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Sunday, April 11, 2004





Traffic planners keep going in circles

I am dumbfounded by these helpless, dilettante "planners." What a waste of other people's (tax) money.

First you install it, and then you remove it.

>> van cameras
>> speed bumps on the Pali Highway
>> Kuhio Avenue Beautification Project (soon, I hope.)
>> Kailua's Keolu Drive traffic-calming plan
>> potholes

Look into your neighborhood. There is more. Too much more. Isn't there any professional guidance?

Dieter Thate
Waikiki

Denying hearings is unAmerican

I am writing in response to Eileen Mortenson's April 8 letter to the editor about House members "protecting" convicted pedophiles. Rep. Eric Hamakawa and his committee are in favor of having convicted pedophiles on the sex offender registry. They were only concerned that a hearing take place first.

The news conference the other day was political grandstanding by House Republicans. Political correctness would tell all of us to just go along with the popular notion of denying hearings for sex offenders. The point Chairman Hamakawa was trying to make was that the prosecutor's office and the courts did not hold hearings for the past two years. Why not?

If we pass a law not allowing a hearing, well, fine. No one likes child molesters. But we need to make sure this doesn't set a precedent for other crimes. It is easy to give up rights but much harder to get them back. If you think, as I do, that sex offenders are dangerous, then let's keep them in prison longer. This registry idea is nonsense.

Carl Dionne
Pahoa, Hawaii

Lawmakers should be protecting victims

When heinous and perverse crimes are being committed by sick individuals on our children, how can elected officials vote to protect convicted sex offenders and pedophiles in Hawaii? Have these so-called representatives of the people sold their souls to the same evil force that drives the monsters to commit these crimes?

I urge voters to use the power of the ballot in November, as wisely suggested by Eileen Mortenson, and vote these misrepresentatives out of office. We should have elected officials who protect the rights of the victims, not the perpetrators.

Efrem Williams
Ewa Beach

Unions obstruct needed school reform

Chris Dein-Gaughen should be commended for her persistence in having smoking by United Public Workers' employees banned in the public schools (Star-Bulletin editorial, April 5). Last year she proposed a bill that would have done just that, but the union opposed it. The bill was not passed because the Legislature believed it was more important to please the union than to provide a healthy school environment.

Dein-Gaughen finally succeeded because she enlisted the assistance of the U.S. Department of Education, which forced the local DOE to comply with federal law banning smoking at schools that accept federal money.

Something similar is happening again. The governor has proposed a bill to improve public education by shifting decision making to the school level, maximizing resources and creating independent school districts. The teachers' and principals' unions have opposed the bill. The Legislature is once again abandoning children in favor of satisfying the unions, but this time there is no federal agency to step in. A watered-down version of the governor's bill will likely pass, but it is far from what the children deserve.

John Kawamoto
Honolulu

Legislators betray public school children

Ron Rhetrik (Letters, April 8) phrases his objection to putting the fate of the Department of Education into the hands of parents and other taxpayers at the next election this way: "If we really want superior education for our children, experts in the field of education should provide the game plan."

When one hears such gibberish, only Mark Twain will suffice: "I am too old to cry and it hurts too much to laugh."

Most of the so-called "experts" in the top-heavy DOE spend zero time in classrooms, and it shows. The DOE refuses to establish a common core curriculum. Why? Clearly, the DOE lacks:

>> confidence in its own "expertise" to devise a common core curriculum,
>> faith in the teachers' ability to teach a common core curriculum, and
>> belief that Hawaii's public school children can master a common core curriculum.

The DOE is paralyzed with a deeply ingrained sense of cultural and intellectual inferiority.

Teachers and parents know better. Our kids are bright and capable. They deserve a competent education. They do not deserve the chaotic, humbug, bumbling "standards" run-around they are now being subjected to by DOE bureaucrats who desperately want to escape accountability for measurable results.

In denying taxpaying voters a chance to have their say in November on whether the dysfunctional DOE should survive, our legislators have betrayed the children of this state.

Thomas E. Stuart
Public school teacher
Kapaau, Hawaii

Mufi should focus on bettering city services

Mayoral candidate Mufi Hannemann has begun running newspaper ads outlining his campaign platform. He talks about concentrating on basic city services, yet his platform would have the city doing economic development (an NFL preseason game); creating a ferry system between Leeward Oahu and downtown; improving education; and landscaping the University of Hawaii area.

Aren't those state functions? It seems like Mufi might want to rethink his priorities and focus on the basic city services really needed now.

Patrick Stanley
Honolulu

Wienert is valuable to isle tourism

Regarding the article "Lingle criticizes effort to cut liaison post" (Star-Bulletin, April 6): The Legislature, and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Brian Taniguchi in particular, have reversed the cliché and are saying, "If it's fixed, break it!"

Marsha Wienert has been an articulate and productive proponent of our state's tourism industry for years. Installing her as tourism liaison was not only a good idea, it's working! Cutting the funding for her position is ludicrous.

I publish pocket-size visitors guides that are printed in five languages and distributed to Hawaii visitors before they leave home. Wienert's informed and incisive support helped me get the guides launched.

She also has captured the imagination of the state's three new international "marketing partners" and has stimulated the kind of creative thinking that promises to do wonders for our international marketing efforts.

Wienert is hardly redundant, as Taniguchi suggests. She is on that horse out in front, leading the charge against the forces -- most of them in the Capitol quagmire -- that resist innovation and progress in Hawaii's most essential industry.

Damn it, put that funding back where it belongs!

