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Saturday, March 13, 1999

UH law school and aloha
made a lasting impression

In 1984 Justice Harry A. Blackmun came to the Manoa campus to deliver the commencement address at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

An important part of the ceremony was several Hawaiian hulas by the law school's own halau, which spent long hours, between studying, practicing.

Then-chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, Bill Richardson, was present to hand out the diplomas, and Justice Blackmun delivered an inspiring speech to the new graduates, which was duly reported in the Star-Bulletin.

After the graduates received their diplomas and the formal graduation was completed, it was the tradition for all the graduates, the deans, and the dignitaries to create a great circle, holding hands, and sing "Hawai'i Aloha."

Justice Blackmun joined the circle and swayed with the students as they sang. He seemed to be deeply moved by the proceedings.

Afterward, he told me how impressed and pleased he was to see all these aspiring young men and women, composed of all the races and mixtures that make up Hawaii's population, demonstrate their love for Hawaii and for one another by joining together in song.

Justice Blackmun told me that he had very much enjoyed visiting our law school and thought the graduation was delightful. He and his wife enjoyed the rest of their stay, and shortly returned to Washington, D.C.

About a year later I received a message to call an associate dean at the law school in either North or South Dakota. I can't recall which. When I returned his call he told me he thought I would want to know that Justice Blackmun who, like every Supreme Court justice, travels annually to his home circuit, had just given an interesting commencement speech at the law school there.

According to the dean, Justice Blackmun had spent a large part of his speech talking about the UH law school, its multiracial composition, its warm and friendly graduation, and the aloha spirit which seemed to permeate the event.

He had been so deeply touched and impressed about what he saw here, that he had to tell his Midwestern audience all about it.

Richard S. Miller
Professor Emeritus
University of Hawaii School of Law

Bullet Editor's note: Retired Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun died March 4 at age 90.

Tapa

Mayor doesn't understand plight of the homeless

How can Mayor Harris even think of criminalizing homelessness? Has he ever been a homeless person? Is he in touch with what they are all about? I think not.

Is he going to build shelters with no money, or turn our already overcrowded prisons into shelters for the homeless? How do you collect fines from homeless people? Or is this his way of handling the budget shortfall?

I voted for him, but on this I would have to vote no.

James Purdy

Tax on expensive cars could make matters worse

The governor's proposal for an ad valorem tax on automobiles is ill-advised. Adding a tax based on the value of the car simply increases the total level of state taxes paid by automobile owners, without a clear social benefit. People who can afford expensive cars will still buy them, so traffic congestion will not be reduced.

To escape this tax, people might keep old cars longer, because cars more than 10 years old are exempt. Older cars generally have higher tailpipe emissions than new, low-emission autos. The tax could therefore create a more polluted environment by encouraging people to keep Old Belchfire instead of a more efficent car.

Also, the tax does not take into consideration the vehicle's weight or engine size and, therefore, its per-mile contributions to road congestion, road wear, nonpoint source pollution and tailpipe emissions.

One could advocate taxing vehicles and dedicating the funds to transportation projects (including mass transit), so motorists pay in proportion to their burden on the environment. In this case, the governor should consider a tax that is environmentally progressive, anti-congestion and which takes into account the wear on roads. For example, tax vehicles according to their weight and EPA-published emissions, or simply raise the gasoline tax.

Either of these would have a similar effect and might convince a few to drive smaller cars or use other modes of transit.

Khal Spencer
(Via the Internet)


QUOTABLE

Tapa

Bullet "I want to lead a Republican Party that welcomes everyone."
-- Linda Lingle, declaring her candidacy for the state GOP chairmanship.

Bullet "The tide has turned toward Australia. Australia is being very, very aggressive."
-- Greg Bonann, executive producer of "Baywatch," on whether to relocate the TV series in Australia or Hawaii.

Bullet "A plank that says we have to all believe or act one way or the other is inappropriate."
-- New York Gov. George Pataki, opposing an anti-abortion plank in the Republican Party's 2000 presidential platform.

Bullet "This is the most important moment in our history."

-- Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, on the entry of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO.


Lawmakers must override the PUC on power lines

Your March 9 editorial, "Legislature should stay out of power line issue," contained errors.

The issue for the Kamoku-Pukele project is not aesthetics. It is need. According to Hawaiian Electric Co., the engineering cost to build the proposed Kamoku-Pukele line will be $31 million. A complete analysis shows that when all costs (including financing) are figured in, the true cost to ratepayers will be about $110 million. Shouldn't we determine whether the line is really needed before spending that much money in this difficult economy?

Currently, several proposed overhead transmission lines are receiving community flack. They include Kunia Road, Haleiwa and Kailua-Kona. Except where mandated by law, the PUC -- on a case by case basis -- has determined that 99.99 percent of all transmission lines, except where mandated by law, should go overhead. How is that fair when the majority of people favor underground lines?

Henry Curtis
Executive Director
Life of the Land

More info is needed on quarantine fees

At 7 p.m. March 19 there will be a public hearing at the Department of Agricultural Offices on S. King Street on proposed quarantine fee increases. The fees would rise from $290 to $755 for a 30-day stay.

While I understand state government's desire to have various departments become self-sufficient, there is no data to suggest that the fee increase will make the quarantine so. In fact, a lack of data makes it difficult for the intelligent citizen to engage in proper discourse with those seeking to increase the fees.

Since the most cost-effective alternate is desired, all ideas should be considered --including a home quarantine or animal passport system, both utilized in other countries. Privatizing the quarantine to a single facility is not the answer, either.

Let's not forget that the cost increase will also be borne by federal and state taxpayers, as the animal quarantine is a tax-deductible moving expense for many.

I would hope that at the meeting, a full accounting of the quarantine can be made available which shows who uses the quarantine (e.g. how much of the occupancy rate at the quarantine comes from the dog owners serving in the military), as well as all cost and revenue items.

Will Anzenberger
(Via the Internet)

Is somebody getting rich from stalling murder case?

Kudos to Vincent Marino for his March 5 letter regarding an investigation of the Dana Ireland murder. As Dana's paternal aunt, I have witnessed the heartbreak her parents have endured for the past seven-plus years.

Shame on all those connected with this case. This is not my brother's opinion, but I think someone over there must be getting rich from these repeated delays.

Dolores Ireland Dooley
Steubenville, Ohio
(Via the Internet)

People everywhere mourn Mackey Feary

In the 1970s, I lived in Makiki and went to every Kalapana performance that I could. I fell in love with Mackey Feary's voice, his charm and his smile. His songs always had a way of making you feel the romance and beauty of the islands.

Just a few weeks ago, I purchased two of his CDs in Tacoma. To his family, may I convey that his loss is felt here on the mainland as well.

Much mahalo, Mackey. May you find rest. May your voice never be forgotten.

Christina Young
Tacoma, Wash.
(Via the Internet)

Tapa

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