to the Editor

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Sunday, August 31, 2003

Talk Story showed state officials do care

I attended a recent Governor's Talk Story in Mililani and was overwhelmed by the huge number of people who turned out that evening -- there must have been 300 people. With so many people wanting to ask a question and such a diversity of issues, I couldn't see how Governor Lingle could possibly address all of these concerns.

What really impressed me was the number of state directors who were there to address our community's concerns. The directors of Transportation, Human Services, Accounting and General Services, Human Resources, Agriculture, senior policy adviser and even the state's chief negotiator attended. The governor cared and the state directors cared enough to come to Mililani and were right there to answer many of our questions.

The governor stayed an extra half-hour longer to answer questions. Although I couldn't ask my question that night, I was assured by the governor's staff that my question will be answered. I was impressed with their responsiveness and professionalism.

Andy Scott

Governor, directors were open to everyone

I write in response to David Bohn's Aug. 20 letter, "Lingle meeting was orchestrated GOP rally." I attended the same Talk Story session at Farrington High School with the governor; however, instead of attacking I came out supporting. Supporting all who wanted to bring their issues or concerns to light that evening. Supporting all of the state department directors who were there to personally address any issues or questions anyone had. Supporting all who attended whether they were old, young, man, woman, Democrat or Republican. It didn't matter to me who you were, I supported you.

How did I support you? I volunteered my time, as well as my family's and friends' time, by cooking and providing the chili, rice, salad, juice and cookies you enjoyed that evening, again supported by personal, not state, money (I have receipts).

Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw the governor, lieutenant governor or state directors in your community open to comments, questions and feedback? So when you say it was "all at taxpayers' expense" and label it a "show," you offend your gracious, taxpaying host. You are welcome.

Malia Gray

Let's give UH players some added incentive

The problem is not that June Jones is making too much. The problem is that our athletes are not making enough (notice how in the NFL the stars make more than the coaches?)

We should pay our "athlete-students" (not to be confused with "student-athletes") so much per unit. That would encourage, say, a Timmy Chang to take more than six units and potentially make more than his coach.

Of course, the payments would have to be under the table, but it would prepare the students for a career in politics if they cannot make the NFL.

Ron Yoda

It cannot be true that seatbelt use is up

I am outraged and appalled at the recent reports that Hawaii has improved in its use of seatbelts. How can anyone deliver this message with a straight face? If you live in Hawaii, it is easy to see this is simply not true. How they fudged the numbers is a mystery, but the evidence is on the road. Each day I see numerous drivers and passengers without seatbelts.

Recently I pulled into the parking lot of the Kapiolani Medical Center and saw a small, four-door car pulling out with an adult driver, an adult passenger and a tiny baby on the front-seat passenger's lap. Of course no seatbelts, and in the back there were too many people to count, but none of them had a seatbelt and at least two were under 10 years old.

I see children crawling around inside cars and behaving as if they are on playgrounds. I see children standing on truck seats, leaning on the dashboards with their heads nearly touching the windshield.

It has become so commonplace, I just pretend we are living in the 1970s and try to subside my rage. But with recent reports touting the lower number of people ticketed for not wearing seatbelts, my blood boils. Maybe it's that nobody notices, so there are no tickets given?

Alisa Voris

Airport lines make dehydration a hazard

The long security lines at the airport are not only an inconvenience, but also unsafe. My three young children and I were in a line that stretched the length of a football field, and after an hour and a half we were still not through the line.

Without air-conditioning in the early afternoon on a humid and hot day, people were miserable and dehydration was a serious issue. The medics were attending to more than one person as a result.

Because we had a mainland flight, they put us up to the front of the line, leaving 10 minutes to get to our flight. Try running to a flight with a 40-pound 3-year-old and a carry-on bag while dehydrated. When we did get to the security point, we were met by rude and inconsiderate people. In contrast, on our flight from Seattle the security people were exceptionally nice and courteous. If you wonder why people are not flying, it simply is not worth the hassles and the unsafe conditions.

We need more screeners, trained to act with aloha, who can pick up the pace. But that would require the Transportation Security Administration, a government bureaucracy, to think like a private employer and treat us like customers, not cattle.

Linda Rasmussen, M.D.

How about housing teachers on campus?

In the olden days, some country schools had teachers' cottages on elementary school campuses to help out the teachers. I remember my second-grade teacher, Miss Schuler, even taking her class to learn kitchen skills one day at her cottage. She taught us how to crack an egg without getting the shells stuck in the white.

Anyway, if there are property crimes committed at night at public schools and if teachers are underpaid, maybe we can help by having cottages for on-campus living for the newer teachers who could use some assistance. We could have studios if space is a consideration, and a portable classroom might be nice temporary housing. This could help the housing situation and the night-time crime situation. This also would alleviate transportation and traffic problems for some, and help to create a community feeling.

