Monday, June 22, 1998

Missouri’s arrival

Saturday, June 20,1998

THE arrival of the decommissioned battleship USS Missouri under tow off Honolulu tomorrow en route to its permanent berth in Pearl Harbor will begin the final chapter in a story that spans the American experience in World War II. It brings to the naval base where the United States was thrust into the war on Dec. 7, 1941, the ship where Japan surrendered, on Sept. 2, 1945. The symbol of the Dec. 7 attack, the sunken battleship Arizona, sits on the harbor bottom a short distance from the mooring place of the Missouri.

How the Missouri came to Hawaii is a remarkable story in itself. When the idea was first broached we were skeptical that anything would come of it. Thanks to the perseverance of several dedicated people, in particular retired Adm. Ronald Hays, Harold Estes, Edwin Carter and Roy Yee, the improbable has become fact.

The placement of the Missouri near the Arizona will provide a unique perspective on America's role in World War II and greatly enhance the experience of visitors. Expectations are that the Missouri will attract as many as 600,000 to 800,000 visitors a year; the Arizona Memorial already draws more than 1.4 million. This could be a big boost for the visitor industry, which certainly could use one.

This is an occasion for celebrating, but there are still questions to be answered about transporting visitors to the ship -- will buses suffice, or will it be necessary to use the old Ford Island ferry? -- and about paying the cost of maintaining the ship, which will be immense. The USS Missouri Association has ambitious plans for on-board exhibits to enhance the experience. Achieving them won't be simple or cheap.

Much work remains to be done to fulfill the vision. But considering the association's success thus far, we expect its supporters to follow through and overcome the remaining obstacles. This is a huge achievement.

USS Missouri Special

Republican campaign
violations no big deal

DEMOCRATIC Party Chairman Walter Heen has complained about two violations of the state ethics law by the campaign of Linda Lingle, the Republican gubernatorial candidate. Lingle's campaign chairman, Bob Awana, has acknowledged the violations, but said they were unintentional. They were also minor, one involving a fund-raising letter signed by Sen. Sam Slom that was inadvertently sent to the office of the principal of Aliiolani School, the other newspaper advertisements containing the telephone number of state Rep. Galen Fox's legislative office.

Info Box Dan Mollway, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said if the infractions were unintentional the commission would not pursue the matter further.

Awana commented that the errors, while unfortunate, pale in comparison to errors made by the Cayetano administration, such as building a softball stadium where you can't see home plate from the stands, and paying the federal gasoline tax although the state was exempt.

But Awana passed up a much bigger and more relevant Democratic embarrassment -- the two-year federal prison sentence given former House Speaker Daniel Kihano for siphoning $27,000 from his campaign fund and lying about it.

Using addresses improperly as the Lingle campaign did is a trivial offense. Stealing from a campaign fund, especially by one of the highest ranking Democrats in the state, is a very serious matter. What does Walter Heen have to say about that?


Diamond Head fees

IN its efforts to raise money, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources may begin charging user fees for state parks, which would likely mean admission and parking rates at popular Diamond Head State Monument. Residents who regularly like to climb, have already experienced or would like to hike up Diamond Head one day should voice their opinions, now, as to whether they are willing to pay such fees.

July 10 is the deadline for written testimony. Letters should be mailed to State Parks Division, P.O.Box 621, Honolulu 96809.

Don't sit back and assume it's a done deal. Board Chairman Mike Wilson said he is interested in public feedback and willing to consider all options. These could include:

bullet Both residents and visitors paying similar user fees.

bullet Exemption of residents from entrance fees, since the vast majority of hikers at Diamond Head are tourists.

bullet A system of voluntary "donations," like those solicited at Hanauma Bay.

A proposed $1 a person/$5 for parking or $10 per person annual pass/$30 per year parking would add up for island families who like trekking up Diamond Head together to enjoy the exercise and splendid view.

Once admission fees are imposed, it will be next to impossible to repeal them as government gets used to the cash flow.


Unsporting attitude

THE Hawaii High School Athletic Association is at it again. The five-member board that runs statewide sports tournaments for Hawaii's public and private high schools is slated to choose a new director today behind closed doors. "We are a private corporation and we are not bound by the sunshine laws," says Anthony Ramos, HHSAA executive board president and a principal at Kamehameha Schools.

The HHSAA conveniently considers itself private when it wishes to operate in secrecy. Yet it received a grant of about $38,000 from the state Legislature for staff development and operating costs, uses Department of Education and other state facilities, requires dues from participating public schools, and its decisions affect thousands of public school athletes. Sounds at least like a quasi state organization to us.

The HHSAA has not been the most communicative or public friendly organization in Hawaii. It abruptly changed the site of February's statewide soccer tournament from Aloha Stadium on Oahu, home of most of the participating teams, to Maui War Memorial Stadium before reversing itself. Then it axed the girls' wrestling tournament, when it was only three weeks away, before reversing itself again.

And it has held meetings on the private campus of Kamehameha Schools, where Ramos works, so it can refuse entry to parents and concerned citizens who wish to testify on issues, even threatening them with arrest on trespassing charges.

This arrogant secrecy is feeding public mistrust about what is happening on the executive board of the HHSAA.


Coconut Island

COCONUT Island in Kaneohe Bay has long been used for marine biological research but that activity should be expanded now that the University of Hawaii has acquired control of the entire 28-acre island.

A $10 million donation from the Edwin W. Pauley family enabled the UH to purchase a 12.5-acre portion. The rest is being transferred from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to the university.

Two buildings are under construction -- the Pelagic Fish Research Laboratory and the Pauley Marine Laboratory. Francis Oda of the consulting firm Group 70 International said the island is to have up to 126,000 square feet of work space in new and restored buildings and in open areas.

Marine biology has been one of the university's areas of excellence. Further development of Coconut Island should help to ensure that it keeps that place.

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