Wednesday, June 24, 1998

Lingle should continue
Bishop Estate probe

THE presence of Hoaliku Drake on Linda Lingle's gubernatorial campaign committee has raised a question regarding Lingle's position on the state attorney general's investigation of the Bishop Estate. Drake is the mother of Henry Peters, one of three heavily criticized Bishop Estate trustees. Would Drake's status as an honorary member of the campaign committee influence Lingle, if elected, to drop the Bishop Estate investigation?

Lingle's answer is that she would continue the investigation, that her friendship with Drake would not prevent her from continuing the probe or from pursuing charges against individual trustees if the facts warranted. She could hardly do otherwise without triggering an explosive reaction.

Drake has had her own career in public service, having headed the city's Office of Human Resources under Frank Fasi and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands under John Waihee.

Meanwhile her son, Henry Peters, was serving in the state Legislature, rising to House speaker before his appointment as Bishop Estate trustee. Peters, Richard Wong and Lokelani Lindsey are the main targets of the attorney general's investigation and of the massive public criticism of the estate. The other two trustees, Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis, have joined in the criticism.

Drake said the Bishop Estate controversy has never come up in her discussions with the Maui mayor and she hasn't discussed her support of Lingle with her son, who continues to support the Democratic Party. She said she worked closely with Lingle when she was head of Hawaiian Home Lands and was impressed with her. It shouldn't be assumed that Drake would try to persuade Lingle to call off the investigation or that Lingle would agree.

An irony of the situation is that Walter Heen, one of the authors of the "Broken Trust" article on the Bishop Estate published in the Star-Bulletin last August, is now chairman of the state Democratic Party. Peters and Wong were Democratic stalwarts in the Legislature and their roles in the party undoubtedly were factors in their appointments to the estate board.

Governor Cayetano risked embarrassing his party by ordering the investigation of the estate. He deserves credit for taking action. Despite her association with Hoaliku Drake, it's unlikely that Lingle would cancel the investigation. Nor should she.

Bishop Estate Archive

Sexual abuse at school

SEXUAL abuse of public school students by teachers cannot be tolerated, and procedures for students to complain of misconduct are presently required by federal law. A Supreme Court decision shielding a Texas school system from liability because of its lack of knowledge about such abuse has underlined the need to enforce the requirement.

The decision arose from a lawsuit filed by Alida Star Gebser, a 9th-grade student who was seduced by a teacher in Lago Vista, Texas. The girl said she submitted to teacher Frank Waldrop's sexual advances, which did not occur on school grounds, because she wanted Waldrop to continue to be her teacher. She did not report his behavior to school officials. They were unaware of it until the relationship was discovered by a police officer.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 provides that no person shall be subjected to sexual discrimination in school systems receiving federal funds. The Supreme Court ruled seven years ago that provision includes a teacher's sexual harassment of a student. In a previous decision involving the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the high court said a private employer without procedures for receiving sexual-harassment complaints cannot assert ignorance of harassment as a defense in lawsuits.

Federally funded school districts are required to put in place a specific system for sexual-harassment complaints and inform students of the system. Although the Lago Vista schools superintendent apparently was unaware of the regulation and had not complied with it, the Supreme Court ruled that the school could not be held liable unless it had acted with "deliberate indifference" to potential misconduct.

While the potential of lawsuits should have created an incentive for schools to institute reporting systems, the absence of such liability could create an opposite incentive, insulating negligent schools from such lawsuits. The Supreme Court ruling should prompt Congress to strengthen Title IX to assure that schools introduce adequate measures to expose and respond to cases of sexual harassment.


Mollway as U.S. judge

SUSAN Oki Mollway's nomination to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Hawaii should not have been as controversial as it was treated. Partisan politics more than substantive disagreements resulted in a delay of more than 21/2 years before Senate approval, and then by a vote of 56 to 34. All those opposed were Republicans, including Majority Leader Trent Lott.

The prolonged process should not reflect on Mollway's qualifications to be a federal judge. Republicans complained about previous selections of President Clinton for the bench, and Mollway was among those whose appointments were held up in response. In the final debate, Republicans objected to her serving on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. The argument that leadership in the ACLU, which is dedicated to defense of the Bill of Rights, should disqualify a person from a federal judgeship is absurd.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, one of the few Republicans voting for Mollway's confirmation, described her as "an extremely intelligent woman with an extremely well-balanced background." Those are the qualities that led to her nomination and that she will bring to the federal court here.

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