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Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, September 8, 2000

Editorial board
gets callers aplenty

IT'S been an exceptionally busy week at the still-alive-and-well Star-Bulletin, especially for this newsroom's editorial board. Informally known as the "edboard," its members are editorial writers Carl Zimmerman and Lee Catterall, letters editor Mary Poole, editorial cartoonist Corky Trinidad, contributing editor A.A. Smyser, Publisher/Editor John M. Flanagan and moi (as in French for me, not Hawaiian for a type of fish).

Since the opinion department determines our editorial stance on various issues, we often get requests from people who want to address the edboard.

They -- on behalf of their businesses, organizations, countries, pet projects or blatant self-interests -- hope to elucidate, educate, cajole or just talk story with us. Sometimes, they merely manage to irritate.

That wasn't the case these past three days, however, during which we held a record five hour-long edboard meetings in our conference room. Five!

On Tuesday morning, our guest was the irrepressible Frank Fasi. The longtime former mayor, still dapper and feisty, thundered about how Honolulu is in such dire trouble, he needs to reclaim the office he held for an amazing 22 years.

At 1:30 that same afternoon, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Clayton Hee dropped by with a bombshell: All nine OHA trustees would stand for election to preempt a planned mass firing by Governor Cayetano.

The story was posted online at 3:30 p.m. -- at the very moment OHA was holding a press conference for other media. Way to go, Webmasters!

On Wednesday morning, Ralph Stussi, Hawaii division president of Fleming Companies Inc., came to call. He vehemently rebutted a series of stories in (ahem) another Oahu daily alleging that the food wholesaler's billing practices led to inflated prices for consumers.

Stussi added that Fleming's market share in the islands was 20-30 percent, far from the eye-opening 70 percent figure being bandied about.

That same afternoon, Mayor Jeremy Harris arrived to share superlatives like how this city is the safest of its size, has the best bus system and is the best managed; ergo, he should and must be re-elected.

Harris also bragged about how he's reduced the size of city government in both operating dollars and personnel (as if he actually had a choice in such a crummy economy).

FINALLY, yesterday afternoon, mayoral candidate and former Councilman Mufi Hannemann ambled in to share his "vision" for Oahu. He pointed out his extensive background in the private sector as well as the troika of city, state and federal governments.

While Fasi says the city has gone downhill, and Harris sees Honolulu as nirvana realized, Hannemann spouts idealistic, grand-scale plans for this place, especially in the arenas of tourism and education.

Phew! TGIF, especially for the busy, tired but still smiling members of our edboard. After a welcome hiatus this weekend, we'll be back at it come Monday morning.

This hectic pace won't quit for a while, but we're not complaining. With the primary election just two weeks away, and a key judicial ruling next Friday on the fate of the Star-Bulletin, we relish every day, every minute, with an unabashed, grateful happiness.

Hear that? It's the presses and they're still running...

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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