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Monday, March 8, 1999

Tapa


Cuba has strong social programs

A Feb. 17 Associated Press report indicated that the reason the Cuban government is "setting new tough laws and sentences for both common and political prisoners" is that Cuba is seeking to control its populace.

This is a ludicrous assertion, especially when the U.S. has maintained a genocidal blockade against Cuba almost the whole 40 years since early 1959, when revolutionary forces led by Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship.

For those of us who've visited Cuba, despite the effects of the blockade, we've found a country that is very literate. It has guaranteed free schooling from pre-kindergarten to graduate studies, free health care and adequate housing and employment. It takes sterling care of its senior citizens and mentally and physically handicapped. It has pre-natal and nursing care, and its AIDs victims receive all the medication they need.

Before anyone casts stones at Cuba, look at the sorry situation at home, with an impeached, womanizing, war-mongering president and a Congress wallowing in self-indulgence, while having stripped away Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal almost completely.

J.J. Kaufmann

Single-parent families face state discrimination

Since I come face to face with a state law that discriminates against single-parent families, I am pleading for support of SB 1137. It proposes to change the definition of "dependent" to include an unmarried child under the age of 24 who is a full-time student. This bill can be viewed on the Capitol Web page at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

This statute defines "dependent" as any child under the age of 19. The problem with this definition is that single parents with children 19 and older are not able to qualify as a family for medical coverage; meanwhile, individuals who are married and have children older than 19 years old do qualify for medical coverage under a family plan.

Therefore, single parents -- even if they are still supporting their children through college -- are not recognized as a family unit because they do not have spouses. This clearly discriminates against single-parent families.

Carol Okimoto
Mililani

Economy message seems to be lost on lawmakers

Based upon the rhetoric at the beginning of the legislative session, it sounded as though our leaders had finally bought into the cliche, "It's the economy, stupid." This gave hope to those of us in small business that the issues we had been trumpeting for so long would finally get some resolution.

It is difficult to see progress. In fact, what grabs attention thus far are a number of anti-business initiatives.

At a recent small business legislative get-together, Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii indicated that the average family of four in Hawaii pays over $5,000 more in total taxes than the next highest rate. A $100 tax reduction is not going to dent this problem.

What we need is massive and dramatic tax reform to turn our economy around. This message needs to be boldly delivered to the Legislature.

Dick Morris


QUOTABLE

Tapa

bullet "I picked up the binoculars. That's when we noticed he was dragging this girl back toward the beach. The side of the leg was gone. There was just this big gaping hole. It was unfortunate."
-- Capt. J. Dushane of the catamaran Gemini, about Robyne Knutson being pulled from the water by her boyfriend, Boyce C. Brown, after a shark attack off Kaanapali, Maui.

bullet "I know we're supposed to know, but trustees did not know there was a morale problem."
-- Bishop Estate chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong, on low morale at Kamehameha Schools.

bullet "I am getting frightened by a kind of triumphalism that I sense emerging in the evangelical community...We define ourselves as the good people and those who are not with us are not defined as good people. This is completely contrary to Jesus."
-- Tony Campolo, a Baptist minister and adviser to President Clinton.


Mahalo for support for Linapuni School

On behalf of the faculty, staff, students, parents and community members of Linapuni School, I would like to extend a big aloha for the coverage we have received in your paper. We are especially appreciative of your Feb. 6 editorial.

It has been encouraging for everyone connected with the school to experience such widespread support from all different segments of the community, particularly from the media.

We believe Linapuni is working for students and their families. Its small size and limited grade levels encourage our students to learn in a nurturing environment.

We wish all students in early grades could experience what we have here.

Evelyn Nugent
Principal,
Linapuni Elementary

Harris doesn't comment on controversial issues

Why is it that when a city problem is in the news, the media get statements from City Council members and city staff, but rarely go to Mayor Harris for comment? The latest example is the problem of what to do about the proposed cemetery on conservation land above Aina Haina. Where does Harris stand on this issue? We don't know.

Then there is the statement made by the mayor's staff that the $2 million in improvements proposed by Harris in 19 districts must be maintained and serviced by volunteers. Now we learn that there is no money to pay for maintenance costs. So city staff people say "volunteers" will do the job.

Why hasn't the mayor been questioned by the media on what happens when the hoped-for "volunteers" don't show up to maintain these projects?

Harris is going to spend at least $40 million in the 19 districts. The principal and interest of the 20-year bond will come to $80 million!

What is not being pointed out is that, over the next 20 years, taxpayers will have to come up with $4 million annually in added taxes to pay for the improvements plus the interest. And those dollars will come from higher real property taxes.

Frank F. Fasi

Sexual predator law needs to be changed

Hawaii has an abominable law, specifically Statute 707-730, pertaining to sexual offenses. There are three things radically wrong with this law:

1) It permits children to consent to sex the day they become 14. Only one other state is foolish enough to have the age of consent at 14. Only two states have it at 15. Fourteen states care enough about their children to have it at age 18.

2) This law requires the offender to know that the child is under 14. If the child lies and claims to be 14 or older, or if the predator just doesn't bother to ascertain the child's age, he need not fear the law. It protects him!

3) The law makes no distinction concerning the age of the offender. It can even be a grandfather, it doesn't matter. But no sensible person will doubt that older people often prey on young people, some even thinking the younger, the better. I recently was told of a 37-year-old man who had impregnated the same girl twice. She was 13 the first time.

Hawaii's children deserve a vastly improved law that could reduce teen pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS) and even the suicide rate.

People should contact their legislators and demand a better law.

Stan Philbrick
Kaneohe

Tapa

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