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Saturday, May 6, 2000

Interim trustees should 'clean house'

When the former Bishop Estate trustees were removed, their replacements were expected to clean house. But one year later, individuals who for years were at the epicenter of abuse are still on the payroll, well placed, some even promoted.

Several of these holdovers are lawyers. One of them was in charge of the estate's legal department when egregious breaches of trust were committed. His aide during that disgraceful period is now the estate's top in-house lawyer.

Another holdover is an outside lawyer who used his considerable talents to thwart the attorney general's investigation of the former trustees.

Under Hawaii law, lawyers for a trust are legally obligated to report trustee misconduct to the probate court. It seems obvious that no such report was ever made by a Bishop Estate lawyer.

The problem is not limited to lawyers. Other key positions at the Bishop Estate were filled with people willing to use estate funds for patronage, unlawful political manipulation and personal aggrandizement. With minor exceptions, they too are still in place.

The interim trustees have said that they want to focus only on the future. As one put it recently, "We want to lay the past to rest...we don't want to seek retribution."

But retribution is not the issue. Accountability is. And the trustees have a legal duty to hold accountable any and all who have harmed the trust. If the interim trustees fail to do so, they themselves will be in serious breach of trust under the law.

Randall W. Roth
Professor, University of Hawaii School of Law
Co-Author, "Broken Trust"

Bishop Estate archive

Police ought to nab Kaaawa speeders

We live next to Kamehameha Highway in Kaaawa and can attest to the speeding traffic that rages along the straight stretch in front of our house, not more than a mile from the scene of this week's major accident.

The speeders are mostly young men in their 20s and early 30s. I have looked many of them in the eye as they roar by, testing their luck (and the luck of others) as they overtake and pass other cars.

They have no fear of the law nor do they have respect for the signs posted along the highway. The police should put the brakes on these scofflaws so that more lives aren't lost.

William H. Smith

Anzai's confirmation was laughable

It's funny as heck that Earl Anzai, rejected by the Senate last session as Governor Cayetano's choice for budget director, sailed through confirmation as attorney general without a single nay. Even though the real reason for this was that senators feared a "Bronster backlash" in an election year, it is still amusing to hear the senators' explanations of support.

Bullet Sen. Cal Kawamoto: "I played golf with Mr. Anzai. He's not a great golfer but he plays the ball where it lays. That shows he has a great deal of integrity." Good reason, Cal!
Bullet Sen. Matt Matsunaga: "He's honest, he's a straight shooter."

Apparently, Matsunaga forgets the last gubernatorial election, when Anzai spouted a variety of figures at various times regarding the amount of the state budget surplus. All of his hemming-and-hawing culminated when Anzai finally arrived at the $250 million figure -- the exact amount taken in a last-minute raid on the state Employees Retirement Fund. Get real, Matt!

It's hard to get mad at our politicians. They're giving us too much of a good laugh.

Roy Frank Westlake



"You have no idea what goes into the day of a dancer -- what we put our minds through, what we put our bodies through, what we put our lives through. It's really nice to bring that to a larger audience."
Amanda Schull
Hawaii-born, Punahou-educated dancer
On the 21-year-old's starring role in "Center Stage," a soon-to-be-released film on the competitive world of dancing

"He is 'The Man.' "
Mitsugi Nakashima
Chairman of the State board of education
Giving an "above satisfactory" performance rating to Paul LeMahieu, superintendent of Hawaii's public schools, but concerned that LeMahieu's efforts may not be effectively filtering down to the classroom level

Truth vindicates corrections officer

Mahalo to Debra Barayuga for her April 26 article, "Guard who let inmate escape gets probation." Finally, the facts are in print.

In the past, both TV news and newspapers had me pegged as a ring leader. It seems that, in Hawaii, you are guilty until you prove that you are innocent.

Steven McGuine

Don't lock out those who want to learn

Some public-school policies don't make sense. On my campus, for example, if you are late for class, you may not enter the classroom and, instead, you must go to "lockout." This is unfair to students who want to learn and just happen to come a little late.

Suspension is another peculiar punishment. It's ironic because those who don't show up to class (because they are in lockout too much) get suspended. But these students don't want to go to class to begin with. By suspending them, the school is granting their wishes.

These are the students who really need the help and guidance, at least more than the "gifted and talented" ones. Yet our society is so willing to push away those who need the attention.

