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Sunday, August 10, 2003





Seniors give plenty, so give them a break

Raising the bus fare is one thing. Raising the bus fare for seniors is outrageous! Many senior citizens, including my mother on Oahu, are on fixed incomes and can't afford this fare increase. When will Hawaii (and the world) understand that seniors are special people requiring special treatment?

It's bad enough that they have to pay anything at all for riding TheBus, much less have to pay more so they feel more pressure. Raise the rent, raise the taxes, raise the food prices, raise insurance, raise medical care, raise the bus fare, raise everything! How much more can our seniors take?

Hawaii's seniors raised and provided for their children while working for peanuts. Now, in their later years, they volunteer at Hawaii's hospitals and care centers. They volunteer as school crossing guards so children can get home safely. They volunteer as mentors and teachers' aides. What more could you ask of these citizens?

Please find another solution and give our senior citizens a break on this. Above all others, they deserve it.

Curtis Yim
La Palma, Calif.
Former Hawaii resident

Harris spent bus funds on street projects

If you ride the bus, you need to know one thing about the rate hikes -- they are unnecessary. Mayor Harris wasted millions of dollars on unneeded roadwork and construction projects instead of paying for decent bus service. It's because of him that you are facing increased costs and reduced bus service.

The unneeded projects are continuing even now. Go the corner or Dominis and Makiki streets. The city's contractor just ripped up handicapped curb cuts that were less than a year old. New ones are being put in right now. It's taken three to seven guys two weeks and they aren't half done yet.

Go to the corner of Heulu and Keeaumoku streets, where a cumbersome "traffic-calming device" makes the intersection more congested and confusing. This thing cost $180,000 of your tax money. How many bus passes could you buy with $180,000? Harris misspent the money for your bus service because he thinks you won't say anything. You can let him know what you think by writing to him at Honolulu Hale.

Even better, jot down the name of contractors on government projects that you think are overpriced or unnecessary, and give them to the Campaign Spending Commission. It's time to talk openly about the corruption here. It's our city. Let's take it back.

Amy Arkoff
Honolulu

Nurses and bus drivers should count blessings

It saddens me to see nurses at Wahiawa General Hospital on strike for more than a month. Now we are on the verge of our bus drivers going on strike. It saddens me even more to hear them say, "We don't want to strike, but we have to." How selfish and spoiled can people get?

I recently went to Thailand and saw how many people work in impossible conditions and make little money. In Thailand they don't have retirement benefits, or medical or dental insurance. They just work and get paid. The nurses at Wahiawa General Hospital and the Honolulu bus drivers should be thankful they have jobs.

Alan Kim
Aiea

Moviegoers inspired by 'Whale rider'

I want to say a big "mahalo" to Consolidated Theatres and City Councilman Mike Gabbard for organizing a free showing of the movie "Whale Rider" for more than 400 people. It appears that most of the attendees were clients of various drug-treatment centers around the island, and I'll bet they really benefited by seeing this heart-warming and inspiring movie.

Consolidated Theatres truly cares about the community and should be commended for this wonderful gesture. Gabbard also should be praised for coming up with this great idea.

Mike Hinchey
Kailua

State should raise general excise tax

Mark Coleman's interview with Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, was interesting and informative ("First Sunday Conversation," Star-Bulletin Insight section, Aug. 3). I especially liked Kalapa's description of the general excise tax as the "beautiful beast" that provides about half of our general fund tax collections.

Considering our state's budget crisis, I think it's time to raise the 4 percent general excise tax rate. We need the revenue, and visitors as well as residents in our state would share the burden.

Most businesses would simply pass the tax on to their customers as though it were a sales tax. Low-income residents could receive a tax credit to offset the increased amount of taxes they paid.

Every time I travel to Los Angeles and pay their 8.25 percent sales tax, it makes sense to me to raise our 4 percent general excise tax.

David K.H. Chang
Aiea

Schwarzenegger only adds to recall silliness

Can anyone doubt that California's "Recall Gray Davis" election is headed for historic silliness? The only surprise is that no one has yet begun a "Draft Kobe Bryant" campaign.

The best line of the young campaign has to have come from Arnold "Kindergarten Cop" Schwarzenegger himself, who in one breath declared, "The biggest problem we have is California is being run by special interests," and in the next promised to make the state "more friendly to business." Who does he think the special interests are?

