By David Shapiro

Saturday, November 29, 1997

Harris’ decision on
running for governor

MY shar-pei Bingo and I have a ritual when I come home from work.

My wife, who departs for work after me, leaves Bingo a handful of biscuits on her way out. He gobbles them all except one, which he saves in case we never come home again and it has to feed him for the rest of his life.

When I get home, Bingo is eager to come into the house with me. But just before he goes through the door, he remembers the uneaten biscuit. He anxiously tries to decide whether to enter the door while it's open or get the biscuit and run the risk that I'll close the door on him before he gets in.

"I'm tired, Bingo," I scold. "Get the blasted biscuit. I'll wait for you."

Bingo the Shar-pei

He doesn't trust me. He makes a couple of false starts toward the biscuit, but can't commit. Finally, he senses that I'm about to slam the door in his face with or without the biscuit and runs into the house without it.

People can be like that, too -- unable to make tough choices because of paralyzing indecision.

Bishop Estate trustees Richard Wong, Lokelani Lindsey and Henry Peters come to mind. They seem undecided on whether to fight Attorney General Margery Bronster and Hawaiian beneficiaries with an army of bullying lawyers or to forget the niceties and raise a real army to take the state by force.

Since they don't have enough support in Hawaii to raise a golf foursome, they would have to hire mercenaries from the Middle East for an armed conflict. Why not? They're already spending money intended to educate Hawaiian children on attorneys, PR men and advertising campaigns that serve their own interests instead of those of the children.

This is a charitable trust subject to the terms of the Pauahi will and state probate laws. It's startling that three renegade trustees think they can get away with acting like sovereigns accountable to nobody.

It has led many to fear that the trustees have so much wrongdoing to hide that they have no choice but to stonewall.

Another suspicion is that they're stalling until next year's election to try to beat Gov. Ben Cayetano and persuade the new governor to call off the attorney general. There's speculation that the trustees would throw big support behind a compliant candidate.

Which brings us to the Bingo-like choice facing Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris. He has a good job and is a good bet for re-election. After that, the governorship could be his for the taking. But Washington Place is a big biscuit beckoning him right now.

He has to be an attractive candidate to Wong, Lindsey and Peters. He has the best chance of anybody to beat Cayetano. And he's politically close to former Gov. Waihee, who is close to the renegade trustees.

IT would be risky for Harris. He would have to resign as mayor to run for governor. Unions seem to be lining up behind Cayetano. A statewide Democratic primary doesn't play to his strengths like a non-partisan race on Oahu.

The Ewa Villages debacle has hurt him. If he lost, he would be damaged goods without much of a political future. Finally, it would be political suicide for Harris or anybody else to run as the perceived candidate of the renegade trustees whether it's true or not.

Harris would be prudent to wait to fight another day, when the odds will be stacked strongly in his favor. The renegade trustees would be prudent to stop stonewalling the attorney general before their obstruction becomes sufficient grounds for their removal even without proof of other wrongdoing.

David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at
Volcanic Ash runs every Saturday in the Star-Bulletin.

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