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Thursday, December 3, 1998


There's no need to delay removal of trustees

The Bishop Estate trustees have failed to properly carry out their fiduciary duties. Anyone who has read the fact-finder's reports knows this. So why have they not been removed?

The trustees have cited two principles of American jurisprudence: people should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and not being denied a right or suffering property loss without due process of law.

But the first principle ("innocent until proven guilty") applies only in criminal trials. The removal of trustees is a civil action. The second principle ("due process") also does not apply. A trusteeship confers fiduciary duties, not civil or property rights.

The word "trustee" says that a person has been trusted to hold property, not for his or her own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Trustees are required to carry out their duties in ways that will inspire confidence in their ability, integrity and commitment to serve others. If for any reason a trustee ceases to inspire that confidence, it's time for a change.

The probate court has the power to remove all five trustees permanently. But we're talking now only about temporary removal. If one or more of these trustees eventually is vindicated, that one or ones can and should be reinstated.

The trustees' reluctance to give up unchecked power and exorbitant fees might be understandable, but it's not legally or morally relevant. Trust law and common sense dictate that the probate court do what is in the best interests of the trust and its beneficiaries, and that it do so in a timely fashion.

The probate court has everything it needs to make a decision. The most recently stated reason for not acting is the trial in which attorneys for trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis are asking the Circuit Court to remove only trustee Lokelani Lindsey. To us, this is not a good reason for delaying the probate court's decision.

Those attorneys are ethically bound to watch out primarily for their clients, Jervis and Stender. And that's exactly what they are doing by focusing exclusively on Lindsey's inept style and poor judgment. Presumably, they will continue to steer clear of fiduciary issues that directly implicate their clients. The conflict of interest inherent in this proceeding should be obvious.

The criminal indictments against two trustees are added reasons for temporary removal. But the record already is overwhelming. These trustees should have been removed long ago. Better late than never.

Gladys Brandt, Samuel King,
Walter Heen
and Randall Roth

Editor's note: These writers are co-authors of Broken Trust,the essay printed in the Star-Bulletin Aug. 9, 1997, that prompted Governor Cayetano to order an investigation of Bishop Estate.

Bishop Estate Archive

Movie illustrates dangers of Waikiki spy cameras

Before we allow any more surveillance cameras in Waikiki, I suggest you watch the new movie "Enemy of the State." It truly shows how much of our personal privacy is given up for the sake of "safer streets."

Mayor Harris has found a way to get around constitutional law safeguarding our privacy by posting his interpretation of clearly marked signs. That's exploitation of interpretation at its finest. First it was cameras to monitor traffic, now cameras to monitor us. Where do we draw the line?

I wish the mayor would spend more time on fixing our economy than wasting precious tax dollars on surveillance cameras.

Michael Griffith
(Via the Internet)

Visitors shun Waikiki for neighbor islands

The September visitor figures show a disturbing trend.

No, it's not that our total visitor count continues to go down. It's the new trend that shows that all of the visitor increase from the mainland is bypassing Oahu and winding up on the neighbor islands.

Now the message should be clear that Waikiki does not offer the kind of environment that satisfies visitor expectations of Hawaii. Allowing more building density, as the City Council allowed in 1996 by a 6-3 vote, was a misdirection and will severely aggravate the problem.

Donald A. Bremner

Voters saw through ruse of Lingle, GOP

John Wright doesn't get it (Letters, Nov. 5). Linda Lingle lost and now her supporters bellyache about how negative Ben Cayetano was. Perhaps some introspection is needed. Maybe, just maybe, the Lingle forces simply were not able to convince more voters to support their candidate.

Campaigners as victims just doesn't wash. For the record, Senator Inouye responded to postings on the Internet accessed through both the Lingle and Republican websites. Vicky Cayetano responded to an ill-advised ad and press release by supporters of Lingle.

Perhaps voters saw what Lingle, the Republicans and their supporters were capable of and voted accordingly.

Gerald de Heer
(Via the Internet)

Cayetano won't change in his second term

David Shapiro's Nov. 14 column, "Let's put election bickering behind us," advises Ben Cayetano to "take a shot at real distinction as the governor who reforms the Democratic Party and leads Hawaii to new prosperity" rather than "exercising a vindictive streak to get even with those who opposed him." Well said, but it raises the issue of whether entrenched corruption can be reformed from within.

Mikhail Gorbachev's reform attempts drew an attack from zealots inside his own party. That attack led to real reform by those who knew stronger measures were needed. Inevitably, reform from within entails some sort of deal with the devil.

Rest assured, our governor is shaping that deal as he sits in conference with his political supporters and the new leaders of the state Legislature. It will no doubt entail further victimization of the University of Hawaii, all the while lauding his granting of "autonomy" to an organization led by his own appointees. He will continue his so-called "tough decisions" while protecting the contracts and sinecures of his in-group. The costs, as always, will be paid by those in the out-group.

To engage in such a process while justifying it with so-called Democratic "values" requires grand myopia.

Scott Allen
(Via the Internet)

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