Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The mistake heard ‘round the world: Gov. Lingle has protestors arrested
by Larry Geller
Thinking of taking a vacation in Hawaii and want to know what’s happening?
If you do a keyword news search on “Hawaii” right now, you don’t get golf, sun or surf news—you get this:
Yes, Governor Lingle has ordered Furlough Friday protestors sitting in at her outer office area to be arrested, and last night, two were hauled away in handcuffs.
Strategically, having protestors arrested generates favorable publicity—for the protest, because its values are sound. Who can be against education for the kids? Well, our governor, is the impression.
Very few Googlers who see the above will read the articles, but all will see “Parents angry about Hawaii’s shortest-in-the-nation school year aren’t giving up on a weeklong sit-in at Gov. Linda Lingle’s office….
Predictably, a news story about arrests in Hawaii of peaceful protestors has legs. More arrests will mean more bad publicity for the state.
The latest AP story making its way around the globe reveals the sad situation of Hawaii’s educational system while fingering the Governor as the key obstacle to getting the kids back in the classrooms:
"We know that she holds the power of the purse. She's the one who can release emergency funds to get rid of the furloughs for this school year," said Jill Tao, 45, who has two sons in public school. "We're parents. We're tired of having our children furloughed. We want it done now."
Thirteen days have been lost in the current school year, with four more furlough days slated in the coming weeks.
Another 17 days are scheduled for the school year that begins in the fall.
So far, 14 people have been issued citations for trespassing, and Lingle on Tuesday warned the protesters they risked arrest if they continued to try to remain in the office lobby overnight.
Later, two University of Hawaii students who remained after closing hours were arrested while eight others were handed trespassing citations, according to protester Marguerite Higa.
A telephone message The Associated Press left for Lingle spokesman Russell Pang about the arrests late Tuesday wasn't immediately returned.
On the local news front, David Shapiro’s op-ed on the editorial page of this morning’s Advertiser will be widely read: Gracious candidate now grumpy incumbent: Lingle's mishandling of sit-in invites all the blame for furloughs. Snipping from his article destroys his story development, but let me snip just this:
Imagine how much better things might have turned out if she had met with the group to politely listen to their concerns and explain why the state can't afford to accede to teachers union demands to run up the cost of ending furloughs by $30 million over the $62 million Lingle has offered by deeming every single school employee "essential."
I snipped this because I think it goes to the heart of the present standoff: Lingle remains unwilling to meet with very concerned parents who have demonstrated their commitment to Hawaii’s public education with great sacrifice for over a week.
And all she has to do is walk out the front door of her office and sit down and talk.