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Saturday, January 27, 2001

Hawaii should maintain
its ban on gambling

Bullet The issue: Casino gambling has been proposed for the Ko Olina resort in Leeward Oahu.

Bullet Our view: Legalized gambling would bring increased crime and broken marriages and its economic benefits could be illusory.

IT hardly ever fails to come up when the Legislature is in session: legalizing gambling in Hawaii. Gambling has always been rejected here, and this year should be no different.

The issue has come up this time in the form of a proposal to open a hotel and gambling casino at Ko Olina in Leeward Oahu. The sponsor, Sun International, played host to Governor Cayetano at its resort, casino and aquarium in the Bahamas last month.

Cayetano was accompanied to the Bahamas by Charles Toguchi, his former chief of staff and campaign manager, and Jim Boersma, a former employee, both now lobbyists for Sun International.

Cayetano said he made the trip to inspect the aquarium because of his interest in building an aquarium in Kakaako. It turns out that he also discussed a casino -- although he said he does not plan to support the proposal before the Legislature.

Cayetano added, however, that he is open to the idea of a casino if it provided large amounts of money to support public education. He noted that in the past he has supported a state lottery and parimutuel betting but is not currently pushing those proposals.

The governor has been less than candid about this affair -- his office initially refused to say even where he had gone. The version about inspecting the aquarium was offered only after this newspaper reported the refusal.

Cayetano said his office declined to identify whom he traveled with because Toguchi and Boersma didn't want their names mentioned. That's ridiculous. The voters have a right to know that their governor went to the Bahamas with two lobbyists. If some people are suspicious, there is cause for suspicion.

But the larger point is that legalizing gambling -- particularly casino gambling -- in Hawaii would be a mistake. It would increase the number of personal bankruptcies and broken marriages. The example of Michael Kahapea, who stole millions of dollars from the city to support his expeditions to Las Vegas, would be repeated many times.

Legalized gambling would attract gangsters and prostitutes -- of which we have more than enough already. That is why law enforcement officials are strongly opposed.

Casino gambling would clash with Hawaii's image as a wholesome, family-style resort and could cost the visitor industry patrons who seek such destinations.

Hawaii has achieved huge success in tourism without gambling. After several years of decline, the visitor industry is booming again. There is no reason to gamble with Hawaii's tourism success by legalizing gambling.

Bush should avoid
battles on abortion

Bullet The issue: President Bush has issued an order blocking federal grants to international family planning groups that pay for abortions or abortion counseling.

Bullet Our view: Bush should avoid confrontations over issues related to abortion, which could damage his efforts to achieve a tax cut and education reform.

PRESIDENT Bush chose the 28th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision establishing the right to abortion, to block federal grants to international family planning groups that pay for abortions or abortion counseling.

Having campaigned as an opponent of abortion, Bush chose the anniversary to take action in partial fulfillment of that campaign pledge. However, this was mainly a symbolic act, not one with major political impact.

The executive order reverted to the policy of the Reagan and first Bush administrations, reversing the order issued by Bill Clinton in his first days in the White House. It affects no American women, only women in foreign countries.

In 1999 Clinton reluctantly signed a bill reimposing the ban as part of a bargain under which Congress agreed to pay back dues to the United Nations. Congress last year restored $425 million in annual funding for international family planning agencies, but required that none of the money be spent until Feb. 15, 2001 -- after the presidential election.

Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, said Bush took moderate positions on abortion during the campaign but appeared now to be acting more conservatively. She noted Bush's nomination of the strongly anti-abortion John Ashcroft for attorney general as additional evidence of the change.

There are far more contentious abortion-related issues looming -- "partial-birth" abortion, stem-cell research involving the use of human embryos and a review of approval of the so-called abortion drug RU-486.

There is also the prospect of nominations of Supreme Court justices who might vote to nullify Roe vs. Wade.

It isn't clear from this week's action that Bush will invest much political capital in banning abortion. President Reagan and the first President Bush expressed opposition to abortion but the issue was never at the top of their agendas and the right to abortion survived their administrations. The question is whether the new president will follow their examples.

Taking an all-out plunge into the abortion issue -- probably the most emotional issue of all -- could damage prospects for enacting measures that the president has shown much more interest in, such as tax cuts, education reform and missile defense.

Our hope is that he will step back from such a confrontation and leave the right to abortion intact.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

Frank Bridgewater, Acting Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editor

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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