Campaign Trail Winds Through Hawaiian Isle

One of the charming--or maybe disingenuous--things about the district-elections movement is the way its backers insist on being all things to all people.

Boosters argue that civic problems will melt away if San Diego City Council members are elected exclusively by district rather than by the current hybrid system of district primaries followed by a citywide runoff.

Potholes will be filled overnight. Police will say please and thank you.

Political contributions from developers will be rendered impotent, parks will replace condos, local control will reign. And a thousand flowers will bloom in every neighborhood. With such a talent for innovative optimism, it should not be surprising that the district-elections campaign has devised the most novel fund-raising event of the political season.

The march to local control, it turns out, will include a hiking trip through the Hawaiian island of Kauai and a one-night stopover in Waikiki.

For $775--which includes air fare, ground transportation and overnight lodging at Waikiki--politically aroused campers can enjoy hiking through Waimea Canyon, snorkeling at Kee Beach and a quick evening of shopping and night life in Honolulu.

Acting as guide for the trip, Aug. 27-Sept. 6, will be Robert Smith, well-known naturalist and author. Profits will be turned over to the campaign in favor of the district-elections measure on the November ballot.

Mark Zerbe, a district-elections advocate and former Common Cause leader, figures that the hike will net the campaign upward of $2,500, which would be a pittance contrasted with what the measure's opponents likely will spend.

The trip's 24-person roster is full and there is a four-person waiting list.

"My only regret," Zerbe said, "is that we don't have longer before the election, so we could organize trips to Alaska, the Grand Canyon and Yucatan, and fund the campaign that way."

Keeping the Golden Rule

The question that has remained unanswered in the war of nerves between the Union-Tribune Publishing Co. and the Newspaper Guild is simply: Why?

Why would a company that is highly profitable and keenly concerned about its reputation both locally and in the newspaper business embark on a collision course with its employees over the nebulous term "management rights?"

One possible answer came from Tribune editor Neil Morgan in a recent staff meeting with Tribune editors and reporters.

He said that publisher Helen Copley was deeply offended by a sign carried by one U-T employee during an afternoon of picketing by 100 or more employees when contract talks stalled in 1985.

Copley felt that the sign--"Helen Gets the Goldmine, We Get the Shaft"--was an unjustified personal attack, Morgan said. A contract was later signed, but the hurt remained.

Morgan's cautionary explanation--repeated in varying forms by other management employees--has not been lost on the U-T rank and file.

After a story was published in The Reader about the current contract negotiations, the Guild president wrote a letter to the weekly newspaper criticizing as inflammatory and unwarranted a mocking caricature of Copley that had accompanied the story.

On Friday, when U-T employees again staged a picket line, the offending Gold Mine-Shaft sign was nowhere to be seen.

Any sign that carried criticism of the publisher was discarded at a sign-painting party that preceded the picketing.

School Daze

The San Diego school board today will be asked to approve an application for $50,000 in state money to teach reading and writing at Annie B. Keiller Middle School.

A memo to the board says, in ponderous part: "The Keiller Middle School proposal for a Demonstration Program in English-Language Arts will provide instruction that enhances the strong skill-based approach of the Achievement Goals Program through the addition of a holistic literature-based program that complies with the new state framework."

Translation: Students will read good books, discuss them and write essays.

Roxie F. Knupp, the school district's external funding administrator, wrote the memo based on a memo provided by the principal at Keiller.

"It's education-ese," she said with a laugh. "It was written with the thought that nobody would read it except other educators. To be honest, we tend to use buzzwords an awful lot."

Holistic is one of the latest buzzwords, she explained. It means reading books one word at a time and thinking about the words as well as the story.

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