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Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Tapa


Eliminate tax on food, rent and prescriptions

I have been "up close and personal" with taxes. As a former city director of finance, I had to collect taxes from our citizens. As a resident and businessperson, I have paid Hawaii taxes.

Furthermore, as a member of the executive board of the Tax Foundation, I have had the opportunity to study the issue in Hawaii.

No matter which way I look at it, eliminating the excise tax on food, rent and medicine is the right thing to do. The Republican members of our House deserve praise for their efforts to abolish this tax. It hurts the working poor the most.

Tax credits are not the answer since many working poor don't pay enough income taxes to benefit from a credit. Tourists already pay a rent tax -- it's called the hotel room tax.

Democratic legislators should give our residents a break by supporting and enacting the Republican bill to eliminate the food-rent-medicine tax. In the words of the Nike commercial, "Just Do It!"

Linda L. Smith
Kapolei

Poor shouldn't have so many children

I was saddened to hear about the families who are being forced off the beach on Maui (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 8). However, after reading about Anna Kaikala and her family, I became puzzled about their situation.

As indicated in your article, their home was repossessed in October 2000 and the Kaikalas have a 10-month-old child. Assuming that a family knows it has financial problems months before being evicted via foreclosure, why would it choose to bring a fourth child into the world? More puzzling is that having a fourth baby would affect the parents' ability to care for their other children.

As a taxpayer who does not mind helping people in need, I ponder the following question: Is the word "accountability" an obsolete term today?

E. Ching


Quotables

Tapa

"For it to live in perpetuity
...it's got to have a home."

Delorese Gregoire
FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF WINNERS CAMP
Who has high hopes for the four ramshackle buildings
at the top of Kamehame Ridge in Hawaii Kai, which
must be renovated into the teen enrichment
program's new headquarters

Tapa

"There is a lot of nervousness.
'Paranoia' might not be too
strong a word."

Pamela Lichty
BOARD PRESIDENT OF THE
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
OF HAWAII FOUNDATION

On the hesitancy of patients to register for
certificates so they can use marijuana for medical
purposes. Since the program began operating
in Hawaii on Dec. 28, only 27 people
statewide have applied.


Bill on dog leash law deserves a vote

Senate Bill 516 was bottled up in committee despite Sen. Sam Slom's objection. This bill, authored by Sen. Fred Hemmings, would allow people to walk their dogs in public parks or public beaches if the dogs are kept on leashes and cleaned up after.

A few years ago, I ran afoul of the existing law when I was peacefully sitting on Kailua beach holding the leash for my wife's tiny black cockapoo, Scruffy.

A police officer gruffly accosted me, accused me of breaking the law, then gave me a summons to appear in court. I was not given the option of simply paying a fine.

Apparently, this annoyingly friendly little dog on a leash was considered a menace to society. Yet no one near me except for the police officer seemed alarmed or even aware of the deadly threat Scruffy posed to their safety.

I wound up in court, surrounded by felons, pleading my case to a mild-mannered judge who gave me probation and waived the fine.

While this bill might seem trivial to those who have not been hauled into court, I think it is important that we not let government chip away at our freedoms needlessly.

If someone's acts pose a menace to another person's safety, then I agree with forcibly stopping them. But please don't allow the state to use its coercive powers to prevent us from doing things that pose no threat to others.

Write to the chairpersons of the joint committee that kept this bill from getting a floor vote, Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Rod Tam, urging them to reconsider.

Jim Henshaw
Kailua

Beaches shouldn't be opened to dogs

Senate Bill 516 to allow dogs on all public beaches and parks all hours of the day is not practical.

I am a dog lover and have two dogs. I favor dog parks and special areas designated to walk dogs. I do not believe in opening up all our beaches and parks.

If there was one beach or park where dogs had to be leashed and it was designated as such, that would be acceptable. The public going to that area would be forewarned. Even then, I still do not feel adequate monitoring by officers would be possible.

It is not fair or safe for families who go for a picnic, especially with small children, and for the tourists to be confronted by running dogs. Yes, they would be running loose!

The term "responsible dog owners" has a lovely ring to it and we do have a few here on the Big Island. Unfortunately, they are vastly outnumbered by the other kind.

The majority of dog owners here don't go out with leashes for their dogs. One or more canines jump in the back of a truck and off they go!

There are not enough officers, whether they are from the police, the Humane Society or the state, to monitor all the parks and beaches on this island and to handle all the problems that would surely result from such an open policy.

Too many dog owners do not obey the laws we have now. Our tax dollars can be better spent elsewhere.

Ginger Towle
President and General Manager
West Hawaii Humane Society
Kailua-Kona

Don't privatize public boat harbors

I am concerned that privatizing harbors will change the sport so that only the very rich will be able to afford to keep a boat.

I live aboard a boat at Keehi harbor. This isn't a weekend hobby; it's a way of life.

Living on board a boat also provides a viable alternative to renting an apartment. The loan on the boat and mooring fees just about equal rent for an inexpensive apartment. I can afford the boat or an apartment, but not both.

Consider the effect that raising fees would have: As they reach a level where it becomes too expensive to moor a boat, the market will be flooded with boats for sale. No one will be interested in buying the boats, because they can't afford to moor them.

What are owners supposed to do with boats they can't afford to keep, but can't get rid of? What kind of message are we sending by living on an island surrounded by water but where nobody can afford to moor a boat?

Instead of privatization, I suggest aggressive enforcement of existing regulations. Make sure the proper fees are collected and that all revenues generated by boating stay in the boating fund.

Robert Becker





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