to the Editor

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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Aloha from others helps striking nurses

How do I begin to thank all those who've supported the nurses walking the picket lines? I'm overwhelmed with the generosity and positive feedback from the public.

Doctors, teachers, nurses from Kapiolani and Kaiser, and countless others have brought us food and beverages. Teachers and firefighters have walked the picket lines with us. Thank you for helping us and showing your aloha.

And to the one out of a thousand who yell at us to return to work, I say, "Thank you for wanting us to take care of you and your ohana."

Corene Sasaki, RN
Queen's Medical Center

Hospital puts money ahead of patients

I would like to examine some of the issues in the nurses' strike as they apply to St. Francis dialysis units in Hawaii, where management practices have often evinced a greater concern for costs than for staff or patients.

Patients are now suffering reduced dialyzing time. Those who need five hours of dialysis are having their sessions cut to three hours by an administrative decision.

The "paid time off" system at St. Francis also affects patient care. The demanding and stressful nature of their work makes nurses susceptible to illnesses. Yet a nurse who is sick has to use vacation time for the first three days of illness. Sick leave can't be used until the fourth consecutive day. What this means to patients is that they may be attended by nurses who are sick but are working anyway to avoid losing vacation time.

Upon retirement, nurses who have spent 20-30 years caring for patients are faced with having to pay the full costs of medical insurance until they become eligible for Medicare. Is it not ironic that those who spend their lives providing medical care should be without adequate health coverage in their senior years? Is it any wonder that nurses are on strike?

LucyAnn Taniguchi

Student BOE member should not have vote

Many years ago, when students were first allowed to sit as nonvoting members of the Board of Education, it was predicted that someday they would demand to be seated as voting members (Star-Bulletin, Dec. 7). That day has arrived.

I have a problem with this proposal. First and foremost is that student board members are not elected by the voters. The fact that they may be elected by their peers (who are not qualified voters) does not necessarily qualify them to be voting members as our laws are currently written. With the ongoing dialogue of the BOE someday possibly being able to levy taxes, I certainly wouldn't want someone not elected by the voting public to decide my tax burden.

While I'm sure Roosevelt High School student Kelsey Yamasaki and his associates are sincere in their wishes to make the school experience more satisfying, this proposal is still akin to having the fox guard the hen house.

Bill Nelson

Where do we sign up for 'consultant fees'?

I am not surprised that Doron Weinberg, attorney involved in the Gary Rodrigues case, defends his client (Letters, Star-Bulletin, Dec. 8). That is expected.

As a business owner, I have never had the opportunity to have my insurance company pay to me and my relatives the consultant fees that Weinberg says are OK to receive. Why would a business relationship need to involve kickbacks -- er ... sorry, consultant fees? Does anyone out there realize that someone is going to pay for these fees? That is, of course, the union members, who could have received their insurance cheaper if the consultant fees weren't included in the cost.

Oh, IRS guys, are you looking into whether Rodrigues and his daughter claimed these fees as income?

Joseph Alexander

Punishing drug addicts is cruel, senseless

It chills me when we as human beings consider "justice" and "compassion" to be "dangerous policies," as one letter writer suggested in his support of continuing the failed war on drugs (Star-Bulletin, Dec. 6). The "harm reduction" policies adopted by groups such as the Drug Policy Alliance focus on reducing the harmful effects of drug abuse on our society, not just on those who abuse drugs.

Those who support the war on drugs would have us -- the tax-paying citizens -- subsidize the punishment of anyone who associates with a federal list of illicit substances, both with more taxes and in the loss of peace that a Prohibition society incurs.

Our nation's drug policy is based on the idea that anyone who even possesses a substance from this list is guaranteed to commit a violent act; so they must be imprisoned. This is simply untrue.

The drug war is indeed unjust and uncompassionate; it also wastes resources incarcerating nonviolent citizens while violent offenders walk free.

Quinn C. Hoyer
Captain Cook, Hawaii

Where have all the flowers gone?

The other night I heard the Kingston Trio singing "Where have all the flowers gone?" and I hoped President Bush and all his hawkish advisers were listening, listening well.

For I remembered ...

>> my father's generation that went to World War II -- some came back, back to children whose first memories, like mine, were black-out curtains and air raid drills;

>> my high school, where the juniors and seniors were Korean War veterans, aged beyond their years, and my classmates -- and my brother -- went to Vietnam.

Some came back, maimed in body; others, whole in body, but maimed in spirit. But all of them believed they would have a country to return to, even if it reviled them and recognized not what they had given up for us.

If their great-grandchildren, their grandchildren, their children go to Iraq, can they believe they will have a country to return to? Hawaii already knows what the rest of the country learned on Sept. 11, 2001: Wars in modern time do not stay where they are started. They can erupt anywhere, in your back yard or mine.

"Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers, every one."

Susan Elliott Miller

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The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). 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 and include a daytime telephone number.

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