Saturday, September 18, 1999

Fasi’s Natatorium,
newspaper opinions

Bullet The issue: Frank Fasi has opposed full restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium and the Honolulu newspapers' joint operating agreement.

Bullet Our view: Fasi neglected the Natatorium as mayor. He falsely accused the newspapers of being a monopoly.

Frank Fasi is campaigning against restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium, arguing that it would cost too much and anyway only a few people from Hawaii died in combat in World War I.

The Natatorium is a memorial to Hawaii's World War I veterans, those who survived as well as the fatalities. The decision to build the memorial was made by the territorial legislature and it is unseemly for anyone to belittle its purpose seven decades later.

Info Box James C.F. Chong, commander of American Legion Post 11, responds that although Fasi is a member of the post, "he does not speak for the rest of us." Chong points out that the Natatorium "is a memorial to all our World War I comrades. It honors the thousands who served and more than 100 who died." He says it's not a matter of numbers, and Fasi "should know that." The Legion supports full restoration.

Opposition to the Natatorium is not a new position for the former mayor. While in office he refused to lift a finger to maintain the facility, letting it deteriorate so badly that it had to be closed as a health and safety hazard in 1979. Fasi's irresponsibility had much to do with the deplorable condition of the memorial and the need to spend millions to restore it.

It's ironic that he is now complaining about the cost of restoration. His name ought to be added to the memorial plaque as the person most to blame for the Natatorium's condition.


Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

FASI ought to be celebrating now that the newspapers' joint operating agreement, which he tried for years to destroy, will now be terminated. Fasi charged endlessly over the years that the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser were a monopoly. He spent millions on futile legal battles to break up the agreement.

But the purpose of the arrangement, and of the federal law that protected it, was to prevent monopoly, not to maintain it. That's why the law is called the Newspaper Preservation Act. By authorizing the preservation of newspapers that might otherwise close, it prevented monopolies.

The two papers competed against each other and tried to produce distinctive publications, even though noneditorial operations for both were handled by the same agency. Now that the joint-operating agreement is ending and the Star-Bulletin is closing, Honolulu will see what a real newspaper monopoly is: one paper.

Governor Cayetano, who said recently he couldn't care less whether Honolulu had one newspaper, will now have a chance to experience that situation. Cayetano says he wonders why no attempt was made by the current owners to sell the Star-Bulletin. Why the sudden concern? We thought he couldn't care less.

Russia’s suffering

Bullet The issue: Four terrorist blasts in apartment buildings in Russia have killed more than 250 people.

Bullet Our view: Continued explosions could cause turmoil in the government.

TERRORISM has become a too-familiar tactic in many countries, including the United States, but what is going on in Russia is especially disturbing. Four terrorist blasts in large apartment buildings in two weeks have left a death toll of more than 250 people. All of the explosions occurred during the night, when people were sleeping, apparently to inflict maximum casualties.

The government seems incapable of stopping the attacks, which are believed to be the work of Muslim extremists, and consequently could be in danger of falling. President Boris Yeltsin declared that "we have the strength and resources to wipe out terrorism," but he isn't convincing.

It would hardly be surprising if ordinary Russians became infuriated at the government's impotence and demanded a change. By now Americans would be, but our level of expectations is much higher than the Russians'. They are used to a government that doesn't work. We expect some inefficiency but demand results.

There is speculation that Yeltsin will declare a state of emergency and rule by decree, but he denies this. Another theory is that Yeltsin will resign, install Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as interim president and announce presidential elections in three months, hoping that Putin will win.

The upper house of parliament applauded Putin's security crackdown in the wake of the bombings. Shares of top securities fell sharply, fueled in part by rumors that Yeltsin would fire Putin.

The former paratrooper general Alexander Lebed, now governor of Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, said the bombs had stretched people's faith in the authorities to the breaking point. One of the rumors has Yeltsin appointing Lebed to replace Putin.

With the relaxation of the totalitarian grip of the Communists, Russia seems to be disintegrating. The domination of the ethnic Russians over the minorities is eroding, being replaced by chaos. Even the long-suffering Russians will not put up indefinitely with the government's failure to stop these terrorist outrages.

The result could be anarchy in a country that still has large numbers of nuclear weapons and missiles. In the wrong hands, they could be an international menace. If the terrorism continues, those weapons could fall into those wrong hands.

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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