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

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 14:  Mistrust and Paranoia
    • Japanese immigrants brought to Hawaii a proverb, “The nail that sticks up gets pounded down.”  What does this mean? 
    • A Bishop Estate staff member described the atmosphere at trust headquarters as “like being in a tomb, or a bunker.”  What does that mean? 
    • Based on what you’ve read on pages 185 and 186, do you think the phones at trust headquarters were bugged?  If so, who do you think ordered that, and why did they do it?  If not, why do you think so many workers thought the phones were bugged?
    • Someone said his job was “to make nice” with people before they got hurt.  What does that mean?  What would you do if someone ever said that to you?  Would you consider it a threat?
    • Beginning on page 186 the authors tell the story of Mrs. Childers, a Bishop Estate staff person who ended up moving away from Hawaii.  How did that story make you feel?  Did Mrs. Childers do anything wrong?  What would you have done if it were you?
    • The authors say the Peterson report “unsurprisingly” rehashed material from trustee Lindsey’s report and repeated Lindsey’s message.  Why do you think the authors expected the Peterson report to do that?
    • How would it make you feel if your school was called, “a factory of failure?”  Why would trustee Lindsey’s lawyer say that?
    • Two Kamehameha Schools administrators stood up for the teachers.  Why do you think those two did so?  Would you have done the same if you had been in their situation?
    • Julian Ako’s speech at his high school graduation had been on the biblical text, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”  What does that mean?  Do you agree with the saying?
    • On page 190 the authors describe the teachers’ decision to form a union.  Do you think teachers should belong to a union?  Why or why not?
    • The WASC report referred to the trustees as “dysfunctional.”  What does that mean?  Based on what you’ve read, do you agree with that characterization?
    • Explain the cartoon on page 191.
    • What does it mean to “leak” a confidential document?  Was it wrong for someone to “leak” the WASC report? 
    • The teachers criticize their president for not standing up for them.  They thought he should have done so even if it meant getting fired.  His friend and lawyers advised otherwise, saying it would accomplish nothing.  Gladys Brandt pushed him to “act like a president.”  Who was right?  What would you have done if you were the Kamehameha Schools president at that time?