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Sunday, September 7, 2003






Why keep members of landfill panel secret?

A landfill siting panel has held a number of meetings to develop recommendations for the mayor on where to put a city landfill when the existing Waimanalo Gulch-Leeward Landfill is closed. Usually a blue-ribbon panel of leading citizens is inaugurated with much publicity. But this panel reportedly doesn't have to follow the Sunshine Law because it is only "advisory." The neighborhood boards are "advisory," and they are required to abide by the Sunshine Law. Who are the members of this "blue-ribbon panel"? Why have they conducted their deliberations in violation of the Sunshine Law?

There have been no public notices of the meeting agendas, and minutes of the meetings have not been made available. It is not known how individual members of the panel have voted on questions related to one of the most important issues on this island.

This landfill, wherever it ends up, will be processing 500 tons of municipal waste a day. This issue should be placed before the public.

Jim Corcoran
Kailua

Public funding leads to cleaner elections

We should all commend Sen. Ron Menor, Rep. Roy Takumi and Greg Marchildon, executive director of AARP, for their work in making prescription drugs more affordable in Hawaii. They will be going to Maine, which passed the Maine RX program and saw it through all the court battles to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last December the Hawaii Clean Elections coalition brought Maine Rep. Boyd Marley to Hawaii to meet our legislators and discuss how well full public funding of elections was working in Maine. Marley said the Maine RX bill never could have passed their legislature without having 77 percent of the Maine Senate and 55 percent of the House elected with public funds. The drug companies, with all their money and connections, opposed this bill, but lost because the Maine legislators did not have to bend to their pressure. Hawaii is riding on the coattails of Maine's courage and persistence.

How many other issues benefiting Hawaii could pass if 77 percent of our Senate and 55 percent of our House were elected with public funds? Unfortunately, our public funding bill did not pass in the last Legislature because Sen. Cal Kawamoto, for the fifth time, blocked its passage.

Grace Furukawa
President
Hawaii Clean Elections coalition

Tragedy elicits aloha for Waialua Library

Mahalo to all the people on Oahu who sent generous donations of books and money to the Friends of Waialua Library after the tragic burning of the old Waialua Sugar Co. office annex building on July 28. We lost the entire inventory of used books and equipment for our book sales. The support supplied by these donations has enabled us to regroup and continue our monthly sales. Funds from these sales are used to buy additional new books, DVDs, audiotapes, or whatever items are needed by the library and are not covered by its annual budget.

We are encouraged by the value people place on libraries and the appreciation for our small library. How lucky we are to have so many friends!

Marjorie Russell
Waialua

Abatement unit will help fight 'ice'

The state's Drug Nuisance Abatement Unit is a firm step forward in addressing the crystal-meth problem.

I have heard about people who try to report "ice houses" and drug activity in their own neighborhoods, but have received little response. In other cases, people want to do something but fear reprisals by dealers and addicts. Now law enforcement will have more resources and additional options to help residents take back their communities.

Thank you to legislators like Reps. Scott Saiki and Eric Hamakawa who worked so hard to create and pass the bill establishing this drug-fighting office. They recognized a serious problem, listened to the needs of Hawaii's citizens and came up with a proactive solution. It may not solve all of our state's drug ills, but it's definitely going to help.

Fred Hirayama
Honolulu

Bush is biggest threat to Mother Nature

Burl Burlingame's "My Turn" column ("There's revolt in the air at our national parks," Insight, Aug. 31) was timely, informative and most important. When it comes to George W. Bush one has to expect bad news, particularly where environmental policies are concerned.

It surprises me that many Americans are not concerned that the country's parks, air, water, rivers, forests and other land resources, including what's non-renewable, are threatened. I thank your newspaper.

Jovita Rodas
Honolulu

Neighborhood boards waste our tax money

I recently attended a meeting of Neighborhood Board No. 34. I thought I understood the reason for these boards, but I left less confident in my understanding. What I saw was:

>> petty infighting by board members
>> block voting
>> incumbent politicians passing out old news
>> "wannabe" politicians enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.

