Friday, March 5, 1999

Wong blames
mess on Chun

The school president didn't
tell trustees of problems, Wong
says in backing Lindsey

By Rick Daysog


Bishop Estate Chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong today blamed Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun for campus morale problems that led to the two-year controversy that engulfed the multibillion-dollar trust.

On his third day of testimony in the trial over trustee Lokelani Lindsey's removal, Wong said Chun never informed trustees that teachers were unhappy at the estate-run Kamehameha Schools, and that the popular school president contributed to the problem by shutting down a teachers association which would have allowed teachers to voice their grievances.

Wong said he did not realize there was a problem on campus until May 1997, when parents and alumni marched in protest.

"I'm not here to down Dr. Chun. I'm just trying to say that the trustees did not know that there was a morale problem," Wong said.

"I'm going to place it at the feet of Dr. Chun."

Wong's testimony is crucial to Lindsey's defense in the four-month-long trial.

Lindsey's lawyers argue that she was unfairly blamed for campus morale problems after she took a more active role in managing the Kamehameha Schools.

They argue that Lindsey assumed a hands-on approach at the Kapalama Heights campus after board members lost confidence in Chun's leadership.

Trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis are seeking Lindsey's ouster from the estate's board, alleging that she breached her fiduciary duties, undermined Chun's authority and intimidated teachers and students.

Wong this morning sparred with Stender's lawyer, Douglas Ing, and often engaged in long monologues expressing his views on the controversy.

Yesterday, Wong took aim at a key document alleging wrongdoing by Lindsey, calling the estate's own fact-finding report on the controversy unbalanced.

Wong said the fact-finder, retired Circuit Judge Patrick Yim, did not seek management's side of the campus controversy, resulting in an unfair description of the events.

Yim's December 1997 study -- whose findings were commissioned and adopted by the trustees -- harshly criticized Lindsey's management of the Kamehameha Schools. Yim said Lindsey intimidated students and staffers and undermined Chun's authority.

"I would have expected more of Judge Yim," said Wong. "In the interest of being balanced, you have to look at the whole situation. . . . It would have given us a much fairer picture of what's going on at the school."

Wong also testified that he believed Lindsey is a good trustee.

"Well, I think she has carried out the purpose of the trust," he said. "Some people will disagree with what she said, but I think she did a good job."

In a related move, Circuit Judge Bambi Weil yesterday rejected Lindsey's plan to call Associate Justices Robert Klein or Steven Levinson as witnesses to rebut previous testimony by Jervis. She also denied a defense motion to recall Lindsey, who has already testified.

Weil said that Lindsey's lawyers failed to name the two high-court justices on their list of witnesses and amended list of witnesses.

Weil also said rebuttal witnesses could only be called in the case of an unexpected or surprise testimony, which is not the case with Jervis' testimony.

Jervis said he spoke in early 1997 with high-court justices about the controversy.

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