Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, August 22, 1997

Temporary help wanted:
Trusty trustee

STATE Attorney General Margery Bronster is considering making the Bishop Estate trustees step aside pending an investigation of the embattled trust.

That would mean an interim trustee would have to be brought in to run the show until the investigation is completed. And that would mean we should start thinking about the type of person who should be put at the helm of this vast financial empire.

Face it, when it comes to picking an interim trustee for Bishop Estate, the talent pool is worldwide. The only person who wouldn't consider it probably would be Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, who would turn his nose up at running a mere $10 billion "mom and pop" operation.

The thing is, whoever is chosen could be paid upwards of $500,000 a year and the estate still would be saving more than $4 million a year that now goes to the five trustees. (I'm assuming that if the trustees step down during the investigation, they would not be allowed to rake in their 2 percent commission on all land sales.)

But for a half-mill a year, the attorney general would have a line of world-class talent lining up to be interim trustee. The challenge would be picking someone of international stature and unquestionable integrity.

You have to be careful. Remember what happened when Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker handed over the PTL ministry to Jerry Falwell? The bugger didn't want to give it back.

YOU could bring in someone like Ross Perot, the midget millionaire from Texas who has experience in running giant corporations. He belittled Bill Clinton for being merely the governor of a state the size of one of Perot's executive washrooms. Perot would have no trouble running Bishop Estate, but we'd probably get tired of him saying, "Lookee here, we got enough money to make every Hi-why-yun a millionaire... do the math."

Investment wiz Michael Milken could probably be coaxed into running Bishop Estate for a while. Not only could be probably double the estate's income in a year, he could tell the trustees what it's like to go to jail.

George Bush is looking for something to do and he's partially responsible for some of Bishop Estate's problems. After all, if he hadn't played golf at the Virginia country club the estate bought, the world probably wouldn't have known the trust set up to help Hawaiians was pumping money into a private, largely white resort. That he mistook Henry Peters as a caddy and told him to get his clubs out of the car didn't help matters any. (That's a joke, folks.)

If the estate plans to make investing in golf courses a priority, maybe it would make sense to bring in Greg Norman or Jack Nicklaus. They both have experience running multi-million-dollar corporations and have spotless reputations. But if you are going to dip into the golfing world, you might as well hand over Bishop Estate to Tiger Woods. He's eventually going to own everything anyway.

The list of potential interim trustees is endless: Apple honcho Steve Jobs, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, former prez Jimmy Carter, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Donald Trump, Madonna ... you name 'em. The point is a position of this type, with the type of salary possible, is capable of attracting the best, brightest, most experienced (especially Madonna) executives in the world.

My personal choice would be Colin Powell. He might be persuaded to take time off his book tours to run Bishop Estate for a while. It would give him something to do while he mulls over a presidential race. He's the most trusted man in America right now. The trouble would be that once he got in and started running the estate the way it should be run, no one would want him to leave.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or

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