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Sunday, January 25, 2004





Recycling is profitable, easy if done right

I am a Canadian and frequent visitor to Hawaii because it's home to my Hawaii-born grandchildren.

Over the years I have been struck by the apparent lack of concern by the state of Hawaii about the amount of waste generated and hauled away to god knows where. I see no recycling of valuable newsprint, cardboard, plastics, aluminum or glass.

I'm sure most Hawaii residents care about their environment, so I believe it will be of interest to them to know what we in British Columbia are doing to minimize damage to our environment.

In 1989 British Columbia changed its solid waste laws to reduce the volume of garbage produced by 50 percent. At the time, nearly 2.9 million tons of waste annually were being thrown into B.C.'s 236 dumps. A government subsidy started the "blue box" program to start recycling programs. The blue-box program has since become self-reliant.

By 2000, two-thirds of the landfills had been closed and 80 percent of B.C.'s residential families were being serviced by curbside blue-box pick-ups. The program directly created 3,500 recycling jobs and indirectly created 3,800 by more than 320 companies involved in collecting, managing recovery and wholesaling of recyclable materials. Newsprint sells for $123 per ton, cardboard for $110 and clear plastics for $450, for example. In the year 2000, more than 26,000 tons of aluminum cans and pop bottles were returned, 37,000 tons of wine bottles were recycled and about 500,000 beer bottles were returned to brewing companies.

Today, recycling in B.C. is a viable and economically productive enterprise.

On a more personal level, I live in a condominium building of 26 unit owners and we now have a single large bin for wet garbage (the stuff that still goes to landfills) and three bins -- one for newsprint, one for other paper products and one for cans, plastic and glass. Cardboard we haul to collection sites. Pick-up is once a week. Two years ago we were able to dispose of our second large wet-garbage bin that we started with, but our bins for recycling materials are full to the brim each week.

For the sake of my grandchildren and yours, appeal to your representatives in government and ensure that when you next go to the polls, let them know you are concerned about your environment. Hawaii is a beautiful place. Keep it that way by taking the step toward recycling.

David Kogawa
White Rock, B.C.
Canada

Stop wasting time; decentralize schools

You ever wonder why the Democrats in our Legislature maintain state control over the Department of Education?

Could it be that the Democrats think us simple folk in the outlying areas are not capable of managing our own local school districts?

Our schools are in serious trouble, and they aren't getting any better. We make marginal progress only to suffer setbacks every time we see the Legislature convene. The naysayers in the Legislature don't want anyone in the hinterlands to have any say because they suffer from a serious plantation mentality. They tell you it "has always been this way and we don't need any change." Our current environment mirrors the 1880s as opposed to 2004.

The time for change is now. We are wasting money. We are wasting time. Worst of all, we are wasting our most valuable resource, our future -- our kids. It is time to get local communities more involved by allowing local management in the education of our kids.

Thomas Swindell
Kailua

Trustee endangers airline's progress

Former Hawaiian Airlines CEO John Adams' recognition of Hawaiian's current state is gratifying, and he is correct that the actions of the bankruptcy trustee, Joshua Gotbaum, could seriously harm the airline ("Don't disparage success -- build on it," Star-Bulletin, Jan. 18).

As a Hawaiian employee, I take a great deal of pride in the airline we have built. By we, I mean the employees and the pre-trustee management. Labor-management relations are never easy, but Hawaiian has always managed to walk that fine line without ever inconveniencing the traveling public. We have always found common ground to build the Hawaiian Airlines of today.

We are the largest airline in Hawaii; we are the most profitable; we are the No. 1 on-time airline in America and have more in-flight service awards than any airline serving the islands.

Gotbaum's actions stand to undo all of that. Labor did its part to build this airline; Gotbaum is now trying to spread the millions of dollars we have earned between himself and a handful of consultants and lawyers.

John Wade
Haleiwa

Legal gambling would stem organized crime

In response to Judy Rantala's Jan. 13 letter about the Pali Golf Course murders and the dangers of gambling: Her basic assertion is that all gambling will bring a blight of crime with it. If that were the case, Las Vegas would be the murder capital of the United States. Obviously, she misses the point that it is illegal gambling that is the problem in Hawaii.

The only beneficiary of the laws banning liquor sales during the 1920s and '30s was the Mafia. Without Prohibition, the Mafia wouldn't have established a financial power base that lasts to this day. Illegal gambling, likewise, benefits only organized crime. With the state of Hawaii facing a financial crisis in the prisons and schools, it makes an abundance of sense to legalize gambling and then regulate, police and tax this activity.

Effective regulation would keep organized crime out of the business, much like the Nevada Gaming Commission has done with its black book. Police would have more resources to devote to the massive "ice" problem rather than chasing gamblers, and at the same time would deprive organized crime of a lucrative source of revenue.

Russel Yamashita
Honolulu

Students want to see Dobelle's job review

I am a student at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, and I am concerned about the secrecy regarding UH President Evan Dobelle's annual review by the Board of Regents ("Dobelle and regents clash," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 5). As one of the people who pays Dobelle's salary, I would appreciate the opportunity to read the review in question.

Students in the UH system should have this right. We invest a large amount of money in this system; the direction and decisions made by Dobelle directly affect our education and our futures. Dobelle's insistence that this review be kept secret is unfair to everyone involved -- students, educators and other administrators.

During the past year, the UH system has become overtly top-heavy. High-paid administrative positions have been created while students fight for class space, professors are overworked and underpaid and departmental budget cuts abound.

Meanwhile, despite much public criticism, Dobelle implies all is well and everyone is happy with his administration. That is simply not accurate. Students are not happy and our education is suffering!

Let us see the review.