Clarynne Ishikawa

Lawmakers hit bull's eye with gun laws

Your April 28 editorial on gun-control legislation was myopic and erroneous. Honorable members of the state House and Senate should be commended for hammering out logical, sensible and reasonable provisions affecting firearms.

In the wake of the Xerox shootings, in which my cousin was a victim, legislators had a daunting task. Requiring redundant registration and proof of firearm ownership to purchase ammunition would have equated to a Band-Aid over Band-Aid measure, never touching the root.

Mandating or allowing seizure of firearms from disqualified individuals addresses the very core of the problem. HPD's existing gun registration process works, and stopped alleged gunman Byran Uyesugi from acquiring more firearms in 1994.

Stephen Kawamae

Professional chefs wear tall white hats

As an executive chef for more than 30 years -- born, trained and honed in Europe -- we were expected to wear a tall white hat while working. We were to be proud of it, not only for the recognition and tradition, but the fact that it kept the head cool.

The taller the hat, the cooler and higher the position in the kitchen brigade.

Now, in most if not all so-called fine culinary establishments a la Honolulu, I see sloppy discourtesy to the trade: the baseball hat, sometimes worn backwards.

Imagine being defended by a top attorney wearing tennis shoes, or witnessing the pilot climbing aboard your favorite airline with a bandanna around his forehead.

This disconcerting appearance, at least in my book, tells me a great deal about the standards and concerns for what or where I am going to eat, which airline I fly, or whether I'm going to do what the judge tells me.

John L. Werrill

Kanaka maoli want best of both worlds

In his April 29 letter, Kekuni Blaisdell writes, "We are not 'Native Americans' nor 'Americans' but kanaka maoli, a separate people and nation."

Throughout the years, the U.S. Congress had passed many laws assisting Hawaiians, not the kanaka maoli. But the latter have applied and received assistance. Why should they have it both ways?

If the kanaka maoli are a separate people and nation, they should not have voted in previous elections. Should they even be voting in the November elections? In addition, when they visit a foreign country, should they get a U.S. passport? When they're in trouble on foreign soil, should they seek assistance at the U.S. embassy?

Blaisdell should ponder such matters.

H.T. Chang

Compromise on fireworks is good start

Congratulations to the House and Senate conferees who agreed on a fireworks bill that will make for safer New Year's celebrations in Hawaii.

Toward the end of 1999, more than 3,000 tons of fireworks came into the islands to be exploded in a four-hour period. That is too much for humans and the eco-system to endure, and is, indeed, dangerous for all life and health.

SB 680 is a step in the right direction, and fair to the public as well as to merchants.

Suzanne Teller

Department did nothing surreptitiously

We take issue with your April 26 article, "Claimant groups worked together," that speculates the purpose of a site visit on Feb. 16 was to map out a return of the artifacts to the Kawaihae caves. This isn't true.

On Jan. 25, the Hawaiian Homes Commission authorized the repatriation of the artifacts to Hui Malama. They were to be reunited with the iwi kupuna on an interim basis at the Honaunau storage facility, until the claimants reached an agreement on final disposition. This approach was agreed to by both Hui Malama and the Big Island Burial Council.

As a follow-up to this, staff from the four claimant groups agreed to spend Feb. 16 and 17 to conduct due diligence work to better address security, storage and repatriation issues. Staffers were there to familiarize themselves with the Kawaihae caves area, visit the potential artifacts interim storage site at Honaunau, and meet with the community that evening to solicit comments on final disposition of the iwi kupuna and artifacts.

Subsequent to that visit, my letter of Feb. 22 requested that the Bishop Museum not repatriate the artifacts to Hui Malama because the interim storage site at Honaunau had not been confirmed yet.

As you can see, DHHL had been implementing the directive of the Hawaiian Homes Commission. Without our approval, on Feb. 26, the artifacts were instead loaned to Hui Malama.

Your story's implication that the department was saying one thing but "quietly" doing something else is inflammatory and patently untrue.

Raynard C. Soon
Chairman, Hawaiian Homes Commission
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

More must be done to save coral reefs

The U.S. Coral Task Force is launching a plan designed to save the coral reef from becoming extinct. The plan consists of setting aside 20 percent of Hawaii's reefs for ecological reserves.

This plan is a great way to preserve our coral reefs, which are essential to our lives. They provide barriers so waves will not erode our land.

But we must focus on other problems of the reef, such as marine debris. Year after year, marine debris is forced into the ocean, occupies floor space that could be designated as a coral colony, and can also choke or crush coral and other marine animals like the Hawaiian monk seal.