Ted Sturdivant
Honolulu

Poorly lighted city endangers citizens

My heart nearly stopped when I read that a woman was attacked last week while jogging near Kapiolani Park. She is lucky that police officers intervened and that she was not complacent but fought back against her attacker.

Has anyone else noticed how dark some areas are around Waikiki? The zoo parking lot is an example. The dark enclaves and bushes around the city provide an environment that is potentially unsafe for everyone -- young or old, male or female.

Shouldn't we have brighter street lights? The lights we have are energy efficient and rather dim. Well-lighted areas are a deterrent to criminals, and clearing out some of the curbside bushes would add to visibility.

Does someone have to be brutally attacked, or even worse, for city officials to notice the danger of our poorly lighted streets?

Marie Tutko
Mililani

Blame the president, not the newspaper

In her April 9 letter, Vicki Wood of Mililani complained about a graphic photo that ran in this paper and in media worldwide, depicting the burned bodies of U.S. civilian contractors hanging from a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq. While I can appreciate that she finds this subject matter gruesome and unpleasant, her complaint is misdirected.

This paper is reporting the war, not leading it. Responsibility for this tragedy lies with the Bush administration. The president led us into this war under false claims and exaggerated threats. His leadership, without help from a real international coalition, is proving to be lethal for Americans. If anyone owes anyone an apology it is President Bush to the American people for leading us down this deadly path.

I don't know how anyone can believe that this war is making us safer. Almost every day more people are dying. I urge Wood and everyone to send the president a message: "We're sick of your war."

Eduardo Hernandez
Maunalani Heights

Public needs to see war's brutality

Regarding Vicki Wood's letter objecting to the Star-Bulletin's use of a photo showing the bodies of the security detail that was ambushed in Iraq:

The images are horrific. But to be quite frank, Americans need to see them. Such photos reveal the type of people the coalition is up against. These images help readers form an opinion for or against the effort over there. We either go there and win and fight unfair, or pull out half-----ed like Somalia and Vietnam. Go there to win, or just don't go. Simple as that.

Kudos to the Star-Bulletin for having the integrity to run that picture.

Brad Hayes
Kapolei

Lawmakers can agree on energy future

Our state has a great opportunity to invest in our long-term economy, secure our energy supply and protect our precious environment, all at once.

Hawaii's state House and Senate are trying to reconcile two bills, HB 2389 and SB 2474, before their regular session ends. The bills would establish a new Renewables Portfolio Standard, causing a slightly higher percentage of our power to come from renewable sources every few years until 2020.

Governor Lingle wants 20 percent by 2020. The House bill calls for 20 percent; the Senate bill for 30 percent. Studies show we could do even better, but 30 percent would be a great start. Renewable sources now provide only 7 percent of Hawaii's power and that number is falling.

Demand for more renewable energy will provide vast opportunities here for business innovation. Our exceptional sources of natural energy -- sun, wind, water, biomass and geothermal -- give Hawaii the means to kick our oil habit.

The Legislature should make a serious RPS a high priority.

Brodie Lockard
Kailua

Hawaii does not reward its scholars

Hawaii is overlooking an obvious explanation for the disappointing national test scores of Hawaii's children: Scholarship is not a priority in Hawaii. Just consider how Hawaii treats athletes and scholars.

Athletes' scores are posted, often in lights and in the news, even though it makes those with lower scores feel bad. Scholars are increasingly denied the satisfaction of a score as schools increasingly abandon grades. Where there are grades, a scholar's grades are hidden, not posted as they once were.

Ball players who have problems with scholarship are given tutors and more. Scholars who don't play ball well are ignored, if they are lucky, and made fun of, ridiculed or worse, if not.

Ball players with above-average skill are given special coaches and special resources to maximize their development. Brilliant young scholars with above-average ability have had their advanced classes taken away, and are condemned to classes that prevent them from developing their skills.

For athletes who win games, the entire school is shut down for hours for a rally that all students must attend to laud them. For scholars who win prestigious scholarships, the gym is made available at night, provided there is no ball game scheduled and they bring their own audience.

And has there ever been a special training table in the cafeteria for scholars?

So why is anyone surprised that scholarship is not an area in which Hawaii's children excel? Playing is more fun, more rewarding and more recognized.

George L. Berish
Honolulu

Bainum's stand on pool unfathomable

The broom-wielding mayoral candidate Duke Bainum should take a few swipes at his own house. When he introduced the $11.5 million Natatorium restoration bill to the City Council six years ago, he pledged not to support "one more nickel of public money" for the restoration.

Apparently, allegiances to Waikiki interests supportive of this tourist-destination project are stronger than his word. As a legislator, he sponsored a bill to turn Kaimana Beach into a tourist fish-feeding spill-over area for Hanauma Bay. This bill was defeated after strong community objection.

In spite of his advertised moral high ground, Bainum decided to ignore his promise about Natatorium funding. Instead, using name and position as candidate for mayor, he solicited members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee to vote in favor of Senate Bill 2214 allocating another $3 million to the Natatorium restoration. Fortunately, the committee voted against the allocation and the bill was defeated.

It is ironic that Bainum, a medical doctor, would be willing to support this project, given the extensive testimony regarding the dangers and enormous health risks of an untreated saltwater pool.

Rick Bernstein
Kaimana Beach Coalition

Committee chairmen must give up power

I enjoyed the editorial on the Legislature's internal rules ("Citizens must not let 'chair veto' rise again," April 9).

I have seen multiple occasions when bills proposed by the minority party do not get hearings, and at present nothing can be done about it. If this could change, and not allow chairman of committees to have complete control, it would benefit citizens who have concerns that are now not being met.

Marian Grey
Hawaii Kai


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