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Sunday, March 10, 2002



Dying with dignity
Bishop Estate redux



In tough economy, need for library grows

The state should not close library branches to balance the budget. We must recognize that libraries increase in value when the economy is bad.

People without jobs use libraries to support their job search.

Small-business owners use libraries to seek creative ideas that will help them stay in business.

Students use libraries to develop the information literacy skills that will increase their employment opportunities.

Adults returning to school so they can gain new job skills are especially likely to turn to public libraries for help.

Families use libraries when more expensive forms of recreation are beyond their reach.

Libraries are needed now. By promoting literacy and providing sources of information to people who need it, they contribute to the economy in subtle but significant ways. Our libraries are still trying to recover from severe budget cuts in recent years. Closing library branches will have an adverse effect on members of the community at a time when libraries are needed most.

Victoria G. Dworkin
Kailua

Long-term care tax would go on forever

The state House has approved a long-term care plan to provide a token handout to the elderly of about $70 a day. How nice for the elderly.

Who pays for the handout? Every resident of Hawaii over 25 will pay a tax of about $120 a year. For how long? Forever, that's how long.

The tax will be keyed to the rate of inflation so it will continue to go up every year forever. In these stressful economic times, we don't need another perpetual tax.

Senators, please squash this tax now.

J.C. Gilbert

'Vicky-care' cost goes up, but so do benefits

I am writing concerning your article in the March 3 paper about the long-term health care program supported by first lady Vicky Cayetano. Yes, the $10 fee will go up every year, if necessary, to meet benefit payments, but your story neglected to say that the benefits also will go up about 4.7 percent per year.

This is called inflation protection, which all private long-term care insurance sells as a very expensive option.

Sen. Sam Slom is missing the point when he compares the long-term care program with state programs that are providing services like special education, mental health and prisons. This is not a service program but an insurance program; services will be bought from the private businesses as they are now. A big difference is that the benefits would go to the patient/caregiver who will choose the service they need and pay for them directly, eliminating the creation of another government bureaucracy.

Vicky-care, I love the name!

Laura G. Manis
Vice chairperson
Coalition for Affordable Long Term Care


[Quotables]

"I know your heart aches and we ache for you. But your son and your brother died for a noble and just cause."

President Bush

Wiping away tears as he spoke to the families of U.S. servicemen killed in fierce fighting last week against al-Qaida forces entrenched in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.


"The best analogy I can give you is, pick up a bullet on the street ... the chances of it going off are absolutely minimal."

Army Maj. Gerald Muhl

On the public danger of a missing explosive device that was mistakenly driven off base during a training session for bomb-sniffing dogs at Schofield Barracks. More than 200 Schofield solders and Honolulu police were searching Wahiawa for the explosive yesterday.


U.S. policy explains Muslim hatred

Since Sept. 11, I've read many columns like the one by Richard Halloran, "Muslim hatred of America gives rise to a clash of civilizations," (Star-Bulletin, March 3.) These pieces suggest that the Muslim world has no rational basis for its hatred of the United States.

Halloran talks of "the Muslim irrational hatred for Israel and Jews, a mindless craze they transfer to America as Israel's ally." Doesn't he know that we have armed Israel to the teeth with modern weapons while, until recently, the Palestinians had only stones? We are traditionally a country that roots for the underdog, but in this case we are rooting for Goliath against David.

The U.S. position is that Palestinians' current intifada is totally wrong. But Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, and since then gradually has been taking over that land with settlements.

The settlements are confining the Palestinians to miserable enclaves. The Israeli roads and checkpoints make movement, commerce and daily life difficult, dangerous and always humiliating. The occupied territories now have at least 200,000 Israeli settlers living in fortified oases of prosperity, protected by their military, while the Palestinians live in squalor, harassed by the military.

Halloran writes of the dishonest Muslim press and TV commentators as being responsible for Muslim hatred of the United States. Why doesn't our press tell us that U.S. sanctions are causing the death of 5,000 Iraqi children a month as documented in United Nations reports? The Arab world sees daily on TV dying Iraqi children and dead Palestinian women and children. Don't forget that three Palestinians die for every Israeli.

One reason Muslims are angry is that they believe we are killing them, and either don't know or don't care about their dying. That might make a reasonable man mad.

Norrie Thompson

Antitrust exemption ignored by airlines

I wonder why Aloha and Hawaiian airlines haven't used the federal government's temporary antitrust exemption to coordinate flight schedules, security arrangements and airline operations. I think this exemption would save competition in the interisland market if it were put in place permanently, thus the proposed merger of the two airlines would not be needed.

The exemption would allow Hawaiian and Aloha to save money on reducing unprofitable interisland flights, allow coordination of security arrangements and allow airline operations to save money.

From what I have gathered, the forces behind this merger have conveniently pushed this exemption under the rug and instead have gone forward with this merger, which will handsomely line their pockets with money.

