Remove legal snags
to restore Waikane


A project is under way to clear ordnance from most of a former Oahu military training area.

MOST of more than 1,000 acres of Waikane Valley will be assessed for removal of bombs and grenades left there during more than two decades of military training, but 187 acres will remain a danger, according to Pentagon plans. Legislation may be necessary to eliminate a legalistic obstacle and bring about removal of the ordnance debris in the entire area.

Chuck Steck, manager of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' ordnance studies program, told Windward Oahu residents that an engineering company will begin assessing the amount of ordnance left in an 874-acre area of the valley before the Defense Department embarks upon its removal. The area was used by the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1976 for jungle and assault training.

However, Steck said the assessment will not include 187 acres because the Marines didn't acquire that parcel of land until 1993, through condemnation of property that the government had been leasing from the Kamaka family. He said the Corps of Engineers lacks the authority to remove ordnance debris from land that the government did not own before 1986, when Congress created the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites.

Steck acknowledged that the cleanup effort is long overdue. "I look at it as better late than never," he said. He also did not quarrel with the residents' sentiment that the entire acreage should be included in the effort, indicating that he would act as a member of a restoration advisory board to urge finishing the job.

After the 2001 al-Qaida attack on America, the Marines considered reopening jungle survival training on the 187 acres for combating terrorism in places like the Philippines. However, a 16-month environmental assessment concluded that the ordnance debris made the area too dangerous for training. Instead, the Marines spent $800,000 to build a fence around the property.

The fence is not an acceptable solution, but the Marines understandably are reluctant to engage in a cleanup operation. That is the kind of work done by the Corps of Engineers, but Steck said it lacks the authority to include the acreage in its project. If legislation is needed to include the 187 acres in the cleanup project, Hawaii's congressional delegation should move to exempt it from the parameters of the 1986 law.


Public remains in dark
about Dobelle’s firing


The University of Hawaii has released documents related to president's dismissal.

THOUSANDS of pages of documents made public by the University of Hawaii regarding the dismissal of Evan Dobelle as president reveal more details about events and issues surrounding his firing.

Still ambiguous is what among Dobelle's actions or inactions brought the termination of his contract by the Board of Regents. More records will be issued in the days and weeks to come and the public should be patient as it awaits further information.

The documents the university released to comply with state open records law contain "no smoking guns," as Dobelle's attorney Rick Fried remarked. What they display, however, are patterns of free spending and slack bookkeeping, unsuccessful attempts by regents to contact Dobelle as the board moved to fire him and dysfunctional communication between the parties.

It may be that no single incident sparked Dobelle's removal, but rather an accumulation of several conflicts and disputes. Until all the documents can be reviewed, people will be left to guess.

Key among these are the minutes of the board's meetings in June, which the university should make public without further delay. Other than deleting portions protected by attorney-client privilege, there appears to be no reason why the minutes should not be disclosed, despite the claim that the board's approval of the minutes is necessary first.

Smoking guns aside, a fog still hovers over the university.


Quest for logo a
fruitless pursuit


Nearly half of respondents to proposed UH logo designs choose "none of the above."

THE University of Hawaii could use a bit of a boost what with the recent drubbing the institution has taken because of the Evan Dobelle debacle. As luck would have it, UH's endeavor to find a logo design to identify and market the 10-campus system -- has met rejection yet again.

Presented with six proposals drawn up by Hawaii firms, almost half of the 660 or so online and snail-mail respondents chose "none of the above." This follows last year's effort -- conducted when Dobelle was president -- that drew criticism not only of the designs but because a mainland company had been contracted to do the work.

The university should consider calling off the logo hunt. The UH seal, long a symbol of the institution, may still be the best emblem and can be used creatively to identify the separate campuses. Tradition has its value.




Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

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