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Saturday, November 10, 2001

GOP senator offered key amendment

It's a tough job being a minority party state senator (there are only three). I know. I've been there. But once in awhile all the guff you get is worth it.

Sen. Fred Hemmings proved the point a week or so ago with his successful amendment to the bill granting emergency powers to our governor. Rather than merely criticize the bill as going too far, Hemmings offered an amendment that placed sensible restraints on the new powers and the timing of same. In a rare but welcome display of bipartisanship, enough Senate Democrats saw the light and bought Hemmings' plan.

We need more legislators with both guts and brains -- like Fred Hemmings.

Fred Rohlfing

LeMahieu's departure will be children's loss

It saddens me that Paul LeMahieu has vacated the helm as superintendent of schools. The children as well as the people of Hawaii were fortunate to have had a man of his stature, knowledge, vision and expertise committed to their future.

In June 1998, the Department of Education was in dire straits with the federal government because of its failure to provide appropriate programs for children with exceptional needs. No other person was better qualified to tackle the difficult task of bringing Hawaii into compliance with the federal consent decree other than Dr. LeMahieu.

LeMahieu demonstrated over and over again his commitment to the children and his belief that they not only deserve but are entitled to an education that will allow them to be competitive in today's global economic marketplace.

For the Board of Education to have accepted his resignation appears to be extremely shortsighted. Not one board member asked him to remain in his post. They must know with certainty that no other qualified individual exists in Hawaii.

Where was the joint House-Senate Investigative Committee in years past when the Department of Education received millions of federal dollars to support special programs for the mental health and education of special-needs students in the public schools? If they had being doing the job they were elected to do, maybe there would have been no need for a consent decree.

The old adage "plantation mentally" is alive and prosperous in Hawaii, this time on the backs of the children in the public school system. When will the voters in Hawaii wake up, take notice and take charge of their most precious commodities -- their children and their education?

Cheri Guerrero
Special Education Program Specialist
Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
Palos Verdes, Calif.


"If they are out of status, we are certainly going to pursue actions to remove them from the U.S."

Don Radcliffe

Immigration and Naturalization Service district director, on the federal crackdown on foreign students who are found to be in the United States illegally. Yesterday was the deadline for three Hawaii universities to submit to the INS the records of more than 3,300 international students.

"Unfortunately, everyone has not reaped the benefits of a $23-billion agency."

Dr. Yvonne T. Maddox

Acting deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, in Hawaii to encourage using NIH grants to conduct health research on Hawaii's Asian and Pacific Islanders, about whom little health data has been collected

Hearings should leave Waahila Ridge pristine

Let's all be thankful that the Waahila Ridge power line controversy is coming much closer to resolution. A contested-case hearing of the positions of the Manoa community organization Malama O Manoa, the Outdoor Circle and Life of the Land is in progress. The hearings officer is to recommend to the Board of Land and Natural Resources whether or not to allow the line to be built through the ridge conservation district that separates Manoa and Palolo valleys.

The political representatives from all the relevant jurisdictions, the neighborhood boards, and thousands of citizens all over the state are against this expensive and wasteful project. When all the facts come out at the hearing, let's hope that the decision will be to leave the pristine conservation district in peace.

Perhaps the loss of this project will be an incentive for HECO to direct more effort and resources to modern solutions for providing power, as is done right now in Europe and many mainland population centers.

These communities are no longer building huge generator plants located miles from the electricity users. They are wisely choosing other, more efficient methods of providing electricity. It's time that HECO woke up.

Jim Harwood

Debates are healthy in a democracy

I hope that Governor Cayetano and others who criticize University of Hawaii professors Haunani-Kay Trask and Susan Hippensteele do more than occupy a bully pulpit.

A debate is never inappropriate in a democracy. The community leaders should be open to listening to their constituents' points of view, and should have been the ones to initiate the debate.

I am sure there are many, like me, who want more information and discussion at this critical time. The women have shown courage; where are the men?

Teresa Mansson

U.S. foreign policy one of greed, exploitation

Haunani-Kay Trask's remarks regarding U.S. foreign policy are accurate. The tragedy of September 11 cannot be seen in isolation. To many, it was a obvious backlash to a policy largely based on the exploitation of lands and resources.

Under the guise of freedom, this policy has allowed Americans to dwell in comfort, to uphold "our way of life," to keep driving down the highway. The problem is it has directly and indirectly displaced and destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Is it then any wonder why so many hate the United States? American foreign policy has kept most Americans ignorant in their bliss.

Now, instead of attempting to look within and to really understand why, the United States has again unleashed its weapons of mass destruction, which was the reason for the backlash to begin with.

As the superpower hegemony, the United States has the power to make war or peace. It has chosen war, so war it'll be until Americans wake up to the deception of a foreign policy based on greed and exploitation.

Tony Castanha

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