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Monday, March 15, 1999


Trustees must be

If the Bishop Estate trustees truly cared about the trust and its beneficiaries, they would have stepped aside long ago. Yet they don't want to give up money and power, and are worried that their successors will cooperate with the attorney general and others investigating their management of the trust.

Clearly, the current mess will have to be resolved in the courts. This leaves us feeling uneasy. After all, it was the justices of Hawaii's Supreme Court who selected these trustees, more on the basis of political payback than on merit. Also, the judiciary in Hawaii has a sad track record when it comes to holding accountable the Bishop Estate trustees.

It's hard to feel good about the ongoing lawsuit against trustee Lokelani Lindsey. She should be removed, but not because she micro-managed Kamehameha Schools, exercises poor judgment or was mean to people. She should be removed for the same reasons the other trustees must be removed: serious and repeated breaches of fiduciary duty.

Only the probate judge has the power to remove all five trustees immediately. He or she can do so when it is in the best interests of the trust and its beneficiaries. Fundamental notions of fairness require that the trustees be given a chance to respond to allegations of wrongdoing before being removed permanently, but these notions don't apply in the case of temporary removal.

Judge Colleen Hirai took the question of temporary removal "under advisement" six months ago. Her failure to make a decision, one way or the other, is troubling in that she has had -- for quite some time -- scathing reports of fact-finders. The law in this area is quite clear.

How many outside evaluators have to call the trustees' rule "dysfunctional" before a probate judge puts them aside? How many trustees have to be indicted? How obvious must it be that these trustees can't possibly be devoting their undivided attention to the needs of the trust?

Recently, Judge Kevin Chang was assigned to the probate court. Hopefully, he will be less reticent to make a decision.

Of course, removing the trustees is just half the equation. Replacements would have to be named. Four of the justices have said that they will not participate in this process, while the fifth, Justice Robert Klein, reportedly thinks that he alone can select new trustees as a "majority of one."

Klein's position ignores the letter and spirit of the princess' will, as well as judicial ethics and public policy. Clearly, the law requires that replacement Bishop Estate trustees be appointed by the probate judge.

Some have wondered if a lower court judge would do any better than five justices. Maybe or maybe not. But we hope that the one judge at least will follow an open, honest process which promotes public confidence and permits accountability.

One such approach would involve enlisting the assistance of a blue-ribbon panel of community leaders, and limiting the court's involvement to making sure that the panel follows its own published procedures and applies its own published criteria. Of course, such a panel should adequately reflect and represent the Hawaiian community.

To most people both here and outside Hawaii, our probate court's failure to remove these trustees, at least temporarily, is as inexplicable as the fact that this mess can be traced back to our Supreme Court justices.

This whole sordid affair seems like something out of a banana republic rather than a state of the union. It cannot be allowed to continue.

Picture a bus packed with children, careening down a hillside. Five individuals are fighting with others and among themselves over the steering of the bus. Don't you think the interests of the children require new drivers?

Gladys Brandt, Walter Heen,
Samuel P. King, Randall Roth

"Broken Trust" authors

Bishop Estate Archive

Breastfeeding tax credit is badly misunderstood

In testimony related to a bill promoting a breast-feeding facility tax credit, Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation stated, "It makes little sense to fritter away the state's precious tax resources on a credit that has no bearing on the onerous burden of taxes with which businesses must contend."

On the other hand, breast-feeding expert Dr. Cathy Bell, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, "Breastfeeding protects an infant against infections and promotes maternal-infant bonding." Rose Shilt of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies said, "Employers would benefit from promoting breast-feeding because there would be fewer absences due to ill children, more stable confident and productive workers, and decreased overall costs for medical insurance."

Meanwhile, on the same page, it is reported that the state may spend $100 million this fiscal year to serve 4,488 special-needs children.

Does the lack of nurturing and maternal bonding have something to do with the special needs of some of these children? You bet!

Kalapa was obviously not breast-fed.

Rep. Marilyn Lee
(D-38th District)



bullet "It did not have to end this way. Nothing will ever diminish the love I have for her and how much I miss her."
-- Scott Kitaoka, whose wife, Rene Ojiri Kitaoka, committed suicide a day after being discovered in a public restroom at the Hawaii Prince Hotel with Bishop Estate trustee Gerard Jervis.

bullet "Tell Crocodile Dundee that the boys said hello."
-- Leo Reed of Local 399 of the Teamsters Union, which was balking at wage cuts for its drivers, such as those other unions were accepting, which meant trouble in the negotiations to get the popular TV series "Baywatch" to film in Honolulu instead of Australia.

bullet "Oh, please. As far as I'm concerned, (that premise) is totally goofy."
-- Harold Ickes, one of Hillary Clinton's top political advisers, on the rumor that Mrs. Clinton is willing to run for the Senate in New York because that would mean more time away from her husband and the White House.

Senator can decorate door with fish symbol

State Sen. David Matsuura should put anything on his door he wishes. The special-interest group members who dictate otherwise haven't read the First Amendment of the Constitution.

There is no language requiring separation of church and state, only that: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The government may not establish a religion or interfere with religious freedom. But there is no suggestion that we can't put the word "God" on money, crosses on hillsides, or hang religious symbols on public doorways.

Dr. Maxwell Cooper
(Via the Internet)

Ode to a bad ballot counter and an even worse poll...

The Star-Bulletin took a poll
Which I thought was rather droll;
It gave 400 voters the chance to say
If they thought the new ballot system's OK.
And if the ballots should be counted once more,
Or if we should go back to the system we had before.
I'm willing to bet anyone several dinners
That recounts were not wanted by voters who backed winners.
And since this poll was less accurate than a voting machine,
It probably was as useful as a bladeless guillotine.

Art Freedman


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