GUEST OPINION: Let the courts review terms of Doyle Trust

  • 12/4/2011: A1:

    PC: Exchange Bank President and CEO Bill Schrader talks with Occupy Santa Rosa, Saturday Dec. 3, 2011 as the group marches on the Roseland branch of Exchange Bank at Dutton Ave. and Sebastopol Road demanding resumption of the Doyle Scholarship. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

As beneficiaries of the trust, we have the right to approach the court with our request. Additionally, solutions exist that could restart the scholarship immediately and ensure that the bank remains an independent, locally owned institution.

Doyle wrote his will more than 60 years ago; trust law and investing guidelines have changed dramatically since 1948. Despite language in the trust prohibiting the sale of Exchange Bank stock, one option the court has is to encourage the trustees to diversify part of the trust's assets to protect the interests of SRJC students.

As precedent, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Milton Hershey School Trust and many other charitable trusts have sold some of their founder's stock to protect their beneficiaries, although the original trusts prohibited such sales. If the Doyle Trust diversified half of its assets, it would remain Exchange Bank's largest shareholder, the scholarship would resume immediately and the trust would gain a strong, low-risk investment portfolio.

We ask the community to support us in requesting the court's opinion. We also hope the community understands we are not attacking Exchange Bank. We are thankful for its help for the last 60 years. Though we are grateful for the community's help in the Bridging the Doyle campaign, it is a temporary fix; it is many times smaller than the pre-2009 Doyle Scholarship and what the Doyle Trust would provide if it diversified its investments.

Therefore, we respectfully request that the Doyle trustees implement a solution to immediately resume the scholarship in full or join us in asking the Superior Court for advice. If the trustees have the students' best interests at heart, then they have no reason to oppose our requiest.

Jay Scherf is a Santa Rosa native and sophomore at Santa Rosa Junior College hoping to transfer UC Berkeley next fall. Justine Johnson is also an SRJC sophomore and a resident of Santa Rosa.

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