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Monday, March 10, 2003

Library budget debate

City puts its faulty thinking on parade

Thank you for running the story on the St. Patrick's Day Parade ("New city rules crimp St. Patrick's parade," Star-Bulletin, March 6).

"May the mayor and his minions be in heaven for five minutes before the devil finds out they're dead" (Old Irish Joke). This is one of the dumbest political moves by a city government in recent memory. There are many ethnic marchers beyond Irish Americans, and Hawaii is full of chop suey Irish. This is a fun community day that certainly makes up for it's paltry police cost. Consider the bar tabs and restaurant checks that add to the economy and the holiday paraphernalia that rings cash registers.

Tom Daley >

Medicare plan is what the doctor ordered

After the empty talk in Washington about fixing important entitlement programs, something refreshing happened this week: The president delivered a remarkably sensible blueprint for fixing Medicare and dramatically improving the quality of health care for all seniors.

Choice is an important element of this proposal. Seniors would be given the same kinds of choices available to members of Congress, with traditional Medicare still an option, and they wouldn't be forced into HMOs. Also included is long overdue relief for runaway prescription drug costs, with a new discount card and an additional subsidy for poor seniors.

The partisan bickering in Washington over Medicare has gone on for too long, and it's time for Congress to come through for seniors this year.

The president's plan, with its emphasis on giving Medicare the funding it needs and providing better benefits, seems like an excellent starting point.

Dirk Maurins

United States doesn't need U.N. approval

The United Nations has been irrelevant since its inception. It has been a toothless tiger and now is a headless one as well. The leadership of the U.N. refuses to confront Saddam Hussein over his continued blatant disregard for previous U.N. resolutions.

The United States is a sovereign nation, perfectly within its rights to defend its borders and citizens. It does not need the approval of the United Nations, Germany, Russia, and particularly France, a country the United States has pulled out of the frying pan three times -- World Wars I and II and Vietnam. Anyone who thinks we must have U.N. approval and acceptance has fallen prey to the "one world government" way of thinking. This avenue is more dangerous to the rights and freedoms of individuals than what our president is striving to prevent.

The U.N. is propped up by big money, focused on creating one world government and economy. This is apparent in the alliance of France and Germany to block the United States from getting resolutions passed. The U.N. will pass into history as an elaborate debating society and the United States will continue to defend itself from thugs like Hussein and Osama bin Laden by proclaiming and defending our sovereignty and rights in the world.

James Roller

Democrats must speak out against Iraqi war

Where is a unified Democratic Party to fight this clear war for oil by President Bush? Where is the focused effort to derail this administration's plan? How are the Democrats helping the American public to understand that gas-guzzling fuels terrorism and that our greedy consumerism is the basis of this war? Where is the Democratic leadership to avert the hegemony of the Bush administration?

Automakers must be regulated to create cars with better gas mileage and to build cars fueled by substances other than oil. Research and funding must be given to qualified companies trying to find alternative energy sources. This would decrease our dependence on foreign oil and could give our economy a much-needed boost with new investment and employment opportunities.

I lived in Oman during the Gulf War, in Nairobi when the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed, and I was vacationing in Jordan when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait. I am much more terrified living in the United States right now than I ever was in those countries. It is a terrifying time to be an American.

Susan Salm

Bush delivers mixed message on Iraq

It seems that everyone is out of step on Iraq but President Bush. Next he will have us doing the goosestep. Bush is telling us, on the one hand, that Saddam Hussein is such a serious threat to us; and, on the other hand, that the war will be over in a month. War seems easy to those who never served or suffered it.

Nancy Bey Little


The great debate
over state library budget

Beleaguered librarian is just stating the facts

Last week State Librarian Virginia Lowell was derided by Governor Lingle with a couple of ad hominum statements attacking her person which struck a very sour note. Lowell was apparently called unprofessional and selfish.

The governor should know that Lowell is a dedicated public servant, a true professional who does nothing as state librarian for "her (own) convenience." I am offended that the governor would even hint otherwise.

Lowell was simply stating a fact -- the last 15 years have seen cut after cut in the library system. Hard choices have had to be made. The fact that the weekends and evenings were the first cuts in service reflects in our children's testing scores.

The only way to serve ALL patrons of the library is to simply hire more librarians and technicians. Lowell was not kidding; the library system has taken hit after hit in the budget process, and she has worked tirelessly to maintain what service we have now.

Like teachers, librarians are expensive to educate (they must have master's degrees in library science) and are underpaid. We have a perfectly fine graduate school of library science at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and can home-grow all the librarians we need. Let's give them jobs and re-open our libraries so our children can have the benefits of having the world at their fingertips in a much more meaningful way than the Internet or television.

Forty years ago the libraries on Oahu provided me with quiet and peace, a sanctuary from peer and family pressure -- and books! What pictures! Magazines, newspapers from the mainland, maps and cartoon books. I almost felt like a grown-up on those Saturdays and Sundays, and I read at whatever level I wished.

Let's give our children and teenagers that same opportunity to grow their own way. Attacking Lowell is not the way to accomplish this and is sinister. I am afraid the governor, fresh from a Republican stroking in Washington, seems to think tough is beautiful. Just find us more money and we will love you forever, but stay off Virginia Lowell's back.

Mike Maddux
Kapaau, Hawaii

Librarian needs to live within the budget

It seems that our state librarian, Virginia Lowell, defines "professionalism" as 1) increasing the library budget or at least resisting any cuts, and 2) working as a sole practitioner rather than as part of the Hawaii community. How else to explain her earlier actions at Kapolei and her current preference for reducing library hours and eliminating bookmobiles when faced with a 2.5 percent cut in her $22 million budget? In her own words, "The real solution here is to put pressure on the lawmakers to adequately fund the library system."

It would seem that either she, or the Board of Education to whom she reports, does not understand that although it is relatively easy for a competent manager to do well with a generous budget, the true test of professional skills and good will is doing well with a more restricted budget. Lowell's contract expires in June. Let us hope that before then she drops the drum beat of "give me more money" and begins demonstrating the professionalism, flexibility and aloha that are necessary to do a good job within Hawaii's budget.

If she does not, and the Board of Education renews her contract, then we must examine the role the BOE plays in all this. Carol Gabbard, the BOE board member who is chairwoman of the Library Committee, has said that when Lowell's job performance is evaluated, it "won't be in light of the current criticism." Oh? That sounds very much like Lowell's own approach to the library. It's not the wishes of the library patrons or the taxpayers for that matter!

The state library is crucial to all the people of Hawaii. It belongs to them -- to library users and taxpayers alike -- not to the state librarian.

Kathy Macdonald

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