to the Editor

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Saturday, November 24, 2001

Publicity has caused bias against special ed

A misconception regarding the haves and have-nots of special education students is reflected in the Nov. 18 letter by Kardeen Wong. Admittedly, there is a large amount of money being put into special education, and more particularly that portion that falls under the Felix decree. One must remember that a good share of those monies go for nonacademic purposes (i.e., mental health services, etc., and specialized physical education activities because of the various limitations of the students). This cost is somewhat balanced by the extracurricular activities and sports offered to the regular students.

Most special education classrooms do not benefit much more than regular classrooms, except in class size. Many special education classes use out-of-date computers and have a shortage of textbooks.

The majority of special education teachers are purchasing the books either out of their own pockets or by soliciting donations of old books from friends and families.

Perhaps all of the recent talk about the costs or expenses of special ed in the news media, with little mention of the costs and appropriations for regular education, has caused public bias. Unless funds are misappropriated or misdirected, I do not believe there is as much disparity as many believe.

Bernard Judson


"If we can get to them (young people), then maybe, I think, we've done our job."

Malcolm Koga

Former smoker who lost his larynx to smoking, and now encourages elementary and high-school students to avoid the habit. The American Lung Association of Hawaii will honor Koga with the 2001 Mauli Ola Award for his years of volunteer service and contributions toward finding a cure for lung cancer.

"We just wanted to give back to the community -- being grateful for what we have."

Mary Kawainui

Waipahu resident who, with her two daughters, helped serve Thanksgiving dinners at the River of Life Mission.

Smoking ban bill the work of elitists

With the failure of the proposed restaurant smoking ban, one wonders what motivated supporters of the bill in the first place.

It couldn't have been concerns over the health hazards of second-hand smoke. The Environmental Protection Agency's declaration that "environmental smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers" was based on faulty reasoning. The agency's claims were eventually declared null and void by a federal judge.

If secondhand smoke isn't a major risk, then the arguments about the health of restaurant workers goes out the window. Besides, restaurants aren't gulags; no one is forced at gunpoint to work there.

It isn't about the "right" to a smoke-free meal, either. I checked the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, etc., and could find no such right. However, our founding fathers make many references to the right to private property, something a restaurant smoking ban would make a mockery of.

No, what really motivates the anti-smoking crowd is simple elitism.

Anti-smokers think they have the right to dictate how others run their businesses. It doesn't matter that some restaurateurs in California reported losses of up to 70 percent in the wake of that state's smoking ban. Nor does it matter if you're a waitperson who notices that smokers tip more and thus you prefer to work in the smoking section. No, the elites know what's best for you.

I put my faith in adults to make their own decisions and live their own lives. But then, I think liberty is more important then a smoke-free meal.

Brandon Bosworth
Associate editor
The American Enterprise

Why aren't gas prices dropping in Hawaii?

As I write this I am in Los Angeles, having recently returned to the mainland. When I was last here in September, gasoline was $1.74 a gallon. Right now it is $1.09 a gallon and dropping.

Then why is this same ratio not being seen in Hawaii? In Hilo, gas ranges from $1.91 to $2.21 a gallon. This price was set early in May when gas prices were also rising to their highest on the mainland. They have never dropped in Hawaii, or dropped only a few cents.

Certainly someone is profiting far beyond the industry standard. I spoke to a gas merchant in Los Angeles and was told that the cost of wholesale gas has been dropping for months now and dealers are not passing it on.

We are being ripped off, and no one is covering this story in a manner that exposes the dealers and shows us how once again the excuse of being in Hawaii justifies the added costs of doing business. I expect to pay more, but this is criminal.

Bill Daly
Pahoa, Hawaii

Iolani Palace is sovereign ground

I sympathize with the United States in the terrorist attacks and the loss of lives, but for over 100 years, we the kanaka maoli of this aina have been terrorized by the United States. So I have reservations when it comes to having the U.S. flag flying over the Hawaiian kingdom palace, which is sovereign ground and does not belong to the state as some people think.

The people of America are pono, but I can't say that about the people who run it along with the big corporations who in their greed are inclined to dominate the world.

Kawika L.K. Awana

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The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point on issues of public interest. The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed, must include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.

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