My suggestion to help balance the city's budget is to withdraw all funding for neighborhood boards and vision teams. Perhaps this would force City Council members to find out what their community concerns are.

Robert Holden
Kapolei

Fire didn't stop church from doing good work

I am a member of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and am getting sick of the media attention to the church fire. We had insurance; we are a relatively wealthy organization owning several buildings, and there are many reasons to hate us besides our belief that when Jesus said the new covenant was for all people, he meant ALL.

Poor Rev. Vaughn Beckman had the distressing ordeal of waking up to fire trucks in the parking lot, and spending most of Wednesday talking to fire and public safety officials.

But probably the worst thing he will remember is that it interfered with his pastoral offices.

Our church is working this month on school supplies for two neighborhood schools, plus we are trying to gather money for these students to attend special events. A neighborhood group is planning a festival in November on our grounds.

The Disciples of Christ is interested in starting new churches. We are now making our buildings available to two churches that are new enough not to have their own locations.

So unless you are a fireman, a policeman, or a state or federal officer, enough already with the fire. Our work is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, and that is what we are doing.

Dorothy I. Cornell
Honolulu


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More Fussing about busing

Strike keeps riffraff away from downtown

Downtown Honolulu has cleaner air and quieter streets since the buses went on strike. Downtown has almost a "small town" feel to it now. But the best thing is that all the vagrants, street bums, drug dealers and addicts have left the downtown area and are camping in the Iwilei area close to the free handouts at the Institute for Human Services. This makes the bus strike seem worthwhile.

Ann Ruby
Honolulu

Leader of Teamsters should be impeached

I have some experience in Teamsters unions on the mainland, and they are all the same. Mel Kahele, president of the local Teamsters, is trying to break the back of the very company that obviously takes good care of him and the bus operators. Well, we are not in the mainland -- we are in Hawaii, where good-paying jobs are hard to find. Many of our police officers, firefighters, nurses, teachers and EMTs have found ways to supplement their incomes.

With that said, the bus operators who want more money should go out and get part-time jobs. Kahele should resign for being incompetent and unreasonable.

Bus operators, please look at the big picture and see what a self-destructive path Kahele is leading you down. Impeach him and get back to work, and continue to be blessed with the awesome wages and unprecedented benefits package that Oahu Transit Services provides to you.

Chico Ruiz
Honolulu

Kahele needs support of all Teamsters

I have been a Teamster member, employed at United Parcel Service, for 24 years and a member of the Teamsters executive board for the past eight years. Any representation that Teamsters President Mel Kahele is off on his own agenda during this bus strike is an insult to every board member and every voting member of the Teamsters who elected us all.

Mel has always put the members' best interest first with every decision he makes. All major actions are discussed by and agreed upon by the Teamsters executive board. We work closely with Mel in implementing our policy decisions and at no time is that more important than during a walk out.

I know this because I was on strike for nearly two weeks at United Parcel Service in 1997.

We must all stand behind Kahele and our fellow transit system workers. In the final analysis, we all want the same thing -- a first-class public bus system that has been and will continue to be the envy of every major metropolitan area across the country. The few grumblers within our own ranks need to realize what it means to be a union member and quit shooting themselves (and us) in the foot.

Mark Komomua
Recording secretary
Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers
Local 996

Bye-bye, bus drivers, pedaling is healthier

When the bus strike first started, I was angry with the drivers, city officials, Oahu Transit Services, the City Council and the mayor (not necessarily in that order) because I depend on the bus to get to work in Kapolei. Fortunately for me, I bike regularly, so I started my commute between Kalihi and Kapolei on the first day of the strike.

At first, I assumed I would be going to work every other day because I didn't believe I was capable of doing a 40-mile commute five days a week. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! By riding in a lower gear and traveling slower, I don't stress out my legs too much and can make the trip daily.

