Richard Lim and his spear-carriers

Here’s a telling passage from former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s autobiography “Ben” (pp 519-520) that has bearing on the leadership struggle in the state House and my post earlier today on Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie’s appointment of Richard Lim as DBEDT director and his rumored plan to name Sen. Brian Taniguchi to head of the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Shortly after he became Speaker, (Calvin) Say was offered and accepted a directorship on the board of directors of City Bank. Many legislators hold full-time jobs with private employers, but the propriety of a legislator sitting as a director was questionable. Unlike employees, a director owes a fiduciary duty to his company and its stockholders. This can pose a potential conflict with the fiduciary duty the legislator owes to the public. …

One morning, I got a call from Evan Dobelle, the recently appointed president of the University of Hawaii, which provided some insights to Say’s role with City Bank.

“Governor, do you know a Richard Lim from City Bank?”

“Not well, but I know who he is. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Lim asked for a meeting, and he brought along Calvin Say and Brian Taniguchi. Pres [Prescott Stewart, a Dobelle staff person] was with me. I discussed ideas that the faculty and students have for University Avenue, past the Varsity Theater down to King Street. Then Lim started talking –— and he did all of the talking while Calvin and Brian looked on. The tone of Lim’s words bothered me. In essence he seemed to be suggesting that if I wanted to get anything done at the University I should call him.”

“What did Calvin and Brian do?” I asked Dobelle.

“Well, afterward I turned to Calvin and Brian and said, ‘What was that all about?’ ” he replied.

“Did they say anything?”

“No. They just sat there looking down at their shoes — and that bothered me more than what Lim was saying. Calvin has been helpful to me and the University. I couldn’t understand his behavior.”

“Looking down at their shoes?”

Years later, I got a slightly different version of the Lim-Dobelle meeting from a former UH regent who had arranged the meeting and was also in attendance.

“I was asked to arrange a meeting with Dobelle and I did,” the regent told me. “I have no idea what Lim wanted to meet about, so I asked Calvin and Brian if they knew. They both said they didn’t.”

“How did Lim come across?”

“Well, he did all of the talking, and after a few minutes I felt Dobelle didn’t like what he was hearing. And I think everyone was kind of caught off guard by what was being said.”

“Including Calvin and Brian?”

“Probably — I think they were surprised too.”

Dobelle thought Lim was trying to intimidate him. If he was, then having that Speaker of the House and the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in tow only added to that impression. If Say and Taniguchi were surprised by Lim’s words, the right thing for them to do would have been to contact Dobelle later and clear up any misunderstanding. They didn’t. …

In 2004 Calvin Say lost his directorship when City Bank was bought out by Central Pacific Bank. Central Pacific paid a premium $91.83 price per share, up from its original offer of $21.83 less than a year earlier. So Say didn’t walk away empty-handed. His director’s stock options provided a handsome return.

Explore posts in the same categories: Volcanic Ash

Tags: , , , ,

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

12 Comments on “Richard Lim and his spear-carriers”

  1. Peter Kay Says:

    Do you have Ben’s book converted to searchable formats or something? I too read the book (and thoroughly enjoyed it) and recall this passage now that I read it.

    I too got the press release on Lim’s appt (and know him as well) but the heck if I said, “Hey, page 519 on Ben’s book talks about Lim…lets pull that up!”).

    Pretty impressive, Mr. Shapiro…that is unless Ben gave you the Word version of the book.

  2. David Shapiro Says:

    Peter, alas, I don’t have a digital version of the book. I transcribed the passage with the Dragon Dictation app on my iPad, which worked remarkably well.

  3. Kolea Says:

    Thanks for this, Dave. I know nothing about Richard Lim. This passage from Cayetano’s book raises some concerns for me. Ideally, a Department head would have deep knowledge and influence in the field they will be overseeing. But they also should have interpersonal skills for negotiating between conflicting interests.

    If the incident reported in Ben’s book is representative of Lim’s style, he may be too used to pushing people around to be effective as a department head. But, again, I do not know the man.

    BTW, based on your comments here, I read part of the Ben excerpt into Dragon Dictation on my iPhone. I was QUITE impressed by its accuracy! I had played with it a bit before, but had not found a good use for it in my workstream. I will definitely have more respect for it now.

  4. Michael Says:

    It is interesting that Calvin Say would say he needed a pay raise cause he could not live on a part time job of @45 thousand dollars a year. Average wage of a full time worker. Unless he owes money to unknown causes.

    “Richard C. Lim, Managing Director of Sennet Capital, has 25 years of banking and investment experience. Prior to Sennet Capital, Mr. Lim was president and chief operating officer of City Bank until its merger with Central Pacific Bank. City Bank was a $2 billion community bank in Hawaii, with loan production offices in California.” found in Google search.

    The results shown are what happens when one is a marionette and a Puppet Masters controls ones future. They pull one strings and one looks at your shoes to hide something or not say something in fear of not biting the hand that feeds you. Say something and you owe me. Seems Richard is here to collect. His being nominated for a would knot cabinet. Collection with interest.

    Just an observation of what is written and not said.

  5. Michael Says:

    Senator Brian Taniguchi “He has been a Consultant for Central Pacific Bank from 2005 to the present”.

    Coincidence? “Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo”

  6. Will Says:


    Yet again, thanks for pointing out the stink that people may have been sweeping under the rug. Books like Broken Trust and Gov. Cayetano’s memoirs are invaluable to hold our government accountable. We need transparency, but more importantly, integrity and honesty. Will all these Dems. elected in November lead the way? Seems like the only one that cares about this is Charles Djou, and he’s out.


  7. WooWoo Says:

    While Cayetano’s book, like any memoir, must be taken with a grain of salt, it has certainly been a valuable resource to local voters and political junkies.

    Question for the regulars here: if you could force any one living local political figure (elected or not) to write a tell-all book, who would it be?

  8. Michael Says:

    NO need of books written when we have Discovery, Learning Channel, History Channel that tells all about America, Military and Civilian facts. With Wiki Leaks. Facebook, tweeter etc. The whole worlds knows on those who comment here. Google or yahoo the information wanted. Someone is telling online.

  9. zzzzzz Says:

    @woowoo–Sen. Inouye would top my list. Gary Rodrigues would also make for fascinating reading.

  10. hipoli Says:

    Larry Mehau.

  11. WooWoo Says:

    Oooh, yeah. Mehau gotta be #1

  12. Michael Says:

    Mehau has ties with lingle and is said to tie Governor Abercrombie around his fingers. String get pulled and tied in knots.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: