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Wednesday, February 17, 1999

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Leaf blowers destroy quietude of Waikiki

Forget widening Kuhio Beach, upgrading Triangle Park and restoring the Natatorium. Keep the prostitutes. Just please outlaw leaf blowers in Waikiki.

Every morning for over an hour, Waikiki residents must put up with the drone of these dastardly devices. The sound is particularly annoying, like the moan of a constipated rhinoceros. What's more, these machines do not clean but only blow allergy-stirring dust and debris onto someone else's property.

Police should ticket the users of these noisemakers, who are out sometimes before 7 a.m., breaking the silence of the morning with their bellowing blowers.

Silencing these machines would be a giant stride toward returning Waikiki to the peaceful and serene place it once was.

Roy Graham
Waikiki

Facts disclosed on general election recount

Several facts emerged in the recent hearings on an election ballot recount:

bullet In 1997, the Office of Elections tried to improve the legal situation by proposing a law to allow more recounts. The Legislature didn't pass it.

bullet Changing to a new ballot-counting technology was necessary because the old system was overloaded, and parts and technicians for the 35-year-old machines were unavailable.

bullet The Office of Elections chose ES&S because it was the only company with both hardware and software certified by the Federal Elections Commission, and because ES&S promised to do the elections at a lower cost to taxpayers.

bullet As with any new system, there were some difficulties: mechanical problems with seven (2 percent) of the polling machines, errors by precinct workers and voters, and incorrect claims by ES&S that its machines would read ball-point ink. (Meanwhile, a newspaper investigation revealed that several accusations of fraud were false.)

bullet The Office of Elections did recounts in districts with suspect numbers. None of the corrections affected the election results.

bullet Because of human error, a manual recount of all 400,000 ballots would have many more mistakes than a machine recount.

It is clear that the Elections Office has performed with honesty and diligence under difficult circumstances. We should ignore the conspiracy theorists, and support a machine recount and sample manual audits to double check the results.

Jean Aoki
President
League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Larry Meacham
Executive Director
Common Cause Hawaii

Problems with election are not surprising at all

Having been a nonpartisan observer in the 1996 election and part of a two-year, independent citizens' inquiry into voting irregularities, I could see the writing on the wall when the elections officer decided to choose the new electronic voting and tallying system because he got "a good deal."

Considering the antiquated system used previously, the tyrannical methods of the Office of Elections, and pressure by the governor and media for fast results, haste did indeed make waste.

This is no sports event with instant replay. An election must be conducted thoroughly, independently and openly, with checks and balances at all levels, as it determines the direction of our society.

It is no wonder that voters refuse to participate in government antics. And it is the greatest of ironies that it was the Democratic Party that brought the suit against the Elections Office, which has sought to protect the interests of the state by stonewalling citizen audits and creating policies which cover up its activities and slack procedures.

It would greatly benefit the credibility of all parties and agencies involved to allow Elections Systems & Software to conduct a comprehensive recount of the 1998 election. In addition, the governor-appointed panel to choose the Officer of Elections served no purpose except to perpetrate the lie that the system must be maintained.

If voter confidence is to be restored, elections should not be run by those whose livelihoods and political connections depend upon it.

Melissa Yee
Citizens' Committee
for Voter Integrity

Little people can prevail against monolith like Heco

One person CAN move a mountain. Proof: One person stopped Hawaiian Electric Co. from constructing an unneeded 138,000-volt electric line from Palolo to Kamoku/Iolani. One person, with another one person, got together in a few little groups that all worked to move one Heco mountain.

These weren't big famous groups, nor important famous people. Well, maybe some were, but most were people like you and me.

Everyone can move mountains. Just ask all those mountain movers who stopped Heco. Now go find a mountain and move it! Together, we can.

