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Friday, February 21, 2003

Security guards make Fort Street Mall nicer

Order has finally been restored to the Fort Street Mall! I would like to commend the Business Improvement District for its recent addition of security officers to downtown's Fort Street Mall. For the first time in many years, I feel safe in this area, which has long been a gathering place for Oahu's growing population of homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, beggars and mentally ill people of all types.

I have observed these security guards in action. They are doing outstanding work, despite the challenging environment in which they find themselves. They are assertive, yet courteous and compassionate when dealing with the street people who frequent the mall.

I encourage anyone who has avoided this area in the past to give Fort Street Mall another look. You'll find excellent shopping, multicultural food alternatives and a clean, secure, safe environment.

Silda Catalo Wyand

Schools need support, not more local boards

Various measures have been introduced this legislative session that are aimed at changing the governance structure of Hawaii's public school system. State Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto has initiated changes that are being lauded as an effort to decentralize the Department of Education and to bring coordinated decision making to the school complexes.

Hamamoto also has changed the DOE's operational policy to allow more schools to benefit from federal Title I funds. She has done this without additional boards of education.

Content and performance standards are in place, and evaluation tools are being implemented. Now we must support the efforts of schools to achieve the goals established. State and complex personnel are poised to provide leadership and assistance. This type of coordinated effort would not be possible with smaller, local school boards.

It is distressing when statements by some public officials lead others to believe that the woes of the DOE are the fault of our school-level administrators, and that the department has ample funds to cover new executive branch initiatives.

Our schools are in need. They are not broken.

Our schools need encouragement, resources and support -- not a continuous barrage of disparaging statements.

Shannon Ajifu
Board of Education member

Akaka bill comes with a flip side

The Akaka bill would affect the future of both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians. Unfortunately, the bill is such a mess that its effects are unpredictable.

The bill is being sold to Hawaiians as providing for sovereignty, when in fact it provides just the opposite -- subjugation. It makes Hawaiians wards of the federal government, subject to management by the Interior Department.

For every right, there is a duty. Your right to do something or have something creates duties in others to let you do or have those things. Yet the bill leaves undefined the rights of Hawaiians and the duties of non-Hawaiians. Its only purpose is to establish an undefined "Native Hawaiian governing entity" to negotiate with the state and federal governments about subjects of unlimited scope. Legal rights and duties shouldn't be determined by closed-door negotiations in which those on whom duties will be imposed are unrepresented.

The bill also has gaping holes, such as the omission of the process by which the NHGE will be created or what its powers will be.

The Akaka bill is not about self-determination; it is about the stream of state money that flows into programs for Hawaiians. Hawaiians, not the U.S. Congress or state agencies, should decide whether the benefits from that money are worth the price of their sovereignty. Non-Hawaiians should help if asked, but also should be mindful that rights create duties and that they should be represented in the process of defining those duties.

Anthony L. Clapes

Caucasians greater danger than AJAs

Now that our nation is faced with threats from al-Qaida, Iraq and North Korea, the ugly notions of internment have resurfaced in the interest of national security. Comments from Howard Coble, the U.S. representative from North Carolina, that the internment of AJAs during World War II was justified because of prevailing public suspicions at the time, fly in the face of the findings of the presidential commission on the internment.

Based on the report of this commission, the government apologized to Japanese Americans, and Congress authorized reparations. For Coble to venture his comment in the face of these facts is simply imbecilic.

No AJAs have ever been convicted of espionage or treason in America. All those who have been convicted and sentenced for these charges have or had non-Japanese surnames: Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Ronald Pelton, Walter Ames, Jonathon Pollard, Lt. Col. George Trofinoff, Sgt. Brian Regan and FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

It certainly is not the racial minority ethnic groups in America that evidence a basis for possible internment for suspicion of endangering America. Instead, it is the ethnic groups that represent the majority of Caucasian Americans. This may include Howard Coble and his band of bigoted supporters who retain him in office.

Larry T. Hayashida

Sharing a little love will go a long way

I was walking from the bus stop to my building on Kinau Street when I noticed my elderly neighbor was having trouble crossing the street, so I went to assist her. I walked with her to the bank, then to the Safeway on Beretania Street.

We were walking across Beretania at Piikoi Street in the crosswalk, with the light in our favor. A young man in a white car pulled up into the crosswalk, blocking the wheelchair ramp to the sidewalk. When I asked him to back up, he looked at me in a funny way and didn't move. I did my best to help my neighbor onto the sidewalk, even though the ramp was blocked. She almost fell. I steadied her and we went back to our building.

Please, everyone, let's treat each other and our elderly with compassion and respect. I realize that many of us are busy, but love does go a long way.

I ask you to ask yourself: If I respect and help others, aren't I also helping myself, since we all live in this world together?

Henry E.F. McCullough V

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