Friday, October 22, 1999

Negotiations could
avert a dock strike

Bullet The issue: The lLWU has canceled its contract with shipping companies here, opening the way for a dock strike.

Bullet Our view: Agreement to resume negotiations on a new contract offers hope that a settlement can be reached.

THE announcement that negotiations on a new dockworkers contract will resume tomorrow should quiet fears that a dock strike is imminent. After conducting a slowdown that lasted through last week, and holding strike authorization votes for its members on each island, the ILWU has improved its bargaining position. But there is no indication that the union is about to stage a strike, even though it has canceled the old contract.

The agreement to meet tomorrow was reached Wednesday after shipping company and union representatives met with U.S. District Judge David Ezra. Later the judge dissolved a temporary restraining order he had issued last Friday ordering longshoremen to end what employers called an illegal slowdown in violation of their contract. Because the contract no longer exists, the judge said, there was no longer a basis for the order.

After completing the strike authorization votes -- the last one was scheduled for today -- the ILWU will be free to call a strike. But the message from both sides after yesterday's announcement was a willingness to negotiate in an effort to reach a settlement.

As everyone from Governor Cayetano on down to the humblest resident of these islands knows, a dock strike, if prolonged more than a few days, could be a disaster for the economy and an inconvenience for almost everyone.

However, at this point there is no reason to panic. While negotiations continue, there is always hope that a settlement will be reached. And both sides appreciate the need to avoid a work stoppage on the waterfront.

Judge Ezra said he expected the negotiators "to make a genuine and honest effort," and everybody hopes they do.

Memorial to AJAs

Bullet The issue: Nearly 2,000 Hawaii residents have contributed to construction of a memorial to the achievements of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Bullet Our view: The memorial is a reminder of the need to respect the rights of all citizens.

HAWAII residents are playing a big role in donations for a memorial honoring the World War II achievements of Americans of Japanese ancestry. As the Star-Bulletin's Gregg Kakesako reports, nearly 2,000 islanders have given $690,000 for the memorial, to be erected in a triangular park in Washington, D.C., two blocks north of the Capitol. The goal of the campaign is $10.8 million, of which all but $800,000 has been raised.

Completion of the park and its granite memorial is expected in June, with dedication in the fall. The park will feature a pool, a sculpture and cylindrical memorial bell by Paul Matisse and a bronze statue by Nina Akamu depicting two cranes entrapped in barbed wire, symbolizing the internment of Japanese Americans during the war.

Although Los Angeles and eight states have donated more money to the memorial, Hawaii led in the number of contributions. Cherry Tsutsumida, executive director of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, said, "Hawaii sent in more envelopes and the response was greater...the story is not the amount of money raised, but the number of people who donated."

Groundbreaking for the memorial was scheduled to be held today. Among those in attendance will be Senator Inouye, who sponsored the legislation for the memorial in Congress, Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff and a native of Kauai, and a color guard representing the Pacific Army Reserve's 100th Battalion/442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team.

Inouye said the memorial "will stand as a testament to the patriotism and honor of the Japanese Americans who fought to preserve freedom, despite being personally denied their own civil liberties. Furthermore, the memorial will remind us of our duty and responsibility to protect the constitutional rights of all American citizens."

There can never be too many reminders of that duty.

Wedding woes

Bullet The issue: City Councilman John Henry Felix has received a violation notice from the city for conducting a wedding business at his home.

Bullet Our view: It's difficult to understand why an elected official would antagonize his constituents.

CITY Councilman John Henry Felix says he will appeal a violation notice he received from the city for conducting a wedding business at his shorefront home in Aina Haina. Felix contends that he is within his rights to hold weddings at his home on a commercial basis although it is in a residential district. The city contends otherwise.

Felix points out that the couples have already been married in Japan and the ceremonies in his home are unofficial -- a fact that seems irrelevant to the controversy.

It appears that the issue may have to be resolved in court. But regardless of the legal merits of Felix's case, it is difficult to understand why an elected official would antagonize his neighbors -- who are his constituents -- by continuing the ceremonies despite their complaints.

Perhaps the explanation is that Felix does not intend to seek elective office again. If he does, some of his neighbors presumably will do what they can to ensure that he loses.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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