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Saturday, February 19, 2000

Don't let race issues 'slide off the shoulder'

As Black History Month continues, issues surrounding ethnicity, race and racism are being discussed in our state. Accordingly, this serves a timely addendum to the Star-Bulletin's Jan. 18 article, "King Day celebrants express mixed views," in which a few of my comments were unintentionally curtailed and inexactly paraphrased. As a result, I would like to elaborate on and clarify some of my view points.

To begin with, even though the East Coast is filled with "black and white," the issues there are primarily black and white, not necessarily the races. As a matter of fact, New York City, a place in which I spent five years studying, and Hawaii, a place in which I have spent three years doing the same, have something in common racially, in the sense that both regions epitomize the idea of an American melting pot.

By this I mean that a multitude of beautiful and unique peoples populate these areas of the country, all of whom Dr. Martin Luther King professed we should not just equally recognize, but more importantly, equally respect.

Indeed King was not just an advocate for the equality of black people; he was an advocate for the equality of all peoples, regardless of skin color, religious preference, sexual orientation, cultural heritage and the like that constitute our individuality.

Next, I do not necessarily believe that Hawaii's people are "too extreme in their tolerance." In fact, tolerance is often a healthy human attribute. I only mean to encourage those who exhibit passive tendencies (here in Hawaii or anywhere else for that matter) to strive for a level of conscious behavior that is more assertive in its nature.

Otherwise, issues "slide off the shoulder," important voices are not heard and, as a result, personal and societal growth is stagnated.

At the same time, we must be cautious not to cross the fine line between assertion and aggression. King, for instance, was an assertive man. His behavior was neither passive nor aggressive.

I want to emphasize that this is not a personal attack on the reporter, his colleagues or his newspaper. This is simply an opportunity for me to clarify a few of my views. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss some of society's critical issues with the Star-Bulletin on Martin Luther King Day. I also appreciated the opportunity I had to recognize some of King's accomplishments.

Ethan J. Twer


Quotables

Tapa

"A high number of (people) at the state Capitol suffer from cold- and flu-like symptoms for longer periods than normal. The state Capitol is accordingly called the 'sick building.'"

Rod Tam
Hawaii state senator
Who has introduced a resolution calling for an investigation of the Capitol's air-conditioning system


"My father said, 'Thank you for not going on TV and embarrassing our family.'"

Corey Westcott
Honolulu radio station account executive
Describing the reaction of her dad after she turned down the chance to appear on the Fox TV special, "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?"


Some real suggestions for accountability

On the subject of "accountability" and our public school system, here are a few of changes I'd like to see:

Bullet Require all elected state officials to send their own children to public schools. (I would have added public school teachers' and Department of Education administrators' children, too, but that might put some private schools out of business.)

Bullet Charge parents a fine each time their children are tardy or have an unexcused absence from school, or any time their kids come to school not ready to learn.

Bullet Pass a law requiring the average teacher's salary to be tied by a fixed ratio, say 66 percent, to the average dockworker's annual wage (about $100,000?). A teacher's work is surely worth at least two-thirds the value of a dockworker's!

Bullet Assess a "mis-education tax" on the World Wrestling Federation and other negative media influences that do a great job of undoing the character-building and teaching of values that parents and schools work so hard to instill.

Now that's accountability with a capital "A!"

M. Nakamura

Kailua sand sculptures were lewd, insulting

Auwe to the University of Hawaii School of Architecture for its Feb. 12 sand-building sculpture event at Kailua Beach. We had looked forward to this as a family outing, only to be embarrassed by the inappropriate sand creations.

Some of these projects were very nice to look at. But most were of the "adult" variety that had us shaking our heads and apologizing to our children.

The first one showed a surfer paddling on his board with a shark by his side. Upon closer observation, it portrayed the ripped-off leg of the surfer in the shark's mouth!

Then we moved on to "nude wrestlers," a three-breasted woman, a person "mooning" the audience and a sand toilet, among other inappropriate things.

What exactly was the theme --how to insult the people of Hawaii? The UH School of Architecture owes us an apology.

David Exstrom
Kailua

Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

San Francisco unions object to closing, too

I wish to clearly state the position of the San Francisco Labor Council regarding the closure of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: We strongly support the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's opposition to closure.

The closing of newspapers is a disease spreading across America and, like all diseases, produces long-term negative effects, which in this case are unemployment and the creation of new poverty levels. Since a similar situation exists in San Francisco, we have deep concerns regarding the outcome.

