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Tuesday, May 9, 2000

House-cleaning is due
at Kamehameha Schools

Bullet The issue: "Broken Trust" author Randall Roth urges the interim trustees of the Kamehameha Schools to clean house of employees who operated with the former trustees.

Bullet Our view: The interim trustees cannot ignore the need for accountability.

DESPITE the recent "60 Minutes" report on network television describing the ouster of the former Bishop Estate trustees, this struggle isn't finished. A pointed reminder of unfinished business was published in the Saturday Star-Bulletin in the form of a letter by Randall Roth, the principal author of the 1997 "Broken Trust" article that was a key factor in the battle.

Roth, who is a University of Hawaii professor of law and an authority on trust law, noted that one year after the removal of the former trustees, the estate, now called the Kamehameha Schools, has yet to "clean house." Roth charged that "individuals who for years were at the epicenter of abuse are still on the payroll, well placed, some even promoted."

The letter noted that several of the questionable holdovers are lawyers. It pointed out that under Hawaii law, lawyers for a trust are obligated to report trustee misconduct to the probate court. "It seems obvious," Roth said with a hint of sarcasm, "that no such report was ever made by a Bishop Estate lawyer."

In addition, he said, other key positions were held by people who were willing to use estate funds improperly, and they are also still there.

The letter amounted to a rebuke of the interim trustees. Roth warned that 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."

The professor quotes the interim trustees as saying they want to focus on the future, not retribution. He asserts that the issue is not retribution but accountability.

It is also hard to believe that employees who cooperated with the former trustees in their abuses should be considered suitable for carrying out the policies of the new board.

One dismissal of an estate official has resulted in the filing of a lawsuit. Randall Chang, a former asset manager, alleges in his suit that interim trustee Robert Kihune and interim chief operating officer Nathan Aipa violated his civil rights through racial discrimination and retaliation. The suit could have a bearing on future decisions by the trustees regarding holdover employees.

The interim trustees may have decided to defer personnel changes in the trust pending their appointment of a chief executive officer. Now that Hamilton McCubbin has been installed as CEO, perhaps the time for the trustees and their CEO to clean house, as Roth put it, has come.

Bishop Estate Archive

Peace prospects are
brighter in Ulster

Bullet The issue: The outlawed Irish Republican Army has pledged to reveal the location of its weapons to international inspectors.

Bullet Our view: The announcement could be the key to peace in Northern Ireland but the plan requires thorough study.

THE Irish Republican Army's pledge to reveal the location of its arms caches to two international inspectors could be the vital breakthrough to peace in Northern Ireland. But David Trimble, the chief Protestant figure in the suspended Protestant-Catholic government, sounded an appropriate note of warning. "I would caution people against throwing their caps up in the air," he said. "We want to be sure that this is a process, not just a token gesture."

Trimble agreed late last year to form the power-sharing cabinet alongside Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA. When he threatened to withdraw over the IRA's failure to make disarmament commitments, Britain suspended the administration and resumed direct rule of Northern Ireland in February.

Prime Minister Tony Blair also welcomed the IRA's offer as "a big step forward" but warned that dissident groups may use violence to upset the new atmosphere of peace. "Let us mark it carefully because we have been in a situation before where potentially big breakthroughs do not yield results," he said.

The plan calls for Cyril Ramaphosa, the former African National Congress chairman from South Africa, and Martti Ahtisaari, Finland's recently retired president, to inspect the IRA weapons stockpiles.

The IRA has always rejected disarmament as equivalent to surrender. The proposal now being offered would not require the IRA to hand over weapons publicly, only to identify the locations of its secret stockpiles. Rather than disarmament, the IRA uses the term "beyond use," which means its firearms would not be surrendered but could not be used. How this would work -- whether it would work at all -- isn't clear.

The IRA announcement came a day after the British and Irish governments announced plans to transfer power back to Northern Ireland's suspended administration on May 22 and to extend the deadline for total IRA disarmament from that date to June 2001. The IRA's declaration may have been a concession to facilitate the British transfer of power.

There have been too many false starts in the Northern Irish peace process to declare final success at this point. But the process has been given another chance. It may be its last.

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