to the Editor

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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Courts consistently uphold
programs for native peoples

Rick Daysog did a good job in "Holding On" (Star-Bulletin, July 21), sorting out the complex issues related to admissions at Kamehameha Schools, but a few more words may be helpful in promoting understanding.

Every federal and state court that has examined federal and state programs established for Hawaiians -- such as the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs -- has found these programs and their underlying trusts to be constitutional. These programs are like those established for other native peoples, which have been found to be constitutional if they are rationally related to the goals of promoting self-determination and self-sufficiency for the native group.

The U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Rice v. Cayetano (2000), which struck down the Hawaiians-only voting procedure for OHA, rested narrowly on the Fifteenth Amendment, which governs voting rights, and carefully avoided reaching issues related to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The historic practice of Kamehameha Schools to admit only students of Hawaiian ancestry can be defended under this long-standing judicial doctrine, and it also can be defended on the ground that it is the action of a private body not directly subject to constitutional limitations. We value private autonomy and permit private associations to make choices regarding their memberships in order to protect diversity and individual freedom.

The major concern of the trustees of the Kamehameha Schools has been the schools' tax-exempt status, which could conceivably be revoked by the Internal Revenue Service. In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court did uphold the revocation of the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in South Carolina because it had engaged in racial discrimination with regard to its student body.

But the applicability of that case to the Kamehameha Schools is remote because the Supreme Court said such tax-exempt status should be revoked only when the institution's purpose is "so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred."

The U.S. Constitution condemns racial discrimination, but it also recognizes the separate and distinct status of native peoples, and the United States formally affirmed the legitimacy of native autonomy in President Nixon's Special Message to Congress of July 8, 1970. Native Hawaiians are just as native as other Native Americans, and Congress has said repeatedly that they must be governed by the same constitutional principles. International law also recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to autonomy and separate programs.

Kamehameha Schools has played an important role in our community by promoting and protecting Hawaiian culture and providing children of Hawaiian ancestry with a place where they can be together for a time, to learn about and build upon that heritage. It is appropriate, and constitutional, for the schools to continue to admit only students of Hawaiian ancestry.

Jon M. Van Dyke
Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii-Manoa
Consultant, Office of Hawaiian Affairs


Sunset story blown out of proportion by media

A number of articles and editorials on Sunset on the Beach have been written lately. It seems the news media would rather talk about the conflicts than what is really going on.

The Harris administration had originally scheduled four Sunsets for the month of July. Several City Council members said the mayor was breaking the law and disobeying them. The news media saw a conflict and jumped on the story.

The mayor's position was: If he did not exceed the budget, and brought in private funding, more Sunset on the Beach events could be held.

Instead of recognizing how much this event means to the taxpayers, the City Council had a knee-jerk reaction over its right to set budget policy.

The city's Corporation Counsel said the Council overstepped its authority in calling for Sunset on the Beach to be held monthly. If the newspapers had waited a couple of days, they would have found that the mayor did not break the law. The media created this controversy by stirring up Council members.

George M. Waialeale

Natatorium plan expensive, redundant

In your "Alter Natatorium plans to meet health standards" editorial (Star-Bulletin, July 5) you overlook our city's spendthrift syndrome that compounds its many financial and social problems. Our resources are finite, but we fritter them away on a costly and, in this case, redundant facility.

The city acknowledged several years ago that the Natatorium would run at an annual operating deficit of a few hundred thousand dollars. Pools and recreational areas are sorely needed in other parts of the city, so why operate one at significant cost next to one of the state's finest natural "pools," at Kaimana Beach?

The city says it wants to facilitate local residents' use of Waikiki. If so, construction of municipal garages in or by Waikiki would be a better use of our limited funds.

Access to Waikiki by local families has become increasingly difficult. Reconstruction of the Natatorium is a bad idea whose time has not come.

Gregg W. Robertson

Tanonaka's shocking candor is refreshing

Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Dalton Tanonaka called for the abolishment of the office last week at a forum where he and seven other candidates presented their views. I was shocked; I asked myself, "Why is he running for an office he wants to abolish?"

I was pleased with his explanation. Tanonaka says he wants to bring value to the office and make it worthwhile for taxpayers to fund, not just sit on his butt for eight years and collect a paycheck. He says if the lieutenant governor's job cannot be made meaningful, he would move to do away with it.

Candidates for lieutenant governor often promise wonderful benefits from their plans when in office, but once on the job they are seldom heard from. I agree with Tanonaka; if the office is to be used only as a stepping stone to the governor's mansion, let's get rid of it.

Kathy Li

Dedication makes youth soccer possible

Accolades, kudos and a tip of the coconut hat to Max Sword, the American Youth Soccer Organization and Sword's 1,000 volunteers for the National Games production of the greatest team soccer spectacle ever held in our fabulous Hawaii Nei. Their professionalism and true aloha have made the Waipio Soccer Complex the place to be for great soccer action, with its lush, manicured fields and stadium. They have proved Hawaii can host major events for years to come. The injection of $8 million into our local community shows that sports has a valid place in our economic future.

With a similar youth tourney scheduled for next year, as well as a national amateur event, Hawaii is making its mark. Thanks also go out to Mayor Harris for making the complex a reality and to Frank Doyle, the visionary for this site.

For all the kids, adults and collegians, a big mahalo to all.

Jack Sullivan
Vice president
Amateur Division
Hawaii Soccer Association

El Al's success depends on profiling

You unwittingly provided all the information needed to demonstrate the absurdity of your editorial "Bill to arm airline pilots should be defeated" (Star-Bulletin, July 15). You state that pilots of El Al, the Israeli airline, are not armed (true) and that the airline hasn't had a hijacking in 34 years (also true). You conclude that El AL's "pre-boarding check of people and luggage is perhaps the most rigorous in the world" (probably true) and that this is the reason for its success (also probably true).

What you fail to mention is that El Al's pre-boarding check includes racial, religious and ethnic profiling to keep radical trouble-makers off its aircraft. I doubt if this procedure will be adopted by Homeland Security or endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union anytime soon.

You also failed to mention that Israel has an intelligence service that tracks down and kills many potential trouble-makers before they can act, another policy that I doubt we have the will to employ.

Jack M. Schmidt Jr.

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