Question: While I realize the Waikiki Aquarium is associated with the University of Hawaii-Manoa and therefore, already receiving some of my tax dollars, I consider it worthy of my private support. In a recent newsletter, however, I was surprised to see a large number of public schools listed as donors. As a Libertarian, I found it odd that the tax dollars were being "donated" by individual government agencies to "worthy causes." Isn't it also odd that a system that constantly complains about underfunding being so serious that a textbook shortage exists has such discretionary funds?
Answer: The schools listed are actually individual classes that donated $45 a year to become a "classroom member" of the aquarium, explained Carol Hopper, the aquarium's director of education.
Teachers are offered the opportunity to become classroom members when classes visit the aquarium and participate in programs, Hopper said. The $45 covers up to 60 students.
There are 131 classroom members, who raised membership fees through various methods, Hopper said. Students at one school planted a garden, then sold the produce. Others conducted recycling drives. Sometimes a teacher will make the contribution, Hopper said; other times, students or PTAs chip in.
Benefits include a newsletter, invitations to member events and discount purchases by the lead teacher at the aquarium shop.
Also, teachers and their classes can choose to have a "marine life friend," Hopper said. "If they choose, we will send them additional information about an animal of their choosing at the aquarium. Their donations not only support the materials that we send them as part of their membership, but also help support the exhibits and programming at the aquarium."
The classroom members program has been in effect since 1992.
Q: I was listed incorrectly in the phone directory and the phone company said it was not their fault and refused to give me a credit or do anything about it. Later, I found out that it had listed others incorrectly and gave them a $25 credit. So I called back and they finally gave me a credit, but continued claiming it was not their responsibility. If not theirs, whose responsibility is it? And why are there so many problems this year?
A: GTE Hawaiian Tel assumes responsibility for any errors it makes by providing credit in some cases, said spokesman Keith Kamisugi.
"However, the solution depends on the exact nature of the problem, so we do not give a credit in every situation," he said.
He said he could not discuss your situation specifically without details and that "different situations have various causes and solutions." Also, the credit given is determined "case by case" and that $25 is not a standard figure.
Kamisugi did not acknowledge that there have been "many problems this year," saying GTE strives to provide accurate and complete directories.
"Sometimes we do make mistakes and we take steps to address the problem and prevent it from happening again," he said.
MahaloTo whoever found my wallet at Longs Kahala on June 2. I hope you can experience the gratefulness I feel for you in many ways some day. -- B.M.
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