Saturday, August 21, 1999

Jervis’ resignation
as trustee overdue

Bullet The issue: Gerard Jervis submitted his resignation as a Bishop Estate trustee.
Bullet Our view: He should have resigned last March after his involvement in a sex-and-suicide scandal.

The resignation of Gerard Jervis as a Bishop Estate trustee, which was announced yesterday, seemed inevitable after his involvement in a sex-and-suicide scandal last March.

Jervis should have resigned immediately after he and an estate attorney, Rene Ojiri Kitaoka, were discovered having sex in a hotel restroom. The day after the incident she committed suicide and he later took an overdose of sleeping pills. It was clearly impossible for Jervis to continue as a trustee after that disgrace.

But Jervis did not mention the scandal in his letter of resignation. Instead he cited the Internal Revenue Service's threat to revoke the Bishop Estate's tax-exempt status if the former trustees were not permanently removed.

Four of the five, including Jervis, were temporarily removed in May by Probate Judge Kevin Chang, and proceedings on their permanent removal are pending. The fifth, Oswald Stender, resigned earlier. In addition, trustee Lokelani Lindsey was permanently removed by Circuit Judge Bambi Weil in a separate action.

In his letter, Jervis said, "I recognize that my final act as a trustee must be the protection of the estate's valuable tax exemption." This is perfectly true.

It is unfortunate that the three other ousted trustees, Lindsey, Henry Peters and Richard Wong, refuse to recognize the need for them to step down to prevent serious injury to the estate. But they can still follow his example and end this battle, which continues to do damage to the estate and its beneficiary, the Kamehameha Schools.


Playground equipment

Bullet The issue: The Board of Education has decided against requesting funds to purchase school playground equipment.
Bullet Our view: The board made the wrong decision but community groups should raise the money.

THE Board of Education made the wrong decision in rejecting a committee recommendation to ask the Legislature for $3 million to purchase playground equipment. Several board members wonder how they could justify spending the money when government funds are tight.

The board decided to request only $1 million to be used to resurface the playgrounds and to make equipment accessible to students with disabilities.

The schools are being stripped of old playground equipment because of liability concerns, leaving children with nothing to play on. The old equipment does not comply with new federal guidelines.

Times are hard, but Hawaii isn't so poor that it can't afford to deal with this situation.

Unless the Legislature comes up with the money without a request from the Board of Education, it will be up to community groups to raise the money -- not an impossible task. They've done it in the past. Leaving the schools without playground equipment is simply unacceptable.


Protest in Philippines

Bullet The issue: Mass demonstrations in the Philippines protested President Joseph Estrada's proposal to hold a constitutional convention.
Bullet Our view: It's unfortunate suspicion of Estrada's motives has obscured the issue of foreign investment.

THE ghost of Ferdinand Marcos hovers over Philippine politics. Fear that the dictatorship imposed by Marcos could be restored provoked resistance to an attempt by former President Fidel Ramos to amend the nation's constitution. Now much the same is happening to President Joseph Estrada.

Tens of thousands marched Friday in Manila and other cities in opposition to Estrada's proposal to call a constitutional convention. The president says he wants to remove restrictions on foreign investment, but his critics charge that his real intention is to abolish the current limit of one six-year presidential term so he can run again.

The opposition is led by former President Corazon Aquino and Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin, the archbishop of Manila. Aquino and Sin were key figures in the overthrow of the Marcos regime in 1986, and see themselves as defenders of the democratic freedoms restored at that time.

Estrada was a supporter of Marcos but has vowed to protect democracy. He denies any intention to remove the constitutional provision limiting the president to one term.

But the nation's bitter experience with Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972 on the pretext of a communist revolt and established a dictatorship, has made many Filipinos suspicious of any attempt to amend the post-Marcos constitution.

Unfortunately, this suspicion obscures the issue raised by Estrada: constitutional restrictions on foreign investment. The president argues that the restrictions are costing the nation needed capital that is going to other countries with fewer restraints.

This is a sensitive issue that deserves full discussion. But no such discussion is likely with the furor over Estrada's intentions.

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