Wednesday, December 9, 1998

Kamehameha faculty
union’s complaints

AS if they didn't have enough problems, the trustees of the Bishop Estate have managed to be drawn into a labor dispute that has the National Labor Relations Board accusing them of unfair practices.

The issue is the conduct of contract negotiations with the schools' newly formed teachers union, the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association. According to the NLRB's hearing notice, the estate has refused to allow the union to meet on campus and refused to pay union members a 1.8 percent increase given nonunion teachers. Another allegation is refusal to pay stipends to grade-level chairmen.

The charges are based on complaints filed by the teachers union, which the board has determined to have merit. Still under investigation is a union complaint that the Bishop Estate has not bargained in good faith. The union's attorney says that after 30 hours of negotiations during 10 sessions, the parties have agreed only on a contract preamble. A hearing on the charges before an administrative law judge is expected in February.

Apparently the only concession has been an agreement to drop a passage from the handbook for new employees prohibiting them from speaking against the estate.

The union was formed last March because of teachers' dissatisfaction with the treatment they had received since Lokelani Lindsey became the so-called lead trustee for school administration. The teachers said they were being left out of decision-making and prohibited from voicing their concerns.

Lindsey has been widely criticized for her heavy-handed tactics at the schools. The attorney general has petitioned the probate court for the immediate temporary removal of all the trustees and has leveled charges that could lead to the permanent removal of at least some of them.

The trustees should have been chastened by the fact that the faculty felt so aggrieved that they felt they had to organize a union, and tried to deal with their proposals. Instead, the trustees appear to have continued their stonewalling tactics, further alienating the faculty. This does more damage to the educational mission of the estate, its sole reason for existing.

Bishop Estate Archive

Car searches

ON several occasions over many decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police officers may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle in connection with the driver's arrest without suspicion of other wrongdoing. In striking down an Iowa law, the high court has specified that searches cannot be justified in connection with the issuance of traffic citations when no arrests were made. The ruling is important assurance of privacy rights against unreasonable searches.

The authority for police to conduct searches of people they arrest and areas within their immediate control is based on the need to protect officers from hidden weapons and preserve evidence. As long ago as 1914, the Supreme Court recognized the need for police "to search the person of the accused when legally arrested to discover and seize the fruits of evidence of crime." In a series of rulings beginning in 1973, the high court reiterated the authority for searches in connection with custodial arrests.

However, an Iowa law allowing a search when no arrest was made reached far beyond that principle. When Patrick Knowles was given a speeding ticket in 1996 and police found marijuana and a marijuana pipe in a search of his car, his rights were violated. No evidence could have been found in the car's passenger compartment relevant to the traffic violation.

In past cases, the court has ruled that drivers and passengers can be ordered out of a car during a traffic stop and frisked if they are suspected of being armed. Officers can search a car after seeing evidence of crime through a car window, such as an open container of liquor or a bag of marijuana. Authority to conduct a search rightly stops there.

The Supreme Court has been accused in the past few decades of broadening the power of police at the expense of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches. In this case, the court recognized that privacy rights are vulnerable when a person is stopped for a traffic violation and finds himself under the arm of the law, which is long enough as it is.


Malaysian witness

THE Malaysian government's case against former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim appears to be unraveling. A key witness in Anwar's trial on charges of sexual perversion, abuse of power and corruption has contradicted himself.

Azizan Abu Bakar had accused Anwar of forcing him to commit sodomy when he was employed as a driver by Anwar's wife. But under cross-examination Azizan denied that he had been sodomized. Prosecutors had based the sexual charges mainly on Azizan's accusations.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad fired Anwar, who had been his heir apparent, last September, claiming that Anwar was morally unfit. He was subsequently arrested and placed on trial. Mahathir turned against Anwar after they clashed over fiscal and foreign exchange policies to cope with the collapse of the national economy.

The charges against Anwar appear to be trumped up and have inspired anti-government demonstrations. Several foreign leaders, including Vice President Al Gore, have expressed sympathy with the demonstrators.

The contradictory statements by a key witness in the case could be a fatal blow to the government's case. A conviction in the face of this flawed testimony could spark more protests against a perversion of justice.

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