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Sunday, April 18, 2004





Waikiki doesn't need another high-rise

The city should not approve a proposed zoning change to allow a high-rise condo or time-share on the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Kalaimoku in Waikiki. Apartment owners in that area invested considerable money in their units, thinking their ocean view would be safe because current zoning laws prohibit another tall building.

That area needs a supermarket to serve the thousands of residents who live within two or three blocks of the site. The spot is perfect for a market and is large enough to provide plenty of customer parking.

Added traffic, blocked views and breezes, fewer parking spaces, more noise and unhappy residents would be the consequences of allowing a new 30-story building in Waikiki.

Here's hoping the city will stick up for the longtime residents of Waikiki by forsaking this big-money developer and disapproving a zoning change.

Ray Graham
Waikiki

Gabbard candidacy rooted in bigotry

I thought the most pressing public issues on the Big Island were traffic, the "ice" epidemic and soaring housing costs. Imagine my surprise when I learned instead that the critical issue facing Hawaii is to "protect the sacred institution of marriage."

I learned this through ads placed in Big Island newspapers by Mike Gabbard, who is running for Congress.

I had never heard of Gabbard, so I read through his ad to find out his qualifications. This wasn't easy to do. He mentions that his dad served selflessly at Hickam Air Force Base, he joined a Catholic seminary -- and later dropped out -- and eventually produced five offspring.

Finally, the ad discloses that Gabbard is an educator and coach. This made me wonder what he teaches gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered kids. Does he explain to his students why he thinks not everybody deserves equal protection under the law? Or does he teach why using a hurtful, divisive wedge issue is appropriate in a political campaign?

Does he tell his students how bigots in this country once used the term "states' rights" to prevent certain people from gaining their full civil rights? I doubt it. It might remind them of those who today use terms like "protecting traditional marriage" to deny certain people their full civil rights.

Robert Ristelhueber
Kona, Hawaii

Coverage of Rice's testimony was slanted

The Star-Bulletin did a disservice to readers by printing the New York Times' negative slant of the Condoleezza Rice testimony. Anyone reading her entire testimony and all her answers to rude, politically motivated 9/11 commission members will have a more rational view.

Rice clearly laid out many security actions taken before 9/11. In the world pre-9/11, no one would have questioned the reasonableness of these actions, and I doubt any Congress or president, no matter the party, would have done much more. Would we have tolerated the current security at our airports prior to 9/11?

The memo that warned of Osama bin Laden's attack in the United States was no more than speculation, but it also stated that the FBI was tracking the terrorists. Rice correctly characterized the memo as information that had no specific threats. Therefore, no specific action except what was already being done seems reasonable.

Paul Yamashita
Honolulu

Truth cannot be found in U.S. news alone

What is at the root of the increasingly heated debate between Republicans and Democrats? I have concluded that the division is not ideological or political. Rather, it is between those who believe that the major U.S. news media, in conjunction with the White House, are truthful, and those who do not.

I grew up with news media that were reliable for the most part, and international sources usually confirmed this. But now, "reality" as described by the international press is vastly different from that told by FOX, CNN and the White House.

Americans are as intelligent as any other people. If we know the truth, we pretty much come to the same conclusions, or at least won't be violently opposed. The depth of the division today is proof that lies are being told and believed.

Get informed. See "reality" through the eyes of those outside the United States. Even if you don't agree with the "other side," at least you will understand, and understanding always takes the wind of anger out of the sails of conflict.

When the truth is known we all can see that what is best for me is also good for you and what is best for the U.S. is also good for all the other countries.

Anam Kinsey
Paia, Maui

President was warned, but didn't take heed

At his press conference last Tuesday, President Bush dismissed the Aug. 6, 2001, briefing memo warning that al-Qaida wanted to use planes to crash into U.S. buildings as only historical background. If Bush had been the captain of the Titanic, he would have claimed that they were just stopping for ice.

Joseph Geden
Honolulu

Senator's remarks insult OHA members

In the April 2 article "OHA signs on to Lingle's school plan," Sen. Norman Sakamoto (D-Salt Lake, Foster Village) said that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs endorsed the governor's education reform bill because the trustees don't understand the issue.

What does he mean by that? Is he implying that OHA members would vote on a complicated matter without under- standing the issue, or does he mean they are not capable of understanding a complicated issue?

Keoni Willing
Waianae

Reform bill undermines legislators' argument

The Legislature has failed the people again. In their infinite wisdom, legislators have decided to cut short the debate and consideration by the voters of the governor's education proposals for multiple local school boards. Yet their plan is seriously flawed and fake reform.

