Friday, December 31, 1999

1999: The Year's Top Stories In Revew


Bishop Estate
trustees fall from
power ranks tops

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin ranks
the board members' resignations as
Hawaii's top news story of 1999

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The nearly three-year long controversy involving Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate came to a climax in 1999 when all five trustees resigned.

Their resignations were No. 1 on the Star-Bulletin's list of the Top 10 news stories of the year.

Charges of mismanagement of the estate's $6 billion trust -- which threatened its tax exempt status -- and neglect of its educational mission ultimately led to the downfall of the trustees.

Meanwhile, two tragedies shook the collective consciousness of Hawaii residents. The Xerox shootings forced us to be a little more wary of those we come in contact with daily, while the Mother's Day landslide at Sacred Falls reminded us not to take nature for granted.

1) Bishop Estate trustees removed

When Lokelani Lindsey resigned from the board of the state's largest private landowner earlier this month -- the last of the five Bishop Estate trustees to do so -- it was almost anti-climactic.

Buckling under the pressure, which included criminal indictments, Richard "Dickie" Wong and Henry Peters resigned earlier this month. Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis resigned months ago.

The key charges against the trustees were mismanagement of trust assets, taking excessive compensation and neglect of the estate's core mission to educate native Hawaiians.

Bullet Bishop Estate Archive

2) Xerox shootings

On Nov. 2, Byran Uyesugi shot and killed seven co-workers in the Xerox Building on Nimitz Highway. Uyesugi surrendered to police after a six-hour standoff at the Hawaii Nature Park in Makiki.

3) Sacred Falls tragedy

A Mother's Day hike turned into a nightmare when eight people were killed and 50 others injured after a landslide at the falls.

Among the dead were a California man who died shielding his wife from the falling boulders, a brother and sister whose deaths left their parents childless, and a young girl who died in the arms of her would-be rescuers.

Sacred Falls State Park has remained closed since the incident.

4) Bronster ousted as AG

The state Senate created a political uproar this May when it rejected the reconfirmations of Attorney General Margery Bronster and Budget Director Earl Anzai.

Gov. Ben Cayetano suggested that Bronster's investigation into Bishop Estate was a contributing factor.

In July, Cayetano announced Anzai as his new attorney general. Another heated confirmation vote is expected this coming legislative session.

5) Pauline convicted

Frank Pauline Jr., 26, was convicted Aug. 28 of the 1991 Christmas Eve murder of Dana Ireland on the Big Island. In October, Pauline was sentenced to three life terms with the possibility of parole.

The verdict and sentence brought some sense of relief to the Big Island community and the Ireland family.

6) Star-Bulletin on the brink

Most prognosticators thought that when Star-Bulletin managing partner Rupert Phillips announced Sept. 16 that the 117-year-old newspaper was to close, it was a done deal.

Instead, the shutdown maneuvers met with strong opposition by the public and the state attorney general's office. Opponents charged collusion between Liberty Newspapers, owners of the Star-Bulletin, and Gannett Corp., owner of the Honolulu Advertiser. The shutdown is on hold pending a trial in federal court.

7) Hokule'a's voyage

The storied double-hulled voyaging canoe achieved yet another milestone on Oct. 8 when it landed in Rapa Nui. Hokule'a has now sailed each of the major Polynesian migration routes and docked at each of the three corners of the Polynesian Triangle consisting of Hawaii, New Zealand and Rapa Nui.

Docked in Tahiti since Dec. 3, it returns to Hawaii early next year and marks its 25th year with a celebration at Kualoa Regional Park in March.

8) The Y2K drill

The hype infuriated purists who insisted the new millennium does not really begin until 2001, but there's no doubt the impending arrival of 2000 generated coverage throughout 1999, in Hawaii and the rest of the world. The year 2000 symbolized different things to different people. For some, the dreaded Y2K computer bug predominated, with its threat of massive computer meltdowns.

For others, the potential for computer catastrophes was less important than finding the perfect way to ring in the new year. Merchants reported brisk sales of fireworks for what even Gov. Ben Cayetano has said he hopes will be the last year they can be set off legally.

9. St. Louis School firing

The trustees of the Marianist Catholic school fired the Rev. Mario Pariante as its school president on Nov. 17.

The trustees said Pariante failed to demonstrate communication and leadership skills during his two-year tenure. Pariante's supporters said he ruffled feathers of powerful school officials with his discipline of the school's football team.

10) Kahala bank shootout

On July 7, armed robbers exchanged gunfire with a police officer outside a Kahala bank and then hijacked a delivery van as a getaway vehicle.

Three of the four suspects were arrested without incident within four days of the robbery. Albert Raymond Batalona, the fourth suspect and the man police suspected was the ringleader, remained at large and was the subject of a highly publicized manhunt until his peaceful capture in the parking lot of an Aiea business on July 15.

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