Carolyn Walther
(Via the Internet)

Students deserve protection from discrimination in school

Congratulations to the state Board of Education for adopting a misconduct and discipline code that helps to protect all of Hawaii's children, including those who are gay and lesbian. Now I hope BOE members have the courage to stand up to the members of the religious right. They are bound to show up to protest with their lies and misinformation, claiming that protecting gay and lesbian children is somehow promoting homosexuality.

All of Hawaii's children deserve to be protected from harassment and violence. There have been enough attacks, threats and violence in our schools. Thanks to the BOE, that should now change.

Ken Scott
(Via the Internet)


QUOTABLE

Tapa

Bullet "I've surveyed all state departments and looked at emergency plans that they have in place, and we are in good shape."
-- Roy Price, state vice director of civil defense, on plans to deal with Y2K computer problems.

Bullet "You've got a very fragile economy running against the head winds of a strong yen and higher long-term interest rates."
-- Anne Parker Mills of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. on weaking of the yen against the dollar.

Bullet "This is very much a state and local issue. But I have been thinking a lot about this matter."
-- Education Secretary Richard Riley, proposing a national model for states in licensing teachers.

Bullet "We had promised that the state would catch him. We have kept our promise."
-- Turkey Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on the capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.


Car insurance firm shouldn't disrespect teen consumers

Doing research on auto insurance rates, I came across a startling fact. When I called for a price quote, the insurance company denied me any information! Could it have been because I am three months to 18, and too young to be "legally binding?"

What this company must understand is that there are more than just adults want-ing to use its services. Since my parents don't have the time to gather the information in question, the responsibility falls on "children" like me to do the research.

By denying me a price quote, the insurance company is in a sense denying my parents the information they need to make an accurate decision.

Zachariah Stillman
Kapolei
(Via the Internet)

An equitable way to monitor no-fault

The current no-fault program is not working properly. Too many drivers are on the road without insurance.

My solution would solve the problem in an equitable manner. Currently, when a vehicle is inspected, the driver is to show a valid no-fault insurance card. However, the new inspection sticker issued is not for the period of the insurance, but for another year (six months for some vehicles).

So, if the system were changed so that the new inspection sticker is good only for as long as the paid for insurance, then the problem would be generally resolved.

Those who are issued insurance for only six months would need to have their safety stickers renewed more frequently, but that is the price of doing business. In such cases, the inspection fee could be adjusted to reflect the lower cost in providing the service by the inspection station.

The inspection stations would most likely enjoy the added revenues. The public and the police would then be ensured that the vehicle's sticker reflected the duration of prepaid insurance for that vehicle and not a longer period, as is the case now.

Jon von Kessel
(Via the Internet)

Forfeiture of drug havens is good thing for community

I was disappointed with your Feb. 10 article, "Feds close down 3 alleged drug 'havens.'" While your reporter did include quotes by U.S. Attorney Steven Alm, the story was slanted in favor of the businesses alleged to have been involved in the drug activity.

The article contained several statements by business owners portraying the federal government as "a bully." A quote in the last paragraph ("Yet the feds decide to grab this piece of property. It's land-grabbing. It's shameful.") is especially inflammatory.

We should all be thankful that Alm is cleaning up Chinatown.

Joli O'Keefe
Wahiawa
(Via the Internet)

Hillary is better qualified than Liddy to be president

Despite feminist Diane Chang's wishes, neither Elizabeth Dole nor any other Republican female candidate has any chance of becoming president. This is not because they are females, but because they are Republicans.

Voters are unlikely to forget that the GOP has spent more than $50 million to disparage "Slick Willy" for beating Bob Dole in the last election.

We all know money isn't necessary, that motivation can amass an overwhelming amount of disparaging "facts," yet Republicans used their power not to enrich the country but to steal the limelight from the people's choice.

We all know that -- if Starr hadn't fed Tripp to lead Lewinsky down the garden path in the pursuit of an indictment, which could substantiate the millions of dollars unsuccessfully spent in pursuit of an indictment -- we never would have heard of Monica's nor the president's attempts to protect their reputations.

