Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Plan to preserve
Diamond Head OK’d

Bullet The issue: The Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved a master plan for Diamond Head.
Bullet Our view: The plan is needed to preserve Hawaii's most famous landmark.

AFTER decades of community effort, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved a master plan for the protection and improvement of Diamond Head. This is a major step toward the preservation of Hawaii's most famous landmark, already designated a state and national monument. However, the plan must still be reviewed for its environmental impact.

The idea is to restore the crater's natural condition to the extent possible. Existing buildings housing the Federal Aviation Administration and the Hawaii National Guard will be demolished and their operations moved elsewhere.

A visitor/interpretive center of up to 20,000 square feet will be built -- the only structure that will stand in the crater when the project is completed.

The visitor parking area will be moved from the crater to the Cannon Club on the exterior slope of the volcano. The Army will turn the club over to the state next year. It will be used as an orientation center; gifts and food will be available there. From the Cannon Club a tram will transport visitors to points of interest within and outside the crater.

The plans also call for creation of more trails, in part to discourage illegal hiking along the crater rim, which destroys endangered plants. A tunnel at Makapuu Street that is now closed will be opened to pedestrians and cyclists. A wetland area in the center of the crater will be fed by water collected from the slopes and used as a plant nursery.

A defensive outpost for decades, Diamond Head has several long-abandoned points of interest from those years that will be opened to visitors -- Battery Harlow, tunnel 407 and the Flat Top Reservation.

In recent years Diamond Head has become popular with hikers, attracting more than a million visitors a year, making it all the more important to adopt and implement the master plan. In February the board approved entrance fees of $1 per person, $5 per car and a $10 annual pass.

Early in his administration Governor Cayetano, evidently unaware of the preservation efforts that had begun years before, proposed locating a Disneyland-type of entertainment operation in the crater. Fortunately, the idea was quietly abandoned.

An aide said the governor supported the master plan as approved but preferred a smaller interpretive center and a place for small local gatherings. The board indicated the plan would be modified accordingly.

The state is proposing a $5 million revenue bond issue to fund the improvements.

E. Alison Kay, chairwoman of the Diamond Head Citizens Advisory Council, who has been involved in the effort to preserve Diamond Head for 31 years, told the board that approval of the master plan will "enable us to realize (Diamond Head's) significance and history, a sacred place in pre-Western Hawaii, a beacon for 19th century sailors, a state and national monument."

Thanks to Kay and other public-spirited citizens, that plan is now in place.


Policy on homosexuals
in military is flawed

Bullet The issue: President Clinton has described the "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward homosexual members of the military as "out of whack."
Bullet Our view: The policy should be revised to eliminate the double standard.

THE "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the military seemed unworkable from the outset in 1994. The policy invoked a double standard on homosexual and heterosexual soldiers and sailors that sent some officials searching for evidence to eject gays from the military. President Clinton says the policy is "out of whack" because military leaders were not carrying it out as intended and as they promised, but the policy itself is flawed.

Under the policy, the military may not inquire into service personnel's sex life unless there is clear evidence of homosexual conduct. Gays who volunteer information about their sexual preference or conduct can be discharged.

Clinton's statement that the policy needs to be re-examined or carried out in a more humane way echoed remarks by Hillary Rodham Clinton in her Senate race in New York. However, he has frequently cited the case of a gay soldier who was beaten to death with a baseball bat in Kentucky as evidence of the need for re-examination of the policy.

The Kentucky incident was deplorable, but signs that the policy was not working had been apparent from official inquiries into sexual orientation that followed the policy's adoption. Gay rights advocates complain that it has left many to suffer in silence and increased harassment. On Oahu, Air Force officials reportedly asked whether airmen had been seen at a Waikiki bar popular with gays and asked for the membership list of a Waikiki church that ministered to gays and lesbians.

Defense Secretary William Cohen warned last April that commanders who engaged in witch hunts would themselves be investigated for sexual harassment. Cohen now has told commanders they should look at ways of preventing harassment of gay and lesbian personnel.

The Pentagon must change a military code of justice that condones heterosexual conduct not characterized as adultery but outlaws all homosexual conduct. Even under those rules, military commanders should not be allowed to authorize investigations without evidence of homosexual conduct.

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