Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, June 5, 1998

Consultin’ has been
good to Souki

WHY don't people just get off Joe Souki's back, for cryin' out loud.

A guy's got a right to make a living. So what if he got $100,000 for, well, I'm not sure what it was. It had something to do with the sale of a bunch of land from someone else to Bishop Estate. Whatever it was, it had to be important or they wouldn't have paid him more than $100,000. I mean, would you pay someone $100,000 if he didn't bust his butt doing a good job for you?

Real estate transactions are really complicated and there's no possible way the average person can understand the technicalities involved. You need an akamai real estate guy like Joe Souki to consult on such deals.

Now, you might think that Bishop Estate would have heaps of consultants on staff to consult about land deals when there's any consultin' to be done. But what about on the other side? Those guys need consultants, too. Otherwise, you'll have an imbalance of consultin' going on. All kinds of bad things happen when you have a consultin' imbalance, although, I have no idea what those are.

But I do know this: the bigger the land deal, the more consultin' there is to be done. Like, if you are just selling a condo, there's hardly any consultin' to do. You could hire someone without a lot experience in consultin', someone who works cheap, like a street person or the co-chairman of one of the less important legislative committees. But if you've got a huge land deal with lots of consultin' to do, you have to go for the best. You're going to need the a consultin' heavyweight like the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It just figures.

SOME spoilsports, people who I think have very little understanding of the consultin' industry, suggest that it was a conflict of interest for Souki to consult on a major Bishop Estate land deal, then involve himself in legislation regarding how much the Bishop Estate trustees are paid. Geez. The two have nothing to do with each other. The trustees are paid two percent commissions on Bishop Estate business, including the land deals. The Legislature has the power to regulate that amount if it becomes too excessive. Souki, as head of the House, is in charge of determining whether that amount is excessive. The fact that he was paid $100,000 in connection with a Bishop Estate land deal is irrelevant.

And here's why: Souki says it's irrelevant. Now, who would know better whether a particular consultin' job is a conflict of interest than the person doing the consultin'?

So why doesn't everyone just quit their belly aching? If Souki was involved in some questionable consultin', I think he'd tell us about it. He's a public servant, for cryin' out loud. The consultin' business is one of the few businesses legislators have time to do. The hours are flexible and there are no special uniforms.

It's an insult to our democratic system of government and to the reputation of our elected officials to suggest that our most powerful leaders would put their own monetary gain before the interest of the people.

Frankly, I'm shocked and just a little embarrassed that certain members of the public would sink so low as to question a straightforward financial transaction between Bishop Estate and House Speaker.

This kind of criticism has got to end. We've got to quit hurting everyone's feelings. Bishop Estate trustees already are threatening to move the estate's operations to the mainland because people are being so rude to them here. If people keep criticizing our elected leaders, maybe they'll try to move the entire Legislature to Las Vegas. Where would we be then?

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

The Honolulu Lite online archive is at:

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin