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

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 19:  End of the Line

    • A staff member is quoted as saying, “We go in there and all we’re going to do is get blasted.  They’re not going to listen to us anyway.  So give them what they want to hear.”  If you were in a leadership position, would you want others to tell you what they really think, or only what they think you want to hear?  If you worked for bosses who did not like to hear bad news, would you tell them only good news?  Explain.
    • Cyd Gaspar and her friends collected signatures on a petition.  Do you think the trustees knew what these students were doing?  Was there a danger in doing it?  Why did they do it?  Would you have joined them?  Do you think their actions made a difference of any kind?  Explain.
    • The Star-Bulletin described the Lindsey removal trial as “a modern day morality play.”  What does that mean? 
    • There were several attempts to reach an “out-of-court settlement.”  What does it mean to “settle” a legal controversy outside the courtroom?  Do you think many legal cases are “settled?”  Should they be?
    • The IRS called the trustees’ fees “grossly excessive.”  Do you agree?  How would you go about deciding how much is “reasonable compensation” for an important job?
    • The Senate did not confirm the Governor’s reappointment of attorney general Bronster, and so she had to leave office.  Did you agree with the Senate?  Why do you think a majority of senators voted against Bronster’s confirmation?  Why do such appointments have to be confirmed by the Senate?  In all but six states the attorney general is elected, not appointed.  Which system do you think is better?  Why?
    • In most states judges are elected, not appointed.  Which system do you think is better?  Why?
    • All five trustees were forced to resign, but they did not have to pay back the trust for excessive fees or investment losses.  Nor did they have to admit that they had done anything wrong.  Was the outcome fair to the trustees?  To the public?  If you had been the judge, would you have done anything differently?  Explain.
    • Trustee Peters told the TV program 60 Minutes that he regretted not buying the Honolulu Star-Bulletin when it was for sale.  Why do you think he felt that way?  If you owned a newspaper, do you think its news coverage would tend to reflect your personal opinions?  Should it?