Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 11:  A Tinderbox Waiting for a Match
    • Toni Lee had been a volunteer usher at every Kamehameha graduation for 33 years, but trustee Lindsey did not let her do so after Lee was spotted at a meeting leading up to the march.  Why do you think Lindsey would do that?  Why would Lee care that she couldn’t be an usher?
    • Trustee Lindsey refused to stand up during a “standing ovation” for the Kamehameha Schools president.  What is a “standing ovation,” and why would a crowd do that?  How do you think a standing ovation starts?  How would you feel if you stood up and started clapping for someone, and no one else stood up?  Why might someone stand up and clap before seeing anyone else stand up?
    • The four leaders of the teachers’ group—Na Kumu o Kamehameha—risked their jobs when they signed a letter that pointed out problems at their school.  Why would they take such a risk? 
    • The people who organized the march formed a non-profit organization—Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi.  Why do you think they bothered to form an organization?  Do you think it might have made it easier to raise funds?  Do you think it might have made it easier to “speak with one voice”?  Did they need a new organization to do that?
    • On page 147 the authors describe the trustees’ argument that Kamehameha Schools was the sole beneficiary of Princess Pauahi’s trust and that no individuals were beneficiaries.  This was an important question because the general rule is that only beneficiaries can sue the trustees.  Why did the Na Pua group never get a “day in court” (i.e., an opportunity to argue in front of a judge)?
    • On page 148 the authors reveal that trustee Lindsey had convinced trustees Wong, Peters, and Jervis that Kamehameha was “floundering.”  Several chapters earlier, Lindsey criticized trustee Stender for characterizing Kamehameha as a “sinking ship.”  Was her criticism fair? 
    • When he found out that the other trustees wanted to fire Kamehameha Schools president, trustee Stender decided to break his promise not to comment publicly about the turmoil at Kamehameha.  Stender’s decision to “go public” made a huge difference in rallying support for the school’s president and opposition to the other trustees.  Do you think it was right, or wrong, for Stender to break this promise?  What would you have done under the same circumstances?  Why?
    • After leaving the meeting at which he was physically intimidated, trustee Stender wrote a memo to the other trustees.  In fact, he wrote many memo to the other trustees, often immediately after meeting with them.  Why do you think he bothered to put his thoughts in writing?