Wednesday, April 21, 1999
Senate should confirm
Margery BronsterThe issue: Whether the state Senate should confirm the nomination of Attorney General Margery Bronster to a second term.MARGERY Bronster entered treacherous territory in 1997 when, as attorney general, she opened her historic investigation of the Bishop Estate. It should come as no surprise then that her reconfirmation to the post for Governor Cayetano's second term should encounter opposition. Whatever shortcomings she may have demonstrated during her first four years on the job, blocking her reappointment would be an unwarranted setback to the Bishop Estate probe.
Our view: Bronster is doing a good job and should be reappointed.
Bronster's detractors insist their opposition is not based on her Bishop Estate efforts. Their main complaint seems to be that state departments have turned to the Legislature for money to hire their own lawyers instead of relying on the attorney general's office.
How much opposition to her reappointment is actually based on her handling of the Bishop Estate matter is unclear. In Senate hearings, some Kamehameha Schools alumni praised Bronster for her courage in pursuing the investigation, while several Kamehameha employees and Bishop attorney William McCorriston testified against her.
McCorriston's complaint that Bronster was in a conflict of interest because of the state's attempt to acquire Bishop Estate land at Queen's Beach in East Oahu is specious. The Bishop Estate investigation should not require the attorney general's office to drop involvement in all other legal matters relating to the estate.
Bronster has been aggressive in pursuing the investigation of the estate without ignoring other duties of her office. Police and prosecutors praise her efforts in those areas, and Gary Galiher, whose law firm she selected to prepare the state's lawsuit against tobacco companies, credits her with increasing Hawaii's share of the settlement by $500 million.
Bronster should be commended for her efforts and be encouraged to continue them for the duration of the Cayetano administration.
Bishop Estate Archive
The issue: The German parliament has returned to its historic home in Berlin after decades in Bonn.
Back to the Reichstag
Our view: The move symbolizes the return of normalcy in the new, democratic Germany.
TEN years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the reunification of Germany, the parliament returned to its historical home, the Reichstag building in Berlin. The ceremony symbolized the effort to achieve normalcy after the horrors of Nazism and communism. Since the early post-World War II years the capital of the western portion of the divided country had been in Bonn.
It has been 66 years since a fire in the Reichstag ushered in the nightmare of Hitler's dictatorship. The building, begun in the Bismarck era and completed in 1894, was the parliament of the short-lived Weimar Republic before the advent of Nazism. After World War II the border between the British- and Soviet-occupied sectors of Berlin ran through the bomb-damaged structure. It has been restored at a cost of about $330 million.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, addressing the parliament, emphasized that the return of the German government to Berlin will bring no change in the policies of democratic Germany. It was the success of "Bonn democracy," he said, that "makes the Berlin Republic possible."
The war in Kosovo, in which Germany is participating as a member of NATO, cast a pall over the ceremonies. This time, however, Germany is on the side of human rights and resistance to aggression.
Maui airport expansionThe issue: Lengthening Maui's runway to permit international flights is opposed on environmental grounds.Opponents of lengthening the runway at Kahului Airport on Maui have persuaded a national conservation group to list Haleakala National Park as one of the nation's most endangered parks. The argument is that lengthening the runway to permit international flights would increase the danger that alien species would invade Maui and damage Haleakala's ecosystem.
Our view: Preparation of strict inspection and quarantine procedures should be expedited.
Haleakala is listed among the 10 most endangered parks by the National Parks and Conservation Association. A spokesman for the association in Washington, D.C., called airport expansion "a horrendous threat."
Maui, of course, already has direct flights from the U.S. mainland, so it can hardly be considered isolated. But visitors arriving from Asia have to enter and exit the islands through Honolulu.
Although Hawaii has been invaded by many alien species that have damaged the environment, there are many more out there that could be considered threats. The need to keep such invasions to a minimum is real. However, the correct response is not to bar international flights but to institute strict inspection and quarantine procedures for incoming flights.
The Interior Department helped draft a memorandum of understanding calling for such a system. But Don Reeser, superintendent of Haleakala, complains that progress on an effective inspection system "is moving at a snail's pace, whereas expansion of the airport is moving full bore." Work on the inspection system should be expedited, but the airport expansion should proceed.
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