I strongly urge that this other option be considered before this merger is allowed to take place.

Aaron M. Stene

UH changes may spread to rest of state

Hawaii is a very politically quiet place. When issues bother the citizens, it is not often voiced. However, the University of Hawaii's changing atmosphere could affect the state as a whole. The Open Space event Feb. 1 was an excellent idea and a change in the way things are done here at the university.

I was unable to attend the event. However, after visiting the event's Web site, I gained an understanding that the community is unsatisfied and wants change. The area with the largest potential effect would be the development of a college town. This idea is great for providing students with activities and places to be, and would change Hawaii for the better. It might even be able to make the university less of a commuter campus. Students would make UH a focal community, thereby underscoring the educational experience.

Another concern that I observed on the Web site was the lack of healthy choices available to students and faculty. Some suggestions were made about the food services, conditions of the dorms and creating a tobacco-free campus. Healthy choices within the university could expand to the rest of the community.

If improvements like this can be made on campus and can spread to the rest of the state, Hawaii will be an awesome, healthy and popular place to live.

Kristina Shibata

Akaka, Inouye should protect wildlife refuge

The U.S. Senate is now debating energy policy, and the stakes are huge. We need Senators Akaka and Inouye to support an energy bill that secures our energy future while protecting our precious public lands, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

By using more renewable energy like wind and solar power, and making America's cars and SUVs go farther on a gallon of gas, we can create more jobs and reduce our dependence on oil. With these measures we could be on the path toward a clean energy future, a healthy economy and greater national security.

Kate Paine

Better fuel efficiency aids national security

At a time when America's dependence on oil is a primary national security concern, why is the fuel economy of my car based on an outdated standard passed almost 30 years ago? The time has come for American automakers to stop resisting higher fuel economy standards. Detroit's profits are important, but not as important as the security of this country.

Since automakers are resisting new standards, Senators Inouye and Akaka must lead us toward energy independence by supporting legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., that will make cars go farther on a gallon of gas.

We need an energy bill that secures our energy future while protecting our precious public lands, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By making America's cars and SUVs more fuel efficient, and using more renewable energy like wind and solar power, we can create more jobs and reduce our dependence on oil.

Marilyn Mick

If Souki likes cams, let Maui have them

It appears that there is only one person in the state holding up total repeal of the Traffic Camera Photo Enforcement System, the popularly called Talivans, that being Rep. Joe Souki from Maui.

The Senate finally came to it senses and voted for a repeal of the program but Souki has yet to be convinced by his Maui constituents that the program is really only a desperate attempt to grab more money from the public. The neighbor islands have always complained that they don't get their fair share from the Legislature. I suggest that Souki set up the Talivans on his home island of Maui and let them get their fair share of their elected representative's actions.

In fact Maui can have all the Talivans. Just think how safe driving will become then.

Fred Gartly

Arthur Lyman was an inspiration

I want to thank the Star-Bulletin for the nice article about Arthur Lyman "Good Vibes," (March 4).

I had known Arthur for more than 40 years and was saddened with the news of his passing. I grew up with his music and played the organ along with his records and those of Martin Denny. I can still remember my aunt telling me when I would set up the organ to sound like vibes that I was supposed to be playing the organ, not the vibes.

My other hobby is photography. I have the photos of Arthur and many other entertainers in Hawaii.

I just felt so bad that I could not make it to Honolulu for the funeral, but I will have the many years of memories to keep.

Dolores Treffeisen
Philadelphia

Senate school board plan looks good

As rarely as I agree with the state Legislature (and especially the Senate), the bill moving forward in the Senate to create seven school boards, which would then each send a member to the state board, seems like a good start.

We need to address some issues as a state and a state board would do that. We also need to look at local issues, and the local boards could provide excellent response to community concerns. By making the local boards elected, and the state board made up of representatives of the local boards, we avoid the potential problems of appointed boards.

Several questions remain: How do we ensure equity of funding? How do we give the local boards control over things like school maintenance? Would the libraries remain under the state board? How do we ensure enough funding for both the schools and library system? And finally, which plank of the Republican platform will the Democrats adopt next?

William Georgi

Get up the steam to register to vote

Hey, you eligible voters of our state, have you checked out the sheet after page 44 of the yellow pages telephone book? It's an application for voter registration. Wow, I didn't know it was so easy to register.

Like a slow-moving train, "Maybe I will; maybe I will. I think I will; I think I will. Yes, I will; yes, I will. I will; I will. I did it; I did it!" Choo, choo, choo!

The process is so easy, but you have to make the first move. Do it today, early!

Roy E. Shigemura


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Debate over death with dignity

Netherlands is valid example of dangers

Roland Halpern (Letters, March 3) misapprehends the reason for noting the Netherlands' experience in the discussion of physician-assisted suicide. Those who oppose the current physician-assisted suicide proposals are well aware of the distinctions between those proposals and the situation in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands' experience is nevertheless instructive because it is evidence of where we would be headed if the Legislature legalized physician-assisted suicide.

