October 1990 Home   Newsletters

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January 1991

Neighborhood Board Elections
President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
League Testifies on Annual Plan Review (Astrid Monson)
Action on Charter Amendments (Astrid Monson)
It Doesn't Take Much
General Membership Meeting
Teamsters Vote Count
United Nations to Focus on Women in the '90s
From the President (Massachusetts Voter) (Risa Nyman)
Scarlet Letters: An Introduction
Letter from LWV to Kent Baker, KHON-TV2 (Anne Lee)
Vacancies on the Governor's Boards & Commissions
Update on City Recycling Efforts (Dorothy Turnbull)
Hawaii's Living Will (Joan Hayes)
Welcome New Members
Honolulu League Contemplating Computer System for Office
New Publication: Gun Control

"The Scarlet Letters": An Introduction

It is the season, once again, of DEBATES MANIA. This year is even more interesting than most. You have no doubt been following the 'debate debate' in the press, but as members of the League, we wanted to let you in on some of the behind-the-scenes events.

The following is a letter we received from Channel 2 - KHON News Director, Kent Baker, in response to our press release that announced the cancellation of our Night of Debates. scheduled for October 20th. In that press release, we also raised the issue of debate sponsorship, a problem that the League has long raised as an issue. This evidently hit a nerve.

So, FYI......

15 October 1990
Honolulu, Hawaii

Ms. Anne Lee
Debates Coordinator
The League of Women Voters

Dear Ms. Lee:

I am in receipt of your "Press Release" of 15 October, 1990, and have had an opportunity to read your statements concerning sponsorship of political debates in Hawaii.

It is difficult for me to understand your position on this matter, Debates -- whether the sponsoring organization be a University of Hawaii student group, a labor union, a Big Island media group, the League of Women Voters or a news organization -- are the voters It was my understanding - -apparently in error that the League was a group of civic-minded people interested in the betterment of their community.

Instead, I think your statements demonstrate the shallowness of your knowledge about politics, debates and the media. If representative of the League, and I suspect they are not, your statements show a small-minded, petty and dangerously jealous attitude that, rather than working for the good of the community, show a disregard for and disdain toward the good people of this state.

For you to believe that the League of Women Voters and only the League of Women Voters -- in concert with the least-watched network television station in the community -- is the only group eligible to sponsor political debates is purely preposterous. And unfair, And frightening.

In 1986, we attempted to cooperate with the League in a gubernatorial debate. The result, engineered by the League, was a laughing stock, in which a half-dozen fringe candiddates who happened to be on the ballot monopolized the entire debate at the expense of the two or three legitimate candidates. We determined at that time -- after consultation with Republican, Democratic and Libertarian party officials, our owners and other community organizations -- that we would decline to again become involved in such a farce.

Obviously, that was the correct decision. Since that time, working without the League but with The Honolulu Advertiser, we have sponsored debates with city-office candidates, with state-office candidates and with federal-office candidates. We have sponsored debates in primary elections and in general elections. And we have sponsored those debates for one reason and one reason only: to offer the state-wide facilities of KHON-TV for the transmission of political debates to increase voter awareness, interest and knowledge. We think we have succeeded in that goal.

Until the silly statements in your press release of today, no one had questioned those motives. I am sorry you were unable to be forthright enough or honest enough to have contacted us directly with your concerns. It is, however, rather indicative of the problems the Hawaii League of Women Voters has had over the years, Such duplicity is perhaps the reason the League has such a woeful record of sponsoring political debates in this state.

I am also sorry you have chosen to detail these charges while hiding behind the anonymity of a press release. If, at some time, you would like to discuss this in a more honest, forthright, reasoned manner, we remain available.


Kent A. Baker
News Director

League's Anne Lee's reply

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