So now, instead of being angry, I should be thanking a bunch of people because boy, am I going to be in great shape by the time this fiasco is over. In a couple of weeks, I'll be so skinny my mother won't recognize me. Better yet, I now know that I don't need the bus and won't be buying bus passes any more. Instead, I'll be spending my money in bike shops. So, thank you. Naw, on second thought, all you guys go to hell.

Royle Kaneshige
Honolulu

Bus strike improves the flow of traffic

What if they gave a strike and nobody came? The removal of the buses, with their frequent stops and slow speeds, has been a boon to most of the island. The people I have spoken to are happy to drive in the same lane down Dillingham Boulevard in a steady progression across town. Even the traffic lights have been optimized (I thought they did that already) to improve the flow of traffic, and it has worked!
On the country side, a recent trip from Waimanalo to Haleiwa was the most pleasant experience in 22 years. No buses, no traffic backups and a smooth drive all the way to the North Shore. So far, the only folks whining about this strike are the union-dominated print and broadcast media, the union-dominated local and state governments and the unions themselves. Looks like a union-manufactured crisis. We should all quit listening to the media and government and decide if we really need the bus as it currently exists.

The strike has provided an opportunity for new transportation options to emerge in concert with improved automobile flow. With no buses cutting them off, commuters may actually begin to use the bicycles and scooters they have been buying. Given a chance, the folks on Oahu will adapt and devise a better plan than the bus to move around.

Mark Ambard
Kailua

Fire 'em all and let others have their jobs

The company running (or not running) TheBus should be fired and the drivers told to go back to work tomorrow or look for work elsewhere.

There are enough people who will gladly fill the positions that Roberts Hawaii drivers cannot fill. There are a lot of people out there who are not locked into a senseless power struggle and who do not get their jollies seeing a bunch of seniors walking down the hot streets because they cannot afford taxicabs.

To the bus drivers and other involved parties, to heck with you and the fact that you cannot live on $50,000 a year. A lot of people are trying to survive on $700 a month. We don't sympathize with you. You get free medical insurance and prescription medication; we pay $93 a month for Celebrex. The people who gave you that deal should be put in jail.

Arnold Van Fossen

City is obligated to honor bus passes

This letter is in response to proposals to break contracts with holders of unexpired senior bus pass holders. I am a senior bus pass holder and I have a contract with the city. I paid a fee and the city contracted to provide bus service to me at no additional cost for the term of the contract, which in my case is until July 31, 2005. The city could raise rates for renewal at the expiration of the contract, or at that time it could refuse to issue a new pass, but it cannot refuse to honor the pass because it now feels that the terms are not favorable.

In regard to the proposed additional 25 cents per ride, consider this analogy: A person leases an apartment for a year and pays a year's rent in advance. One month into the lease the landlord says, "Oh yeah, you have a lease, but we're going to charge you $10 (or whatever figure) a day to use it." How fast would that land in court?

Aren't there any lawyers or business people on the City Council? Breaking contracts leaves the city open to justified legal action. I wouldn't sue personally, but I see a valid basis for a class-action suit if these contracts are broken.

Let's hear from other members of the silent "gray panthers" of the senior community. Let's encourage the Council to do the right thing.

Tom Cortland
Mililani Mauka

Bus drivers give aloha, and need aloha now

Bus driving may not be a glamorous job; we may not be "heroes" like fire fighters or policemen, or "the future" like our public school teachers, but we all have a genuine sense of aloha that many times goes unseen.

The next time you see a bus driver pick up a late passenger outside of a bus stop, know that he is sticking out his neck for a total stranger. If this person falls while entering outside of a bus stop, the driver assumes responsibility and could lose his job. The next time a bus driver allows your grandmother to board the bus with too many bags of groceries, or allows someone who is down on his luck to ride free, or allows a single parent with more than one child to just pay for himself, or drops grandpa off in front of his house rather than at the bus stop at the end of the block, or allows you to ride with your hot morning coffee or Jamba Juice, or exceeds the speed limit to get you to work on time, or allows you stand in front of the yellow line rather than wait for the next bus when the bus is full, or allows you to go through the back door when the crowd just won't move back; know that all these actions are condemned by Oahu Transit Services and the city.

