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Sunday, July 27, 2003




Wie could benefit from competing at home

With all the rush to get Michelle Wie to the top of the golf world, I think a greater challenge has been overlooked. At this early stage, it would be more of an accomplishment if she would try to capture all the major tournaments in Hawaii.

This could be the first and only chance to see this happen by one so young and talented. It also could be a gradual building-up program for a couple of years as Wie matures. Winning often builds confidence, which would prepare Wie for the tough mainland tours.

To create the kind of interest the younger ones need to deter them from bad influences, each island should sponsor exhibitions with Wie joining some of the top junior golfers for a fun day. Call it "Michelle Wie Day."

We should not miss a chance like this -- once in a lifetime.

Yasu Nakamatsu
Kapaa, Kauai

Lingle's right, they did vote politically

Regarding the article "Lingle blasts Dems over veto overrides," Star-Bulletin, July 15: "Clearly political?" I think so, too. If all the Republicans and all the Democrats voted for SB 255 before the governor's veto and all the Republicans voted against the override, that's definitely political. The Republicans are standing by their governor and abandoning their former position in favor of a good bill.

SB 255 would limit the ability of fake (gentlemen) farmers to infringe on the rights of real farmers. Governor Lingle's veto would uphold the rights of the fake farmers. When a bipartisan vote favored real farmers and, after Lingle's veto, the Republicans favored the fake farmers, I think it is political, too.

Because the override was successful, the Republicans are prevented, this time, from promoting mansions masquerading as farms.

Steve Tearney
Honolulu

Islanders should work to keep Hawaii traits

My wife and I have just spent three weeks in your glorious island on vacation. I must thank you all for making it such a fantastic experience. You are the face of what America should be.

On our landing in San Francisco and flying back to the United Kingdom, we experienced mainland Americans, and that was an unpleasant experience. So please remain as you are. Look after your culture, and teach all your children your language and culture so that they will remain with you forever. The children in Welsh and Scottish schools are being taught their languages so that they will never disappear.

Finally, can you tell the people at Pearl Harbor that World War II started in Poland in August 1939 and in Britain on Sept. 3, 1939, not in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941? But without America the war probably still would be going on and the world would be not as it is now.

Mahalo, Hawaii, for the best vacation ever.

Peter Brown
Chesham, England

Judge trivialized illegal contributions

Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto made particularly insulting comments in the recent money-laundering sentencing of Honolulu engineer Michael Matsumoto, when he said, "Mr. Matsumoto engaged in a common pattern and practice that has existed for several years and has been through several generations of campaigns" ("Harris donor gets fined for illegal gifts," Star-Bulletin, July 16).

This is a slap in the face to the many hard-working engineers in Honolulu who chose not to participate in these illegal activities. They are not a "common pattern and practice" of the majority of honest engineers trying to make Hawaii a better place.

Where did the money for these substantial political contributions come from? The cost most likely did not come out of these firms' profits. It is more probable that contract costs were inflated or work product reduced to cover the cost.

Ultimately the cost of the illegal contributions is passed on to and borne by the taxpayers. These were not just illegal contributions but "theft by deception" if the cost of the political contributions was built back into these nonbid contracts.

The judge's statements diminish the professional contributions and successes of the law-abiding members of Hawaii's engineering community. Our firm recently was named one of the best engineering firms to work for in the country. We also have volunteered countless hours to the state's Civil Defense Urban Search & Rescue Task Force. Many other engineering firms in Hawaii share our successes and dedication.

Steven M. Baldridge
Baldridge & Associates Structural Engineering, Inc.

Foundation should set budget priorities

Associated Press reporter Mary Vorsino did an excellent job in her July 11 article regarding the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. I'd like the foundation to reassess its priorities for the next two years in its entire budget, not just the sum allocated to buy surplus art.

The purchase-of-art program is just a portion of the foundation's expenditures. It has about $4 million in its special fund and will receive about $5 million in the next two years in capital-improvement money. It seems unreasonable to buy art that could be hung in libraries when we could not purchase books for the library shelves.

Millions more from the general fund is spent on other culture and arts programs. The foundation should assume those costs and responsibilities. We can free up general fund expenditures for human services and other basic necessities.

Sen. Fred Hemmings
R, Lanikai-Waimanalo

Don't undermine landmark art program

Sen. Fred Hemmings' proposal to use art funds to buy books is short-sighted and ill-advised. Hawaii's landmark public art program was the first in the nation and has inspired other states to follow our lead.

"Should we have art or books?" is the wrong question. A better question might be "How can we raise the money to pay for both?" One possibility is a carnival with amusements such as "Dunk the Legislator." Folks would line up for miles, and coffers would overflow with donations for the purchase of books.

Tom Dolan
Honolulu

Isle lawyers' group fights for civil justice

Thank you to Heidi Chang for reporting on the important message presented by Dale Minami's inspiring talk at the Consumer Lawyers of Hawaii's "Celebration of Justice" dinner ("Patriot Act reawakens memories of internment," This Sunday, Star-Bulletin, July 20).

As outgoing president, I would like to remind your readers that Consumer Lawyers of Hawaii work hard to strengthen Hawaii's civil justice system. We represent, often on a pro bono basis, the victims in our society who are injured in accidents or who suffer oppression from powerful forces. Those powerful political figures who seek to weaken our civil rights also seek to deny access of the average American to our legal system by capping recovery for general damages, weakening our contingency fee system, eliminating punitive damages and giving certain industries outright immunity from lawsuits.

