Thursday, July 22, 1999

Kodak Hula Show is a
Waikiki institution

Bullet The issue: Eastman Kodak decided to end sponsorship of the Kodak Hula Show after 62 years.

Bullet Our view: The decision of the Hogan Family Foundation to assume sponsorship assures the preservation of a Waikiki institution.

Thanks to a California-based foundation with an interest in Hawaii tourism, the Kodak Hula Show will survive. Eastman Kodak was ready to pull the plug on the show after 62 years, having decided to change its promotional policy. The program costs $550,000 a year.

This would have been a major loss for Waikiki. The show was conceived by a Kodak executive as a way to give tourists a chance to photograph hula dancers in daylight at a time when it was difficult to take pictures at night. That is no longer a problem, but the show long ago established itself on its own merits as a Waikiki institution. No admission fee is charged.

Hawaii owes the survival of the hula show to the Hogan Family Foundation, established by Edward J. Hogan, founder and chief executive of Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, the largest tour company bringing mainland visitors to the islands. The foundation has signed a new lease with the city for use of the Waikiki Shell, where the show is presented three times a week.

A few yards from the site of the hula show the Waikiki Natatorium languishes in disrepair, as it has for decades. Nor is improvement likely in the near future, in view of the City Council's regrettable reversal of its previous decision to restore the entire structure.

As Bill Daves, president of the Oahu Veterans Council, said in a letter published on this page yesterday, the victorious opponents of full restoration should be ashamed because we have "dishonored the memory of Hawaii's veterans by refusing to restore a World War I memorial to its original condition."

Moreover, he said, we have "deprived ourselves and our children of an enjoyable and valuable recreational facility" and "missed the chance to renew what was once one of Hawaii's most popular visitor attractions."

Daves properly credited Mayor Harris for "fighting the good fight throughout this controversy."

In addition to the points he makes, there is also the Natatorium's historical and architectural importance. It is, and deserves to be, on the state and national registers of historic places.

Some of the opponents of full restoration want to demolish the pool and grandstand and replace it with a beach, restoring only the memorial's arch. This would be a desecration of the memorial, because the pool is the most important part.

Demolition would cost millions of dollars -- a matter conveniently ignored by its advocates -- and there is no money for it, nor is there likely to be. Moreover, because the Natatorium is protected as a historic structure, it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to obtain approval to proceed with demolition.

So the Kodak Hula Show will be preserved, but the Natatorium will remain a crumbling eyesore. Kudos to the Hogan Family Foundation. Thumbs down for the City Council for succumbing to pressure based on misinformation and self-interest.

Major League Baseball
umpires’ strike threat

Bullet The issue: Major league umpires are threatening to resign because of various grievances and expect to be rehired through a new organization.

Bullet Our view: The move violates the no-strike clause of the umpires' union contract, and those who follow through on their resignations should not be rehired.

BASEBALL fans who are prone to question the judgment of umpires now have good reason. The umpires, whose contract with Major League Baseball includes a no-strike clause, have submitted their resignations effective Sept. 2 in an attempt to force baseball into hiring them through a new organization they cunningly formed a few weeks ago. The maneuver is tantamount to running outside the base path. If the umps persist, they deserve the thumb.

Umpires' grievances regarding threats of dismissal, creation of accountability, the strike zone and hiring of amateurs to monitor pitches on television and supervise at the minor league level led to last week's decision by 57 of the 66 major league umpires to submit their resignations. (Five have since rescinded their resignations, violating the umpires' vow never to equivocate.)

The umpires' current contract expires Dec. 31, providing plenty of time to resolve their grievances.

The mass-resignation gambit is a poorly disguised strike threat. Major League Baseball has every justification in immediately accepting the resignations -- it has no legal obligation to wait until Sept. 2 -- and suing the umpires union for conducting an illegal strike.

An organized resignation clearly violates the contract's no-strike clause, which requires that grievances be submitted to arbitration.

The union contract also calls for severance pay for umpires who resign, ranging from $150,000 for an umpire with 10 years' tenure to $400,000 for a 20-years-plus veteran. Umpires who expect to be paid severance for participating in a de facto strike are fantasizing.

The umpires apparently have no complaint about their salaries, which range from $75,000 to $200,000 for six-month seasonal jobs. It is doubtful that they could make that much in other occupations.

Their grievances may have substance, but their decision to risk their careers with such a foolish tactic has both labor and management experts shaking their heads. It was a judgment call, and a very bad one.

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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