Karen Finneran-Swatek
Hilo, Hawaii

Iraq policy determined by Bush's campaign

It appears that the Bush administration is more concerned with the 2004 presidential re-election than developing a consistent policy for Iraq.

For instance, the timetable for Iraqi self-government has accelerated; there is talk of an election without a constitution; an Iraqi national security force is now a priority; and U.S. ground forces may be reduced from their current levels.

The administration's actions are contradictory, since they talk of commitment but are anxious to scale down operations coincident to the cost and declining public support of the Iraqi occupation.

All of these initiatives seemed to be prompted by their effect on the 2004 re-election strategies. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy's famous words, the priorities should be not what is best for Bush, but what is best for the country!

Anthony Locascio
Honolulu

Once and for all, forget the van cams

This is the second stupid proposal by Sen. Cal Kawamoto in less than a month ("Legislator sticks out neck for van cams," Star-Bulletin, Jan. 23). The first was imposing a statewide tax to fund a rail system that would serve only Honolulu.

What has to happen for him to understand that the people, many of whom may have helped elect him, don't want van cams -- even if they would be only for enforcing red lights?

Who is going to pay for this nonsense? The last time van cams were tried, it cost the taxpayers money to pay off the ill-advised contract. And now Kawamoto wants to go through that again?

I guess he's not interested in re-election.

Bill Martin
Kurtistown, Hawaii

Fresh ideas needed to fix Honolulu traffic

In the latest pitch for Bus Rapid Transit, the city's Transportation Commission Chairman Donn Takaki reminds us that "Hawaii rejected mass transit systems proposed in 1967, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1982 and 1992" (Gathering Place, Star-Bulletin, Jan. 20). So when does "no" really mean "no"? One wonders what the beleaguered taxpayer can do to fend off these unwanted suitors groping their pocketbooks.

Texas Transportation Institute data show that each Honolulu resident wastes about $200 a year stalled in traffic. According to the institute's 2003 Urban Mobility Study, residents of other similar-sized cities spend from $590 per person in Austin, Texas, to $70 per person in Rochester, N.Y.

Honolulu's congestion problems may be formidable, but they are far from the worst. Honolulu's travel delays actually decreased from 1996-2001, the latest data in the 2003 study. Maybe that's why there is an ambivalence to these proposals.

My questions are: Would the taxpayers' costs to build and maintain BRT pay for themselves by eliminating some or all of those 200 bucks each one lost to traffic delays? Would the roads be safer, thus adding to the public's cost-savings by reducing losses from accidents and by increasing public health through increased cycling and walking on quieter streets? Do people prefer driving, even with some congestion, to the decreased flexibility of a bus ride?

Honolulu needs to solve its traffic problems. What worries me is that government continues to look to the same kinds of solutions that have been rejected in the past. Is anyone thinking outside the box?

Khalil J. Spencer
Los Alamos, N.M.
Former Honolulu resident

May the potholes jolt sense into legislators

May the potholes caused by this month's rain storm be a constant reminder to our legislators regarding the intent and use of the Hurricane Relief Fund. Wait until a real hurricane comes, as I am sure it will someday.

I think it is wiser that a portion of the fund be made available for loans to homeowners at the same interest rate that it's earning now. That money belongs to homeowners. Fix that leaky roof, improve drainage to minimize flooding, strengthen hurricane straps, trim dangerous trees, etc.

Homeowners whose homes are damaged should get the money without too many restrictions. Maybe someone has a better idea for distributing the funds. Please, legislators, don't use the fund to balance the state budget.

Anticipation and preparedness are better than waiting until after the damage is done.

Mario Orbito
Honolulu

Beatles tribute group deserves a Grammy

I was floored by the incredible concert presented by the Honolulu Symphony Pops and guest singers Glenn Medeiros, Anita Hall and Henry Kapono last weekend at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall. The tribute to the Beatles was impeccably scored by Maestro Matt Catingub, and rounding out the magical two hours of music were talented band musicians James Mancuso (guitar), Sonny Froman (drums) and John Kolivas (electric bass). On Friday night the near-sellout crowd gave the performers a double standing ovation, and from what I learned about the next night's performance, that sold-out concert ended in even more rousing applause.

I'm proud of the talent we have right here in this state and I wish this group the best of luck for the Grammy Awards ceremony Feb. 8. You guys deserve to win!

Ruth Shiroma
Honolulu

Lawmakers should heed 'ice' task force

The Joint House-Senate Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement has done an excellent job of responding to the outcry in communities across the state against "ice" and addiction.

For the most part, the recommendations are on target. They provide resources in policy recommendations, programs and coordination. They recognize the severity of the problem. The plan is a holistic approach calling on all sectors of the state to be involved.

The task force members are to be commended for being so responsive to the public outcry against the ravages of ice addiction. They have courageously recommended significant funding for their initiatives, going so far as to include tax increases as possible sources of funding, instead of the usual "no money" attitude.

Others in the political arena need to step up to the challenges presented by the task force members, to really take a stand against ice and addiction. The communities that courageously stood up to the drug dealers and for their addicted friends and family members should stand up with pride, for the task force itself would never have been formed, let alone come up with such a strong set of recommendations, if community members had not stepped forward.

The media also should be commended for the vast amount of education they have presented to the public upon recognizing the magnitude of the problem.

Bob Nakata
Kaneohe


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[ BRAINSTORM! ]


Can you design a quarter that represents Hawaii??

Some states have issued collectible quarters that commemorate their entry into the union. The front of the coin looks the same but the eagle on the back has been replaced by something that represents that state. For example, Georgia's quarter has a peach on it. If you could design Hawaii's quarter, what would it look like?


Send your ideas and solutions by Feb. 17 to:

brainstorm@starbulletin.com

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

Fax:
Brainstorm!
c/o Nancy Christenson
529-4750


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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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