If President Clinton would focus on our coral reefs, there'd be one less problem threatening the environment.

Alice Akao
Enchanted Lake Elementary School

President Clinton is spending too little on the coral reefs, when they are worth saving. These reefs make a lot of money for our economy.

It is unfair that Hawaii only gets 10 percent of federal money, when 34 percent of all the coral reefs are in Hawaii. If we got more money, we could help save more reefs and also attract more tourists to come here.

We should be building better sewage treatment plants, so that no spills occur near the coral reefs. Another suggestion is to plant more grass, at least where the bare spots are near the ocean, so the rain won't wash soil into the reefs.

My last idea is to have police boats go out to make sure that no boats sail into our reefs and break the coral.

Abigail Whiting
Enchanted Lake Elementary School

Require use of less smoke-emitting fireworks

Since the main objection to fireworks is all the smoke they produce, why has no one addressed the issue of mandating the use of less smoky fireworks in Hawaii? Then we don't have to mess it all up by instituting a ban.

Pame Romano

City is determined to develop, exploit bay

Hanauma Bay is known worldwide for its uncluttered vistas, tame colorful fish, superb snorkeling and submerged reefs. The city, seeing an opportunity to "cash in" on this popular scenic park and beach area, has decided it would be even more attractive (and lucrative) as a tourist destination. It wants to build a classy, multimillion-dollar Marine Education Center as well as a gift shop and snack bar on the upper bay park.

Justification for such a large expenditure is twofold: 1) To help "save the bay" by better educating the visitors on its use and 2) That it would pay for itself by charging each tourist a $3 access fee. Yet seemingly not considered were some very important factors.

Bullet The city's "save the bay" mantra is not supported by its own Environmental Impact Statement. In essence, it states that human impact is no longer an issue. It finds that past good management decisions -- like the stopping of fish feeding, a beach smoking ban and limiting the number of visitors to available parking -- have solved major concerns.
Bullet Hanauma Bay is an ancient Hawaiian spiritual and cultural location in a conservation district, and state constitutional laws and rights are involved.
Bullet Local Hawaiian and environmental groups were not consulted.

The plan, when made public, could generate community opposition because of the city's rigid "take-it-or-leave-it" approach.

Robert L. Ackerson

Info on non-traditional schools is appreciated

Thank you for your April 21 article, "Big isle charter school OK'd," and for keeping the public informed on Schools Within Schools and New Century Charter Schools.

As New Century Charter Schools continue to form (there are now more than 800 charter schools in 36 states in the nation), we hope your newspaper continue to educate the public on the new paradigms necessary to improve our educational system.

Donna Nooney
Teacher, Grade 2
Connections New Century Public Charter School

All union members don't hate civil service reform

Public worker unions do not necessarily represent the views of their entire memberships.

I am a Department of Education retiree and a member of Hawaii Government Employees Association Local 152, retirees unit. There must be others like me who think independently and are concerned with the future of our state as well as our own individual lives.

Public union leadership fails to recognize that it has an educated membership with sufficient wisdom to question wholesale resistance to meaningful civil service reform.

Present conditions call for public worker unions and government to honestly work together for changes that promote productive and efficient government services.

Yet legislators, once again, played into the hands of the unions, resulting in a watered-down version of civil service reform. Same old rhetoric; same knee-jerk reaction.

Others like me, whether employed or retired from government service, must foresee the dire outcome for a state held captive by the oppressive self-interests of public worker union tactics and legislative cowardice.

When times are good, rest assured that public unions will get their fair share. However, when times are bad, public employees should likewise bear their share of the hardship.

Haliimaile C. Goo

Union workers should think about others

I am disappointed that the Legislature was too cowardly to take on civil service reform and privatization of a prison. I'm also disappointed Governor Cayetano waited until he was a lame duck before taking on these issues.

I feel oppressed by a state that taxes me at one of the highest rates in the country to shore up generous salaries and pensions while I struggle to make a living. Have government workers ever thought how the rest of us feel while they fight for benefit on top of benefit?

While I believe in decent pay and benefits, I strongly disagree with a system which, for example, allowed Herman Aizawa to continue drawing an annual $90,000-plus salary even after being sidelined as superintendent of the Department of Education.

I'm sick that we don't pay our teachers better and that our kids don't have books or decent school facilities. I'm disgusted with the prison system, and the Legislature's failure to fund critical rehabilitation programs in a state suffering from a drug epidemic.

Many people feel the same way.

Mahealani Kamauu


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