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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Senate Accountability for Everybody Except Rockne Freitas
By Andrew Walden @ 9:14 PM :: 12088 Views :: Ethics, Higher Education

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." -- George Santayana

by Andrew Walden

Tomorrow, the Senate Special Committee on Accountability will meet to investigate the 'Wonder Blunder' at UH Manoa.

According to the Star-Advertiser: "UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, Board of Regents President Eric Martinson, (Jim) Donovan, (Virginia) Hinshaw, Stan Sheriff Center Manager Rich Sheriff and representatives of the Cades Schutte law firm that conducted the UH-commissioned investigation have been asked to appear."

Fingers are pointing in every direction except the one name NOT on that list: Rockne Freitas.

Ferd Lewis says, "Freitas’ large shadow looms over UH’s AD discussions"

UH coaches say they were ‘pressured’ as part of an ‘orchestrated’ effort to make Rockne Freitas AD.

Here is a lesson from the last time Freitas played second fiddle to an older woman, in this case corrupt Kamehameha Schools Trustee Lokelani Lindsey, the only Broken Trustee we can now address as “Federal Felon and ex-con”:

The (Kamehameha School) teachers viewed (Rockne) Freitas as (Lokelani) Lindsey's agent, someone who would do what she wanted done without hesitation or complaint. A short time spent working with him convinced them that they could not take him seriously as an educator. Once, during a meeting to discuss the curriculum, teachers commented that changes were needed to get students to think more critically and communicate more effectively. Freitas reportedly pointed to statistics showing that more than thre out of four Kamehameha graduates were going on to four year colleges and asked, "If a kid gets into college, what do we care if he can write effectively?" At first the teachers thought he was joking. Then they realized he wasn't. -- Broken Trust, pg 111

(Lokelani) Lindsey liked doing business with Education Management Group (EMG). A company saleswoman once arranged for a chartered jet to fly Lindsey and her husband, along with Rockne Freitas and another friend, Ben Bush III, to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. Not every vendor provided such service. Nevertheless, things did not go well with the company. Its curriculum materials were not a good fit for Kamehameha, and the teachers did not want to use them. Because EMC's software was proprietary, Kamehameha personnel could not load other software or modify the system in any way. No contract was ever signed, but EMG billed Bishop Estate on the basis of 'verbal purchase orders.' Bishop Estate paid the company between $5 million and $6 million before anyone started asking questions. When it looked as though the entire matter might be reviewed, files started disappearing from locked cabinets. Eventually EMG's services were terminated. Some of the hardware was cannibalized; everything else was discarded. -- Broken Trust, pg 115

And here's some more. "Company headed by Kamehameha V.P. gets lucrative break," by Ian Lind, Star-Bulletin, October 22, 1997:

State transportation officials have waived $360,000 of deferred rent due from a company controlled by a top Kamehameha Schools official.  

The company, GRG Enterprise Inc., will also keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in "sandwich profits" made by subleasing the harbor-front property.

The moves came as the state concluded negotiations over a rent increase for the remaining years of the company's lease, which expires in 2000.

GRG President Rockne C. Freitas, also vice president of Kamehameha Schools, said he is not familiar with specific terms of the new lease but intends to meet the company's obligations to the state.

The company leases two acres on the Ewa side of Kewalo Basin where it sells gas, diesel fuel and ice to fishing boats.

The company then subleases space to several other fishing-related businesses, including United Fishing Agency, which operates Honolulu's fish auction.

GRG has paid the state $39,924 annually since 1980, but recent financial statements show it took in a total of $898,407.55 in sublease rents over the past three years.

The state had previously believed the company took in only about $85,000 a year from subleases. …

The property is now assessed by the city for tax purposes at $4.2 million, which would suggest annual rent of $293,286 according to the state's formula, which calls for the state to get a 7 percent return on the market value of the land….

George Perry Jr., a former city waste-water employee who has been an associate of prominent Big Island businessman Larry Mehau, is vice president of GRG, according to business registration records. Former service station operator George Inamura, who has run the dockside fueling operation, is listed as secretary and treasurer.

Freitas is also a longtime friend of Mehau, whose firm, Hawaii Protective Association, took over security duties at Kamehameha Schools several years ago and was paid more than $31,000 a month during 1995-96, according to documents filed with the estate's most recent annual report…

Freitas said last week he has few details about the lease deal.

"I haven't had much time; we're fighting other battles up here," Freitas said, referring to public criticism and legal scrutiny that have hit Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estate trustees.

Freitas was appointed to the Kamehameha post in mid-1995 and immediately put in charge of day-to-day operations of the school, once handled by Principal Michael Chun. The move has been cited as a key factor in claims of mismanagement at the schools.

Freitas is one of Bishop Estate's five highest-paid employees, apart from trustees, according to the estate's tax return.  

During the 1995-96 fiscal year, Freitas was paid $135,772, plus a $5,700 expense allowance and $18,023 for deferred compensation or other employee benefits....

Did this quote sound familiar?

"I haven't had much time; we're fighting other battles up here."

It should. HNN August 31 reported:

"Asked Friday afternoon if he's now interested in being AD on a permanent basis, Freitas said, 'I haven't thought about it because I'm too busy' carrying out the two jobs at the same time."

History? Fifteen years later, even Freitas' answers are repeating themselves.

---30---

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