Posted tagged ‘Richard Lim’

Richard Lim and his spear-carriers

December 1, 2010

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.

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