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Saturday, February 15, 2003

Elephants get higher priority than homeless

How very strange to read that while Hawaii's homeless are being chased from yet another place to sleep, a $13 million home is being planned at the Honolulu Zoo for elephants (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 13). One wonders what a visitor from another planet would think of our priorities.

Ash Ruggiero

Care-home checks should be a surprise

What would you hope for if you needed to live in a care home? You would hope that the state of Hawaii, which uses state and federal money to pay for your care, would see that you were well cared for.

You would be playing Russian roulette. You might land in a care home that is properly maintained, or you could land in a poorly managed home, as did four people who died from neglect in the past couple of years.

How can this happen? Because the Department of Health can't make unannounced visits. Care-home operators say this would be an invasion of their privacy, and insist on advance notice. Is that reasonable when they're using public money?

Care homes must be visited regularly by the DOH. Federal legislation indicates that these may be unannounced visits. Were they allowed here, perhaps the four residents who died would still be alive.

The Legislature again has a bill before it to mandate unannounced visits. This bill is hanging on by a frail thread. If you care about people who cannot speak for themselves and if you believe that the use of public funds should be carefully monitored, please tell your legislators and members of the House health committees.

Ruth Ellen Lindenberg

War or not, HTA should promote Hawaii

The Hawaii Tourism Authority's marketing expert, Frank Haas, recently said that in the event of a war against Iraq, the HTA plans to cancel advertising for at least two months, and that bringing it and other marketing efforts back will depend on how long a conflict lasts.

At the same time, lawmakers are considering giving the state's tourism marketing agency as much as $8 million in emergency money if war should break out with Iraq. HTA chairman Rex Johnson said the agency would like the extra money, but might not need the entire $8 million.

Reports say that 78 percent of U.S. travel agents will recommend Hawaii as a favorable destination during and after war. New Zealand was able to pass us by advertising heavily and promoting itself as a secure and desirable travel destination.

Now is the best time to promote Hawaii for the time during and after any possible military action. We need more advertising, not less.

Dieter Thate
General manager
Dieter's Tours

UH opens theater to hard of hearing

It is just plain wonderful that hearing-assistive headsets, like those available in most Oahu movie theaters, are now available at Kennedy Theatre on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus. What's more, such equipment also is available at the Earle Ernst Theatre, which is only a few steps from Kennedy.

I tried one of the headsets during a performance of Kyogen, Japanese classical comedy. Not only did the headset work fine, the box office staff had been trained to make the equipment optimally effective.

These two installations show that UH is more than aware that such equipment opens events at Kennedy -- the state's flagship theater -- to a previously underserved audience. In addition, I am told that UH is checking all its other theaters here and on the neighbor islands for installation of such equipment.

Heading this whole effort is Mie Watanabe of the UH staff. Thanks also are due Kalvin Kashimoto, Clifford Fujimoto, Mark Boyd and Dean Judith Hughes, Ann Ito, all at UH, and Jane Knox of the state Disabilities Access and Communications Board.

Again, a loud mahalo.

Phil Mayer

Pay raises should cede to education needs

In light of the importance of education, cuts to the Department of Education's budget should be viewed as a last resort. At the same time, Governor Lingle wants pay increases for her department heads.

Other news stories have mentioned the pay and perks of department heads, and at this point every little bit helps. The old idea that department heads have greater responsibilities every year and that justifies pay increases should give way to everyone, from the low person on the totem pole to the guy at the top. At one time, public service had meaning. It did not always mean making money at the expense of the public.

Has the governor looked at taking a pay cut? Do each of her department heads really need the pay increase? Probably not.

Ben Clinger

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