to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Readers weigh in on nature's
dangers and state's liability

How much warning would be enough?

Regarding the story "State cited for Sacred Falls" (Star-Bulletin, Sept. 25): I feel much sympathy for the families that lost loved ones on that fateful day at Sacred Falls, but how much warning should be necessary?

Maybe the sign at Sacred Falls should have read: "You will die if there are falling rocks!" Maybe all state parks should read: "If any dangerous event occurs at this park that is a natural disaster, you are entering at your own risk and death is a possibility."

How much warning is enough?

Charles W. Santiago Jr.

State is not to blame for act of nature

When I first read about the lawsuit against the state for negligence in the Sacred Falls tragedy, I was disgusted that anyone would try to assign blame to a third party and try to capitalize on the death of a family member. Surely no judge would agree. It would be an insult to the intelligence of all the individuals who ever made the decision to hike up to the falls, not to mention to the rock-fall victims.

Only a fool would look at the sheer cliffs leading up the valley and not understand that millions of years of erosion and rockslides created this wonder of nature, and that the process is ongoing. Of course there is a risk of falling rocks. Is there a cliff on the planet that does not have that risk?

Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario's decision that the state was at fault is effectively telling the world that he thinks the average person is not competent to make basic decisions on his own.

Will we no longer be allowed to visit these sites because of this ruling? Will we be charged a fee to pay for the exorbitant insurance that will surely follow this decision?

Will this and other sites have to be choked with hazard signs and "education centers" to de-moronize us, forever removing the "nature" part of a nature hike?

To show respect for the victims of the Sacred Falls rock fall and to salvage their own integrity, the plaintiff families should withdraw the lawsuit. And Del Rosario should retire, along with whoever appointed him.

John Foti

It's a good time to be a lawyer in Hawaii

My deepest thanks to Judge Dexter Del Rosario for showing me how to get rich. Tomorrow I am looking up the fastest diploma mill I can find and getting a quickie law degree. Then I am going to canvass all the relatives of the poor innocent folks who were killed or injured by state negligence in Hawaii.

Last year there were at least a dozen drownings in Hawaii waters, but our state has failed to erect signs on all beaches telling us we can drown in such dangerous places.

Surfers were injured by sharks and their boards damaged, but again no general warnings that sharks are lurking out there.

The state also has failed to place warnings on all privately owned boats attesting to the dangers of capsizing, running out of gas and sinking in these shark-infested waters.

And how about those dangerous hiking trails? Two people were killed this past year and two went missing the previous year, yet no trail signs (except at Sacred Falls) warn us that we can die if we fall off the trail or get lost.

The list of these dangers goes on, the state's liability is endless and the opportunities for wealth are infinite. Let's see, what is one-third of a hundred million bucks?

Richard McMahon

Make Sacred Falls a memorial park

Why didn't the state parks administrator check to assure the full safety of the public after the 1987 Sacred Falls accident? Why didn't he or the state Legislature take action to protect against another tragedy by putting up the warning signs? The 1999 rock fall was not an "act of God"; it was the negligence of the state government for failing to respond to the 1987 tragedy.

Sacred Falls should become a national or state park with a museum to be dedicated in memory of the victims who lost their lives or were injured, with leis every year on Mother's Day. This museum would block the public from entering Sacred Falls and remind the government never to neglect the public safety at tourist attractions in Hawaii in the near future.

Francine Kenyon

People ignore signs and climb over fences

Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario's decision on Sacred Falls is way off base and should be appealed. How many signs are required? If 10 isn't enough, will we have warning signs every few feet on our wilderness trails? Falling rocks are not the only hazards. We have slippery areas where people can go over steep cliffs. We have beaches unprotected by lifeguards. Then there are the highways with their rockslides, and other places where numerous accidents and deaths have occurred fairly regularly. We don't close the highways. Why close parks?

It is impossible to foresee all risks, much less warn people about them. Signs and pamphlets are not read by everyone. Signs are defaced and stolen. People go around or over fences and railings. How many have climbed the Stairway to Heaven since it was closed?

If we don't want signs littering and ruining our natural beauty, the Legislature needs to pass a law severely limiting the liability of government, nonprofits and private-property owners who have lands available to the public. People must take responsibility for their own decisions and actions after reasonable warning.

A.L. Rogers


Election 2002
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Democrats proved they don't want change

The buck stops with the person who signs. Governor Cayetano faults Linda Lingle's "Agenda for a New Beginning" as being ideas from public-relations experts; however, regardless of how derived, she is committed to following through on the ideas presented. All political manifestoes are a compilation of the ideas of the best and brightest.

The problem is that after a 40-year Democratic stranglehold on the institutions of Hawaii, the Democratic "gray eminences" have been unable to come up with a cabal to write an "Agenda for Change" for Mazie Hirono, other than to draft Andy Anderson to serve as a spoiler to prevent the nomination of Ed Case, a truly independent Democrat for change. Hirono has been part of the "business as usual" crowd for more than 20 years. It's going to be hard to divorce herself from that marriage.

T. J. Davies Jr.

Matsuura lost because of position on suicide

Sen. David Matsuura lost the state Senate District 1 election to Lorraine Inouye. His defeat could be attributed to his opposition to then-Attorney General Margery Bronster's nomination to a second term and to the "Death with Dignity" bill.

Terminal illness can strike anyone. Matsuura refused to give those individuals stricken with terminal illness the option of physician-assisted suicide.

