Friday, August 5, 2005


Let gas price caps
be put to the test


Gasoline price caps are scheduled to be implemented on Sept. 1.

GASOLINE price caps are less than a month away, and the consequences eventually will become apparent. Oil companies are asking the state Public Utilities Commission to delay the caps' implementation until more studies are conducted. The better method of determining the effect will be to monitor the activity after the caps are imposed.

The price lids were supposed to go into effect a year ago but were delayed after a report prepared by a California petroleum consulting firm concluded they "would bring volatility, market distortions and opportunities for profiteers to game the market."

San Francisco lawyers who represented the state in a price-fixing lawsuit against the oil companies dismissed the outlook as "a report by former industry insiders that provides a largely industry viewpoint."

Shell Oil Co., Tesoro Hawaii and Chevron USA recently asked the PUC to delay implementation of the caps, which are scheduled to take effect Sept. 1. The companies are asking for more study to determine their effect on the economy and consumers.

John Felmy, director of the American Petroleum Institute, predicts shortages resulting in long gas lines "that could be devastating" to businesses in Hawaii.

That remains to be seen. The law as enacted three years ago would have allowed Hawaii's prices to be 38 cents a gallon above those in California. During the past year, prices in the two states have been about the same; the average is now $2.65 in Hawaii and $2.59 in California. The law was changed to peg the caps to the national average, now $2.28.

The Legislature considered creating a watchdog system to monitor the effects, but those should become readily apparent even if, as Felmy suggests, later rather than sooner. If Felmy turns out to be right, the caps can be brought to a quick halt as an experiment that failed.


Single-sex schools
should not worry


Single-sex private schools fear the ruling on Kamehameha Schools could affect them.

THIS week's court decision declaring Kamehameha Schools' Hawaiians-only admission policy racially discriminatory sent shudders through the halls of some all-male and all-female private schools in Hawaii. The ruling need not concern such schools, which are exempt from laws against sex discrimination unless they receive federal funds.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Kamehameha Schools to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a Reconstruction-era statute aimed at protecting the rights of freed slaves. The U.S. Supreme Court found in 1976 that the citizens' right under that law "to make and enforce contracts" regardless of their race required schools to enter into a "contractual relationship" with parents on that basis.

Contrary to some media reports, the Kamehameha Schools' admission policy was not found to be unconstitutional. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment does not apply to private institutions -- from schools to country clubs -- that don't receive federal funds. Kamehameha does not accept federal money.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1975 prohibits sex-based discrimination in publicly supported schools, but its application to public schools and private schools that receive federal funds is unclear. President Bush has called for more single-sex public schools and single-sex classes within public schools as part of his No Child Left Behind program, but the Supreme Court has held that such schools and classes must have an "exceedingly persuasive justification."

The high court in 1996 found Virginia Military Institute, a state institution, in violation of the 14th Amendment and forced it to accept women into its ranks because the state had denied them "comparable" educational opportunities elsewhere. The court's opinion endorsed a lower court's options for the institution: "Admit women to VMI; establish parallel institutions or programs; or abandon state support, leaving VMI free to pursue its policies as a private institution."

Other private institutions that don't receive state support are similarly free to pursue their own single-sex admission policies, as long as they are not racially discriminatory.

Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek
and military newspapers


David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe, Michael Wo

Dennis Francis, Publisher Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4762
Frank Bridgewater, Editor
(808) 529-4791
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4768

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor
(808) 529-4748; mpoole@starbulletin.com

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Page Editor

© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com