Friday, January 29, 1999

Hawaiian sovereignty
elections’ low turnout

THE turnout for the Jan. 17 elections of delegates to the Hawaiian sovereignty convention was very low. There are several possible explanations and the true cause isn't clear. Of the 101,951 people registered to vote, only 8,867 or about 8.6 percent cast their ballots for the 85 delegate seats. Nine of those seats remain vacant; they will be filled once the delegates organize and decide how to do so.

Among the possible explanations: There was of course active opposition by Hawaiian groups that claimed the election was tainted by support from the state government and urged a boycott. There were the professional football playoffs that day that might have kept potential voters away from the polls. Perhaps there wasn't enough publicity by the organizers. Perhaps most Hawaiians just aren't interested in the sovereignty issue.

The opponents naturally are claiming the low turnout was a victory for their position. They are planning a rival conference without election of delegates. However, whether such a gathering will have more credibility is doubtful.

Meanwhile the holding of a convention to follow the elections remains uncertain, subject to the ability of the organizing group, Ha Hawaii, to obtain the necessary funding. It has applied to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for $1.9 million but the prospects there don't look good. Mililani Trask, an opposition leader, is now an OHA trustee and can be expected to resist any grant from OHA.

Although the election turnout was disappointing, the winners included a number of distinguished citizens, including Myron Thompson, the former Bishop Estate trustee; Hoaliku Drake, former state and city government executive; Charles Maxwell, authority on Hawaiian lore; and Dante Carpenter, former state senator and Hawaii County mayor. Activist Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele, who once occupied state lands to further the cause of sovereignty, was also elected.

If the convention is held, these and other able delegates could produce a useful session. But the divisions in the Hawaiian community must be surmounted somehow if it is to achieve a consensus on what form sovereignty should take and how to obtain it.


Police shooting

THE circumstances of a police shooting last year that resulted in the death of a North Shore man near the parking lot of a Pupukea heiau warranted a thorough investigation. City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle's office has completed its investigation and found that Officer Mark D. Boyce was justified in using deadly force against Fortunato Barques III. The findings provided by prosecutors explain why evidence needed to launch a criminal prosecution was lacking.

The May 5 shooting incident evolved from what seemed to be a routine traffic stop in the parking lot, which had been the scene of a series of thefts from automobiles. Officer Boyce reportedly ordered Barques and Barques' girlfriend out of a car in the lot. Barques ignored Boyce's order to lie on the ground and fled, jumping over a 4-foot fence onto land that his family said he leased.

Boyce had seen that Barques was carrying a handgun -- it was a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic -- in a shoulder holster, according to Lawrence Grean, chief of the city prosecutor office's intake and screening division. As Boyce followed Barques down a private road, Barques removed a cellular telephone from his waist but dropped it, Grean said. He then reached his right hand to his left side. Believing Barques was going for his gun, Boyce fired twice, hitting Barques both times in the back.

Grean said the safety strap on Barques' holster was unsnapped and the handgun was halfway out of the holster. It is uncertain whether Barques was reaching for the gun when Boyce fired, but Boyce's contention that he believed Barques was doing so is plausible.

The Barques family filed a lawsuit two weeks ago against Boyce and the Honolulu Police Department. In a civil suit the standard of proof is lower than that required in criminal court. Proving beyond a reasonable doubt -- as required in criminal cases -- that Barques did not believe deadly force was necessary to protect himself would have been impossible.


Olympics scandal

IT'S not surprising that the mayor of Nagano, Japan, has acknowledged that "excesses" were committed in bidding for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. The current scandal erupted over the competition to hold the 2002 Games, awarded to Salt Lake City, but the corruption began long before that battle.

The International Olympic Committee is moving to cleanse its ranks, as it must if the Olympic organization is to survive. The IOC recommended for expulsion six committee members accused of accepting cash and extravagant gifts and services. An inquiry has found that eight members received more than $440,000 in cash and gifts, with one, Jean-Claude Ganga of the Republic of Congo, receiving $216,000 alone. Four members have resigned.

That was all from Salt Lake City. Now the mayor of Nagano admits that his city's bidders provided all-expense-paid visits to the ancient capital of Kyoto for IOC officials. Moreover, Japanese businessmen reportedly deposited $20 million into the IOC account, earmarked for the Olympic Museum. Last week the Australian Olympics chief disclosed that he offered $70,000 in inducements to two IOC members the night before Sydney defeated Beijing by two votes in the 1993 election.

There is great irony in the fact that the Olympics, conceived as a celebration of pure sport, has been sullied by the unprincipled greed of members of the governing body. The representatives of the cities competing to be Olympic sites have their own ethical problems but they appeared to have been snared by demands of corrupt members of the IOC.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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