J.K. Tanouye


City Bus strike debate rolls on

Gas price gouging should be stopped

As I was driving home today, I noticed that a gas station in Kaneohe had raised its price of super unleaded gas by 10 cents (a lot!) in the span of one day. One day it was at $2.11. The next day it was at $2.21.

I sincerely hope that this gas station isn't taking advantage of the bus strike by raising its prices because it knows that more drivers will be on the road. If this is the case, it is unethical, and I hope other gas stations don't follow suit.

Kathy Hirokane

Strike participants stir up bad karma

When the strike was announced, Oahu Transit Services stressed its inability to do anything about it, as if that was an answer. A great opportunity was lost right then for the city to say, "Well, if you can't handle budgets and personnel, please give us your resignation."

I rather supported the Teamsters; they didn't want to end up like me, on a small fixed income and too old to work. But my support evaporated when their spokesman said the bus employees were sorry to "inconvenience" the public.

That comment showed the great gulf between the drivers and the passengers. When you're 77 and may spend what could be the last months of your life twiddling your thumbs rather than being out and about, some fool calling it an "inconvenience" really puts you in your place.

I am in a really bad mood. I hope OTS goes smash; I wish bad karma to the bus employees; and I hope the automobile users, who aren't willing to be taxed to pay for the high cost of driving in paradise, all find themselves in gridlock.

Dorothy I. Cornell

Get tough with union and bus drivers

Where is Maggie Thatcher when you need her?

The former British prime minister taught the crippling, disruptive, greedy unions a resounding lesson when all modes of transportation were privatized and went out to bid for private ownership, putting an end to union strangleholds that upset people's lives and livelihoods.

Similar action here would make sense if somebody had the guts to do it. To jeopardize everybody on the island who relies on a system to simply get to work and take care of other essentials is despicable, and they should be taught a lesson.

Drivers earn $50,000 a year, and they're not even on time. Who are they kidding? They don't even smile at you when you board a bus.

John Werrill

There's nothing cushy about teaching, either

In response to Valarie Nobriga's Aug. 27 letter to the editor, "There's nothing cushy about driving bus," I have this recommendation:

1. Apply to your nearest university.

2. Take the four-year "training" for a bachelor's degree and teaching certificate (as opposed to the 49-day course for bus drivers).

3. Pay the University of Hawaii $3,200 a year for tuition. Get paid $0 for job training.

4. Work a part-time job while running yourself into mountains of debt.

5. Understand that your job is to educate thousands of students, including druggies and crazies.

6. Be a teacher in the state that has the "worst paid" teachers in the country, according to a study by the American Federation of Teachers.

Bus driver is not a cushy job, but neither is teacher.

Charles Izumoto

Honolulu's bus system far better than others

What is the city thinking? The bus system is right up there in importance with the police and fire departments. You need TheBus to keep people moving, so they can earn a living, go to school and keep food on the table, not to mention its importance to tourism.

Give TheBus workers a good package. They deserve it. TheBus is the best. The drivers are the most courteous and thoughtful I have seen in a long time. The buses are clean and on time for the most part, and scheduled frequently in Honolulu. That is not the case where I live in California. San Francisco may cost less at $1 a ride, but that system cannot hold the same standards as TheBus. And Sacramento's bus system is a joke. There you must pay $60 for a monthly pass, and $1.50 for one ride, and if you are lucky, you can get a bus every 30 minutes during rush hour.

My mother's family, the Lightfoots, go back to 1885 as residents of Hawaii. Honolulu, keep TheBus the best. Keep the islands special. That means keeping up the high standards of the TheBus.

Pamela Tempel
Sacramento, Calif.

Honolulu needs a fixed-rail system

The bus strike is another reminder of the City Council's failure more than a decade ago to bring a fixed-rail system to Oahu. It is past time to initiate planning of a modern rail system for Honolulu's long-suffering commuters.

Consider a fixed-rail public utility that is fully automated and requires only five or six (well-paid, non-union) technicians operating the complete system from a central facility.

It would provide high-speed, quiet commutes into downtown, Waikiki and the university area; and include commercially financed transit centers in Hawaii Kai, Mililani-Wahiawa, Pearl City-Waipahu, Kapolei, Waianae. These centers would have large, guarded parking lots and shopping malls.

The state and city transit departments must preserve existing rail right-of-ways to ensure that future options remain available. How about applying real vision to a problem that is long overdue for a solution?

Frank Genadio


Let Princess' will be carried out

Hawaiian students can excel at Kamehameha

Regarding the court battle over whether Kamehameha Schools is entitled to decline admission to a student with no Hawaiian ancestry: As I sit here in my office outside of Chicago, I am appalled and disgusted. Is there nothing sacred left for the Hawaiians?

There are a multitude of injustices in our modern world, but Kamehameha Schools is not one of those. I am not a graduate of the school -- in fact, I was denied admission because there were too many individuals admitted from the area in which I lived. Was I disappointed? Yes. My mother, her brothers and my grandfather were all graduates of Kamehameha. Did my parents call an attorney to represent us against the injustice of being denied admission? No. As I saw it, it was and still is a privilege to attend Kamehameha Schools, one that should be reserved for those of Hawaiian ancestry.

