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Sunday, August 17, 2003




Rescind law allowing Segways on sidewalks

Since people don't seem to want to pay $5,000 for a toy they have to ride standing up and that has a maximum range of 17 miles before needing a recharge, entrepreneurs have decided to rent them in Waikiki ("Segway fleet to cruise Waikiki," Star Bulletin, Aug.12).

Honolulu's sidewalks are already congested with pedestrians, joggers, disabled persons using assistance devices, baby strollers, dog walkers and their dogs, children at play or just walking, bicycles, roller bladers and scooters, legal and otherwise. Our sidewalks are also cluttered with street furniture, such as electrical boxes, mail boxes and telephone booths, that impede pedestrian traffic. In many places you cannot walk two abreast.

Most pedestrians walk under three miles per hour. The Segway operates at 8.5 mph, creating a danger for pedestrians. While the City Council has banned some types of vehicles from sidewalks to make them safer for pedestrians, the ill advised State Legislature and Governor Lingle legalized the Segway's use on sidewalks.

We must now work to rescind this law.

Lynne Matusow
Honolulu

Lawyers in Legislature shouldn't practice

As Friday's editorial ("Make attorneys expose white-collar crimes") says, attorneys have finally decided they are like other citizens and have a duty to report crimes.

Everyone should notice also that attorneys are sworn officers of the judicial branch of government. If our form of government is based on separation and balance of powers among the branches, maybe it makes sense that attorneys, as sworn officers of the court, should not be sitting in the Legislature, making laws, unless they have gone on inactive status during their term.

Sure, it's helpful to have the attorneys' expertise in writing laws, but the Legislature can employ attorneys to make sure laws are in proper form. Why do we willingly permit so many attorneys to be the ones making laws that they will then go out and get paid to interpret for the rest of us?

One wag has said that Hawaii does have a two-party system -- attorneys and the insurance lobby. Perhaps if attorneys were not writing the laws, their natural professional bias would be out of the loop, and we would have fewer laws, clearly written and actually enforceable. Maybe then the average citizen would be able to understand his government and (gasp) get interested in voting?

Boyd Ready
Haleiwa

Nosy people don't need to see Jones' contract

What purpose will it serve to have University of Hawaii football coach June Jones' contract made public? Who will benefit from the disclosure? Coach Jones' scale of pay is due to individuals in the private sector anteing up and making it happen. This fact has been disclosed over and over again.

It seems to me that certain individuals' curiosity levels have taken over their sensibility levels. Are they worried that these people from the private sector will be granted "bennies" that they wouldn't otherwise be privy to? So what?

Being nosy about how someone makes a living is none of their business unless it becomes a matter of national security, which this situation most certainly is not.

Get a life and leave Coach Jones and his benefactors alone. We've got an excellent coach who runs a clean ship and who cares for this state and the athletes who play for him. Would the nosy people rather have a situation where we have no coach or lose a great coach because we can't pay him what he deserves?

If they have a gripe against his income then perhaps they should have all gone into sports and become the head coach at the University of Hawaii instead of what they are doing at present, which is making mountains of molehills.

Gerald Sylvester
Wailuku, Maui

Display of fetuses turns off everyone

As an anti-abortion advocate, I am concerned that my message is getting lost and my cause undermined by the very people who should be supporting me.

Having a graphic and offensive van displaying photos of aborted fetuses driving around downtown everyday is not only frightening and disturbing to young children as well as adults, but it is also hurting the cause by infuriating those who come into contact with it.

It is painfully frustrating having extremist factions who use shock methods rather than get their message across rationally and compassionately. I hope these extremists realize that the methods they employ are not effective and, as recent public backlash has shown, are working against them as well. They are not representative or appreciated by the majority of anti-abortion groups.

Tatiana Parent
Honolulu

Let Gabbard crusade on his own time

I hope that when Hawaii's ambassador of hate -- City Councilman Mike Gabbard -- starts collecting signatures for a petition for an unnecessary amendment to our constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage ("Gabbard starts marriage petition," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 11), he is doing it on his own time and not on the taxpayers'.

Pat Meyers
Kailua

Ban on replica guns doesn't protect public

I am amazed at the efficiency of our city to pass an ordinance to ban replica guns. The ordinance came about only after a handful of incidences. Why does the city not work with that kind efficiency on bigger problems?

I have just read about the three men who were arrested because they had replica guns ("Fake guns bring about 3 arrests at gunpoint," Star-Bulletin, Aug. 14). How does the ordinance protect the public? Many of the incidences cited as a reason for the law involved the airsoft guns.

Instead, the short-sighted fix to a minor problem stifles firearms safety and historic education. Now historical re-enactments cannot include replica weapons.

If people want to engage in terroristic threatening or similar activities, they will do it whether or not there is a law.

Ryan Yamashiro
Honolulu

Democrats distort Bush's words

A Democrat from 1969 until 2000 and no fan of either Bush I or II, my disillusionment with the Clinton presidency finally pushed me out of the tent. And it just gets worse. Recently, the Democratic National Committee ran a TV ad in some mainland markets that accused President Bush of lying in his State of the Union speech.

The ad said: "In his State of the Union address, President Bush told us of an imminent threat. (Fade to Bush on video: 'Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.') But now we find that it wasn't true. Far worse, the administration knew it wasn't true."

But oops! Bush actually said: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." So what was untrue about Bush's statement? (The Brits still stand by their claim.) Absolutely nothing. So why was the president's statement truncated for the DNC attack ad? It appears that they wanted to manufacture some "facts" on the basis of which they could call Bush a liar.

