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Friday, March 26, 2004




Zip it up! Downtown isn't a giant bathroom

I support House Bill 1828, which would prohibit urinating and defecating in public places in the Honolulu downtown area. If downtown resembles a Third World country, it's because the city has allowed it to become that way by permitting criminal acts and lewd behavior. Things are allowed to go on downtown that would never be allowed in any other neighborhood.

Kamalii Park at Pali/Beretania is a favorite bathroom stop for bus riders coming from the Windward side. The park smells so bad when the sun beats down on the urine (and worse). The people who live and work downtown do not go to other neighborhoods and shishi at their bus stops and in their parks. The downtown folks deserve the same respect.

Ann Ruby
Honolulu

Adjusting traffic lights will speed up traffic

The Legislature is considering traffic cameras again. I'd like to suggest one traffic improvement that will accomplish all of the following:

>> slow down traffic in town,
>> increase traffic flow along major streets and highways,
>> reduce red light runners,
>> reduce some of the frustration of driving in town.

What is it? Synchronize traffic lights on major arteries. Synchronized lights would enable motorists who drive at a predetermined speed to get green lights for the majority of their trips (much unlike my recent weekday trip, about noon, from the federal building to Hickam on Nimitz Highway -- 14 of 17 lights were red when I got to them!). The lights could be synchronized to expedite moving traffic into town in the morning and out of town in the afternoon.

More than 30 years ago, when my wife and I lived in California, we were astounded to discover synchronized traffic lights with signs, "Lights synchronized at 33.5 mph." It's no surprise that everyone drove at 33.5 mph because driving faster or violating a red light meant that you'd soon catch another red light.

This can be done with 1970s technology. Can we please try synchronizing traffic lights before we bring back the cams?

P. Yasuhara
Kapolei

Better public schools could end rush hour!

Ah, the greatness of spring break in Hawaii! What is best about spring break? No, not binge drinking and sleeping in. Rather, it is the lack of traffic.

I think the governor and her CARE Commission should reframe the debate about education reform: "Reform Education, Eliminate Traffic." If our public schools were on par with private ones, we would have fewer people burdening the roads by carting their children outside of their districts to private schools. I guess with the Democrats in power, we will be forced only to dream of a traffic-less paradise.

Nicholas Hahn
Honolulu

Marines endangered by lack of training

I am sure our courageous men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq would be delighted to hear of the wonderful support offered by the enlightened people of the Malama Makua and Judge Susan Oki Mollway ("Marines barred from Makua," Star-Bulletin, March 20). I care very much about our environment, but after 36 years of military service and having been shot at in Vietnam, I am deeply concerned about the safety of our troops in far-flung corners of the world. That safety is definitely enhanced by the most realistic training we can provide before they go into harm's way.

No organization in Hawaii that has a better record of caring for the environment than the military.

Realistic training saves lives in combat. That may seem trite, but those who have been in combat will swear it is true.

Dick Macke
Honolulu

Car thief should have been jailed long ago

Regarding Brandon Molina, one of the two individuals involved in the islandwide stolen-car-and-truck police chase: It is very apparent that the desire of Hawaii's liberals to protect the rights of citizens at any and all costs is working. Molina had 26 prior arrests, including12 for stolen vehicles, but only three convictions, one for third-degree theft and two for driving without a license!

Seriously, it is quite apparent that our laws are stacked in favor of the criminal. I am fed up with home break-ins, stolen cars, assaults on citizens and tourists. My visit to the election polls this year will be with a purpose: to vote in new lawmakers who will bring crime under control.

Goodbye to the liberals in government; you have proven election after election after election that you will not change. Come this November, when you hear "Aloha," let us hope it means goodbye!

Charlie Colburn
Honolulu

Bush campaign's 9/11 ads go too far

If President Bush's campaign ads had stuck to the footage of him atop the rubble of the World Trade Center with the bullhorn in his hand there might have been no complaint about his inclusion of 9/11 footage. He showed leadership in that scene.

But using footage of the skeletal remains of the buildings, flag raisings on the scene and firemen carrying out a flag-draped victim went over the top. The latter image, especially, is the height of hypocrisy because Bush has refused to allow the photographing of flag-draped coffins arriving from Iraq on the grounds that America's dead deserve privacy.

Wendy Pollitt
Kaneohe


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Reform bills before Legislature will
improve quality of Hawaii's teachers

The March 18 Star-Bulletin editorial, "Change in standards for nation's teachers should be temporary," made sense but didn't ask the most important question: How will we ensure that Hawaii attracts and keeps highly qualified teachers? Until we take serious steps toward making teaching an attractive profession, any requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind act are moot.

Hawaii can be proud that it has already made significant strides in strengthening teacher standards and providing incentives for highly qualified teachers to stay in Hawaii by rewarding teachers who earn certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association first proposed and attained the certification incentive in contract negotiations, then worked to secure enactment of landmark legislation to provide $5,000 a year for two years to teachers who achieve national board certification.

This money rewards teachers for the hard work required to attain certification and provides a meaningful incentive to attract and retain outstanding educators for Hawaii's schools. More important, it pays big dividends in the classroom.

A controlled study of more than 600,000 student records by the University of Washington and The Urban Institute, "Can Teacher Quality Be Effectively Assessed?", shows that students of National Board Certified Teachers improved on elementary math and reading tests more than pupils whose teachers did not achieve certification. The effects of NBCTs on students who were younger or low-income were even greater.

Since 2001 -- the first year the monetary incentive was offered -- the number of national board certified teachers in our state has grown exponentially.

Governor Lingle recognized the value of national board certification in her State of the State address. And now the House and Senate are taking steps in their respective omni- bus education bills to expand this important program and make it permanent. The proposed program enhancements include a $5,000 bonus per year for each public school teacher who holds current national board certification and a one-time reimbursement of $2,500 for expenses related to the application for national board certification.

The HSTA urges everyone who cares about leaving behind the educational status quo to throw their support behind the Legislature's reform bills and the expansion of the national board certification incentive program.

Joan Lee Husted
HSTA executive director

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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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