Being an American is a privilege, too. Unfortunately, in our privilege as Americans, we encounter many perversions of the Constitution. The case against Kamehameha Schools is one of the more painful of those perversions.

I have always viewed Kamehameha Schools as sacred. It has been the one place that not only preserved the culture, but provided an academic atmosphere for a child of Hawaiian ancestry to excel.

Don't diminish the intent of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. She foresaw the need for the education of her people. We must fulfill her dying wish.

Charle A. Fern
Waukegan, Ill. Former Hawaii resident

Hanai children can't claim lineage

So Hawaiians always hanai other children not of their race (as Kalena Santos' hanai father did). It was a practice of long ago, but doesn't entitle them to claim another family lineage.

When you claim lineage, it's by your birth parents, not your hanai or adopted parents. Knowing your genealogy is part of our culture and being Hawaiian. It's knowing who you are and being proud of it.

Marbeth Aquino

Non-Hawaiians know they aren't eligible

I'm not Hawaiian, but I am saddened and outraged at the nerve of Kalena Santos, the mother of Brayden Mohica-Cummings, the non-Hawaiian student whose admission to Kamehameha Schools resulted from a lawsuit and judge's court order.

Being adopted by a Hawaiian, as Santos was, does not make a person Hawaiian. Princess Pauahi's trust was set up for a specific reason, and after all these years it has become common knowledge that if you don't have Hawaiian blood, you won't be going to Kamehameha. It is basically an unwritten law among the local people.

If Santos wanted her son to go to a private school, she could have chosen another one. Instead she knowingly put down false information on the application regarding her race, and this tells me that she doesn't care about Bishop Estate or Kamehameha Schools.

Debbie Sunaida

School was founded to right a wrong

There's a perverse notion among some letter writers that likens the Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy to the segregation advocated by former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

There is a difference here. Blacks suffered under Wallace's kind of policies and set the stage for civil rights laws. Kamehameha's policies were created to right a severe wrong against Hawaiian children.

Brayden Mohica-Cummings' parents and their lawyer do not represent the suffering of a people. They represent a carpetbagger's interest in taking advantage of a program only meant for those who have suffered.

If this issue goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, we trust the justices' wisdom to not myopically view the civil rights law in the abstract, but rather interpret it in its rightful context.

Gene J. Dumaran
Ewa Beach

Kamehameha policy isn't segregation

The comparison of the desegregation of schools in the 1960s to the admitting of a non-Hawaiian to Kamehameha Schools is missing one key point. Kamehameha is a private school and desegregation involved public schools.

As an African American, I am offended when civil rights are allegedly violated and compared with other issues that don't really violate civil rights. Our forefathers stated in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that we have the right to life, liberty and property.

Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop envisioned a school where Hawaiian children could learn, and that is why it is a Hawaiians-only private school. I don't see how that could be violation of those rights when there are a lot of good public schools in Hawaii.

Lawrence Fagin
Ewa Beach


State is committed to protecting children

A recent news story on the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility and an editorial that followed both indicated that prior to the ACLU investigation of the HYCF, the Department of the Attorney General investigated the HYCF "but found nothing."

The facts are these. On May 14, I received a letter from the ACLU that followed up on a telephone conversation I had with the ACLU's legal director, Brent White. The letter stated that the ACLU had received specific complaints regarding the HYCF: 1) overcrowding and problems relating to overcrowding, 2) problems with the grievance procedure, and 3) improper monitoring of the wards' correspondence. The ACLU asked us to investigate these specific complaints. The legal director also sought and was given permission to visit the HYCF and interview wards. Following his initial conversations with the wards, he then sought and was given permission to conduct a much more extensive series of interviews. It was this series of interviews that led to the ACLU's lengthy written report. The HYCF administration fully cooperated in all investigations of the facility.

My department did find problems at the HYCF. Indeed, our investigation of the ACLU's initial and very specific complaints led to my writing to the HYCF summarizing our findings and suggesting specific corrective action in the areas where we found problems. While the major problems newly identified by the ACLU in its recent report were not discussed in my letter to the HYCF, those problems had not been the subject of the ACLU's initial request to me to investigate, and thus were not the subject of our investigation. In addition to the conditions we investigated at the request of the ACLU, we also initiated investigations of other matters of concern to us. Our investigations continue.

Of course, the bottom line is that this administration and the ACLU are working toward the same goal. Governor Lingle has made this point publicly, and it bears repeating: The children at the HYCF are wards of the state, and the state must ensure that the conditions at the HYCF are decent and humane, and foster education and, where appropriate, rehabilitation.

Governor Lingle and the state are committed to making certain this will occur.

Mark Bennett
Attorney general
State of Hawaii


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