Thursday, April 23, 1998

OHA logo

New trustee Brandt
sees bright future
for OHA

Newly appointed by the Gov.,
the 'Broken Trust' author will be
sworn in today

By Pat Omandam


At a spry 91 years old, Gladys Kamakakuokalani Ainoa Brandt sees only a bright future for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

"I don't dwell in clouds, I dwell in rainbows," said Brandt, who will be sworn in today as interim trustee at OHA's office.

The Kamehameha Schools icon hopes to use her experience as a former school principal and as a University of Hawaii regents chairwoman to foster cooperation on the deeply divided panel, which continues under the leadership of Chairwoman A. Frenchy DeSoto and Vice Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona.

"I think this is a wonderful chance in the waning years of my life to be involved in," Brandt said.

"This whole thing is a surprise and a wonderment to me, and I take on the responsibilities that come (with it)."

Brandt is a co-author of "Broken Trust," a Star-Bulletin commentary last August that led to the state's investigation into allegations of mismanagement of the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate charitable trust.

Gov. Ben Cayetano's selection yesterday to replace the late Billie Beamer -- after the OHA board remained deadlocked on a candidate -- didn't surprise trustees, who agreed the governor had a tough call.

"It was very obvious to me, in speaking with the governor, that it was a difficult choice for him," said DeSoto, who later said she was disappointed Cayetano didn't choose from the list of finalists from the board.

"He recognized and appreciated the process that we established, and that all of the trustees participated in. But he has a longtime relationship with the ex-chair (Clayton Hee), and you know how we are, we don't like to hurt each other's feelings," she said.

Trustee Colette Machado said Beamer would have approved of Brandt as a trustee, although no one on the board expects things to suddenly change.

"There is no quick fix, because as you know, the wounds are deep and we're talking about the future of our people," Machado said.

Added trustee Abraham Aiona: "I thought he made a wise choice, a very wise choice."

Former Chairman Clayton Hee said Brandt, who was principal of the girls' school when he was a freshman at Kamehameha, is a tremendous public servant with excellent leadership skills.

Hee said any concern by the board majority that his close relationship with her will translate into another power shift on the board is misplaced.

"How that should play into anything is only limited by the imagination of the other side," Hee said.

With the fall elections looming, Cayetano said he chose someone who didn't covet the OHA seat in November, but who remained committed to helping Hawaiians.

And it will be up to the Hawaiian community to decide who should be elected to the board. Besides Beamer's term, up for re-election in November are DeSoto, Hee, Aiona and trustee Rowena Akana.

Aiona yesterday reiterated his desire to step down, per doctor's orders, once Beamer's replacement was named. His retirement is expected to discussed at the board's next meeting.

DeSoto said Aiona "deserves the rest," while Hee believes Aiona is in no rush to do so.

Brandt affirmed she wasn't interested in running for trustee:

"In about four months I shall be 92 years old. Why in the world would this young girl want to run again?"

"I'm just delighted that the governor has seen fit to ask me to serve. I look forward to having a wonderful time," she said.

Brandt began her career as a teacher on Maui in 1927 and became district superintendent of Kauai Public Schools in 1963.

She then served as principal of the Kamehameha School for Girls from 1963 to 1969, moving on to director of the high school division until 1971. She served as a UH regent between 1983-1989.

Currently, Brandt serves on the advisory council to the Kamehameha Schools president and as vice president of the board at the UH Foundation.

See 'Corky's Hawaii'

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