Two trustees decry
board's schools probe
Kamehameha faculty are being questionedBy Rick Daysog
after a critical accreditation report
Comparing it to a "Gestapo approach," two Bishop Estate trustees are objecting to an in-house investigation of Kamehameha Schools staffers concerning the release of a report highly critical of the estate's board members.
Trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender Friday filed court papers criticizing the estate's majority trustees - Lokelani Lindsey, Henry Peters and Richard Wong - who are conducting the investigation on the release of an accreditation report by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The accreditation report praised Kamehameha Schools faculty and students but criticized trustees for "dysfunctional management" of the Kapalama Heights campus. Summaries of the report appeared in the local media on March 19.
Jervis and Stender criticized the estate inquiry as "an egregious waste of assets" that reinforces a climate of fear and intimidation at Kamehameha Schools.
They said estate attorneys attempted to interrogate staffers. Staffers weren't allowed to have an attorney present, and any testimony could be used against the employees, Jervis and Stender said.
"The interrogation of Kamehameha Schools employees ... constitutes further evidence of management by intimidation and will contribute to the oppressive and hostile atmosphere on campus," Jervis and Stender said.
An estate spokesman declined comment, saying it was an internal matter. William McCorriston, whose law firm is conducting the interviews, could not be reached for response.
The disclosure of the in-house inquiry comes after the association granted Kamehameha Schools a three-year accreditation instead of the six years that it sought. The estate is appealing the decision.
According to Friday's court filing, the estate's board members voted 3-2 Tuesday to authorize the law firm of McCorriston Miho Miller Mukai to conduct an inquiry into the release of the accreditation report. Jervis and Stender dissented.
The vote came after Jervis put a halt to an attempt Monday by McCorriston Miho partner Tom Bush to interview three staffers at the Kapalama Heights campus.
One staffer whose interview was already under way when Jervis intervened left the room in tears, Jervis and Stender said.
The in-house inquiry was initiated by Lokelani Lindsey, who recently served as lead trustee for Kamehameha Schools' educational programs and who was criticized in the accreditation report, Jervis and Stender added.
Attorney General Margery Bronster - who is investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing and manipulations of the schools' admissions process by Bishop Estate trustees - questioned whether the inquiry was an appropriate use of the charitable estate's funds.
Dean Choy, attorney for the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association, believes the inquiry sends a message of intimidation to anyone who's being asked to testify in any of the investigations and court actions involving the Bishop Estate.
He also questioned whether trustees are trying to deflect blame from themselves for the ongoing controversy surrounding Kamehameha Schools.
"To me, it sounds like a fishing expedition that's designed more to intimidate rather than to uncover the truth," Choy said.
Group seeks federal status for historic Big Island trailHILO -- In a yearlong series of hikes around three-fourths of the Big Island, shoreline trail enthusiasts saw whales, historic sites and a myriad of stars on crystal-clear nights.
Now the question is whether Congress will designate the ancient Hawaiian Ala Kahakai trail part of the National Trail System.
A favorable recommendation will be forwarded by the National Park Service to the Department of Interior soon, with transmission to Congress coming later.
Members of the E Mau Na Ala Hele hiking club were to conclude the series of hikes, demonstrating the feasibility of the trail, in downtown Hilo today.
The trail linked about 600 Big Island communities from the 1400s to the 1800s.
In 1992, Congress approved Sen. Daniel Akaka's proposal to study 175 miles of the trail in the western and E Mau Na Ala Hele began one-day, weekend hikes last June.
"We wanted to develop a constituency," said Hugh Montgomery, president of the group. "Not enough people know about it."
Kawananakoa speaks to GOP Congress membersWASHINGTON -- House Republicans got a lecture on Hawaii's ailing economy from a man who is hoping to join their ranks: Hawaii House Minority Leader Quentin Kawananakoa.
Kawananakoa, who wants to unseat incumbent Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Honolulu, was in Washington for three days of Capitol Hill meetings with House Republicans and potential supporters.
On Thursday, he was admitted to the weekly, closed-door meeting of the Republican conference, which is made up of all GOP members of the House.
Kawananakoa addressed the lawmakers, who included top leaders such as House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on Hawaii's economic woes.
By all accounts, including his own, he opened some GOP eyes on how bad things are in the 50th state.
"I wanted to make sure they knew what was going on in Hawaii," said Kawananakoa. "I told them, 'We really need your help.' A lot of jaws dropped."
Policeman denies helping drug conspiracyWhen veteran police officer Alfredo Villanueva rekindled a friendship in 1993, he didn't know the friend was a partner of drug kingpin Frank Moon, who wanted a cop to do favors.
Villanueva testified Friday in his own defense that he agreed to do background checks through police computers only for his friend, Parson Iosua, who is a union member.
He said Iosua told him he wanted to know who had been arrested for assaults, firearms or drugs.
He also said he did the favor in exchange for information Iosua said he had on a "dirty cop" who was ripping off smaller drug dealers.
But Iosua worked with Moon, who employed up to 50 suppliers to move up to 400 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine in 1993 and 1994.
Villanueva, 38, who faces more than 20 years in prison for allegedly aiding their drug conspiracy, testified that Iosua never mentioned Moon or said the background checks were for the drug organization.
Federal prosecutors alleged the checks were intended to weed out potential police informants from among potential drug suppliers.
Truck runs light, killing man, 60A 60-year-old Pearl City man was killed and six others, including three children, were injured Friday night when a woman driving a pickup truck ran a red light in Kaneohe, police said.
The 1994 white Toyota pickup truck driven by a 22-year-old Kahaluu woman was seen speeding shortly before the 9:45 p.m. accident, police said. She was heading Kahuku-bound on Kamehameha Highway when she apparently ran a red light on Mokulele Drive.
The truck then collided with a 1996 Plymouth van with six people inside, which was making a U-turn. The impact slammed the van into the makai-side guardrail, police said. A man in the van died at the scene.
The drivers of both vehicles and four passengers in the van were taken to Queen's Hospital, police said.
The driver of the van, 28, and a 7-year-old passenger of the van were listed in fair condition this morning. Two other children, 5 and 10, and a woman passenger, 56, were treated and released, hospital officials said. The driver of the truck also was treated and released.
The accident is Oahu's 28th traffic fatality of the year, compared to 31 at the same time last year.
U.S. Labor Dept. wants union election voidedThe U.S. Labor Department is asking a federal judge to throw out the election for financial secretary-treasurer of Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union.
The Labor Department Friday filed suit seeking to have the Jan. 5 election of Tony Rutledge ruled null and void.
The department said it found probable cause that Local 5 violated federal labor law in not providing adequate safeguards to ensure a fair election and in denying at least one member in good standing, Eric Gill, "the right to be a candidate for union office."
"It's nothing that we didn't expect," Rutledge said.
The election was carried out under rules and regulations of the U.S. Department of Justice, and conflict exists between that department and the Department of Labor, Rutledge said. "It's a beef between the two departments."
The Labor Department also wants the union to conduct a new election under its supervision.
The complaint says Rutledge rival Gill was notified in an Oct. 2, 1997, letter from the local election committee that he was ineligible to run for the office because he hadn't paid his dues on time in 1997.
Gill then appealed the decision, and on Nov. 18, the international president denied the appeal. Gill then complained to the federal Labor Department.
After Gill was denied a place on ballots, Local 5 started mailing ballots in mid-December. Rutledge, running unopposed, received 2,036 votes to win election as financial secretary-treasurer.