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Monday, December 8, 2003






Chopsticks can be hazardous to health

So medical researchers at a Boston university see a link between hand osteoarthritis and the use of chopsticks (Health Watch, Dec. 3).

Their findings bring to mind a mock report made years ago by TV talk show host Johnny Carson that researchers had discovered that saliva causes cancer -- but only if it is consumed "in small quantities over a long period of time."

The response to the Boston research by Beijing's Dr. Cao Li -- "ridiculous" -- is an example of diplomatic reserve.

Based on my own "research," it appears that, in the scurry to find new projects for financial grants, some in the field of medical research run the risk of developing what we defined in my university years as "rectal-cranial inversion," which can severely impede clear observation just about anything.

Howard Driver
Honolulu

Attorneys mess with Hawaiian legacy

I resent the lawyers for Brayden Mohica-Cummings, the 12-year-old non-Hawaiian boy, forcing his acceptance into Kamehameha Schools ("Judge approves admission deal," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 5). Their actions are not in good taste. As a non-Hawaiian, I really feel offended.

Kamehameha is an outstanding school and provides a great chance for the Hawaiian people to keep their culture alive. As a private school, it should be able to do as it pleases.

Von Dent
Aiea

Counties knew police pay hikes were coming

Hawaii police officers are members of the only public sector union (SHOPO) that does not have to go to the state Legislature for funding. All county administrations and county councils approve and fund the arbitrated contract. There are no state police officers.

All of the county mayors, managing directors and council members knew exactly when SHOPO's contract expired and because of a "no-strike clause" knew well in advance that the money portion of the contract negotiations would go to arbitration, which is "final and binding." Ben Lee, Honolulu's managing director, states that the city has no monies to fund the contract and now wants to make the police officers look like the bad guys, with threats of raising car registration taxes, and possibly hiking our already high gasoline prices.

The city has hidden contingency funds for emergencies. It hides funds by inflating and padding certain budgets, making it appear as though there are no monies for pay raises. This is the reason why the arbitrator, after going over the city's finances, came up with the arbitrated pay raises.

The police officers need these raises. Higher pay is the major way to keep our officers in Hawaii, instead of losing them to higher paying jobs on the mainland.

Steven T.K. Burke
Former president of SHOPO
Retired, Honolulu Police Department
Pearl City

Lingle appoints only the best for the job

The Star-Bulletin can rest assured that Governor Lingle is picking only the best-qualified people to fill appointed positions ("Pledge to shun political patronage rings hollow," Editorial, Dec. 4). Not only is Stephanie Aveiro qualified to serve as the executive director of the Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawaii, she has a proven success record from Maui in a similar position.

If Lingle is to implement her "New Beginnings" agenda, she must have loyal, philosophically like-minded individuals to run her departments and fill boards and commissions as her appointees. When the people of Hawaii voted for Lingle in 2000 they voted for change, not for a continuation of the same old ideas and attitudes. Making those changes requires new people who Lingle can trust to follow her directions of zero tolerance for corruption.

Real cronyism existed under former Gov. Ben Cayetano. Remember Sam Callejo who, under Cayetano, served as the state comptroller, then as the governors' chief of staff, and, when Cayetano left office, got a golden-parachute position at the university in a newly created job earning $200,000 a year? Then there was Cayetano's buddy Earl Anzai, who was his budget director and then, when rejected by the Senate for a second term, became our state attorney general.

In contrast, Lingle chooses the best person for the job, and Stephanie Aveiro is the best one to serve as executive director of HCDCH.

Fred Gartley
Kaneohe

Interisland ferry stirs the imagination

The knowledge that others besides myself would like an interisland ferry service is encouraging ("Big Isle harbor-master likes ferry service idea," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 6).

In so many other communities in the world, ferries transport cars, people, goods and produce. I can only see good coming from having such a service in Hawaii.

Imagine getting in your own car and being transported from island to island! I hope our transportation officials and private entrepreneurs will pursue this idea to realization.

Arabella Ark
Hana, Maui


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Education reformer’s ideas
get mixed reviews from readers

Raywid is objective about school system

Thanks to the Star-Bulletin for printing the column by Mary Anne Raywid, who advocates decentralizing Hawaii's statewide public education system into several independent school districts, each with its own elected school board (Gathering Place, Dec. 4). Laypersons may not know that Raywid is on the faculty of the University of Hawaii College of Education and is nationally prominent in her field.

Interestingly, Raywid's views on decentralization have evolved. While she was quoted only last year as supporting the creation of semi-autonomous school districts, she now advocates the creation of fully autonomous districts. This kind of evolution is similar to the experiences of many others who have tried to improve public education in Hawaii. At first they believe that they can work within the system to improve it. But after a while they become frustrated because their efforts are rebuffed. Frustration ultimately turns to despair as they realize that under the existing system, meaningful change is impossible. The existing structure is incapable of making the needed changes.

As an academic, Raywid is an objective observer who is not beholden to any person or any interest group. She does not have any territory to protect. In this respect, she is unlike those who represent organizations that would be affected by the creation of independent school districts.

For example, the authority of the existing Board of Education and the superintendent of education would be drastically reduced. In addition, the Hawaii State Teachers Association might lose members because teachers in a particular district may select another bargaining agent. So, while representatives of these organizations may oppose decentralization as they speak of improving public education, it is important to be aware of their other interests as well.

Once again, thanks to the Star-Bulletin for printing Raywid's thoughtful commentary.

John Kawamoto
Honolulu

Money equals power in school systems, too

Mary Anne Raywid's argument that Hawaii should have smaller school districts and smaller schools (Gathering Place, Dec. 4), has some merit. However, Raywid has made her argument only in a general way, arguing from generalized findings of research on schools. The trouble with that is, as the saying goes, "the devil is in the details."

Dividing Hawaii's single, statewide school district into seven districts along the lines of the existing administrative "districts" of the Department of Education will have little chance of reaping the benefits of small school districts that Raywid claims.

The DOE is currently the nation's 10th-largest school district. Raywid's districts would still be larger than 99 percent of all U.S. school districts (including Honolulu, Central and Leeward districts on Oahu and the Hawaii district on the Big Island) or larger than 95 percent of all U.S. school districts (Windward, Oahu, Maui and Kauai). These districts would be too large to gain the benefit Raywid contends. To benefit from small, community districts, we would have to create districts no larger than a current school complex -- a high school and its feeder schools. No proposal currently being discussed would do that.

The issue of district size aside, to have effective community-centered school districts, those district boards will have to possess real power to make decisions suited to local needs and implement them. That means having control of both their budgets and their revenue.

Throughout Hawaii's history, control of both public school budgets and state revenue has been tightly held by the Legislature and governor. It would be incredibly naive to think that either would delegate control of public education funding to another branch or level of government. Without power over funding, real community control of schools doesn't stand much of a chance.

Thomas G. Gans
Retired evaluation specialist
Department of Education


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art

[ BRAINSTORM! ]


Dirty gutter talk

Those orange rolls that highway engineers have been shoving into storm drain openings -- there must be a more efficient or practical or attractive way to filter out road debris. These things are about as useful and pleasing to the eye as huge, discarded cigarette butts.


Send your ideas, drawings and solutions by Thursday, Dec. 17 to:

brainstorm@starbulletin.com

Or mail them to:
Brainstorm!
c/o Burl Burlingame
Star-Bulletin
500 Ala Moana
7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Fax:
Brainstorm!
c/o Burl Burlingame
529-4750


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How to write us

The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.

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