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Monday, October 16, 2000

Public unions girding
for tiff with governor

Bullet The issue: Governor Cayetano is vowing to veto legislative funding of an HGEA arbitration award.

Bullet Our view: Cayetano is trying to reserve as much as possible of the state's increased revenues to finance government programs.

WHEN he was campaigning for a second term as governor, Ben Cayetano courted the public employee unions, promising to fund a pay raise for state workers. However, since his victory two years ago, the governor has taken a decidedly tougher line with labor -- perhaps because he doesn't need its help anymore.

Cayetano is deadlocked with the Hawaii Government Employees Association over the validity of a $200 million arbitration award giving 24,000 white-collar workers pay increases of up to 14.5 percent over the next two fiscal years. The governor contends that the award has lapsed because it was not funded by the Legislature this year. He vows to veto the bill if the Legislature approves the award in the 2001 session.

Cayetano says the state and HGEA should begin all over again with negotiations, but warns that it's unlikely the state can afford an agreement with terms similar to the arbitration award.

The HGEA is having none of that renegotiation business. It considers the arbitration award a valid contract that the state has an obligation to fund.

The governor has made his distaste for compulsory arbitration in state-labor negotiations well known. He believes the awards tend to favor labor unduly and wants to repeal the arbitration law. So far the Legislature has balked.

This is Cayetano's attempt to nullify one such award, which could set a precedent. If he doesn't back off, this could be a bitter fight.

But it wouldn't be the only one.

The United Public Workers, representing 9,000 blue-collar workers, approved a strike authorization after the labor board declared an impasse in their talks.

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the faculty union with 3,000 members, has filed for the declaration of an impasse in its contract talks.

Cayetano has said he is willing to offer the 11,000-member Hawaii State Teachers Association a pay raise, although no specific proposal has yet been made.

THE governor said the state could afford across-the-board pay hikes for all state employees, but not at the level of the HGEA award.

The state's financial situation is easing after years of austerity. The public employee unions are demanding their share of the growing fiscal pie. The governor wants to devote the bulk of the additional funds to education and other state programs that have been suffering.

That, after all, is what government is supposed to do: serve the needs of its constituents. Their requirements should take priority over raises for government employees.

Hillary Clinton’s list

Bullet The issue: Hillary Clinton has admitted that she improperly used a government list of White House party guests to solicit political contributions.

Bullet Our view: Such disclosures of improper uses of her role as first lady may be damaging to her Senate campaign.

THE Senate candidacy of the wife of an incumbent president has the potential for numerous awkward situations, even glaring abuses of power.

In her campaign for a Senate seat from New York, Hillary Clinton has been repeatedly criticized by her opponent, Rep. Rick Lazio, for improper fund-raising practices. Lazio has accused Mrs. Clinton of rewarding political contributors with invitations to stay at the White House and with using government resources for inappropriate political purposes.

Now Mrs. Clinton has been forced to concede that she went over the line in using a government list of White House party guests to solicit political contributions.

She said the names were from a list of guests invited to a party thrown by the Democratic National Committee at the White House last December. An annual holiday event, the party is customarily paid for by the president's political party, but the invitation list is considered government property.

Mrs. Clinton called it a mistake, but Lazio went further, suggesting that either the first lady or her campaign aides had broken the law and should answer for it. "I think that they believe there's two laws -- one that applies to them, and one that applies to the rest of us," Lazio told reporters. "In this particular case, this isn't just something that is improper, this is something that is illegal."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said the Committee on Government Reform, which he heads, would investigate the situation.

Mrs. Clinton said the White House names were inadvertently included with a list of people slated to receive fund-raising letters signed by the president. She said that once the campaign realized there was a mistake, it immediately moved to rectify the situation.

Inadvertent or not, a crime or a mere impropriety, use of the list illustrates the difficulty of separating Mrs. Clinton's role as first lady from her role as candidate.

But there are disadvantages as well as advantages to the dual roles. Any association of her fund-raising with the White House runs the risk of association with the Clinton administration's 1996 fund-raising abuses.

This race could be as much a test of Americans' view of Bill Clinton's legacy as Al Gore's bid for the presidency. But it doesn't help Mrs. Clinton's case when her use of her White House ties in questionable ways is disclosed.

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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