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Sunday, June 30, 2002



Pledge controversy



UH getting students on the right track

It is great to see the University of Hawaii making some progress toward modernization ("UH eases degree requirements," Star-Bulletin, June 24). It seems as though it has realized its true mission to the people of Hawaii: education and productivity.

Like Hawaii Pacific University, UH has adopted positive steps to adapt and grow in the 21st century with programs and curricula that allow students to compete effectively in the global workplace. I hope it won't be too late.

Andrew Lee
Oakland, Calif.
Former UH and HPU student

Dods' family benefits from his decision

Bravo for the family of Walter Dods ("Dods won't run for governor," Star-Bulletin, June 24). It takes a true and brave gentleman to listen to the wisdom of his family.

Y. Fong

Mental-health system can hurt patients

Yes, it was a tragedy on the Ala Wai Canal ("Police hold man in Waikiki attacks," Star-Bulletin, June 19). It shouldn't have happened. Thank you for opening the discussion regarding mental health. After going through the mental-health system in Hawaii, I see things from another perspective. Our system is broken. Yes, there are a lot of good doctors, but there also are plenty of bad ones. Sometimes a patient is pumped full of medications that don't work, which creates a turbulence in one's temple.

No one can see the hell a schizophrenic has to go through in the mental-health system. A bad diagnosis can make a person "go nuts." There is no due process for a patient to object to bad "meds." (There is an agency to help with this, but it's not interested in the mentally ill unless there is money.) So what we end up with is bad behavior instead of peaceful behavior.

Until our system cleanses itself of bad doctors and advocates, it doesn't look very good for either party.

Bob Brennan

Union proves it cares only about itself

Dock workers, when is enough enough? Two and a half years ago, when I moved back to Hawaii, my furniture was stuck on a ship in the harbor for three weeks due to a "slowdown" on the docks. The eventual settlement resulted in what many considered almost obscene wages for the union's workers -- far more than almost anyone earns in the state.

Now, the first new car I've had since 1968 is similarly stuck in the harbor, again due to a "slowdown." I'll happily vote anti-union this year.

Sylvia Clay
Mililani

Disabled-parking plan needs more support

As a disabled person, I would like to respond to the article "Judges drop many disabled-parking tickets" (Star-Bulletin, June 19).

I have known Sgt. Bart Canada for years and I can say that he is a perfectionist and gives 110 percent to any duty at the Honolulu Police Department. As a traffic sergeant, the disabled-parking program is one of his duties. Canada volunteers his time on weekends and evenings to train volunteers, which requires many hours of on-the-job training.

The state and court system spend nothing on the program; the City and County pay for it, but share no revenue with HPD from the tickets.

I am a Vietnam-era veteran. I am disabled and it is a real effort for me to go shopping. From time to time, I see people abusing the system because they can get away with it, thanks to the courts and the state, who fail time and again.

I hope during this next election season the politicians will allocate money to the disabled-parking program, which brings in revenue from selfish, arrogant people who deserve the tickets.

I'd love to see what comes around to these people who violate this disabled-parking law. Some day they may become handicapped themselves, and will desperately need to make it in that door to get to the food, doctor or pharmacy. And all they will find will be some punk giving them the finger as he pulls into that parking space.

This system needs help and one officer is not enough, and 20 to 30 volunteers are not enough, either. The state will make money if it enforces the law and if the court supervises it, but letting it fall flat is an insult to all disabled people and those who lost it all to serve, protect and defend this country.

It looks like judges need more education on the disabled-parking program, and the state needs to find some money to help this one officer in an island of a million.

Kevin Milnes
Waianae

State should have kept its 'God Bless' signs

Why did the state government give in so easily to the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church in having "God Bless America" signs removed from the state Tax and Health buildings (Political File, Star-Bulletin, June 24)?

If you pull any U.S. coin or bill out of your pocket or purse, you'll see the motto "In God We Trust" on it. Our state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate open their sessions with prayers to God.

Not necessarily a Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or Muslim God. Certainly not establishing a state church, which is all the First Amendment really prohibits, while guaranteeing freedom of religion.

One is free to believe in God or not, or say "I don't know." If God exists, I certainly hope he does bless our land and people, and all people everywhere who believe in democracy, a republican form of government and freedom -- even freedom from being politically correct.

Robert W. Donigan
Kamuela/Waimea, Hawaii

If you love high prices, send Wal-Mart packing

Your story "Kobayashi seeks Wal-Mart study" quoted City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi as saying, "A project of this magnitude has the potential to have significant negative social, environmental, traffic and other infrastructure impacts on surrounding land uses and may also result in the loss of long-standing Hawaii businesses."