We will work in full concert with the ILWU in the development of a positive and effective approach to prevent the death of the Star-Bulletin.

Walter L. Johnson
Secretary-Treasurer
San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Powers-that-be want daily closed down

I have been a loyal reader of the Star-Bulletin since 1978, and have seen its abuse by the Advertiser become all too clear after the Gannett transfer of ownership. The Star-Bulletin has always been a threat to the morning paper, since it takes the lead on so many stories ignored or buried by the Advertiser.

The closure of your newspaper is a solution created by powerbrokers who have no real desire for a solid journalistic daily in Honolulu. Rather, they'd prefer a daily that falls into line, carries its valued advertising dollar and helps shape opinion of the reading population for those in power. Somewhat Orwellian, when put in that light.

I hope the legal methods can come to bear on this travesty and save the only paper (besides the Honolulu Weekly) that dares to provide solid reporting in our city.

Christopher Wiecking
Via the Internet



Bulletin closing archive



Only a few abuse civil service benefits

I was stunned by your Feb. 10 editorial assertion that civil service workers have excessive benefits. Why use a worst-case scenario to claim that all of us get and actually take 55 days off per year?

Only about 1-2 percent abuse the system by taking every sick day and vacation day per month, making it hard on the rest of us who must pick up the slack. Yes, we do need to deal with the absentees but, please, don't punish the majority for the sins of a few.

You must be aware that our benefits were negotiated to compensate for lower wages. Many of us, especially women with families, choose to accept less pay in exchange for more paid holidays and job stability.

Now, after a big tax cut to business, Governor Cayetano would like to balance his budget with "take-aways" from civil service workers. What's this? Take from the poor and give to his golfing buddies?

We need more facts before starting to "reform." Why not let one of your excellent reporters investigate the civil service situation and list where changes are needed? Why not have legislative auditor Marion Higa study starting salaries and benefits of selected occupations in mainland areas with similar costs of living?

The results, published in easy-to-read graph format, would allow people to come to their own conclusions about our pay and benefits.

Sylvia Mitchell

Bigger tip credit needed on minimum wage

As the Legislature considers raising the minimum wage, the opportunity exists to balance the increase with a "tip credit" as a percentage of the minimum wage and/or a training wage.

The tip credit law allows businesses to pay employees who receive tips an amount less than the normal minimum, because a considerable amount of their income is derived from tips.

Most states have a percentage-based tip credit usually in the 30-40-percent range. Hawaii has a tip credit of only 20 cents an hour, hardly enough to help in this challenging economy.

A training wage would allow businesses to pay a lesser amount while teaching a new employee. Improving the business climate improves the economy.

Patrick McCain
President,
Hawaii Restaurant Association

Another drawback of fluoridating water

Your body is more likely to absorb lead pollutants present in water if the water is fluoridated, according to Dartmouth Professor Roger D. Masters (International Journal of Environmental Studies, September 1999).

Masters and Myron Coplan found average lead levels significantly higher in children living in communities whose water is treated with silicofluorides.

Silicofluorides are used in 90 percent of U.S. cities and towns to fluoridate their water.

A.Y. Kimura

All tourists should get lei greeting

That was a cool picture of the new Aloha Airlines service between Oakland, Calif., and Hawaii (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 15). I only wish all airlines (including Aloha) would revive the practice of presenting leis and a Hawaiian hug to all deplaning visitors.

As a lucky mainlander who has obtained temporary employment here, I can assure you that such Hawaii traditional displays and gestures are most welcome and sincerely appreciated by those who choose to visit here.

In a world of "pack 'em in and head 'em out" airline service, these rediscovered displays of the aloha spirit really do make a difference when it comes to picking an airline to fly.

Don Schaaf
Aiea

Mink, Abercrombie need to explain votes

On Feb. 10, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to end the "marriage penalty" tax. Although a vast majority of Hawaii voters were happy that the bill passed, both of Hawaii's congressional members voted against it.

The people of Hawaii deserve to know why, in Patsy Mink's and Neil Abercrombie's minds, two married folks should have to pay $1,400 more in income tax than two single folks living together. Why, Patsy? Why, Neil?

Don McDiarmid Jr.

Didn't anyone notice damaged jackscrews?

Everyone who flies a lot knows now what a jackscrew is.

But my question is this: With all the planes now being inspected in light of the Alaska Airlines tragedy, why weren't these damaged jackscrews found during normal scheduled maintenance?

Roger Hutchings

Tapa

Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes





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