I am a senior citizen and I want that option in case I am terminally ill.

How Tim Chang

Lingle should stop attacking, start talking

So much for a clean and constructive race for governor, but I guess that was too much to hope for. Too bad, because the people deserve better.

Instead of running on her record, Linda Lingle is blaming all the problems that are facing Hawaii on Mazie Hirono. Lingle is lumping all Democrats into the same category. If that was the case, then all Republicans are "right wingers" who want to force religion into every part of our government and we all think that a woman does not have the right to choose. I know for a fact that this is not the case.

Instead of attacking Hirono, Lingle should be telling us what she has done for Hawaii during the past four years. What testimony has she given for legislation during this time? How many Board of Education meetings has she gone to? What has she done as a citizen of Hawaii to make Hawaii a better place to call home? Hirono should do the same.

Here's asking that the rest of the race be civilized, and that instead of attacks we hear concrete ideas about how each candidate will work to turn our economy around and dig our education system out of last place.

Michael Golojuch Jr.

People should prepare better before voting

Something besides apathetic attendance at the polls seems to be affecting voters ("Isles' voter turnout near all-time low," Star-Bulletin, Sept. 22). In the District 3 City Council race, 2,500 ballots were left blank. This number beat three candidates in a five-person race. That 2,500 voters didn't like any of five attractive candidates is implausible. That 2,500 voters failed to turn over their ballots, not knowing there was a Council race, is plausible but not very complimentary.

People even prepare to go shopping by making lists. Voters evidently don't put the same preparation into the more important chore of voting. Myriad information is available to them from the media, from government agencies, from private organizations and from candidates.

Blank votes amounting to 9 percent of the total votes cast in a City Council election doesn't speak well for the preparedness of voters even when they do go to the polls.

Don Bremner

Thielen proves public schools are priority

Every election year, we hear candidates claim that public education is one of their top priorities. Many of these candidates send their own children to private school and seldom visit public schools in their districts.

As a social studies teacher, I am often asked if I would be interested in inviting our elected leaders into my classroom. Rep. Cynthia Thielen of Kailua never misses the opportunity. Every spring, she visits each school in her district as part of her Legislative Road Show. Recently, she and her assistant, Desi, spent the day with my 8th-grade students at Kailua Intermediate School and designed and implemented an engaging mock-legislative session with them. The students shared creative and innovative ideas with her. Thielen commented on how intelligent, articulate, well prepared and polite they were. After school, several students told me they wished we could do more activities like this. It was truly a unique educational experience.

So here is an open invitation to our elected leaders: When election day is over and things have settled down, please contact a public school in your district and spend some time with the students. Demonstrate to our students, parents and teachers that public education is indeed your top priority.

Kathleen Nullet
Kailua Intermediate School

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God even has room in his house for atheists

I am taught in church that no matter when you come to God, be it your entire life or as you lie on your death bed, that he has room in his heart for all.

I truly believe that there is room there for Mitch Kahle. Although I do not agree with omitting the reference to God in the Honolulu Police Department oath, I am glad that we, as Americans, are able to voice our opinions in the form of freedom of speech. However, if Kahle has the freedom to omit the very wording that this great country was founded on, why can't HPD officers voluntarily use whatever wording they choose in the oath?

I think that in this time of sadness and terrorism in our country, that there are still people focusing on taking away the very thing that gave them the tongue to speak with in the first place. God bless you, Mitch.

Sheila Fuchs
Mililani Mauka

Ruling won't stop cops from calling to God

It is amazing to me that just over one year ago our country unabashedly cried out to God for comfort and help. Our country cried out to God to comfort the families of police officers and firefighters killed by terrorists. Now Mitch Kahle and his organization have pushed the Honolulu Police Department to withdraw "God" from the oath.

It does not matter what decisions in this country are made about the use of the word God; when tragedy strikes, as we know now it can, God's name will be used by police officers, firefighters, elected officials, newscasters and millions of citizens. When tragedy strikes, reality emerges, and the separation of church and state is insignificant. Thank God!

Stephanie Darrow

These public servants should get the boot

Molly Ivins says it all in her column ("An absurd, hateful U.S. strategy," Sept. 24). How ignorant and arrogant are public servants George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

As their employer, I say, "You're fired."

Pat Blair

Weapons we fear in Iraq came from U.S.

From the mid-'80s through the early '90s behind closed doors and out of sight of the people and the Congress, Presidents Reagan and Bush "courted Saddam Hussein with a reckless abandon," said Sen. Henry Gonzales, former chairman of the House Banking Committee.

In 1982, the United States removed Iraq from the list of states branded as supporters of terrorism. Throughout the '80s Washington approved more than $1.5 billion worth of exports with potential military uses to Iraq, including $25 million in items for making atomic bombs and long-range missiles.

At the same time, the British government licensed exports of plutonium, uranium and thorium (for nuclear reactors), armored vehicles, jet engines, artillery fire-control systems and mortar-locating radar.

It's morbidly ironic that many of the weapons now posing such a grave threat to our national security and the security of other "peace-loving nations" were sold to Iraq with the full knowledge of the U.S. government and at considerable profit to U.S. and allied businesses.

Considering that many of the key players in the Reagan and Bush administrations are the ones boisterously condemning the current Iraqi regime today, I feel justified in my concerns regarding the current direction of U.S. foreign policy.

We've told the world it is either "with us or against us." Personally, I'm not looking forward to finding out what that really means.

Jeff Eble
Hilo, Hawaii

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