Thursday, October 29, 1998

Campaign '98

Endorsements for
Congress, Education

IN the Hawaii congressional races, the Star-Bulletin endorses Gene Ward in the 1st Congressional District, Patsy Mink in the 2nd District and Daniel Inouye for the Senate.

Gene Ward, the Republican challenger to incumbent Neil Abercrombie, would bring a much-needed pro-business emphasis to the all-Democratic, all big-government Hawaii congressional delegation. Ward served four terms in the state House of Representatives, where he established a record of advocacy for small business. In private life he founded and directed an institute in Hawaii that trains entrepreneurs. He has served as a United Nations consultant on small business development in 10 countries.

His extensive experience abroad, particularly in Asia and the Pacific -- he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysian Borneo and served in the Army in Vietnam; he was also an East-West Center scholar -- well qualifies him to express in Congress Hawaii's concerns about relations with the nations in this part of the world.

One of Ward's main campaign themes is reform of the Jones Act of 1920, which requires that all goods shipped between American ports be carried on U.S.-owned, -crewed and -flagged ships. He proposes that Hawaii be exempted, maintaining that this would save Hawaii consumers millions of dollars a year.

We are not convinced that he's right, but we believe that the proposal deserves serious consideration. He should be applauded for taking up the issue and questioning the status quo. His opponent is adamantly opposed to any change in the Jones Act.

We part company with Ward on moral issues. He is a religious conservative, opposed to abortion rights, same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide.

However, we view these issues as secondary to the need to have an advocate for business in the Hawaii delegation. It is also important to have a Republican in the delegation in view of the GOP's control of both houses of Congress. It's no secret that members of the majority party tend to fare better in gaining benefits for their constituents than those in the minority.

Rep. Patsy Mink, seeking her 11th term in the House from the Second District, faces no credible opposition. She is one of the most liberal members of Congress, counting the feminist cause of gender equity among her foremost legislative achievements. She also has been a staunch defender of the sugar industry, long the biggest industry in her district but now fallen on hard times. Although we sometimes disagree with Mink, we support her as an able and dedicated representative of Hawaii.

Sen. Daniel Inouye has been in Congress since statehood -- the House in 1959 and the Senate since 1962. He is the fourth most senior member of the Senate and his name is a household word here. He, too, faces no credible opposition.

Inouye's distinguished service has made him one of the most influential members of Congress and he has used that influence for Hawaii's benefit many times. He will be irreplaceable when he retires, and we are pleased that at 74 he has put off retirement for another six-year term.

Board of Education

Candidates in the Board of Education election have difficulty making themselves known to the voters because attention is focused on the more prominent races. Yet the board is one of the most important elective bodies in the state. It makes policy for the public school system and hires and fires the superintendent of education as well as the state librarian. We have consequently made a point of endorsements for the school board elections while skipping the state legislative and City Council races.

For Department 4, Central Oahu, we endorse Francis McMillen. For Department 6, Windward Oahu, we endorse Jacqueline L. Heupel. For the three at-large seats, we endorse John Michael Compton, Karen Knudsen and Alan Matsuda.

Tomorrow: The endorsement for governor.


Budget surplus claim

THE Cayetano campaign's claim that the governor has turned a deficit in the state general fund into a surplus is derided by independent economists. Five of them -- all professors at the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University -- issued a statement calling the claim nonsense.

The economists say Cayetano has managed to slightly increase the general fund balance by raiding the special funds, which are earmarked for specific purposes. This, they say, "makes the general fund look good, but it is bad fiscal practice."

The reality is that state spending has increased since Cayetano took office and tax collections have not kept pace. Contrary to his claims, "our fiscal situation has definitely been deteriorating over the past four years," they maintain. Moreover, the state has some big bills coming due that are not factored into the alleged surplus.

To this Cayetano replied that the transfer of money from the special funds was legal -- hardly a sufficient response. His budget director, Earl Anzai, says the economists' charges are just politics. This from the official who is juggling the money.

We prefer to believe independent academics with reputations to protect who are not being paid by either candidate.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

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

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