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Saturday, December 9, 2000

proposals to
develop Kakaako

Bullet The issue: Governor Cayetano has hopes of developing the portion of Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard.
Bullet Our view: The plans for an aquarium, science center and the University of Hawaii Medical School would make good uses of an area that has been neglected too long.

GOVERNOR Cayetano dreams of transforming the portion of Kakaako lying makai of Ala Moana Boulevard from a mainly scruffy, long-neglected area into a center for education, entertainment and research. He's got two years left in his final term to make the dream come true -- or at least get the process started. We wish him well.

Cayetano has scrapped the state's previous plan for commercial development at Kewalo Basin, which produced the much-derided proposal for a Ferris wheel as part of an amusement park-restaurant-and-retail complex.

Instead the governor proposes a world-class aquarium at the site. The design for the aquarium has yet to be selected, but Cayetano has high hopes for it. Explaining his concept to the Star-Bulletin editorial board the other day, he expressed hope that the structure would become a landmark identifying Honolulu as successfully as the Sydney Opera House does for the Australian city. And he says the facility should have a distinctively Hawaiian character.

That isn't all the governor wants for Kakaako. He is planning a Hawaii science and technology center, perhaps operated by the Bishop Museum, which would move some of its collections from its Kalihi campus. This would make Hawaii's premier museum more accessible to visitors. Cayetano said the museum is considering selling portions of its Kalihi site to Kamehameha Schools, which could make the move financially feasible.

In addition, Cayetano proposes to relocate the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine from Manoa to the Kakaako site, giving the school the space and facilities it needs to expand into a major medical research center. Private businesses involved in high technology, including biotech research, would also be accommodated on state land.

This project would further the governor's goal, shared by many other political leaders and private citizens, to make Hawaii a health center for the Pacific region, with facilities that could attract patients from Asia, the Pacific islands and the U.S. mainland.

Already established in the area are the Kakaako Waterfront Park and the Children's Discovery Center, both important attractions. An extension of Ward Avenue makai of Ala Moana Boulevard has been completed, improving access.

THE governor wants the state to build on these improvements, and it should. This is a conveniently located, grossly underused area.

It will take years -- probably well beyond the end of Cayetano's term -- to complete the work, but it should be done and a start should be made in the next session of the Legislature.

Getting this project under way would be a major achievement for the governor. But he should drop his misguided plan to move the Ala Wai Golf Course.

Putin should
grant clemency
to American

Bullet The issue: Edmond Pope, a retired U.S. naval officer, has been convicted of espionage by a Russian court and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Bullet Our view: President Putin should grant clemency to Pope, who appears to have been a scapegoat.

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin should grant clemency to an American businessman convicted of espionage in a trial that appeared to be a setup. The treatment of the convicted man, Edmond Pope, a retired naval officer, was described as "outrageous" by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. President Clinton appealed to Putin for his release.

Action by the Russian president seemed likely after the presidential pardons commission recommended that Pope be released. Commission members condemned Pope's conviction and what they called "spy mania" driving the security services. "Pope is a sick man who has gone through a lot, and he should be let go," commission head Anatoly Pristavkin said.

Pope was convicted Wednesday of espionage and sentenced to 20 years in prison for illegally obtained classified blueprints of a high-speed torpedo.

During Pope's trial, all defense motions were rejected. The espionage charge was allowed to stand even though one of his accusers admitted that the materials he obtained weren't classified at the time.

Pope suffers from a rare form of bone cancer, which was in remission at the time of his arrest but appears to have returned. Pope's supporters have urged the Kremlin to act quickly so he can receive vital health care.

The Russians have never allowed Pope to be examined by American doctors and their own doctors certified him fit for trial.

His sister, Brenda Linstrom, said, "He wasn't spying but the Russians wanted a spy. We knew they were going to convict him from day one. Every time he tried to prove his innocence it was thrown out of court."

Pope, 54, was a naval intelligence officer before retiring in 1994. As head of the Navy's Foreign Science and Technologies Program, he promoted technology exchanges between the United States, Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union and continued to do so after leaving the service.

Pope had been doing business with the Russians since 1996. At first he was welcomed by the scientific community and a defense industry eager to find new export markets. But after former KGB agent Putin became president the atmosphere soured.

All indications are that Pope has been used as a scapegoat. If President Putin values U.S. cooperation with his country, he will grant clemency to Pope and put an end to this sorry episode.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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