I remember when Wal-Mart first opened here. There were traffic jams because the people of Hawaii had never before really been able to buy things at reasonable prices. Kobayashi is right. Let's kick Wal-Mart out of Hawaii and go back to the old, outrageous prices.

Robert G. Devine
Ocean View, Hawaii

Airport screeners pick on wrong people

Having flown interisland numerous times and reading the article on "Air Angst" (Star-Bulletin, June 16), it appears that new airport security regulations have lost sight of their intended purpose, and are instead focused on inconveniencing travelers. At the Kona airport, a young, local gal with baby and toddler was stopped while the guard held the infant so they could check all the milk bottles and wand the mom. I'm surprised they didn't tell her to take a sip from the baby bottles, like they asked others to do with open water bottles. With logic like that, what about our open shampoo bottles?

While the screeners are wanding the tired, pregnant tourist with open-toed sandals, or asking elderly passengers to remove thin sweaters for X-ray in the chilly airport, the real terrorists are probably smirking.

Punishing passengers for raising their voices at airport screeners or voicing displeasure at numerous searches has nothing to do with preventing terrorism. While these tax-supported guardians of our safety are wasting time singling out the least likely potential terrorists and hauling disgruntled passengers off planes in the name of fighting terrorism, the real terrorist could be politely slipping through.

It's time to inject some common sense into these safety rules before more situations of passenger abuse occur, and the airlines have empty planes.

A. K. Carroll
Kailua

Homesteaders need cable connection

The article on the fiber-optic communications project on Hawaiian home lands "Fiber-optic firm taps federal gold mine," Star-Bulletin, June 4) was short- sighted, short on expectations and very short on vision.

The article lays out the project of installation of fiber-optic cable connecting six islands and all of the Hawaiian homesteads as something negative, as if it will only serve a few Hawaiians who don't need the service.

I'm a homesteader in Anahola. My father is Amish German from Nebraska and my mother is Hawaiian from Kauai. My grandparents in the Midwest back 50 years ago were certainly in the position of Hawaiians living on homesteads today. Rural America was not initially a profitable place to install basic communications and utilities like phones, electricity or even regular mail service; too few people, too rural.

The Hawaiian Home Lands project will bring high-speed Internet connectivity, a basic communication need in a modern world and something with far-reaching effects -- access to virtual libraries, tele-medicine, educational programming -- the list goes on. The project is not just about phone service as the article implied. It's about access to information for some of the most rural areas of Hawaii, and to native Hawaiians. It is something most of America takes for granted, including urban centers like Honolulu.

My father's ancestors in Nebraska had something to say about those who trivialized their right to mail service, phones and electricity. The federal government stepped up and assisted America's heartland, connecting rural town after rural town. My mother's people deserve nothing less.

I say hurray for Uncle Sam for what he did for Midwest farmers, and I say it's about time for what he's doing for Hawaiian homesteads today.

What's the best news? The project has vision. It is a great economic stimulus for all of Hawaii's residents, providing jobs, new money into our state and a communications infrastructure for generations, on and off homestead lands.

Computers are good for your kids in Honolulu, and good for mine in Anahola, too.

Robin Puanani Danner
Anahola, Hawaii

Democrats keep falling by wayside

Not too long ago Hawaii Democratic Party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba kicked off the 2002 Democratic Convention with the following remarks:

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the most dynamic, energized and visionary party in Hawaii!"

I was wondering if she meant that her party's elected officials are "dynamic," as in self-motivated to get indicted? "Energized," as in most eager to obtain a good defense lawyer"? And "visionary," as in prophetic that with former state Sen. Marshall Ige's conviction on May 28 (two days before the convention!), former Councilwoman Rene Mansho's sentencing and current state Rep. Nathan Suzuki's indictment, that her party is now averaging an indictment or sentencing of a public servant every 10 days.

And what is with the party leadership? Suzuki has been under intense investigation since mid-2001 and yet Democratic leaders held him in such high esteem that they made him chairman of the Committee of Legislative Management and vice-chairman of Tourism and Agriculture!

Is this the example of "building on a legacy of aloha and our core values" that Akiba and her party are suggesting? And does everyone get an orange jumpsuit?

Not too long ago, Akiba called on Republicans not to engage in "smear campaigns or dirty races." Can she make the same promise? Can Akiba clean her own house and offer any candidates who aren't wearing wrist restraints?

James Hardway

Vetoes get under governor's skin

Governor Cayetano often resorts to personal attacks. Linda Lingle's recent criticism of Cayetano's veto of the bill that would have provided tax credits for much-needed construction jobs and visitor attractions on the Leeward coast at Ko Olina was met by a typical awkward remark from Cayetano.

