To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, August 29, 1998

Foxes in the chicken coop

THE governor will nominate six of 11 voting members of the state's new tourism authority -- but of those six the senate president gets to name two and the house speaker two others. The four counties each pick a person and the director of DBEDT is number 11. Since the DBEDT director is appointed by the governor, Ben Cayetano effectively makes three picks; the Legislature gets four; and county governments one each.

This is the selection process designed to take politics out of the tourism business ...right?

Supporters of the new board say it will redirect marketing energy once spent lobbying toward planning a globally competitive tourism strategy for the entire state.

The board has a guaranteed source of money to spend: 37 percent of the hotel room tax, which was raised from 6 to 7.25 percent. This comes to about $60 million a year, a tempting amount. Procurement laws won't apply to how that big marketing pie will be sliced.

One minor hitch, supporters say, is the potential for political shenanigans. With such statesmen as Speaker Joe Souki passing out board appointments, they should worry.

The speaker saw no conflict between his being paid off on a Bishop Estate land deal and trying to fight off a bill to limit trustee compensation. Can he keep politics and cronyism out of the board selection process?

Will Boris Yeltsin become chairman of the Federal Reserve?

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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