Decentralizing education by empowering principals and school councils is in direct opposition to retaining the current centralized Board of Education. So who has the power -- the schools or the BOE?

Further, does the Legislature want to centralize or decentralize? The message being sent is confusing and ripe for more turmoil in school governance. Further, how can you take away or reduce the powers of an agency that is embedded in our state Constitution?

That's why there is a need to place the governor's proposal on the November ballot and let the people decide.

Between now and November the voters will hear why the Legislature's bill requires the BOE to hold informal meetings in the seven regions each year. This is a strong acknowledgement for local community input. It argues for constitu- tionally mandated local school boards.

James Y. Marn Jr.
Honolulu

Democrats don't trust the people's judgment

Whether the education reform bill is "fake" or "real" is a moot point for me, my friends and community. We are concerned that our leaders do not believe we should have the right to vote on whether Hawaii should have multiple school districts.

Our opinion regarding local, elected school boards is not as important as the issue of our representatives not allowing us to vote on it. Democratic legislators are letting their opinion turn into a patriarchal debate about the idea that the public is incapable of voting on this issue, therefore, the governor's reform measure will not make it. Democrats are acting as authoritative leaders, not democratic representatives.

They base their representation on the past, allow little competition for or interference with the power of their regime and try to enforce cultural and often social norms. This is not democracy.

Cathleen Matsushima
Honolulu

Parents, not boards, make the difference

People seem to be clinging to the concept of school boards like it was the last life preserver on a sinking Titanic. And while I understand that pointing fingers and playing victim is the American way, it won't reform our public schools.

What's needed is a wholehearted attempt by parents to take responsibility for their children's education. Set ground rules for your kids and don't let them spend all of their free time watching TV, playing video games or talking on the phone. Ask for periodic progress reports to track how your child is doing. I know that saying your child has an A+ average isn't as cool or exciting as saying he was an all-star in Little League, but if you encourage and praise him for doing well in school, he'll put as much effort into school as he does trying to hit that home run for you.

Public education reform is supposed to be about accountability. Make sure you remember that the next time you look in the mirror.

Kevin Chong
Mililani

Children are victims of education problems

The Board of Education, Hawaii State Teachers Association, Democrats and Republicans need to talk story with one another and come to the conclusion that the children are the real victims of their problems. Everyone needs to answer the important questions of what is wrong with our system and how it could be corrected.

Charter schools are a new beginning in the education field and we all need to know if the children are learning and happy. Find out how the system works and, if needed, go out and visit these schools. Talk to these teachers and students. The world is changing and we all need to be more alert and not afraid to accept changes.

Lucy M. Akau

Legislators should listen to oil expert

Until the pro-gas cap legislators can rebut each point of Fereidun Fesharaki's know- ledgeable commentary (Insight, April 11) and prove that they have the slightest clue about what they are actually "for," they should do each of us a personal favor and shut up.

Fesharaki would probably bill thousands of dollars for sharing his wisdom with government officials. Let's be grateful for his concern about Hawaii's economy and heed his experienced advice. In this whole debate, he seems to be the only one making any sense.

Rob James
Kailua

Sunset on Beach film was great success

Last week we were honored to have our film, "Sumo East and West," screened at Sunset on the Beach as part of the Hawaii International Film Festival's Spring Fling ("Following Sumo," Weekend section, April 2).

Since our world premiere last May, we have had many screenings around the country but this was by far the most special and memorable. Indeed, with 6,000 to 8,000 people in attendance, more people saw "Sumo" at Sunset on the Beach than at all our previous screenings combined.

Nowhere have we encountered such wonderful hospitality or such a receptive audience. The venue was particularly appropriate since the film is about the groundbreaking achievements of Hawaii-born athletes in this ancient Japanese sport.

We sincerely hope that the city will continue to fund Sunset on the Beach.

Ferne Pearlstein Robert Edwards
New York City

Developing Makena will ruin Maui coast

It's sad that Maui County has approved the development of Makena in south Maui. As one drives along the coast of south Maui and through Wailea, the whole area has been surrendered to the developers. The area past Maui Prince was the only area where one got an unobstructed view of mauka to makai.

The county is not acting in the interest of the people who testified about the development and disapproved of Seibu's plans to develop the aina.

I wish the county would act boldly to zone the land as conservation. I want my children to go to Makena and experience starlit nights and the aina from mauka to makai undeveloped in its natural beauty.

Mark Guerin
Honolulu


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