As the Star-Bulletin's Rob Perez reported, the amendment was added to a bill dealing with real estate fines in the House Consumer Protection Committee, headed by Ron Menor, after the bill had gone through the public hearing process.
An estimated dozen legislators have real estate licenses, although some aren't active in the business. Two legislators, Sen. Donna Ikeda and Rep. Mary-Jane McMurdo, have applied for the exemption. The disclosure could be damaging for Democrat Ikeda, who faces a strong opponent in the general election.
The law allows the Real Estate Commission to grant waivers to attorneys, accountants and trustees of charitable trusts if the applicants are involved in real estate full time. Also eligible are public service "participants" who have been involved with real estate or real estate laws for eight preceding years and full-time brokers or agents who have held active licenses for at least 20 years.
There may be justification for exempting attorneys and accountants because of their professional education. Similarly, the requirement may not be necessary for veteran real estate agents who have already gone through the process a number of times. But the inclusion of legislators is blatantly self-serving. And why trustees of charitable trusts should be exempted is a puzzle.
Although the exemption involves no large amounts of money - the classes cost about $150 - the appearance of giving special treatment to insiders is embarrassing, particularly at a time of widespread dissatisfaction with the Legislature's performance.
Dole needs a major development - a Clinton blunder or a revelation of massive proportions about the failings of the administration - to turn things around. The likelihood of that happening in the final 11 days of the campaign is slim, but not as slim as the chances were of Perot embracing a ticket he has been trying to trash.
Washington should seek ways to apply counter-pressure on the North Koreans to secure Hunziker's release, without in any way yielding to their demands. Whatever the outcome, the incident confirms that North Korea is as difficult as ever to deal with - and as dangerous.
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