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Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Thursday, March 2, 2000

People who changed

WE all know about the crucial roles played in the Kamehameha Schools reformation by the Hawaiian march of May 15, 1997, and the "Broken Trust" essay in the Star-Bulletin later that year.

The march showed reform was demanded by Hawaiians who previously resisted any tampering with the schools' trust. The essay provided the legal fodder for Governor Cayetano to order the attorney general to go after some of his old trustee friends.

Let me nominate also a few other key contributors to the trust's reformation:

Bullet Gov. John A. Burns and the state Legislature. Their law on mandatory leasehold-to-fee-simple home sites conversion fed hundreds of millions into the cash-poor trust.

Bullet Former Trustee Matsuo Takabuki. His Wall Street investment experience for developer Chinn Ho opened contacts that led to a major investment in the New York financial firm of Goldman Sachs, so far a gold mine.

Bullet Former Trustee Myron Thompson. His emphasis on continuous early childhood education starting from the womb was jettisoned by his successor trustees in 1995. It now is being resurrected.

Bullet Former Trustee Oswald Stender. He was the appalled insider who gave his all for reform. He came from a good management model at Campbell Estate, was turned off by the pork barrel evils of having "five CEOs." To the cold shoulders of his colleagues, he publicly urged that the trustees be policy makers only, with a clear line of management responsibility under them. This is the model now adopted with Hamilton McCubbin as CEO.

Bullet Ousted Trustee Lokelani Lindsey. Her micro-management excesses fueled the Hawaiian march. Like no trustee before her, she set up an office on campus and made the school administration secondary to her whims. Without her, the bad old structure might still survive.

A new day has dawned. President Michael Chun, a superb Hawaiian role model, now is restored to full authority on the Kapalama Heights campus. A few of the outreach programs jettisoned in 1995 are being resurrected. A fuller -- though probably reshaped -- outreach restoration may follow after a long-term strategic planning process concludes this fall.

The education budget the old trustees held under $100 million has grown to $150 million this year, including new construction of campuses on Maui and East Hawaii. With a conservative 4 percent annual return from an estate now valued at over $6 billion, there should be $240 million or more available per year for future education needs.

Even before a strategic plan is adopted by new permanent trustees soon to be chosen, it is clear program cooperation with the public schools will be restored.

President Chun favors funding programs in public schools in areas with significant Hawaiian populations, like Oahu's Leeward coast, but not construction. In these schools, all students would be eligible for programs funded by Kamehameha.

The temporary trustees have set in action courses that their successors may modify, but are most unlikely to derail. That's because the new goal of reaching out to as many Hawaiians as possible is simply right and already has broad support.

President Chun sees his institution as a part of the total community of the 50th State. He sees it benefiting both Hawaiians, who will retain priority, and non-Hawaiians who will reap the side benefits of more well-educated Hawaiians standing upright and contributing to the larger community.

Bishop Estate Archive

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

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