The DNC thinks its audience is too dumb or lazy to check the facts. Not only does this insult us as citizens, but it reveals the DNC as the liars they would purport to loathe.

Mike Rethman
Kaneohe

Senior citizens need fair bus fares

I write for the senior citizens who use TheBus and often ride for only two or three stops. They are not handicapped, but as one gets older, it becomes hard to walk a long distance.

If the city intends to charge these people 25 cents a trip, this means 50 cents round trip, $3.50 a week, $14 a month and $168 a year for one trip a day. Is it fair to raise the current $25 for a two-year pass to $336 for the same period?

I know many senior citizens who do volunteer work and use the bus to get to their destinations. I think the city would lose many of these volunteers if they were forced to pay more in fares. We know from past experience that the 25-cent fare will probably go up again.

All of us will get older. We must show extra consideration for our elders.

Faith A. Scheideman
Waikiki

Bus operators don't decide fare hikes

This is in response to Bruce Wong ("City shouldn't submit to extortion by union," Letters, Aug. 15).

I am a member of Teamsters Local 996 and I am a bus operator. Many of us feel that a strike will hurt all involved. Most of the operators I know do not feel that a pay increase is an issue, but benefits are. I think our pay is fair even though we often deal with people who are disrespectful, rude and downright nasty. We cope with that in a professional manner.

Sure, the economy is bad, but it has been bad since the Gulf War. Our city officials should have made appropriate decisions to cope with revenue decreases. It is the Department of Transportation Services that makes recommendations to increase or decrease services, not bus operators.

Other unions have given up pay raises to help their companies get back on track financially, but do you know of any instance in which these companies restored pay to employees when things got better?

Kalani Kidder
Waianae

Bus ads need not lead to billboards

When I introduced a bill to allow advertising on the exterior of city buses, I did it to begin thoughtful discussion on a way to raise new revenues to support our public transportation system. With the number of buses the city has in operation, advertising could be a substantial source of money.

Exterior bus advertising is used by almost all cities with public transportation systems, generating much-needed revenue. Based on the number of buses that operate in cities of similar size to Honolulu, such as Milwaukee and St. Louis, revenue ranges from annual minimum guarantees of $800,000 to $1 million.

Another source with great potential is internal bus advertising, which now generates $121,000 annually. Should Oahu Transit Services, which runs TheBus, outsource this function to an advertising firm, revenues could significantly increase.

The Outdoor Circle is opposed to advertising on buses as it believes that this could open the door for billboard advertising. I strongly oppose billboard advertising and my bill was written to allow the Department of Transportation Services to set stringent restrictions on ad size and content.

Today, you will not find a billboard in Maine, Alaska and Vermont, but these states have allowed advertising on buses. Further, exterior advertising is already a practice in Hawaii as evidenced on commercial buses, large trucks and vans.

I invite the city administration, which is also against this concept, and all other opponents of exterior advertising to offer any ideas to raise revenues to avoid service cuts and further fare increases. Bus riders who are on limited or fixed incomes will be affected if we continue to increase fares.

We cannot continue to rely on the traditional method of raising fares to raise revenues as the only solution. Sometimes the current needs and demands of society force us to look at new ideas to meet those demands.

Donovan M. Dela Cruz
Honolulu City Councilman

Don't let religion impede understanding

References to God sound fine until we ask, "Whose god are we talking about?" The Hebrew god who tested Abraham's willingness to kill his young son in order to prove his devotion? Or the god who commanded his people not to eat shrimp, lobster and laulau? Are we referring to the Tao or perhaps to the god of Mohammed or the god of Zarathustra about whom we know so little?

In a multicultural society, many religions invoking the name of god to support their unique agendas can be divisive and destructive -- as well as meaningless. We might be better advised to give "God" and religion a rest and instead think in terms of what was generally accepted in the past vs. the kind of society we would like to have in the future.

Infanticide, human sacrifice and capital punishment were once accepted in Hawaii. Today they are not. So it goes. Perhaps the voice of the people is, after all, the "voice of God." Homosexuality, a fact of life, was generally accepted in ancient Greece and Rome, Tokagawa Japan and "O Whyhee" before the arrival of missionaries with agendas that also included the acquisition of land and wealth, as well as elimination of the Hawaiian language and culture.

Whether gay people are again embraced in the land of aloha may depend more on how people come to feel, personally and individually, about their gay cousins, uncles and aunties than on ideological concerns. Thankfully, movement appears to be in the direction of greater understanding and acceptance.

Tom Dolan
Honolulu

America isn't exempt from divine judgment

My thanks to those who responded to my letter of July 16 ("God wasn't kidding about homosexuality"). Unfortunately, the key point of the letter was omitted, that: "...homosexuality will become the norm in America. If so, will America be around to celebrate its tricentennial? Wake up, America!"

So the basic issue is our national survival. Consider the evidence: God wiped out:

1. In 2,100 B.C., Sodom and Gomorrah for their blatant, flagrant homosexuality;
2. In 722 B.C., the northern Kingdom of Israel for being just as evil and corrupt as the Canaanites;
3. In 586 B.C., the southern Kingdom of Judah for the same reason (but allowed a remnant to survive, through whom the Christ eventually came as prophesied).

So if God did not spare his own chosen people, what makes America think we're exempt from God's judgment?

Henry Uehara
Honolulu

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