Friday, September 11, 1998

Removal of
Bishop trustees
is essential

THE state's request to the probate court for the immediate removal of the five Bishop Estate trustees came as no surprise after the year-long state investigation and the public barrage of criticism of their abuses of power. Attorney General Margery Bronster's request for immediate interim removal was followed by the filing of a petition for permanent removal that repeated many familiar accusations and added new ones, some of which could form the basis for criminal prosecution.

Trustees Lokelani Lindsey, Henry Peters and Richard Wong were accused of particularly serious abuses. Bronster's petition charges that Peters and Wong received kickbacks from a Hawaii Kai land deal; Peters received improper payments from a reinsurance company in which the estate had invested; Lindsey used trust employees to make improvements on her home and mismanaged the Kamehameha Schools as "lead trustee" for educational affairs.

The two dissident trustees, Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender, were lumped with the others in depriving the schools of income, using trust employees for personal matters, accepting excessive compensation, mismanagement of trust assets and self-interested lobbying.

The significance of the request for immediate removal is that it could take years for the process for permanent removal to run its course. If the court grants the request, a receiver will be appointed to oversee estate operations.

Bronster's proposals are fully justified by the devastating disclosures that have been made over the past year, starting with the Star-Bulletin's Aug. 9, 1997, publication of the scathing "Broken Trust" article by five distinguished community leaders, which assailed not only the trustees' behavior but the politics-ridden system that appointed them.

The litany of abuses is long and the evidence against the trustees -- certainly Lindsey, Peters and Wong -- overwhelming. The trustees must be removed immediately to permit the estate and its beneficiary, the Kamehameha Schools, to get on with their mission without further distraction while the court weighs the petition for permanent removal.

Bishop Estate Archive

Russia’s crisis

RUSSIA'S political crisis appears to have ended with an agreement for a new prime minister, but its economy remains in a state of collapse. President Boris Yeltsin's second choice of acting Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister has pleased nearly all political parties in Russia and eased international concern. But until economic stability can be achieved, political chaos will remain a possibility.

Yeltsin's nomination of Primakov culminates a perplexing series of moves that began in March, when he sacked Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for failing to implement economic reforms. After briefly entertaining the unconstitutional idea of filling the job himself, he appointed young reformer Sergei Kiriyenko to the post.

Then last month Yeltsin fired Kiriyenko and offered Chernomyrdin his job back, but the State Duma balked and threatened a showdown that, if carried to a conclusion, would have been paralyzing or worse. Yeltsin's nomination of Primakov, a former Soviet official, has averted such a showdown.

During the stalemate, the ruble tumbled in value and prices skyrocketed, creating near-anarchy in some areas. Several regional governors independently declared states of emergency, placed price controls on staple items, issued limits on trade and halted tax payments to the federal government.

Observers considered a civil war or dissolution into numerous impoverished mini-states, several armed with nuclear weapons, as real possibilities. The Primakov compromise should end such talk for now.

Yeltsin has promised Western leaders that economic reform will continue, with the realization that further aid will otherwise come to a halt. That pledge should be taken skeptically, given the government's spotty record and the need to appease the Communists in the Duma.

Moreover, deep structural changes will be needed before such reforms bring true integration into the global economy. Ordinary Russians, whose perseverance through hard times has become folklore, will have to brace themselves, for Russia's rise from the rubble will take years or even decades.


UHPA’s endorsement

ONE union endorsement does not a gubernatorial election victory make, but Linda Lingle has to be encouraged by the OK given her candidacy by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the UH faculty union. It was the first endorsement ever of a Republican candidate for governor by a Hawaii public employee union.

Although UHPA director J.N. Musto said Lingle was endorsed because "she really does have a vision for the future," it was evident that discontent with Ben Cayetano's treatment of the university in the state budget was a major consideration in the lopsided vote for the Maui mayor. The faculty feels that the university has been shortchanged by the governor.

Cayetano cited the state's fiscal problems in responding to his rejection by UHPA, which was plausible. What was not plausible was his explanation that "demographically, I'm not doing very well with the group that dominates the UH faculty, anyway." In other words, Caucasians generally don't support him, so what would you expect from a largely haole group.

To our knowledge, the UH faculty is no whiter today than it was in 1994, when UHPA endorsed Cayetano against Frank Fasi and Pat Saiki. And it is probably no less liberal than it was then. The only difference is that the faculty has had nearly four years of a Cayetano administration, and it hasn't liked it. Also, playing the race card could backfire.

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