Thursday, July 30, 1998

Criticism of Chun
is hard to fathom

ON the surface, Bishop Estate trustees have reason to be pleased with a report that dissension at Kamehameha Schools is partly the blame of President Michael Chun. However, the analysis by Peterson Consulting L.L.C. also affirms an earlier assessment that the trustees, particularly Lokelani Lindsay, have been micromanaging the school. That makes blame affixed to Chun difficult to comprehend.

An accreditation team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges issued a scathing report in March. It found that the trustees' "dysfunctional management and decision-making" had harmed Kamehameha, weakening leadership, destroying faculty morale and damaging the climate of learning. The Peterson report supports those allegations, criticizing the trustees for ignoring industry norms that call for board members to set policy, not to run day-to-day operations.

Unlike the accreditation team, though, Peterson Consulting seems to accept some trustees' assertion that micromanagement of the school was necessary because Chun was unable to fulfill the job demands. "The report is critical of my leadership as well as the governance practices of the board of trustees," Chun responded. "Unfortunately, Peterson fails to recognize the important connection between the two. Over the past five years, it has been increasingly difficult to lead the school."

Only the students and faculty at Kamehameha can answer the chicken-or-egg question posed by Peterson Consulting. From what they have indicated in demonstrations over the past year, however, Lindsey's micromanagement was not needed to fill a leadership vacuum, but was executed to undermine the duties that Chun was and remains capable of performing.


CrimeStoppers reward

QUITE a ruckus has erupted over the nonpayment of a reward to Ivan Siu, the informant who called 911 and tipped off police to the whereabouts of two prison escapees earlier this week. Although Siu told reporters he didn't expect compensation, several angry citizens have contacted the CrimeStoppers hotline, demanding that he receive something.

He got something: The satisfaction that, largely due to him, two criminals are back behind bars, the community is safer and appreciative, and the program will do a much better job of promoting itself.

The locally run and nonprofit CrimeStoppers operates under rules set by international headquarters. It would be chaotic if reward money were doled out to anyone and everyone claiming some role in apprehending law breakers. That is why there are clearly defined parameters: A caller must directly contact CrimeStoppers on specific cases that it publicizes, and offer a tip leading to the arrest or indictment of the suspect or fugitive.

The two escaped convicts were picked up Monday near the McCully Street bridge after Siu reported their whereabouts to 911. That was the right thing to do. CrimeStoppers had not asked the media's help to publicize the case -- the police did. Only when investigations hit a dead end will the possibility of rewards be dangled by CrimeStoppers, to induce informants to come forward.

"But Ivan Siu deserves a cash award!" some people might complain. Maybe so, and he did get $1,000 from a local radio station. The whole brouhaha should motivate CrimeStoppers to better explain its system and perhaps even reassess its rules. More public enlightenment is needed on the program.


The Sacajawea dollar

SACAJAWEA, the Shoshone Indian guide for Lewis and Clark's expedition, is a good choice to adorn a new dollar coin scheduled to start circulating in 2000. However, like the Susan B. Anthony dollar, it may be primarily commemorative and never gain full usage in daily transactions. If so, its lack of acceptance will have less to do with its design than the unwillingness of Congress to withdraw the dollar bill from circulation.

Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin had directed a citizens advisory committee to choose a woman or women, real or symbolic, to be depicted on the coin. While some members of Congress had advocated one or more women suffragettes, and a member of the committee favored Lady Liberty (the symbol on the old silver dollar), the vote was 6-1 in favor of Sacajawea, one of the most popular women in American history, extending to folklore.

Captured by an enemy tribe at age 12, she eventually was sold to a French-Canadian fur trader who signed on as an interpreter for Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea and her infant son were allowed to go along. She soon became an invaluable guide for the 1804 expedition, traveling thousands of miles through wilderness with her son on her back.

Any new dollar coin faces an equally treacherous path, regardless of who is chosen as "heads." Coins enter circulation when banks supply retailers change for customers. Store owners, who order the kind of change they want, cannot be expected to ask banks for both dollar coins and dollar bills, because that may confuse clerks. The lack of incentive will be encouraged further by public familiarity with the greenback.

Emotional attachment to the paper dollar defies common sense. Each dollar bill costs 4 cents to print and lasts 17 months, while the coin costs 8 cents to mint and lasts 30 years. Changing from bills to coins would save about $456 million a year in taxes. But the public won't covet the Sacajawea dollar until Congress stops printing paper "ones" to compete with it.

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