Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Thursday, September 4, 1997

Advisory panel voted
8-3 against Waihee

NOW it can be told. A special vacancy review committee appointed Jan. 13, 1994, to help the justices of the state Supreme Court choose a new trustee for the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate voted 8-3 against including then-Gov. John Waihee among their five recommendees.

Union leader Gary Rodrigues and attorney Alvin Shim spoke up strongly for Waihee but he got only three votes on a secret ballot. The third vote may have been that of William Richardson, a former trustee and former chief justice. Richardson wanted to add the name of his son-in-law, a lawyer in Canada, as a sixth recommendation. That, too, went down by 8-3 on a secret vote. Other decisions were by consensus.

These actions are confirmed by both Gladys Brandt and Msgr. Charles Kekumano, committee members who now are among the five authors of "Broken Trust," which details apparently collusive efforts to put KS/BE under what amounts to old-fashioned spoils system political control.

The panel wound up recommending Michael Chun, Kamehameha Schools president; Nathan Aipa, general counsel to KS/BE; J. Douglas Ing, attorney; Dwayne Steele, businessman; and state Rep. Bertha Kawakami.

Group by group panelists read 146 applications and put them in three categories -- no-maybe-yes -- to take to discussions of the full committee, held at least weekly at the board room of the United Public Workers, headed by Rodrigues. Businessman Henry A. Walker, a committee member, volunteered his Amfac building office and secretary to receive the applications and make them available to committee members to inspect.

Brandt chaired the review committee. Other members besides her, Kekumano, Rodrigues, Shim, Richardson and Walker were the late Herbert Cornuelle, former board chairman of Campbell Estate; Robert Pfeiffer, retired CEO of Alexander & Baldwin; Melody MacKenzie, attorney and Hawaiian rights advocate; Kenneth Mortimer, University of Hawaii president; and Matsuo Takabuki, another former KS/BE trustee.

None of the five people recommended by the panel to the justices on March 18, 1994, was appointed. Brandt got the impression when she presented the names that they were dismayed Waihee was not on the list but they dispute this.

Nevertheless Waihee's name hung over the entire 1994 selection proceeding. After he formally announced in August that he would not accept while governor the justices added 10 more finalists on their own, then chose Gerard Jervis, a business associate of Waihee. "Broken Trust" authors say Jervis as a judicial selection commissioner had helped Waihee get Justice Robert Klein on the court, even though Klein had missed the first list of recommendees.

Court members by 1994 were all Waihee-nominated.Rumors started that (1) Waihee would "be taken care of" with large KS/BE legal contracts awarded his private law practice after leaving the governorship and (2) that Jervis might resign in a year or two to make room for Waihee.

Rumor No. 1 has panned out with hundreds of thousands of dollars of KS/BE fees already reported paid to Waihee's law firm and more hundreds of thousands said to be in the pipeline. Rumor No. 2 hasn't panned out but Waihee told me in August 1994 he might be interested in any vacancy developing 18 months or two years after he left office in December. No regular terms expire until 2001.

IN voting against Waihee for KS/BE, Brandt and Kekumano recognized Waihee as having done great things for Hawaiians but didn't want him on a board on which the justices already had placed a former House speaker and former Senate president for long terms.

They feared what they now are asserting in "Broken Trust" -- that our biggest, most important private trust in Hawaii would be placed under spoils system control.

I have written columns comparing Waihee to Prince Kuhio in his work for Hawaiians. But I also wrote some to the effect that in his governorship the tendency under Governors Burns and Ariyoshi to "help your friends, all else being equal" often seemed shortened to "help your friends."

Bishop Estate Archive

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

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