Richard Weigel
Aiea

Public should thank Higa and Watada

The residents of Hawaii owe an expression of thanks to two of our public servants and to their staffs. I refer to state auditor Marion Higa and Robert Watada, who heads the Campaign Spending Commission.

Both of these people could be called whistleblowers, though I find that term a little repulsive. But they have tenaciously carried out their duties successfully while being subjected to enormous pressure to shut up and keep quiet.

As they are human, I suppose it is possible they have erred from time to time. The fact that they do uncover and report numerous situations which are either illegal or evidence of poor management and that they report these to the public is a great service to us all.

All too often, people doing this type of work become the victims of retribution. As a note of caution to our esteemed Governor Lingle: Please leave the auditor alone so that she can continue to do her work. It is clearly an important and useful job.

From this quarter I can only say, "Good job! And three cheers."

James V. Pollock
Kaneohe

Don't blame little guy for water shortages

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what's all the huhu about "Mrs. Matsumoto" washing her car, or "Kimo" watering his orchids, when each golf course on Oahu uses a million gallons of water a day? Is this a case of phony statistics? I have the feeling that it's not citizens who are responsible for depleting water resources down to the salt level.

Waimea Williams
Kaneohe

Golf courses use too much precious water

I agree with your editorial ("Wise water use should be a habit," Aug. 7) that water conservation should be a habit for all.

In addition, the state and county governments and their people should realize another dire consequence of water tables being drawn down and aquifers depleted.

The lush tropical vegetation of these islands reaches its roots into the ground for essential water. This is how our forests survive droughts. In addition, our endangered offshore coral reefs depend upon the nutrient-rich, fresh-water outflows from the land for their health.

It is essential for life on these islands that we restore and maintain the water-table levels.

The most irresponsible and outrageous users of water are golf courses, especially those being constructed in the dry, leeward areas of each island. Each of these dry-land, 18-hole courses uses an average of 2 million gallons of water per day.

As Hawaii's population grows and average annual rainfall continues to decrease, it is inevitable that these water-use monsters must one day be shut down. We might as well develop the political will to do it now, rather than allow billions of gallons of water to be wasted until the time such golf courses become economically unfeasible and practically intolerable.

Charles Flaherty
Captain Cook, Hawaii

Gov's spin won't solve many Hawaii problems

I enjoyed Richard Borreca's article about our governor and her spin doctors ("Lingle masters the art of controlling the message," Aug. 4). I am getting more and more peeved about the lack of substance to anything that comes out of her office. There tends to be lots of fluff but not much substance to anything she's doing.

There are some really tough problems facing this state, such as crime, drugs and lack of social services for our youth, just to name a few. These problems are being solved by this administration by having "town meetings," none of which are in the districts that are suffering from these problems.

If Lingle wants to see the real stuff, she should come to Kalihi, where her veto cut money for programs for teens. She should come out to the Waianae Coast and witness first-hand the devastation that is caused by poor economics, drugs and despair. She should come to Kapolei and see the future for this side of the island when traffic, unrestrained growth and population shifts create myriad social problems that will dog the Second City.

I hope her politics of spin doctoring actually at some point will turn into hard work at something other than getting re-elected and foisting a weakly disguised conservative agenda on the people of Hawaii.

Dave Endo

Native groups don't address own problems

I wish Hui Malama O Makua, DMZ Hawaii, Aloha Aina and all the other Hawaiian groups protesting the Army using Makua valley would expend as much energy facing the problems of crime, property damage, littering, illiteracy and joblessness that face the Hawaiian community.

Look at what happened at Kalaeloa (Barber's Point), after it was returned to the state. If these groups could direct their energies at these problems, maybe some headway could be made toward solving some of them.

I personally am thankful for the U.S. military for its presence, dedication, sacrifices and the umbrella of security it provides for me and my family. I am not aware of a single instance of sacrifice or service that any of the aforementioned groups have ever provided to anyone.

Henry Kalani Holcombe
Mililani

School can't maneuver around Constitution

In a July 21 editorial, the Star-Bulletin correctly noted that Kamehameha Schools' current admissions policy is discriminatory and likely will be ruled unconstitutional when considered by an appropriate court. However, the editorial was incorrect in its suggestion and conclusion that the schools "would not violate civil rights laws" if its admission policy included a requirement of ancestry traceable back to either 1883, when the will establishing the schools was executed, or 1893, when the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown.

