The push by two Republican senators to scuttle a Maui conference of federal judges in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is off the mark and an insult to Hawaii.
The August meeting, scheduled to be held at the Hyatt Regency in Ka'anapali, came under fire from GOP solons Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Referring to Hawaii as an "Island Paradise," there was more than a hint that the two senators regarded the judicial conference as a disguised party time reminiscent of the now infamous General Services Administration's soiree in Las Vegas.
Court spokespeople have defended both the $230 per night room rate and airline travel costs as "competitive" with other destinations in the 9th Circuit.
More importantly, though, is the snide undertone in the senators' criticism that serious business cannot be conducted in Hawaii. That inference is belied by all the private companies that regularly hold conferences here in the islands.
Yes, we may have a beautiful setting for a gathering, but every private company we know of has one thing in common:
They are all bottom-line oriented - they are not going to hold conferences where important information cannot be shared and serious work cannot be done.
From everything we know about the Circuit Court conference, individuals are responsible for the costs of all outside activities. If, as the court maintains, travel and lodging costs for the Maui conference are competitive, then the two senators were trying to make cheap political hay.
Hawaii is part of the 9th Circuit. As long as we are competitive with other possible locations for conferences, excluding us from hosting one because of our state's physical beauty is nothing short of some form of reverse prejudice.
We think the senators owe the state an apology. Hawaii proves 365 days a year it is a good place to conduct serious business.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.