View Point

Saturday, July 11, 1998

Linda Lingle’s comments on
KS/BE probe aren’t realistic

Inquiry needed support of
native Hawaiian community

By Walter Heen


THE Star-Bulletin's June 24 editorial advising Maui mayor and gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle to continue the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate investigation, if she is elected, is like advising a driver that she should turn right when there is no other direction to be taken.

And, since this is an election year, Lingle will undoubtedly proclaim that she will follow that advice.

Indeed, in your June 23 news story regarding the question of continuing that investigation, Lingle is quoted as saying that she "would have begun the investigation long ago and would have brought it to a head much sooner to cut down on costly litigation and preserve the assets of the trust."

Her statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the events that led up to the investigation and how such an investigation is conducted.

First, no one could have begun the investigation sooner, because the climate was not ripe for it. If anyone had attempted such an investigation earlier, it would have caused the Hawaiian community to rise up to defend the estate.

Do you recall how the Hawaiian community rose to the estate's defense against "confiscation" of estate lands? However, when the trustees turned their backs on their own Kamehameha ohana, they lost their constituency. Only then could the state attorney general begin an investigation without incurring the wrath of native Hawaiians.

Furthermore, a governor cannot simply order such an investigation without some basis for it. That basis only really became clear in 1997.

Thus Lingle's claim that she would have begun earlier is pure "waha."

Second, it is clear from her statement that Lingle has never conducted any kind of investigation and has no concept of the enormity of the tasks in this one.

It is ludicrous for her to claim that she would have brought it to a head much sooner.

The majority of the KS/BE trustees has set up a stone wall that can only be overcome by taking the trustees to court and dismantling the barriers piece by piece. And the very nature of our judicial system allows them to create further stumbling blocks and delays.

The trustees have forced the investigation into court at every turn, and the system is simply not designed to expedite decisions except in certain designated and unusual circumstances. At this point, the investigation does not present those circumstances.

In other words, there is no way that the investigation can be brought to a head sooner -- unless, of course, Lingle is really expressing an inclination to make a deal with the trustees. That, of course, would be a complete betrayal of the Kamehameha ohana.

Finally, Lingle has publicly stated that one of the areas of state government which she would "downsize" is the attorney general's office. She has stated that the attorney general's staff should be cut in half.

It appears from this statement that Lingle's alternative method for bringing about an earlier end to the investigation would be to take away the means of conducting it at all.

Lingle needs to talk sense to the people.

Bishop Estate Archive

Walter M. Heen is state chairman of the Democratic Party
of Hawaii and one of the five co-authors of "Broken Trust," the Aug. 9, 1997,
essay printed in the Star-Bulletin that helped launch the state attorney general's
investigation of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustees.

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