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Sunday, June 6, 2004





Carlyle Group's past acts should leave consumers wary

The Carlyle Group is a leveraged buy-out organization that has never owned a phone company the size of Verizon Hawaii. The Carlyle Group has been known to invest for high rates of return by selling off parts of the businesses that it buys because the pieces are worth more and turn a quick profit. Their approach has not always been a long-term commitment to a business they acquire.

On May 12, Sen. John McCain of Arizona had a hearing to discuss telecommunications policies in the competitive marketplace. In atten- dance were the CEOs of Verizon, Alltel, ComCast and more. Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon, testified before the committee that "Since the act (1996 Telecommunications Act) the only way any (telephone) company has made money in the wire line business is by selling itself.

That is a 100 percent true statement, so no one is making money organically; they're making it because they run the business to a certain point they have to merge with somebody or sell the assets."

If Seidenberg's statement is true, and the largest telephone company (Verizon) cannot turn a profit, how will Carlyle do it without selling some parts of Verizon Hawaii for a quick return on its investment?

Verizon Hawaii has had a poor record regarding its ability to invest in new telephone cable infrastructure.Often, when there is a rainstorm on Oahu or the neighbor islands, outages go into the several hundreds above the normal, everyday count. The majority of these outages are caused by outdated, leaded copper cable that is prone to water damage.

The Carlyle Group will need to be committed for the long term and act as a true part of the community. Just as someone who buys rental property in their own neighborhood, they are likely to take better care of their rental when they are a neighbor as well as a landlord.

If Carlyle buys Verizon Hawaii it will have to invest money in repairing the outdated leaded cables. This expense will be in the millions of dollars and require years of commitment.

I come to the conclusion that the Carlyle Group is likely to sell off a lot of the non-profitable parts of Verizon Hawaii once it is purchased and keep only the most profitable pieces rather than be in for the long run. If this is true, is the Carlyle Group's deal in the best interest of the state of Hawaii?

George Waialeale
Honolulu

Don't bother trying to fight Nordstrom

As one of the leaders in the campaign against the embedding of the world's largest Wal-Mart in a residential area with no access streets, I am now being drenched with calls and e-mails from people concerned about Nordstrom's plan to install something almost as large about a hundred yards away.

I have some advice for these people worried about the future of our city:

>> The city will give you no help whatever of any kind on any issue -- traffic, pollution, noise, zoning or quality of life. (There are cities, such as Inglewood, Oakland, Dallas, Chicago and New York, that care about their people; Honolulu doesn't give a rap.)

>> The Hawaii court system is a hideously expensive Catch-22 in which the ordinary citizen doesn't have a shot in hell.

>> The lobbyists for huge developments, combined with the owners of the countless hostess bars in the area, will swamp you with money and influence in the right places. You will find they count far far more than you do.

Good luck.

Jim Becker
Honolulu

Court is best place to resolve baby's death

While they surely mean well, the people and organizations opposed to the prosecution of Tayshea Aiwohi are missing a huge aspect of the case: this woman allegedly killed her child! Alleged criminals are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it is our civic duty to resolve every alleged crime.

Kudos to City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle for not giving in to the mercy cause. Trying the case in a court of law is the only way to find the proper way to deal with a tragedy like this. If the prosecutor were to write this off as a medical misfortune, he would be saying, "Who needs a judicial branch? I am judge and jury here!" And what a precedent to set for the countless other crimes committed each year where drugs are involved.

"Critics say prosecuting women for using drugs, alcohol or tobacco will deter women from seeking drug treatment and prenatal care, which is considered crucial for the health of any baby" (Star-Bulletin, May 24). Isn't it crucial for the health of any baby to have responsible, law-abiding parents who will make the effort to care for it?

"Drug dependency is a medical condition, not a crime," say the authors of a May 24 letter to the editor. Yes, the dependency is an illness, but the choice a person makes to first use an illegal substance is a crime.

My heart goes out to Aiwohi, her child and their tragedy. But let's not worry that this crime might damage the lives of more children; let's allow justice to run its course and strive to build a society where we do not have to worry about the dangers illegal drugs pose to our children.

Jeffrey Tillson
Aiea

City needs to expand DMV -- right now!

It's hard to believe -- but true. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't slept on the street last night all in the vain hope of taking the road test to obtain a Hawaii drivers' license.

Apparently the city has two few driving examiners. You can make an appointment to take the test if you can wait three months! Or you can wait in line on a city street overnight -- there is no order, people cut in line and when the license office opens its doors at 7:45 a.m., 50 to 100 people are routinely turned away, thoroughly exhausted and disgruntled.

This is an essential city service, and the driver's license office acknowledges that this outrageous situation has existed for years! Could it be that we have too much aloha that we are willing to put up with this? How much longer can our aloha survive if city services do not rise to meet the demands of our increasing population?

Christine D. Weger
Honolulu

Council, mayor give homeless no aloha

Aloha State? I don't think so. Arrests and fines for being homeless. Put them in jail because they can't find a bathroom. Now the lame-duck mayor and the bickering City Council have managed to screw up the $15.3 million allocation to build some much-needed housing for the homeless.

I am afraid that money will appear in the budget for another pet project here -- jails. That seems to be the answer to problems they are unwilling to solve.

