Friday, May 9, 1997

Protests mustn’t spoil
the trans-Koolau race

THE extravagantly named Great Trans Koolau Trek, scheduled for Sunday over the nearly completed H-3 freeway, isn't going to be so great. Instead of the initially forecast 100,000 runners, there will be about 17,000. Despite earlier claims, no world-class runners will be among them, for lack of prize money. There have been complaints about the entry fee and the timing method for the 10-mile run. Clearly there have been some miscalculations and overoptimism.

If that wasn't enough, the organizers have encountered another problem: activists who claim that the freeway desecrates Hawaiian religious sites in Halawa Valley and who are urging runners to boycott the event.

Perhaps the success of the Honolulu Marathon and Great Aloha Run made the organizers of the trek overconfident. Unfortunately, they won't get a chance to learn from their mistakes and improve the event. This will be the first and last run over this course. When the H-3 opens, the only racing will be done in motor vehicles in violation of the speed limit.

The protest about religious sites is an attempt to reheat a controversy of several years ago. In 1992, responding to protests, the state agreed to realign the freeway to avoid two archeological sites in Halawa Valley, at a cost of $10 million. This was in line with the recommendation of the Native Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council, which concluded that the sites in question were worthy of preservation as living and planting areas -- not a heiau complex as claimed by some advocates.

That didn't satisfy activists who want the freeway out of Halawa Valley altogether. That isn't going to happen, and the race shouldn't be spoiled by protests in this cause.

After many years and millions of dollars spent trying to accommodate such objections -- including the shifting of the route from Moanalua Valley to Halawa -- the state is not about to abandon the H-3 when the freeway is at last almost completed. Most people probably would agree that the current demands are unreasonable.

The Great Trans Koolau Trek was a good idea that fell short of advance claims in the implementation. Even so, it will be a unique contribution to Hawaii's rich mix of athletic events.

Office smoking ban

HAWAII'S present ban on smoking in offices with 20 or more employees would be extended to all smaller offices under a proposed ordinance approved by the City Council. Anti-smoking advocates on the Council backed away from their effort to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants. The compromise measure would be a positive step toward weaning Hawaii's business community off smoking without causing extensive economic disruption.

Kamehameha Schools

DISCONTENT over heavy-handed administration of the Kamehameha Schools by Bishop Estate trustees has been growing in recent years. It has now gone so far that critics have written to state Supreme Court justices seeking the "impeachment" of trustee Lokelani Lindsey. Under the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the trustees are appointed by the Supreme Court justices.

The only purpose of the Bishop Estate is to further the education of Hawaiian children, mainly if not exclusively through the Kamehameha Schools. A policy that disrupts the operations of the schools, as the current policy seems to be doing, would seem to be counterproductive and a prime candidate for cancelation.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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