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Tuesday, May 19, 1998

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Trustee compensation bill
is victory for community

Who would have believed a year ago that the 1998 Legislature would almost unanimously take steps to rein in the Bishop Estate trustees? This bill is a dramatic improvement over prior law.

It codifies the common law rule that trustees are entitled to compensation that is reasonable under the circumstances. Even common sense sometimes needs to be spelled out.

It got rid of a flawed statutory formula that had been relied upon by the trustees to pay themselves unreasonably high compensation.

It clarifies that the attorney general has the authority and responsibility to question compensation that she believes to be unreasonably high. It eliminates the conflict that existed between the trustee compensation statute and the common law of trusts, federal intermediate sanctions law and probate rules dealing with compensation of other fiduciaries.

Some are disappointed that the bill does not include a cap. This would have dramatically reduced the trustees' compensation, but would have created a presumption that anything up to the cap was reasonable. Such a presumption could have created substantial problems with respect to other charitable trusts.

The probate court is the proper place for such decisions. A judge can listen to arguments on both sides of the issue, then craft a decision that is tailored to the circumstances. The process doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive.

Granted, the probate court in past years has not exactly distinguished itself in matters involving the Bishop Estate. But the same could be said about the Legislature, Supreme Court, governor and AG. That, however, appears to be a thing of the past.

Every indication is that each of these institutions and individuals now is "on track." As a community, our job is to make sure this doesn't change.

Gladys Brandt,
Walter Heen,
Samuel King,
Randall Roth

Editor's note: The authors, along with the late Msgr. Charles Kekumano, were the authors of "Broken Trust," a highly critical commentary on the management of Bishop Estate and selection of trusttees published in the Star-Bulletin Aug. 9, 1997.


Maybe lawmakers should stay away from bars...

Would the legislators have gotten more done had they spent more time with their wives and families and less time in hostess bars?

William Fenton Sink

Bishop Estate Archive

Legislature earns 'F' for missing deadline

In school, teachers always tell us that they are preparing us for the "real world," where punctuality is important. In the future, if a deadline is not met, there could be severe consequences that cost us our jobs.

Yet I was disturbed to hear that the members of the House and Senate failed to meet their deadline for a budget proposal. Because of the extension, taxpayers are paying more for their use of facilities, staff workers and other needs.

As a student, failing to meet a deadline results in no extension and an F for that assignment. But our legislators' need for an extension seems to be accepted, and they receive no consequences.

So what is the "real world" really like? Are students learning the truth, or are we getting gypped?

Raimi Ishikawa
Mililani High School
(Via the Internet)

Governor's Report was campaign literature

If Governor Cayetano has a $2 million re-election war chest, why did he spend taxpayer funds to mail out his "Governor's Report?"

It was nothing more than a piece of campaign literature. At time when budget cuts have hurt so many programs that do good works, the funds should have gone to them.

It is just one example of the ways that funds could have been cut and returned to taxpayers. We need a state government that puts every expenditure under the microscope. Think of how much could be saved if a mailing like this and other PR efforts telling us how much good the state was doing were cut.

Larry Nelson
(Via the Internet)

Do-nothing legislators will get payback at the polls

Why should we have expected our elected "leaders" to show some real leadership? We got a lot of rhetoric and posturing, but no real change because our "leaders" are so afraid of offending their special interests in an election year.

The sum total of this year's Legislature was not unlike rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Our state is still in serious trouble. Our leaders managed to keep UPW and HGEA happy by maintaining the status quo.

Status quo still includes backroom dealing reviving dead bills in the hope that the electorate will not notice. I hope that all legislators are "on notice." You will all get your pink slips this November.

Dave Endo

Substance abuse is a mental illness

The Star-Bulletin's May 4 editorial correctly reported that 95 percent of homeless people in West Maui (and elsewhere) are either substance abusers or mentally ill. As a nurse specializing in the care of the mentally ill, let me assure you that these so-called "substance abusers" are also mentally ill.

To separate a certain percentage of mentally ill people from the rest of the mentally ill population is irresponsible and value-based.

Why do people abuse substances? Because they are untreated for mental illness. Call any local psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse or social worker and you will hear the same explanation.

This is not just a matter of "not in my backyard." This is an issue of ignorance on the part of both the residents of West Maui and the Star-Bulletin.

Gregory Ramos
(Via the Internet)

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