But because of the aloha that bus drivers have for the community, these practices occur every day in Honolulu. Our bus drivers don't deserve to be negatively labeled by the general public. They are ambassadors of what little aloha is left in Honolulu. Let's not make bus driving more of a thankless job than it already is.

Kimo Mack
Bus driver
Kaneohe

Let's train a new 'fleet' of bus drivers

Perhaps Mayor Harris should think about President Reagan's solution to the air traffic controllers' strike of the 1980s: replace the strikers. We must have at least 1,300 persons on Oahu who are qualified, could be trained to become bus drivers, and would be willing to work for substantially less than the current $40,000-plus annual salary.

The budget shortfall of close to $7 million could be covered by offering annual salaries $5,000 lower than currently being paid -- with no fare increases.

I realize that the transition period would be difficult, but just as the nation's air traffic control system survived the controller replacements in the 1980s (despite predictions of impending doom), the bus-riding public of Oahu could weather this storm.

I think the drivers and other striking employees of TheBus system should be thankful for what they already have and turn down the greed level in these uncertain economic times.

Beau E. Cox
Honolulu




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What did Princess really want?

Will doesn't specify Hawaiians only

The trustees of the Kamehameha Schools (formerly Bishop Estate) would like the people of Hawaii to believe their Hawaiians-only admission policy to the schools is mandated by the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop. This is not true! Princess Pauahi was not a racist, and her will does not direct the trustees to restrict admission based on race. Here's the section of her will establishing the Kamehameha Schools:

"I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate real and personal, wherever situated unto the trustees below named, their heirs and assigns forever, to hold upon the following trusts, namely: to erect and maintain in the Hawaiian Islands two schools, each for boarding and day scholars, one for boys and one for girls, to be known as, and called the Kamehameha Schools."

Check it out yourself. Go to www.ksbe.edu/endowment/bpbishop/will/allwill.html and read the entire will.

David Lyman Bigelow
Kamuela, Hawaii

Admissions policy should be upheld

I strongly support Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy. Giving preference to Hawaiian applicants is in keeping with the best traditions of American social justice. It is the right thing to do.

Princess Pauahi quite rightly saw education as the salvation of her people, the best way to improve their well-being and bring them a brighter future. When she died in 1884, most Hawaiians were impoverished, poorly educated. Many had severe health problems. Sadly, to a great extent, that is still true. The needs that Pauahi saw still exist in the 21st century in Hawaii's workforce, its welfare rolls, its unemployment statistics, its prisons and homeless shelters and hospitals.

By bringing hope for a brighter future to Hawaiian children, Kamehameha makes this a better society for all of us, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian alike. The leaders of Hawaii -- and the courts -- must support the Kamehameha Schools as they carry out Pauahi's noble mission. The first people of these islands deserve no less. The rest of us will benefit, too.

I regret that I am away from Hawaii this weekend and unable to join in the "Ku I Ka Pono" march through Waikiki today. I would have been proud to participate. I mua.

Walter A. Dods Jr.
Chairman and CEO
First Hawaiian Bank
Kailua

Restoring kingdom will save Hawaiians

Once more the rights of Hawaiians are being attacked. No matter that the Kamehameha Schools trustees have accepted the non-Hawaiian student, there always will be future court cases against their decisions, court cases that will continue to divide and conquer Hawaiians. Kamehameha Schools will go the way of Queen's Hospital and King Lunalilo Home.

Future court cases against Kamehameha Schools will continue to "steal" the revenues needed to perpetuate the will of Princess Pauahi. Only the revival of the Hawaiian Kingdom will put a stop to the stealing of Hawaiian rights.

Richard Pomaikaiokalani Kinney
Honolulu

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