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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Cayetano continues to toy with teachers

The governor finds us teachers endlessly amusing, such is his contempt for us.

He waited until half an hour before teachers were set to man the picket lines on Feb. 20, 1997, to make a genuine offer to settle the contract.

No sooner was he re-elected a year later than he offered up a vision of public education that would end teachers' ability to engage in collective bargaining. Last year he said he would dig in his heels rather than bargain with us to replace a long-expired contract.

True to his word, he declined to make a real offer until after he had what he wanted: teachers standing along roads, waving signs, getting no pay. He waited until Federal Judge David Ezra suggested he might take over the entire school system.

Months after teachers ratified the contract offer and returned to the classroom, the governor continued his amusing sport by claiming his negotiator failed to read his own offer and it was not really what he had intended to offer. On that flimsy reed of an excuse, the governor flatly refused to honor any element of the agreement involving money as if to say, "Nothing is too good for teachers, and that is exactly what they will get."

This sport, toying with teachers, ended abruptly on Sept. 11 last year, and the governor immediately set it aside to deal with some very real problems that were not of his own making by stating that all but the disputed portion of the contract would be honored.

In the wake of the Hawai'i Labor Relations Board ruling as reported, it would seem the sport has been resumed to meet our hard-working governor's need for entertainment.

"Despite all of the rhetoric, we're really quite pleased with the ruling," said HSTA executive director Joan Husted. Cayetano, however, called the union's interpretation "nonsense."

And why, one might ask, were teachers chosen as targets of ridicule and contempt for the governor's amusement? The answer is clear: We teachers have behaved like clowns. Our folly is hilarious We permitted our union to endorse Ben Cayetano in our name twice and fork over our dues money to his campaign war chest for years. Behavior this stupid provided an irresistible target for our governor.

We carelessly pinned the "Kick me" sign to our backsides. He did as we asked.