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Monday, May 17, 2004





When will the city fix sewage system?

We've sent a man to the moon. We've cloned sheep. But the city can't seem to prevent sewage spills (Star-Bulletin, May 5). It has failed to prevent hundreds of spills in the past five years, failed to protect residents and visitors from polluted water and failed to comply with laws meant to protect our environment.

By July 2002, the city was supposed to begin disinfecting sewage at Sand Island. Nearly two years later, this has not been done and the treatment plant continues to discharge 60 to 80 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the ocean.

The ocean is not only our playground, but also is part of the allure for our tourism-based economy. How can we continue to ignore the mismanagement of our city's sewage system?

I applaud the Sierra Club and others for stepping forward to put an end to the city's chronic polluting of our waters. The city has failed its citizens, and if legal action is the only means of getting it to respond to public concerns, then so be it.

Karina Umehara
Honolulu

Highway fund raided to pay for union raises

How can the state repair and build new roads after legislators voted to transfer road tax revenues of more than $39 million from 2003 and 2004 to the state general fund to pay their union supporters' pay raises? The short answer is, it can't.

But that's exactly what the Legislature voted to do for the past two years, and our roads show every bump, pothole and delayed improvement that this funding raid has caused.

For years Ewa Beach residents have been told by our legislators that Fort Weaver Road would be widened and that the 27-year delayed North/South road would start construction in 2004. Now these same legislators just voted to raid the funds that were to be used to start this project.

What could Sen. Willie Espero, Rep. Romy Mindo and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo have been thinking when they voted to raid the funds their district so badly needs? Ewa Beach motorists sitting on Fort Weaver Road for more than 45 minutes to get to H-1 should remember that their legislators voted to support their union friends over their constituents.

Pam Lee Smith
Ewa Beach

Gabbard's money comes in small doses

I like the idea of electing a representative to Congress who got his campaign funding from grassroots support rather than political action committees. It beholds him to the people, not special interests. That's what I like about Mike Gabbard; 98 percent of the $100,000 he has raised so far comes from individual supporters, while 50 percent of the money his opponent, Rep. Ed Case, has raised came from political action committees.

Congressional campaigns typically need million-dollar budgets, but it's clear that Case is not too worried. For good reason. He already gets $1.2 million in tax dollars to communicate with his constituents.

What riles me most is that some of my tax money funds Case's campaign, regardless of whether I want to.

Gabbard, on the other hand, has a good grassroots campaign under way, and I like that.

Ronna McQuire
Keaau, Hawaii

Hawaii must remain open to all religions

Congressional candidate Mike Gabbard says he is concerned about "judicial activism gone wild." Is anyone in Hawaii concerned about religious activism gone wild? All Hawaii residents should reflect on the repercussions of allowing a certain religion to impose its beliefs and modify our laws.

Which religion should take precedence? Baptist over Buddhism? Methodist over Hinduism? Catholic over Hawaiian? Well, that's what happen in the 19th century. As a result, Hawaiian religious beliefs are now practiced every Friday night at various luau shows in Waikiki! Haven't we learned anything from our history?

» The law should apply to all.

» The law should be blind to our diversity. No excuses.

» Religion is no excuse to discriminate. No religion should be above the law.

Can our legislators remember that? Can we? For Hawaii's sake, I hope so.

Kike'e Carrazana
Haena, Kauai

Title change degrades job of 'social worker'

As a University of Hawaii student pursuing a master's degree in social work, I am disturbed that the Department of Human Resources and Development plans to eliminate the "social worker" job description and replace it with a general "human service professional" title.

What does this mean? It means that you do not have to have a social work degree to do social work. The requirement to obtain a "human service professional" jobs is to have taken only three academic courses. This is not equivalent to the training that I am receiving from the School of Social Work.

Would you go to a doctor who took only three academic courses of his choosing? No.

Likewise, we should not encourage the state to hire unqualified people to be social workers. The people of Hawaii are being told that they are not worth enough to the state to hire qualified individuals to perform the difficult and often heart-wrenching work we do.

Kelly Baird
Honolulu

Failure of leadership caused Abu Ghraib

I lived a soldier's life for 31 years, and during my first week of service I learned the Army's fundamental principle of responsibility: An officer is responsible for everything his troops do or fail to do. This principle doesn't permit excuses, exceptions or extenuating circumstances. An officer is responsible. Period.

While the media focuses on the enlisted guards who abused detainees in Iraq, I am waiting for the Army to act against the officers who were derelict in their duty -- the company grade officers directly responsible for supervising the soldiers, the lieutenant colonel commander of Abu Ghraib prison, the brigadier general military police brigade commander and the major general responsible for all prisons in Iraq.

Abu Ghraib is an embarrassing example of failed Army officer leadership, a failure that created an environment in which some enlisted soldiers went out of control, and apparently felt safe in doing so. If the Army fails to act against the responsible officers, then the principle of officer responsibility will become meaningless.

T.J. McAniff
Lt. Col., U.S. Army (Retired)
Mililani

Abusing prisoners isn't OK -- ever

Letter writer John L. Werrill (Star-Bulletin, May 15) seems to believe that prisoner abuse is OK because "every one of us" has something to hide. Would he like us to believe that breaking the law is OK as long as nobody finds out about it?

Sorry, but no, I and millions of other decent human beings have nothing to hide.

Furthermore, most of us don't keep our underwear clean in case of cardiac arrest, as Mr. Werrill suggests; rather we keep it clean because clearly it is the right thing to do.

Michael J. Lauck
Honolulu

Rumsfeld's arrogance propels war in Iraq

The United States has created the equivalent of Colonel Bogey, the pompous, arrogant, self-righteous British Colonial Army officer.

Who is it? Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Offense.

The result of Field Marshal Rumsfeld's strategies have led the United States into a political-military swamp, and he can't drain it to get at the alligators. The swamp is beginning to look like quicksand.

The troops in Iraq are being stretched and strained. Much of the pain and humiliation to the United States may have been avoided if Rumsfeld had authorized a larger ground force in Iraq. As Machiavelli, the Italian Renaissance political theorist, observed, "Wars begin where you will, but they do not end where you please."

Tony Locascio
Honolulu


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[ BRAINSTORM! ]

The ponds at the state Capitol are full of icky green stuff. What, besides holding an election, can we do to get rid of all that scum at the Big Square Building? Or should we just replace the ponds with something else?

Tell us what you think, whether you know of a way to clean the ponds or if you'd rather see a remodel of the Capitol grounds. Anything would be an improvement.


Send your ideas by June 16 to:

brainstorm@starbulletin.com

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

Or by fax:
Brainstorm!
c/o Nancy Christenson
529-4750


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How to write us

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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