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Saturday, October 21, 2000

Hirono defies
Cayetano on pay
raise question

Bullet The issue: Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono has announced her disagreement with Governor Cayetano on the issue of funding an arbitrator's award of a pay raise to HGEA members.
Bullet Our view: Hirono is wooing union support for the 2002 gubernatorial election.

It was not surprising that state legislative leaders opposed Governor Cayetano on the issue of funding an arbitrator's award of a $200 million pay raise for state and county workers represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Cayetano announced that he considered the arbitrated agreement void because the Legislature failed to fund it in the 2000 session. If the Legislature approves the raise, he vowed he will veto it. Cayetano has been a critic of compulsory arbitration for public worker contract negotiations. He has proposed eliminating arbitration except for the police and firefighter unions and restoring the right to strike to the other unions.

House Speaker Calvin Say responded that he believed the Legislature would have to fund the raise. He added that if the governor exercised his veto power, the Legislature would try to override the veto. In the Senate, Labor Committee Chairman Bob Nakata said it would be extremely difficult not to fund the raise.

But it is one thing for independently elected legislators, even fellow Democrats, to defy the governor on an issue affecting their key supporters, the public employee unions.

It is quite another for Cayetano's running mate in the last two elections, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, to contradict him. This is serious.

Hirono issued a statement to the news media announcing that she believes the arbitration award is legal. She cited a letter from the Attorney General's Office that she said indicated the contract can be funded by the next Legislature if it chooses to do so.

She even said that state workers have been telling her they believe they are being treated "very unfairly." She meant treated unfairly by her boss, the governor.

This comes close to heresy. Lieutenant governors are not supposed to disagree publicly with governors.

Cayetano has on several occasions broadly hinted that he was strongly supportive of Hirono after years of close collaboration, and wanted her to succeed him in the governor's office.

Now he has changed his tune. Commenting on her statement, he said acidly, "If you want to be governor in this state, then I think you need to act like one by first making sure that you've got the facts before you." He complained that Hirono hasn't participated in any of the administration's discussions about the negotiations.

It looks very much that Hirono is taking on Cayetano on this issue with the 2002 gubernatorial race in mind. Support of the government employee unions may be crucial if she battles Jeremy Harris for the Democratic nomination -- and in the general election if she wins the nomination. This is a chance for her to show everybody she's on the side of the unions. It isn't necessary for her to say she hopes they will reciprocate at election time.

Lure of gambling
led to ruin
of two lives

Bullet The issue: The legal problems of Michael Kahapea and Sukamto Sia are related to their high-stakes gambling.
Bullet Our view: Their cases are arguments against legalization of gambling in Hawaii.

TWO court sessions Thursday in high-profile cases had one thing in common: gambling.

Bullet Michael Kahapea, former head of the city housing department's relocation and property management branch, was sentenced to a maximum 50 years in prison and fined $365,000 for stealing millions in taxpayer money that was to be used to move businesses from the city's Ewa Villages redevelopment project.

Circuit Judge Rey Graulty said Kapahea took advantage of his position to "orchestrate the theft" by rigging bids and submitting false invoices. He called the case "the largest single theft of taxpayers' money by a public official in the state's history."

The judge said Kahapea used the money he stole "to bankroll high-stakes gambling in Las Vegas and lavish on himself and friends in hostess bars." Graulty said the magnitude of the crime outweighed any mitigating factors such as possible alcohol or gambling addictions.

Bullet Sukamto Sia, the bankrupt former owner of the failed Bank of Honolulu, pleaded not guilty in federal court to six charges that he moved around $625,000 to keep it out of the control of the bankruptcy court. The new indictments, three for making false statements related to his November 1998 bankruptcy filing and three more for money laundering, were returned by a federal grand jury on Wednesday.

Sia's attorney repeated Sia's not-guilty pleas on three earlier charges that included allegations that he transferred more than $7 million from the sale of a Gulfstream jet plane to entities he controlled and concealed more than $700,000 in state tax refunds from a bankruptcy trustee.

Sia has listed debts of nearly $300 million. His resignation as Bank of Honolulu chairman came with accusations that he wrote more than $8 million worth of bad checks for gambling debts in Las Vegas.

Both Kahapea and Sia gambled for high stakes in Las Vegas, which contributed heavily to their downfall. Kahapea stole from the city to finance his gambling. Sia's financial and legal problems stem in part from his gambling debts.

Gambling ruins many lives. Thousands of Hawaii residents gamble in the Las Vegas casinos. If gambling was legalized in Hawaii, many more Hawaii people would participate. Some of them might end up like Michael Kahapea and Sukamto Sia. Hawaii doesn't need more lives wrecked by gambling.

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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