If anyone should be censored for obstruction of justice, it should be Congress, whose members wholeheartedly neglected their oath of office by choosing to "vote their conscience" rather than represent their constituents.

Those who want a woman to be the next president should nominate Hillary Clinton, who very clearly has valuable experience in leading the country through the mire of conspiracies and corruption housed in Congress.

It would also provide America with a rare footnote in history: two consecutive presidents whose spouse was also their true friend and companion.

Rico Leffanta

Harris has nerve blaming Council for elephant woes

It's human nature not to want to admit to one's own mistakes. However, I am appalled by the mayor and his administration in their desire to place the blame for the unfortunate situation with the elephants on the the City Council.

Contrary to Budget Director Malcolm Tom's statements, the Council made every effort to support the Honolulu Zoo.

In 1996, the Council appropriated $1 million for the zoo's rain forest exhibit, including the elephant enclosure. The administration made no request for funding in 1997. However, in 1998, the Harris administration budgeted $2.5 million for the rainforest exhibit.

Although the Council would have liked to completely fund the project in 1998, it did not for two reasons:

bullet The $2.5 million request by the Harris administration was an estimated amount with no basis. It had neither a design nor cost estimates to support its request.

bullet The environmental impact statement, required under the Honolulu Zoo Master Plan, had not been completed.

Instead, the Council allocated money for design of the facility. We requested that the Harris administration come back to the Council for construction money when it had firm cost estimates. The Council was only being prudent with taxpayer money.

This is indeed an unfortunate situation. Rather than wrongfully pointing fingers at the Council, the Harris administration should redirect its energy to finding the funds needed to build the elephant enclosure.

Duke Bainum
City Councilman, District IV

Renovation is a ruse for future money-maker

The community must pay careful attention to the Natatorium issue. Hanging by legal and budgetary tendrils, the project could easily change directions.

Since mentioned by Mayor Harris in 1997, the idea of a stadium by the sea, in my opinion, has always been the hidden agenda of the developers of this project. I believe that in order to attain the end result -- a sunset show venue -- it was necessary to make the project appear to be a historical restoration to honor war veterans, with the antiquated swimming pool as part of the master plan.

Any fool knows the pool cannot succeed. One outbreak of contagion in this unfiltered, untreated, salt-water pool with the attendant lawsuit, and the pool will be closed permanently.

Then government will throw up its hands and ask, "What can we do? We were led down the garden path, it's not our fault." The next question will be, "What do we do now with this $20-million, 2,500-seat monolith?"

Some bright budget committee chairman will step forward and propose the idea that the pool be filled in and that the area be made into a peninsula to accommodate a stage and 2,500 additional seats.

A stadium by the sea -- for the mother of all Polynesian sunset shows.

Very quickly, the site will be transformed from a dumb, money-losing, unsafe and unhealthy swimming pool, into a money-making tourist destination on some of the most valuable real estate in Hawaii -- for the benefit of someone's friend or associate.

Rick Bernstein
Kaimana Beach Coalition

Bureaucratic blackmail at U.S. Passport Office

Recently I stood in line for 30 minutes at the U.S. Passport Office just to get a few more visa pages added to my passport. When I finally arrived at the window, the clerk told me it would take two to three weeks to process. Yet this procedure normally takes two minutes and is done on the spot at any U.S. consulate abroad -- for free.

I told the clerk that I was leaving for a trip abroad at the end of the month and could not wait. She then told me, "Oh, you can get express service today if you want to pay an extra $35!" I refused to pay.

I've worked for many years in Third World countries and China, where bureaucrats use this type of blackmail to make paperwork flow faster. Our bureacrats have learned to capitalize on their reputation for slow, inefficient red tape to blackmail their citizens into paying more for normal service. They tell you to wait weeks for a procedure that should only takes minutes.

This is yet another outrageous example of how our government tries to extract money from its citizens to stay in business.

Michael Mau
(Via the Internet)

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