Friday, July 23, 1999

Feuding Democrats
square off again

Bullet The issue: Governor Cayetano is reassessing a proposed sports complex in Kapolei.

Bullet Our view: Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, who favors the project, may be correct in charging retaliation by Cayetano but the governor's doubts are justified.

Ben Cayetano is not one to turn the other cheek. Hit him and he'll probably strike back.

On that theory, we're inclined to believe Senate President Norman Mizuguchi's charge that the governor is retaliating for something in expressing doubts about a $27 million sports complex in Kapolei. And we think we know for what.

The complex happens to be one of Mizuguchi's pet projects. It's supposed to be a spring training facility for Japanese baseball teams, helping to develop sports as an industry here.

Cayetano attended the groundbreaking for the complex last year and included $200,000 for equipment and furniture in the state budget. Now, however, he has put the project on hold, questioning whether the Japanese teams would actually use the facility. Cayetano says he is considering having the project reconfigured for Little League baseball and amateur soccer.

Of course, something happened since that groundbreaking to sour Cayetano's relationship with Mizuguchi. The Senate rejected two key cabinet members, Margery Bronster and Earl Anzai, for second terms as attorney general and budget director, respectively. The eruption of public outrage in response was extraordinary. Even the Democratic state committee condemned the Senate actions.

The governor was displeased, to put it mildly. His subsequent decision to appoint Anzai attorney general was an obvious gesture of defiance, daring the Senate to incur more public wrath by rejecting Anzai a second time.

So it's understandable that Mizuguchi thinks the governor is retaliating by holding up the Kapolei sports complex.

But Cayetano could be right, even if he is retaliating. Maybe the money would be better spent on the University of Hawaii's West Oahu campus at Kapolei -- or even UH-Manoa.

Whatever the merits of the case, the incident is further evidence of the disarray of the Hawaii Democratic Party. The governor and the Senate president are at each other's throat. The Senate and the House can't even agree on an agenda for a special legislative session.

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Henry Peters and former Senate President Richard Wong, both Democrats, have been ousted from the board of trustees of the Bishop Estate at the initiative of Cayetano's attorney general and are fighting attempts to have them indicted on kickback charges.

Peters claims that he is a victim of a vendetta by Cayetano and -- get this -- the state Democratic "machine."

Hawaii Democrats -- one big happy family. These are the people trying to govern this state.

Police code of silence is
deplorable cop-out

Bullet The issue: A police officer has invoked the "code of silence" in refusing to implicate other officers in a beating in which he admittedly took part.

Bullet Our view: Many police unfortunately lack the courage to withstand peer pressure and blow the whistle in cases of police brutality.

COURAGE and integrity are among the necessary attributes of police officers, but a code of silence that serves to conceal police brutality undermines those qualities under the farcical rationale of fraternity. David Chun, a Honolulu police officer, cited the circle-the-wagons code in refusing to implicate other officers in the beating of a man they had arrested. By doing so, he brings dishonor to the police ranks he claims to be protecting.

Chun and four other officers were indicted in connection with the beating of a man who was arrested in a 1995 domestic dispute. The suspect sustained three broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the beating and allegedly was warned the next day that he would be assaulted again if he told hospital officials how he was injured.

Such police conduct is inexcusable but is allowed to continue because of the confidence by the perpetrators that their actions will be concealed by their colleagues' silence.

Chun, 31, confessed to having taken part in the beating and resigned from the police force. However, he refused to testify about the misconduct of other officers. To do so, he explained, would "hurt people who I know and work with in order to save myself," which would be "inhuman and indecent and dishonorable."

Chun's distortion of the values of humanity, decency and honor is frightening, as is similar rationalization shared by numerous other police officers.

William Duarte, another officer in the case who has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts, said in a statement that he tried to stop the attack but eventually went along with the cover up because "the pressure of the code of silence that is prevalent throughout law enforcement was simply too great."

The beating itself was inhuman, and its cover-up by men whom society relies upon to uphold the law is indecent and dishonorable. This code of silence erodes public confidence in those who are supposed to enforce the law.

Some police officers may regard Chun's silence as an act of courage. In fact, it is just the opposite. Public servants with real courage are those who become versed in legal protections afforded "whistle blowers" and expose official misconduct despite the social recriminations that are likely to result.

Police who withstand peer pressure to expose brutality within the ranks bring integrity to the force. Those who succumb to such pressure bring it dishonor.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

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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