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

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 18:  Trustees Surrounded
    • Do you think the Bishop Estate controversy helped or hurt Governor Cayetano’s chances of reelection?  The majority trustees accused Cayetano of using the investigation to further his political career.  Why do you think they said that?
    • The Arthur Andersen accounting firm was critical of the trustees.  In your own words, what had the trustees done wrong?
    • Master Matsumoto accused the trustees of intentionally hiding the fact that they were accumulating income rather than spending it currently.  What’s so bad about accumulating income?
    • Attorney general Bronster and deputy attorney general Wakayama did not get along very well.  He did something that forced her to take action sooner than she wanted.  She eventually demoted him.  Do you think Wakayama did anything wrong?  What about Bronster?  When is it appropriate, if ever, to stand up to your boss?
    • Explain the cartoon on page 235.
    • In the photo caption on page 236, Marshall Ige compares his going to jail for committing a crime to Americans of Japanese Ancestry being put into internment camps.  Do you think the comparison is valid?  Why or why not?
    • Trustee Stender’s lawyers tried to convince the Kamehameha ohana that they should support his efforts to remove trustee Lindsey rather than the attorney general’s efforts to remove all five trustees.  In doing so, they were serving as his advocates.  Should lawyers always try to do what’s best for their clients, or should they do what they think is best for the public?  Would you want a lawyer who sat in judgment of you rather than advocating for you?
    • Do you agree with Na Pua’s statement about trustee Stender in the middle of page 238?  Why or why not?
    • As you can see on page 239, members of Na Pua worn t-shirts that read “DO THE RIGHT THING.”  What does it mean to you?  Is that a helpful motto?  Who decides what is “the right thing”?
    • The trustees’ lawyer used the word “luna” in arguing against taking control of Bishop Estate from his clients.  Do you think that was effective advocacy, or inappropriate courtroom behavior?  Why do you feel as you do?
    • The authors say that trustee Peters used the word “missionary” as a term of contempt.  Why would anyone view that word negatively?  What do you think of when you hear that word?  Do you think the early missionaries to Hawaii did mostly good things for Hawaiians?  Explain.
    • Beginning at the bottom of page 241, you can read Na Pua’s argument for removing the five trustees.  Is this an effective argument?  Would you have approached the issue differently?
    • Why do you think Judge Hirai took the matter “under advisement,” rather than make a decision on the spot?  Is it good to take time to think about important decisions?  How much time? 
    • Why do you think trustees Lindsey and Stender disliked each other so much?  What do you do when you have to work with someone you strongly dislike?