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

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 21:  Eternal Vigilance
    • The authors describe a “tension” between the “good reasons for honoring a trust’s charitable mission” and “the likelihood that any specific charitable mission will come to be seen as outdated.”  What does this mean?  Is this tension ever likely to go away?
    • Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The earth belongs to the living.”  What do you think he meant by that?  Other philosophers have sometimes referred to “dead-hand control.”  What do you think that’s all about? 
    • Under what circumstances do you think the lives of the living should be constrained by dictates of people who are no longer alive?  How does that question relate to Princess Pauahi’s Will?
    • The authors describe how Pauahi’s instructions regarding religion have been marginalized over the years.  What do you think Pauahi would say about that if she were alive today?
    • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is quoted on page 285 as calling Bishop Estate, “a large and overwhelmingly secular business.”  Is that an accurate description?
    • Do you think Princess Pauahi wanted Kamehameha Schools to be for Hawaiians only?  Why or why not?
    • Do you think Princess Pauahi would be more interested in helping academically strong students or the students who are most at risk?  Why?
    • How would you feel if (1) you were Hawaiian, (2) you or your children could not get into Kamehameha, and (3) you just heard that non-Hawaiians were being admitted?  Why do you think you would feel that way?
    • On page 288 the authors ask, “Who is Hawaiian?”  How would you answer that?  For example, what would you call someone who is 255/256 Caucasian and 1/256 Hawaiian?  What about someone who has no Hawaiian blood but was raised by Hawaiian parents and speaks the Hawaiian language fluently:  Is that person not Hawaiian? 
    • What should be the admissions policy at Kamehameha Schools?  Explain your position.
    • In your own words, explain the legal and other arguments of the people who support a Hawaiians-only admissions policy, and those of the people who oppose it.
    • People who have taught at Kamehameha Schools over a long period of time have commented that the student body has tended to look less Hawaiian over time.  Is there anything wrong with that?  If you were a trustee would you want to change that?  If so, in what way?
    • Beginning on the bottom of page 294, Walter Heen criticizes the Ninth Circuit’s initial 2-1 decision against the Kamehameha admissions policy.  Do you agree with Heen?  Why or why not?
    • Do you think Kamehameha should have a uniquely Hawaiian curriculum, or just be an outstanding college-prep school for Hawaiians?  Why?
    • Do you agree with the trustees’ decision to retain indefinitely 350,000 acres of non-income-producing land?  If the trustees were to sell that land for, say, $5 billion, they could almost double the amount of money spent on Kamehameha Schools and on the various extension programs.  Do you think Princess Pauahi would want that, or would she rather that the trustees never sell the land?  Why?
    • Gladys Brandt half-seriously proposed that a statute of Lokelani Lindsey be erected on the Kamehameha campus.  In your own words, what was her point?
    • How did it make you feel as you read Gladys Brandt’s reasons for taking the job of principal at Kamehameha Schools?