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

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 12:  Time to Say “No More”
    • According to the authors of the Broken Trust essay, in Hawaii there is “a tradition of tolerance and quiet acceptance of others.  In the island way, it often is considered disruptive—even rude—to speak out.”  Do you agree?  If so, why would this be?
    • Four of the five authors of the Broken Trust essay were kupuna.  Was that relevant? 
    • What is the meaning of the cartoon on page 154?
    • Judge King told Roth that one haole acting alone could not accomplish meaningful change at Bishop Estate, because it had always been considered a Hawaiian trust and Hawaiians’ business.  Do you agree? 
    • Why do you think Judge King asked his wife before agreeing to co-author the Broken Trust essay?
    • On page 156 the authors describe the different ways Roth and Brandt responded when Kekumano initially expressed resistance to their plan.  Roth wanted to debate the issue, but Brandt encouraged Kekumano to elaborate his concerns and then listened patiently as he did so.  Which approach do you think was most likely to be effective in getting Kekumano to agree to the plan?  Why?
    • The Advertiser’s editor kept canceling appointments to meet with Roth.  Why do you think he did that?  Were there risks for the Advertiser if it agreed to publish the essay?
    • Brandt and Kekumano eventually told Roth to take the essay to the Star-Bulletin because they were convinced that the Advertiser was giving Roth the “run-around.”  What does that mean?  Has anyone ever treated you that way?  Why do you think the Advertiser didn’t just make a decision, one way or the other?
    • Why would the financially struggling Star-Bulletin be willing to take a risk that the much larger Advertiser seemed unwilling to take?
    • Do you think the Star-Bulletin did the right thing in publishing the Broken Trust essay?  The trustees complained that they were not given a copy ahead of time and allowed to respond in the same issue of the newspaper.  Was that a valid complaint?
    • What is the meaning of the cartoon on page 162?
    • What is the meaning of the cartoon on page 163?
    • On the top of page 163, one of the trustees’ lawyers expresses a complaint about the essay.  Do you think his point is a good one?
    • Trustee Peters called the four Hawaiian co-authors of the Broken Trust essay, “country-club Hawaiians,” even though they were not golfers.  Ironically, Peters belonged to the most expensive golf course in the state.  Why do you think Peters used that term to describe Brandt, King, Heen, and Kekumano?  What was his purpose?  What made it ironic?
    • What is the meaning of the cartoon on page 165?
    • On page 165 the authors describe how the two local newspapers, the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser, “poured more and more resources into coverage of the unfolding events, as if they were at war over who ‘owned’ the story.”  What does that mean?