Hawaii's consumer lawyers will always be in the forefront fighting to strengthen our civil rights and our civil justice system. We sincerely thank Hawaii's courageous Japanese Americans who fought so hard to defend America during World War II despite the injustices visited upon their compatriots on the West Coast.

Richard Turbin
Past president Consumer Lawyers of Hawaii

Family Day festivities didn't discriminate

Some points about the Hawaii Christian Coalition Family Day Kids' Parade and the City's Family Day celebration:

>> Most Honolulu families would probably agree that a group whose identity comes from its sexual activity should not be in a parade for and featuring children.

>> The Hawaii Christian Coalition was one of many community groups involved in putting on the city's Family Day celebration at Kapiolani Park, and a gay and lesbian group had a booth at that celebration.

>> Christian singers had every right to perform alongside secular musicians at the Family Day celebration. To silence their speech just because it is faith-based would be "viewpoint discrimination" and turn Christians into second-class citizens.

J. M. Smith

Anti-gay side uses selective Scripture

It amazes me how Bible thumpers love to pick and choose the parts they think best support their agenda and forget about the parts that don't. Henry Uehara (Letters, July 16), in spouting off about homosexuality being a sin punishable by death in the Book of Leviticus, failed to mention sins equally as offensive.

Leviticus also forbids the eating of anything that lives in the waters that has no fins or scales, so those of us who have ever had a shrimp, clam, lobster or opihi are doomed to damnation.

Lau lau? Fuhgetaboutit. It's an abomination to eat anything with a cloven foot. How about not wearing clothes made of two different materials. So much for shopping at Hilo Hattie's. Like your steak a bit on the rare side? -- whoops, off to hell for that one, too.

It is ironic that Uehara concludes with a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. The astute Bible reader may recall that Lot, the "hero" of the story, was about to throw his two virginal daughters to a gang of rapists to save his own hide when a couple of angels intervened. It's a good thing, too, for if his daughters had been defiled they would not have been able to get their father drunk and seduce him, nor bear his sons, who would go on to tell the tale and make possible the lineage leading to the Messiah.

Roland L. Halpern
Social Justice Council
First Unitarian Church

Mahalo for restoring H-3 tunnels' name

Orchids to all those who helped restore former Department of Transportation Highways Chief Tetsuo Harano's name to the H-3 tunnels! Mahalo to Governor Lingle, who officially renamed the tunnels. Kudos to Yoshie Tanabe, who mobilized the lobbying forces. A thank you to the Gov. John Burns family, who graciously acquiesced to the name change.

Finally, a big bouquet with aloha for Star-Bulletin writer June Watanabe, whose Kokua Line column brought the surreptitious removal of Tets' name to the public's attention.

Rep. Barbara Marumoto
R, Kalani Valley-Diamond Head

The American dream is still worth pursuing

I was struck by the patriotism residents and merchants displayed on the Fourth of July. It made me think about my hopes for the United States in these troubled and troubling times.

I hope America will truly become that beacon of liberty and equality so proclaimed in our national songs and Independence Day speeches. For generations America has attracted millions to its shores. Today there is much anti-immigrant feeling, due in part to economic worries and fear of terrorism, and our Bill of Rights is threatened. We must not let fear take away our vital legacy of rights and freedoms.

I also want America to retain its natural resources and lovely environment. We must preserve and safeguard our lakes and rivers, our air, our forests and mountains, our seashores, and our great plains and farmlands.

I hope we will not put a huge tax burden on our grandchildren by driving up the national deficit. So many of us sacrifice for our kids. It seems strange that our government seems to have the opposite philosophy -- spend now and let future generations pay the debt and its monumental interest charges.

I pray for peace and for America to become one of the most loved nations again, not one of the most feared. Let's spend resources to bring people together, to provide genuine foreign assistance to peoples, to fund student exchange programs and to send our young people abroad as volunteers, not as soldiers placed in jeopardy by questionable policies.

John Witeck

Fine adults for buying cigarettes for children

There should be a law against adults purchasing cigarettes for minors. It's already illegal for adults to purchase or provide alcohol for minors. An adult is held liable for any injury to the minor or minor's victim while the minor is driving under the influence. So why isn't there a law for cigarettes? Cigarettes are just as deadly as alcohol, they just take longer to kill.

The law against adults purchasing alcohol for minors states that an adult who allows a minor to consume alcohol on his or her property is liable. The parent of a minor who smokes should be held accountable for allowing his or her child to endanger his or her health.

Fines collected against the adults who violate this law could be used in a campaign to educate and prevent teenage smoking. It is our responsibility as adults and parents to look out for our children.

Eva Mendoza
Hawaii Business College

Ice is the 'bathtub gin' of modern times

During the 1960s I worked in a Navy shipyard, and several of my co-workers used amphetamines known as "whites" or "mini-bennies." When these products were made illegal, "ice," or crystal methamphetamine, was born.

Today's ice labs are similar to the illegal distilleries of the era known as the "noble experiment." During the alcohol Prohibition era, thousands died and thousands went blind or were crippled from what was then known as "bathtub gin."

Like the ice of today, bathtub gin was made easily from household and industrial products. Like the ice of today, the gin was a product created by a prohibition. Like the ice of today, alcohol could be produced just about anywhere. Like the ice of today, Prohibition-era alcohol was of unknown quality, potency and purity.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, almost all of the bathtub gin producers went out of business for economic reasons and the U.S. murder rate declined for 10 consecutive years. Have we learned any lessons? Not yet.

Kirk Muse
Mesa, Ariz.
Frequent Hawaii visitor

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