In the Netherlands, both physician-assisted suicide and physician-assisted death have been practiced for decades. While illegal during most of that time, both were condoned because of so-called "safeguards" put in place. Now both practices are legal and the government's own reports show that direct killing by the physician is 10 times more common than assisted suicide and that, at one point, one-third of the patients killed had not given their explicit consent. That is the slippery slope.

It is also wholly disingenuous for proponents of the bill to act as if discussion of physician-assisted death as a next step is somehow unwarranted when Governor Cayetano's Blue Ribbon Panel on Living and Dying with Dignity proposed legalizing of both physician-assisted suicide and physician-assisted death in its 1998 report.

To pretend that reality doesn't exist is the real misinformation marring the debate on physician-assisted suicide.

The slippery slope, fear of abuse and coercion among elderly persons and persons with disabilities, and the creation of a 'duty to die' are reasons the U.S. Supreme Court cited when declaring there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. They are the reasons why 49 states have rejected physician-assisted suicide. And they are just some of the reasons why Hawaii should reject physician-assisted suicide, as well. To dismiss them out-of-hand is irresponsible.

Kelly M. Rosati
Executive director
Hawaii Family Forum

Matsuura can redeem himself by hearing bill

Senator Matsuura, please tell us it ain't so! Please tell us you did not say, "Absolutely, I will not hear assisted suicide. This dumb bill wasn't even on our radar screen. I haven't even looked at the measure or studied this measure yet."

If any of our children made a statement like yours we would be appalled. "You mean you haven't even looked at it or studied it and you can call it a dumb thing? How could you?" That's what we would say to our children. So please, please restore our faith in our leaders -- adults who hold our fate in their hands.

Also, is it not amazing that in our democracy one person, the chairman of one committee, has the power to kill a bill by refusing to have it heard by the committee? Not only is it undemocratic, it is unbelievably arrogant.

Jim and Yoshie Tanabe
Waipahu

Law can ease worries of elderly patients

Regarding the physician-assisted death bill: Elderly patients worry mostly about terminal suffering. No one wants pain and suffering. The Oregon law works well, and Hawaii needs -- for the benefit of all citizens -- the passage of the Death with Dignity bills.

John S. Spangler, M.D.


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Court vindicates complaints
about Bronster's excesses

The Hawaii Supreme Court validated the 1999 Senate rejection of Margery Bronster as attorney general when it dismissed the state's case against former Bishop Estate trustees Henry Peters and Dickie Wong.

In its opinion, these chilling words were used:

"We are cognizant of the state's strong interests in prosecuting crime, but we are equally cognizant that the state's duty is to pursue justice, not convictions, and the prosecutor has a duty to act as a minister of justice to pursue prosecutions by fair means.

"We must weigh the state's interests against the defendants' rights to fundamental fairness, including an unbiased grand jury.

"In doing so we cannot but conclude that the state's actions in these cases threatened the integrity of the judicial process and denied the defendants the process they were due."

Governor Cayetano in his 2002 State of the State address said "(Former Attorney General Margery) Bronster's courageous actions changed the Bishop Estate forever and from what we have seen, for the better."

I want to believe that the good governor would not be as proud of her if he knew that the AG's office had conducted itself in a way that "threatened the integrity of the judicial process." As a lawyer himself, if he knew, I am sure he would not have allowed these or any other individual's rights to be trampled.

The celebrated trials and restructuring of Bishop Estate was Bronster's legacy and she will be known as the "giant killer." We did not know her office was conducting itself improperly in regard to due process and fair play. It put its drive to convict paramount to seeking justice. She cannot say that she was not aware of the details because she was at the very center of the controversy. She must stand and admit that her office repeatedly disobeyed the Circuit Court's instructions and even improperly bolstered the testimony of a witness.

The state put these two individuals and their families through a very long torturous ordeal. Much damage has been done. Bronster is now gone. Who will say "we did wrong"?

The Senate knew there was something amiss not only with the Bishop Estate issue but her relationship with the state bureaucracy that her office had to serve.

Even against extreme agenda-driven reporting by the printed press and heavy lobbying by many groups, who were not privy to all the facts, the Senate weighed all aspects and with much soul-searching did right and denied her reappointment.

There was a cry to throw the bums out. Well, now that we know that the senators in their wisdom stood against formidable pressure to do what was right, they should be congratulated for their courage and conviction.

It is now the media's turn to investigate how the state and the press lost sight of fairness and focused on destroying these men instead of seeking justice.

The Senate may want to invite the sitting attorney general to appear before them and explain why the AG's office conducted itself in such a malicious and punitive manner, both under her leadership and his.

Mike Crozier
Former state senator
Kapolei



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