Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Rotary gives
Bronster a round
of applause

'She would make a great governor'

By Lori Tighe


As Margery Bronster deflected speculation of whether the Democratic Party has asked her to run for office, a reporter blurted out: "Has anyone from the Republican Party asked you to run?"

"Awww, now you're getting closer," laughed the ousted attorney general.

The drum roll for Bronster to run for political office gained momentum at a sold-out Rotary Club luncheon at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel yesterday, where she spoke about fighting Bishop Estate.

"She would make a great governor," said Beadie Dawson, former attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi, a group that worked to remove Bishop Estate trustees. "People want her to run. I'm glad a lot of people are talking about that."

Regarding her possible political aspirations, Bronster repeatedly said, "I can't talk about that."

But she grinned widely at the urging.

The packed Rotary crowd gave her a standing ovation and many shook her hand and hugged her after her speech.

"The bottom line: It's not what she has to say, it's what she's done," said Marivic Dar, a Rotary member and chief executive officer of Equitable Life Assurance. "People came to see her and to show their support for her outstanding job."

Bronster, whose four-year term as attorney general peaked with her mission to clean up Bishop Estate, couldn't help but shake her head at the overwhelming reaction.

"Wherever I've gone it's been really supportive," she said. "People have come up to me in tears. I'm very moved by it and amazed. I don't think it's about me. A lot of people want a better Hawaii and the issues have been heartfelt."

Rotary member Sharon McPhee, holding up a T-shirt that said: "Remember Bronster Vote," said, "I think she'd make a marvelous trustee herself."

Bronster laughed at the comment and said, "I don't know about that. That's not why I got involved."

Although she earlier joked about what a trustee should earn: "It's the only job I think would be appropriate to get less money than I was making as attorney general."

To the trustees' million-dollar paycheck, Bronster said, "I think it's really outrageous. When you look at the federal law and when people criticized their $800,000 salary, instead of adjusting it down, they went up."

She called the trustees arrogant for also keeping information hidden from the court.

Bronster said she remains "cautiously optimistic" the facts will start to flow. "The new trustees have to get the information out to all the regulators."

The trustee selection process doesn't work, she said, and a new mechanism is needed.

Bronster said she has no immediate plans for her career, but is consulting for the attorney general's office to help with transition issues for "$1 a year."

Meanwhile, she's enjoying the calm.

"I can sleep at night," she said, then paused and joked, "I can also sleep during the day. My daughter (age 9) caught me singing and said, 'Mom, you've definitely gone off the deep end. You need a job!' "

Some Rotary members also talked about Dawson possibly becoming the next attorney general. Dawson said a few legislators asked her to consider it.

"No question, if I were asked to take on the task, I would with every fiber in my being," she said.

Rotary member Dick Vercauteren and his wife came up to Dawson and said, "Margery couldn't have done it without you. You're a saint, a Joan of Arc."

Dawson replied, "No, Margery is the Joan of Arc. She has demonstrated a kind of courage no other attorney general has ever displayed."

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