Cayetano said, "Lingle still hasn't gotten over her 1998 loss to me." No one has gotten over her loss to Cayetano and the resulting four more years of arrogance and the attempt by the governor to be the "brightest attorney in the state" by vetoing excellent bills because they do not meet his standard of law making.

Having been the only governor in 40 years to have a veto overridden by his own Democrat Legislature last year must be something "he still hasn't gotten over."

Fred Gartley
Kaneohe



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Pledge controversy

Court ruling shows need for new judges

The decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the words "under God" make the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional has "unblind" justice written all over it. Moreover, it shows the necessity for the Democrat-controlled Senate to stop holding hostage the judicial nominees of President Bush. This stonewalling lies at the heart of this judicial fiasco.

The political correctness of meeting the demands of a few to sacrifice the majority has shown its hideous face in this decision. For one parent's disgruntled view to be upheld by the court, while millions are being denied, shows that many judges are cowing to politics. Rather than interpreting the law, they are attempting to rewrite the very laws that are called into question.

The insertion of "under God" does not establish a state religion, and whether one believes in a god, does not change the fact that there is a god. God is known by different names to different people, including many atheists who refer to God as "The Big Bang."

This country was founded on the principles that there is a creator, that all men are equal and that this country must respect differing beliefs -- hence, no established religion. It does not, however, mention that God be taken out of the public eye.

Reciting the pledge, especially after Sept. 11, renewed the spirit of those who rally around this great nation. May this decision be overturned, may the Senate stop its stonewalling, and may the courts be filled with competent, common-sense judges.

Michael Meli

Inserting one word could fix 'God' problem

Adding just one more word to the Pledge of Allegiance would solve the dilemma that has been raised with the court ruling that says the word "God" in the pledge is unconstitutional.

If we add the word "founded," to read "founded under God," that would be a statement of fact as opposed to an acknowledgment of a supreme being, which some oppose.

David K. Hoe

Rewriting the pledge isn't our first priority

Where was the public outcry when two women were stabbed and bludgeoned to death recently in Pearl Harbor housing?

Yet, circuit court judges dare to remove "under God," and the world goes wild.

It seems that a priority adjustment is needed. If half the people who cried and complained about the removal of two words really believed in their deity and lived like they believed in this deity, domestic violence would never be. Child abuse, sex abuse, rape, homelessness, hate crimes, war, incest and all the other social ills would be addressed.

Until then, get a grip, not a gripe! In the meantime, let peace begin.

Carolyn Martinez Golojuch
Makakilo

Pledge of Allegiance may sound different

Americans have suffered another blow to our personal freedom, this time from the wise guys of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. So now we get to say:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America; and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with liberty and justice for (some, but not) all."

Do you suppose God would approve?

Sanford Lung

Pledge doesn't specify which God to worship

I'm an agnostic, and I oppose the attempt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.

Yes, it would be a problem if the pledge imposed a state religion, using words such as "under Jesus" or "under Krishna," or if reciting the pledge was mandatory. But that isn't the case.

I'm surprised the clueless folks on the 9th Circuit didn't take a stab at rewriting the pledge to be painfully politically correct -- "under God, or Gods, or a Supreme Being, or just random Darwinian evolution."

It's simple ... if you find the words "under God" offensive, don't say them. Just pause.

And if that makes you too darn uncomfortable -- if you'd rather hire lawyers than deal with being the lone dissident in the room -- well, sorry. You have to be sterner stuff than that to pull off being an atheist or an agnostic. It's not a job for the timid.

Jim Henshaw
Kailua

Enemies aren't only on foreign shores

We don't have to worry about al-Qaida, Saddam, etal. We have met the enemy and it is in the form of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tonya Bush
Waipahu

Pledge 'experiment' didn't work out

News stories and right-wing religionists are ballyhooing the idea that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. Such is not the case.

In 1954, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution adding the words, "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. At the time, civil libertarians were assuaged by the promise that those words were to be "optional" and that teachers were to ensure that students were taught that fact.

Over the years the optional part of the addition has been forgotten by those who teach the pledge. Many now assume that the term has always been a part of the pledge. It has not.

Those who are castigating the court for deciding that students can't be coerced into reciting religious mantras, have forgotten that it was an act of Congress, not an act of God, that added these words and the purpose of the courts is to balance the activities of the legislative and executive branches. That is what has happened here.

When the legislative branch added the extra words, it assured us that no one would be required to recite the new words. Forty-eight years has been enough of a test of the sincerity of that promise. All that the judges have said is that the test failed. And it's about time that someone did so.

Here's a tip for those who make the pledge and don't wish to engage in religious activity. When I make the pledge, I always insert the words "under none," which reflect the truth.

Del Pranke
Pahoa






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