Hawaii cuts programs for poor, funds Miss Universe pageant FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 20 Apr 1998 10:58:40 -0700 (PDT)


FWD found at: http://starbulletin.com/today/news/story8.html
April 9, 1998  Honolulu Star-Bulletin LEGISLATURE UPDATE

  BROOK LEE THANKS LAWMAKERS - ARAKAKI CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT

  By Craig Gima, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

       While Brook Lee was thanking members of the House of Representatives
for helping to pass a $3.3 million appropriation to bring the Miss Universe
pageant to Hawaii next month, one lawmaker was conspicuous by his absence.

       Rep. Dennis Arakaki (D, Kalihi Valley), a critic of the
appropriation, said he did not plan to boycott the House chamber appearance
of Lee, a Pearl City resident who is the current Miss Universe.

       "It just so happens that I was talking to the people who run the
homeless shelters, and they were talking about shutting down their
programs," he said.

       "After talking to them, I really didn't feel like going back in."

       Earlier in the day, Arakaki was at a proclamation signing for the
Hawaii Food Bank. He said the food bank is experiencing an increase in
demand and will need a lot more money this year.

       "Those two things in combination got to me, and I wasn't in a real
festive mood," he said.

       "I think things happen for a reason. Something just put those things
on my heart, and I reacted to that emotionally."

       Arakaki emphasized he is not against the pageant or Lee, but he is
upset at the state's priorities. He noted the money for the pageant is
touted as an economic investment while programs to help the poor are being
cut.

       "People don't talk about human investment and what kind of impacts
it's going to have by not funding some of these important programs,"
Arakaki said. "We're talking basically about investing in children and
providing for the neediest in our society."

       Lee was in Honolulu yesterday for the signing of the Miss Universe
appropriations bill.

       At the ceremony, Gov. Ben Cayetano said $1.9 million of the $3.3
million appropriation will be a direct benefit to the state because it will
be spent locally.

       "This will prove a real shot in the arm for our local businesses,"
Cayetano said. "The Miss Universe pageant is a great opportunity to
showcase Hawaii as a must-see destination of the world. It's advertising we
can't buy."

       The pageant will be held May 12 at the Stan Sheriff Center on the
University of Hawaii campus.

       "We will take over the planet for one day, and that one day will
make a difference for years to come," Lee told the House.

       Arakaki said, "I really want to see the pageant become a success,
and I think we are fortunate to have someone like Brook Lee."

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