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Friday, February 28, 2003

Isle donkeys could show up in high places

State officials in Alabama are upset about the name of the new Bad Ass Coffee shop ready to open in Tuscaloosa, though the name is a simple reference to a Hawaii donkey.

On Sunday, Governor Lingle admirably encouraged first lady Laura Bush and other White House officials to serve only Hawaii-grown coffee.

Will Bad Ass Coffee be approved in the West Wing? Will the Bush administration allow a coffee whose symbol represents the opposition party?

Inquiring minds (slightly amused) want to know.

Rick Ermshar

Aliens are tinkering with our airport signs

I believe that extraterrestrials are visiting Earth and are in Hawaii. They are ensconced in the Airports Division of the state Department of Transportation. The logic is simple.

Being from a different planet, aliens have no idea why people travel to and within airports, so they have no sense of what signs need to be posted to guide us when we visit an airport.

When the alien creatures explored Honolulu Airport's upper level, they noticed service counters with people being issued some sort of card. They understood these cards to be tickets and, inquiring no further, proceeded to remove the sign on the ramp to the airport's upper level reading "Departures" and replaced it with a bright yellow sign reading "Ticketing." Everyone on Earth knows that ticketing is rarely done at the airport.

Next, they went to the lower level and saw some of us picking up bags. Based on this observation, they removed the sign on the ramp to the lower level reading "Arrivals" and replaced it with a bright yellow sign reading "Baggage Claim." Everyone on Earth knows that it is arriving passengers who need to be directed to baggage claim and that they don't get there from the vehicle onramp. Conversely, people who use the onramp to the airport's lower level are coming to meet arrivals, not to claim bags.

The words "arrival" and "departure" are obviously not in the alien lexicon.

Joe Gedan
Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge

Vanpool saves money, eases road congestion

As the executive director of Vanpool Hawaii, I would like to address the concerns expressed in Stephen N. Bischoff's Feb. 25 letter to the editor.

The goal of the Vanpool program is to remove single-occupant vehicles from roadways during peak commute times. The program has been successful and becomes more so each year. Currently it removes more than 1,000 vehicles from the road. While modest in numbers, it is the only ride-share option available to commuters other than the bus and personal vehicles.

As for fuel efficiency, it is a win-win situation. Instead of seven cars using fuel, the vanpoolers share the cost of the fuel. It reduces their individual fuel costs and pollution impact.

Incentives were developed to persuade drivers to get out of their cars, such as using the vans to do personal business outside commute hours. This answered the often-voiced argument that "I couldn't possibly ride-share because I have so many things to do before or after my commute." So you indeed may see Vanpool vehicles at banks or grocery stores.

Vanpool Hawaii is financed by the state Highway Fund, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and user fees. The state portion of the funding is less than 10 percent of the total.

Many commuters have chosen ride-sharing as a solution to Hawaii's traffic problems. For more information about Vanpooling, call us at 596-VANS.

Vicki K. Harris
Executive Director
Vanpool Hawaii

Vendors, lottery would ease airport wait times

On my last frustrating inter- island flight, as I waited on the security checkpoint line that went outside the terminal and down the sidewalk, I got to thinking how nice it would be for someone to come along with glasses of wine or coffee. Maybe a strolling vendor, like at baseball games. It would certainly decrease the stress, and the time might go more quickly.

After a few days of thought, I came up with the idea of having a lottery. Airlines could charge 50 cents per ticket, and they could have random drawings for winners at the security checkpoints. People might want to fly again, with the extra incentive.

I know I have heard far crazier ideas come out of our state legislators for how to help the economy in Hawaii. A lottery would certainly make my 45-minute wait more palatable.

Andy Collins

Attack on Iraq might open Pandora's box

I am deeply concerned that the Bush administration's plans to wage war in Iraq are unwise, unsafe and ill advised. Waging war in Iraq will open a Pandora's box of evils that will take generations to contain.

This risky plan sets a bad precedent of justifying pre-emptive invasion; we will be sorry when other nations follow our lead in other hot spots such as Taiwan or the Korean peninsula. Furthermore, how can we justify spending so much money on war material and bribes to nations such as Turkey in the face of massive state deficits in virtually every state in the nation? When we are cutting services to the needy, how can we in good conscience spend so much money to unseat the monster that we ourselves created -- yes, Saddam is our own Frankenstein.

At the very least, we should not allow the Bush administration to continue with this madness unless the rest of the world joins us. Unilateral invasion of Iraq will lead to disaster. We must proceed only with the strength of the United Nations, but the best option would be simply not to wage war.

Paul Barrett

Anti-war pact helps improve life in Hawaii

"Honolulu Lite" columnist Charles Memminger is right: Not enough is being done to help the Ala Moana Park homeless (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 24). He further says that lawmakers should work on local issues such as homelessness rather than pass resolutions against the possible war in Iraq. Well, the legislators I voted for can multitask and do both.

Since last September, 64 U.S. cities have passed similar resolutions, which realize that while war may be profitable for the military-industrial complex and oil companies, it will harm city and state economies. War would hurt Hawaii's economy, jobs and increase the Ala Moana Park homeless population.

Following a U.S. attack on Iraq, terrorists would be more likely to cross our unprotected shores, bringing the same kind of hell that has existed between the Israelis and Palestinians since the late 1940s. How many tourists will we see than?

So, if you look closely you'll see our lawmakers are working to improve the quality of life for Hawaii's residents.

Smoky Guerrero

How to write us

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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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

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