February 1993 Home   Newsletters

March 1993

April 1993

Presidents Message [Crossroads] (Arlene Ellis)
What is Crossroads?
League Testifies on Economic Conversion
Foreign Policy Discussion Group to be Formed
Dilemma of Long-Term Care: Can We Afford to Ignore It? (Jennifer A. Baratz)
Proposed Budget FY 1993-1994
Urgent! Help Needed for Vote Count
We the People...

League Testifies on Economic Conversion

Economic conversion is the term used for the process by which people, skills, technology, equipment and facilities in defense are shifted to alternative economic applications. Across the country, communities are preparing for this drawdown in defense activity by forming planning committees. In addition, the Department of Defense, the Commerce Department, and the Department of Labor have allocated special funds to assist in this planning.

Here in Hawaii, the Community Council of the Spark, M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace at the University of Hawaii has formed a citizen task force to discuss the implication of a diminished defense commitment for our state. After holding an all-day conference on the issue, and several meetings, the consensus of the task force was that their efforts should be institutionalized in order to gain proper funding and statewide cooperation from the many segments of society that would be directly affected. Accordingly, bills were introduced in the House and Senate, and a resolution in the Honolulu City Council, urging the state to form such a task force.

Representing League at the hearings for these bills and the resolution was Rhoda Miller, who also represents League on the citizen task force. Many other people also supported the bills. Opposition came from some members of organized labor, the Military Affairs Council of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, and the Department of Business, Economic

Development and Tourism. All three groups seemed to feel that they were already working on the problem, and did not welcome citizen input into the process. Of course, the citizen groups that testified did not share this sentiment, and many pointed out that, despite the gathering of statistics, no contingency plans have been formed for Hawaii by any of these groups.

Advising the citizen task force is Prof. Ann Markusen of Rutgers University, an expert on economic conversion and an adviser to President Clinton. She expressed surprise at the vested interests' attitude, and pointed out that in other states, where citizens, business, labor, and the military joined together, their plans were most successful. She also advised that there is a two-to-three year lag time between planning and execution, so Hawaii is in danger of coming in too late to execute plans effectively. (For example, DBEDT anticipates that the marines from the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station will pull out by 1995, and Barbers Point Naval Air Station will be relocated in Kaneohe, thus freeing up space for an alternative airport, but greatly reducing the personnel stationed at Kaneohe. The resulting impact on local service businesses could be devastating, unless plans were laid for alternative business activity).

Both houses of the Legislature referred their bills to members for revision. The City Council passed its resolution. The result might be the formation of a task force, but with reduced citizen participation. More to follow!

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