In addition to neither of these dates being mentioned in Princess Pauahi Bishop's will, it should be obvious that the transparent purpose of such a policy would be to allow the schools to continue discriminating based on race and/or national origin -- both of which are entitled to the same constitutional scrutiny.

Would the Star-Bulletin have offered the same advice if, for example, Harvard University attempted to restrict admissions to applicants that could trace their ancestry in the United States to 1776 (or some other arbitrary date), thereby excluding most minorities and, in effect, giving a "preference" to whites?

The time has come to cease judging people based on where they come from or the color of their skin. Machinations to prolong such policies, such as that proposed by the Star-Bulletin, have no place in our wonderfully multi-ethnic society, let alone in determining who receives educational opportunities, social services and housing in Hawaii.

Such practices were wrong when they were used by whites to exclude blacks, Asians and Hispanics. They are just as wrong when used by the state of Hawaii and institutions such as the Kamehameha Schools to exclude non-Hawaiians. The rest of the United States desegregated decades ago, it is time for Hawaii to follow suit.

David Rosen

Editor's note: David Rosen is an attorney representing the plaintiffs in Arakaki vs. Lingle, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of race-based Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands programs.

Hawaii's problems force people to leave

I have just read the article "Isles had migration net loss in '95-'00" (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 6) and was not surprised to see the compilation of people leaving the land of aloha in the 1990s. I left the islands in 1994 after being born and raised in Honolulu. This trend was inevitable during the decades of uncontrolled and poorly planned growth, wishy-washy political direction, overinflation and stale business climate.

I left Hawaii so that I might comfortably raise a family, buy a home, and enjoy financial and geographical freedom. No place is perfect, of course, and the mainland has its share of problems, but the quality of life in Hawaii easily can be overshadowed by its pitfalls. Headache-producing commutes, the high cost of living, the daily mad dash for parking stalls and nonuniform growth can make for a different perception of paradise.

We come back to visit occasionally because we do miss our friends, family, the beaches and plate lunches. However, when sitting in the airline seat to head back to the "big rock," our decision to move away is reaffirmed each and every time. We have no plans to return, even when we reach the retirement phase of our lives. Kinda sad, no? Aloha.

Tom Topolinski
Wellington, Fla.
Former Hawaii resident

Don't leap blindly into ice-abuse fixes

Thank you for advancing the agenda on the "ice" crisis in the state while clarifying the facts before us ("'Ice' usage overstated," Aug. 5).

Nothing is accomplished by belaboring the obvious beyond a certain point. I am certain that no malicious intent lay behind the releasing of the data mentioned in the story -- there simply are no timely, reliable data available.

While we need the data, the gravity of the situation does not afford us the luxury of time to complete the surveys. Clearly we have a problem -- now let's roll up our sleeves and try to deal with it.

The suggestions of increased police powers may in fact be good ones. However, I believe that to adopt these proposed measures without careful investigation of their successes elsewhere and without a clear understanding of their possible consequences sounds like another knee-jerk reaction to what appears to be a situation out of control.

As an example, I am certain that the merits of the "walk and talk" proposal are high, but what do we do if in the process arrests are made? We have no jail space, we have inmates scattered over the western half of the United States already -- where do we put the persons caught?

Random drug testing has been used as both a monitoring and an interdiction program in many places and, frankly, no one likes them. To impose this on Hawaii's school children at a time when the data from our own Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division show a reduction in ice use in the schools sends a mixed message.

We might better consider the programs in the schools that appear to have been responsible for those positive changes and put resources into them, rather than identifying again a number of persons for whom there are no treatment alternatives.

There should be no doubt that we must act -- we should have done so a decade ago! But we must do so with care and a serious concern for the rights and welfare of our citizens as well as a clear sense that money is tight and the consequences of inappropriate allocation of funds could be devastating for all.

I believe that we have the talent, the dedication and the skill to turn this around. But we need to spend much more time looking for fact-based solutions that work and less time debating the number of ice addicts that can dance on the head of a pin, or grasping at ready-made solutions from other areas that have not yet demonstrated their efficacy or their long-term effects on the communities.

D. William Wood
Professor
University of Hawaii-Manoa


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