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Monday, May 3, 2004




E-mail lawmakers today to defeat
'vexatious requester' bill


Help an 11th-hour effort to defeat an atrocious bill that could be used against legitimate citizen watchdogs. SB 3185 is scheduled for final legislative floor votes TODAY. The bill allows the Office of Information Practices to "declare a person a vexatious requester" to deny that person's right to access government records.

All OIP has to do is determine that someone has a "pattern of conduct that excessively interferes with the agency's legitimate responsibilities" and the person has done at least two of the following: (1) submitted large quantity of requests; (2) split requests to minimize costs; (3) abandoned requests when the fee is not waived; (4) requests only marginally promote the public interest; (5) appealed requests without reasonable basis; (6) submitted requests for purposes other than obtaining access to records.

Unbelievable, but true! Although OIP promises cautious application of this law, I don't think the Legislature should ever allow the denial of citizen rights based on such criteria.

Recently a vexatious document requester, who is the inspiration for this bill, pleaded guilty to four counts of harassment. He wrote a letter of apology to 35 agencies, public officials and staff, and is prohibited from contacting them for six months. Ironically, SB 3185 is not meant to stop such harassment. It only gives agencies the right to ignore document requests.

This bill would set a dangerously low threshold for denying people's legal rights. It would have a chilling effect on government watchdogs, researchers and others who regularly seek public documents.

Please ask House and Senate members to vote "no" on SB 3185; email them at sens@capitol.hawaii.gov and reps@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Sen. Les Ihara Jr.
D, Kahala-Palolo




Police, fire fighters should elect chiefs

Police Chief Lee Donahue and Fire Chief Attilio Leonardi both have come through the ranks in Hawaii and know their men well. The men that served with the chiefs know them well, most of them their entire adult life.

Now that we are looking for new replacements, we look everywhere for chiefs we do not know. Who knows what a chief should be? The men do; the majority are career officers with their departments.

Police and fire fighters should elect their own chiefs thereby eliminating government and politics and getting the best officers in the chief's office.

Herbert Kihoi
Waimanalo

Why doesn't 'Idol' tour extend to Hawaii?

On "American Idol," they mentioned a summer tour of the contestants that will go to 50 U.S. cities. I wanted to see when they would be coming to Hawaii, so I checked the tour dates and to my shock, Hawaii is not included in the tour. That simply amazed me. Two of the 12 finalists live in Hawaii and two others auditioned here. Instead of being the highlight of the tour, we are not even included. What a shame.

Paul Han
Honolulu

Don't mail carriers know where BYU-H is?

Several weeks ago, I mailed a letter with time-sensitive documents to a friend in Laie who maintains a box at the Brigham Young University-Hawaii post office. I addressed the letter using his name and "BYU-H Box ####, Laie, Hawaii 96762." A couple of weeks later the envelope was returned marked "Insufficient Address."

After two days of getting no answer from the Laie post office, I contacted acquaintances in that area. They said postal officials were being hard-nosed about mail going to BYU that doesn't include the street address.

On the third day, I talked to the station manager at the post office. He became defensive and interrupted me to say, "That's wrong. That's wrong. We have told them (at BYU) for two years that they need to have the street address." Frustrated, I asked, "You don't know where BYU-H is?" He hung up on me.

Granted, I did not comply with the "letter of the law" of the postal regulations. But Laie is often referred to as a village and once the letter got there, the post-office workers knew very well where it was going.

Barry M. Smith
Holladay, Utah

Bush clings to false excuses about war

This is in response to Bernardo P. Benigno's letter ("President is trying to protect America," Star Bulletin, April 28).

Get real, man!

On April 13, President Bush, in one of his many attempts to circumvent the people's knowledge, implied that Saddam's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction was not wiped out during the 1990s.

He shamelessly continues to connect Saddam Hussein with al-Qaida although it was reported -- by intelligence officials before the war and analysts after it began -- that the terrorists and Saddam share different philosophies. If you don't believe this, ask yourself: If the threat of WMD demanded pre-emptive war in Iraq, how to explain Bush's three-year backburner approach?

Douglas Kouka Allen
Waianae

Many people believed Saddam had WMDs

Many letter writers are calling President Bush a liar -- a serious accusation that ought to be made cautiously. Their reasoning goes that "Iraq had no WMDs and Saddam's regime had no links to al-Qaida."

But a lie is an intentional statement intended to mislead. The president made mistakes maybe, but he didn't lie.

A year ago, everyone believed that Saddam had WMDs. There is ample evidence that he used them before the first Gulf War on the Kurds and there are taunting hints that they are still there -- probably buried in some farm field in Texas-size Iraq or Syria. Regarding an al-Qaida-Saddam link, Stephen Hayes has written extensively on such links in the Weekly Standard. The fact that most of the press has not reported what Hayes has uncovered is a shortcoming of the press, not Bush.

Mike Rethman
Kaneohe

Who's to blame for bumpy roads?

At our last neighborhood board meeting in Pauoa we learned that the City & County can only fill potholes that require 3/4 inches of fill. We were told by the managing director that if the city were to start filling deeper potholes, the union would close down Grace Pacific (the only supplier of repair material) so the city could not get any asphalt for repair work.

It is about time that the city administration and the press in this town put the blame where it belongs for the condition of the roads. All this time I thought it was the transit department when, in fact, it is some union chief who decides which potholes are filled!

Paul E. Smith
Honolulu

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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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