Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Governor hopes plan
will rev up economy

The issue: Cayetano lays out a strategy
to prevent Hawaii's economy from stalling.

Governor Cayetano proposes to buffer the economic effects on Hawaii arising from the national crisis by pumping state dollars into government projects, but neither he nor his advisers have moved very far in seeking long-term remedies to the key problems of an economy dominated by tourism.

The governor wants to begin construction projects and renovate buildings, tapping the state's $40 million rainy-day fund and the $190 million accrued in the hurricane relief fund, as well as floating capital improvement bonds. He would like to start work on a West Oahu campus for the University of Hawaii, a new medical school and a prison facility focused on drug treatment.

If these sound familiar, it's because they are among Cayetano's pet projects that he has been unsuccessful in pushing through the Legislature. They may be worthwhile, but they leave the governor vulnerable to criticism that he is making hay while the sun shines. Nevertheless, state legislators, who are already rumbling about the governor's ideas, should give them due consideration. If not, lawmakers must come up with their own agenda, set aside their political interests and do something quickly. There's little time for the usual fussing.

Cayetano has done well in drawing together various stakeholders to control the damage that the terrorists attacks have wrought. Extending unemployment and health-care benefits will lessen the burden on laid-off workers. Enlisting the cooperation of financial institutions to ease business loan payments, waiving airport landing fees, deferring general excise tax payments make sense.

However, it seems that underlying all of this is an "until," that these actions will hold the state together until tourism rebounds. Because tourism is Hawaii's economic strong point, the current effort should focus on getting visitors here. Then Hawaii's leaders must think beyond the present. The governor made that point in a meeting with Star-Bulletin editors and reporters, saying talk of diversifying the economy must take center stage.

While it is unlikely that anything can replace tourism as the big wheel in Hawaii's economic engine, the current crisis presents an opportunity for innovation and creativity. Instead of one big industry, the answer may lie in smaller gears that can ride out the bumps in rough times. Hawaii's leaders must retool.

Pilots won’t need
to carry firearms

The issue: The airline pilots' union
wants to allow pilots to carry
firearms during flights.

MANY ideas are being considered for increased security of the nation's airways, but none quite so radical as that of arming pilots. Other pertinent measures should provide enough security to eliminate the need for pilots to fend off terrorists with firearms. Pilots already have plenty to occupy their attention.

Unarmed pilots should have assurance that federal air marshals carrying firearms, perhaps augmented by military and U.S. Customs officers, are aboard. As many as 1,000 undercover armed officers flew during the 1970s after a series of hijackings, but their numbers have shrunk in recent years to about 100, mainly on international flights. The FAA has begun a recruiting effort to expand the program, which should be maintained permanently at a high level.

Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, told a Senate committee earlier that pilots could not be "Sky King and Wyatt Earp at the same time." Apparently under pressure from many of his union's 67,000 members, Woerth shifted position to propose that pilots be allowed -- but not required -- to play both roles.

Jane F. Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, points out that arming pilots would create some practical problems. She says an over-the-shoulder harness, which is required to be fastened during takeoff and landing, could prevent the pilot from turning around to use a gun. She asks: What would happen if a co-pilot objected to the pilot being armed?

Two task forces are to report Monday to Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta on ways to improve security at airports and during flights. One that should top the list is retrofitting airplanes with steel or possibly mesh doors to prevent hijackers from entering cockpits, preventing attacks on pilots.

Devices under consideration are panic buttons that pilots could use to alert authorities, video cameras focused on the cabin and technology to match faces or fingerprints of passengers with those on FBI watchlists. Officials are considering a ban on early seat selection because of the possibility that weapons used in the Sept. 11 hijackings were planted on the planes while parked on the tarmac.

One proposal is that carry-on luggage be banned. It would be preferable to limit the size and number of carry-ons to reduce the time for screening. More business travelers use lap-top computers during flights, and many passengers are wary of packing valuable or fragile items with check-in luggage. Permitting but limiting carry-ons would ease congestion and provide security at the same time.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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