fires are contained but still not out, fire officials said this morning.
Helicopters are scheduled to drop water on the hot spots. The cause of the fires still has not been determined, fire officials said.