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Thursday, August 26, 1999


Walter Kupau was tough but dedicated

When I stepped off an American Airlines flight from New York 28 years ago, I was committed to a one-year stay in Hawaii to organize workers into unions. But after meeting Walter Kupau, I never thought of leaving.

On arrival, I had two names to contact for a job: David Trask and Henry Epstein. Neither had any organizing work for a malihini like me. But Henry referred me to Bud Kaye, then executive director of the Hawaii State Federation of Labor (now the Hawaii State AFL-CIO). Bud liked my enthusiasm and took me to see the federation's president, Walter Kupau.

Walter didn't seem impressed with me. He asked about my salary requirements. When I told him $1,000 a month, which is what I got in New York, he said that was more than any worker was paid in Hawaii. I said that was wrong and would have to change. He hired me, paid what I asked and expected results.

We disagreed on almost every social issue -- women's rights, welfare, urban renewal -- but he never stopped me from lobbying for my ideals. When I represented the Hawaii Women's Political Caucus in challenging the validity of the Democratic Party delegation to the 1972 Democratic National Convention, he paid for my trip.

What we did agree on was the need for workers to have rights and to organize into unions. Walter taught me that an economy built on greed and on the backs of working people could not succeed.

About a year ago, Walter said he needed someone to help him organize workplaces predominantly staffed by women. "I want someone radical like you," he said, "only 25 years younger." Some would have been insulted. I wasn't. Walter just wanted to find the most aggressive person in town to organize the least represented part of our community, women workers.

Walter never stopped organizing, and his commitment and style never wavered. He is physically gone, but his spirit of organizing lives on.

Judy Sobin
Executive Director
Hawaii Lawyers Care



"I want my son to grow up in a world that doesn't clip his wings. I don't want him to have my experience (of people saying), 'Gee, you don't look American.' I say, 'What does an American look like?' "
Sonia Lugmao Aranza
Filipino-born, Hawaii-educated communications consultant
On her job traveling the mainland and teaching corporate staffs about race and gender tolerance

"I knew he was in jail, but I had no idea it was for murder. It just makes you sick for him and his family."
June Jones
University of Hawaii football coach
On former UH quarterback Raphel Cherry, convicted of murdering his wife

HMSA questions are inappropriate

Regarding HMSA's satisfaction surveys, I don't see why it's HMSA's business how many times a year my doctor has advised me to quit smoking (I don't smoke). That is not what HMSA gets paid for.

It gets paid higher and higher premiums to pay a portion (and according to my "Payment To Provider Statements," a SMALL portion) of my health-care costs.

If HMSA is truly concerned about the quality of my health care, it could send me a survey regarding how quality health care is made available to me by my insurance plan. For instance, I don't think a drug formulary consisting of five contraceptive choices out of the dozens available contributes to that quality.

I accept that there are not many better medical insurance choices available. But I protest the attempt to garner information that might potentially be used against my already underpaid provider.

I hope that I am not the only one who has NOT filled out and returned the HMSA survey.

Lauren Hayashi
Via the Internet

Cal Thomas has right to his opinion

Carolyn Golojuch's Aug. 21 letter criticized Cal Thomas's Aug. 11 column on the Boy Scouts of America's position on homosexuals. This is an issue where reasonable people can disagree, as it goes to the heart of how much latitude a private organization has in setting policies for its members.

What criteria can be used to discriminate? The American Association of Retired Persons requires its members to be over 50, the United Services Automobile Association requires its members to belong to the military, the Catholic Church requires its priests to take a vow of celibacy.

Yet this serious question about the Boy Scouts has been reduced to name-calling and outrageous assertions that Thomas' columns lead to hate crimes and shootings. An equally compelling argument can and has been made concerning gangster rap lyrics, TV shows and movies.

As long as we have newspapers and free expression, people will express views that others disagree with. It would be better to respond with concrete arguments and critical thinking rather than personal attacks.

David Fitzgerald
Via the Internet

Cancel columnist's contract, please

Given society-wide concerns about hate-mongering and its tragic consequences, how can you possibly justify the editorial decision to carry the syndicated columns of Cal Thomas? There are many quality writers who manage to stay within the bounds of reasoned inquiry. Please choose one.

If you provide the appearance of editorial acceptance of his destructive expositions, your news- paper is culpable for the deleterious results.

Barbra Allen
Via the Internet

Ceasefire is needed in war on drugs

Presidential candidate George W. Bush has refused to answer questions about past cocaine use, saying only that he made "mistakes" when younger. He said, "I'm going to tell people that we need to clean up the process. I'm going to tell people that the politics of personal destruction have got to end."

Instead, I hope that candidates such as the former president's son and other elected officials will help heal the wounds of the war on drugs by replacing current counterproductive and expensive prison sentences with realistic, cost-effective treatment programs.

The resulting peace will dramatically lower the unacceptable level of violence we see each day in the news.

Wally Bachman
Via the Internet


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