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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

3 Native Hawaiians finalists for trustee of Kamehameha Schools

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Chairman Micah Kane is among three finalists for trustee of Kamehameha Schools.

Anthony Ching, Hawaii Community Development Authority executive director, and former Kamehameha Schools executive, and ex-DHHL chairman Ray Soon are the other finalists named by a Probate Court-appointed panel.

All three are Native Hawaiian and are current or former state officials.

None are educators.

The finalists were picked from a group of 68 candidates reviewed by the Probate Court's Trustee Screening Committee to replace retired Adm. Robert Kihune, whose term ends June 30.

The position pays between $87,000 and $108,000 a year.

Probate Judge Colleen Hirai will select Kihune's replacement from the list after considering comments from the public.

Kamehameha Schools, which was established by the 1883 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, is a nonprofit trust that educates Hawaiian children. It is one of the nation's largest charities and is Hawai'i's largest private landowner with more than 360,000 acres.

Kane, 40, has headed the DHHL for the past seven years and before that served as chairman of the Hawai'i Republican Party. He is a 1987 graduate of Kamehameha Schools.

Soon, 59, is president of Solutions Pacific LLC, a local consulting firm specializing in land-use issues. Soon headed the DHHL under then-Gov. Ben Cayetano and between 2004 and 2006 served as Kamehameha Schools vice president of community relations and communications.

Ching, 55, is a 1971 graduate of Kamehameha Schools and has headed the HCDA since January 2008. The HCDA regulates development in the Kaka'ako area, where Kamehameha Schools is a major landowner.

HCDA Chairman Jonathan Lai said yesterday that Ching has recused himself from all matters relating to Kamehameha Schools during the selection process. Kamehameha Schools recently has submitted its master plan to develop its 20 acres of land in the mauka side of Kaka'ako.

Kane said he was honored to be considered as a finalist and said he's been fortunate to have been touched by the legacy of Princess Pauahi.

Kane, who has worked with school officials to set up charter schools on DHHL land, said he's impressed by the direction the Kamehameha Schools has taken under CEO Dee Jay Mailer's guidance.

Ching and Soon declined comment.

Randy Roth, co-author of the 2006 book "Broken Trust" that chronicled the 1990s political and ethics scandals at the Kamehameha Schools, said Soon and Kane are "excellent candidates."

Roth, a University of Hawai'i law professor, added that Kane, with whom he worked with in the Lingle administration, has done an impressive job at the DHHL and "would be a terrific trustee."

The trustee screening committee said it reviewed candidates' backgrounds, conducted interviews and examined vision statements and their goals submitted by applicants.

The committee included local attorney Ben Matsubara, retired National Guard Col. Michael Rawlins, former Honolulu Police Chief Francis Keala, Lahaina Restoration Foundation Executive Director George "Keoki" Freeland, Hawaiian Electric Co. executive Robbie Alm, local philanthropist Wendy Crabb and Young Women's Christian Association of O'ahu CEO Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui.

"They (the finalists) possess a deep sense of commitment and ability to ensure Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's vision and legacy are perpetuated into the future," the committee said in an advertisement announcing the finalists.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.