Pat Meyers
Kailua

Stories allow readers to 'see' remote island

Mahalo to the Star-Bulletin's Susan Scott for her June 3 story on Tern Island. I enjoyed reading about all the natural beauty this remote island has to offer, and can't wait to read the rest of her series.

Alvin Wong
Pearl City

'Family fun' shouldn't include shooting guns

I am writing about the story "Operation Family Fun" in the Hawaii section of last Sunday's paper. I cringed when I saw the photo of three young boys with big smiles on their faces being shown how to fire an Army rifle. It took place at a picnic held at Schofield Barracks for relatives of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What are they teaching those kids? That war is fun and games? The cruel irony is that their military relatives are in danger of losing their lives in the Middle East because of guns and other weapons. And this was on the day we were honoring and mourning the 800 Americans who have lost their lives in the Iraqi war.

Jan Sanders
Honolulu

If true believers vote, Bush is sure to win

This fall in Hawaii and across the nation, Americans will to go the polls and elect a president -- one who will influence the direction in which the country's moral compass will point.

A born-again Christian, President George W. Bush favors pro-life, is against partial-birth abortion and is for a constitutional amendment that says marriage in the United States is for one man and one woman.

His opponent, soon to be Democractic candidate John Kerry, opposes all that we consider Christian family values.

All Evangelical Christians -- those who ought to be most concerned with moral values -- need to go to the polls and vote for Bush. If all Evangelical Christians go to the polls in November and vote their conscience, Bush will be re-elected by a landslide.

Melvin Partido Sr.
Pearl City

Gabbard reaches out to help addicts quit

I've been an "ice" user for most of my adult life. This drug has taken me to terrible, dark places that I never thought I would go. I've just spent the last year in rehab getting cleaned up, and I think that I have finally kicked this drug habit.

One of the most memorable experiences of my time in rehab was when about 400 recovering users like myself were invited by City Councilman Mike Gabbard to see a free screening of a movie called "Whale Rider."

This movie was powerful and touching and really had an amazing effect on me and a lot of my friends who are trying to turn their lives around.

Now Gabbard has decided to run for Congress. I'm happy to hear this because Washington could use a few more "out of the box" thinkers who can bring the heart back into politics.

Kimo Kalama
Kailua

Gabbard genuinely cares for community

I don't see genuine sincerity in congressional candidates as often as I'd like, but when I do it tells me a lot about the person and how comfortable I will feel about them representing me. I'm writing because at a recent a meeting of senior citizens I saw an example of sincerity that left me touched.

City Councilman Mike Gabbard, a candidate for Congress, could not have been more humble and respectful when he approached a lady in a wheelchair, took her hand and ask how she was feeling. Although I couldn't hear what he said, I saw her eyes light up slowly as Mike sat down and engaged her in conversation. A lot of people wanted Mike's attention, but they saw the sincerity I witnessed and honored it by not interrupting him even though he spent a lot of time with her.

We all want attention, and it's so refreshing to see someone running for office who understands how important it is to listen and who genuinely cares about people and treats every one with dignity and respect. Mike Gabbard has true aloha and I'd like him to represent me in Washington.

Vanessa Birang
Honolulu

Bring troops home as soon as possible

Since the Bush-Cheney rationale for the Iraq war, the WMDs, was fraudulent, and the United States has stained its reputation with the images of Iraqi prisoner torture and murder, the White House is in disarray. The only way now to salvage things and to support our troops is by getting them out of there as soon as possible.

This misguided, Big Oil-serving Bush administration has botched the war effort, which should never have been launched. The so-called "war against terrorism" has been seriously undermined, and international support and good will have been lost. Surveys show that the United States is now perceived by much of the world as the greatest threat to peace and security.

Meanwhile, gas prices and oil company profits reach record levels. Americans are being gravely hurt by inflation, a net loss of more than 3 million jobs, and the spiraling costs of the Iraq and Afghan occupations -- more than $5 billion a month for Iraq alone! Imagine how those monies might have improved the quality of education, nutrition, health care and life in the U.S. and elsewhere. Instead, these vital funds are being drained away in a losing, counterproductive effort in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry should wake up and stop promising to do a better job in Iraq. Instead, he should lay out a plan for bringing the troops home and making amends to the Iraqis, whose country we have ravished and whose citizens we have dislocated, jailed, tortured, or slaughtered by design or error.

John Witeck
Honolulu

Bermuda security contract sounds bogus

"Billion-dollar security contract awarded" (Star-Bulletin, June 2) is yet another horrifying example of the Bush administration's harm to Americans. It describes a multibillion-dollar award by the Homeland Security Department to a Bermuda corporation to secure our national borders. Isn't this hard to believe?

According to the Star-Bulletin, "some critics attacked the idea of awarding a contract so valuable and important to national security to a company with its headquarters outside of the United States."

First, we need to find out how we can cancel this hazardous action. Then we need to know who made this decision, who benefits from it, how long it will take to cancel and who will be punished for this misdeed.

Jerome G. Manis
Honolulu

Tax bill would aid farmers in short term

There are flaws in the law on agricultural real property taxes on Oahu. The new ordinance created a situation where the tax assessed values for the real property tax for a farmer increased from $2,500 to $40,000 per acre for diversified agriculture; and $7,000-$10,000 to $40,000 per acre for vacant agricultural lands. These increases were based on fair market value and not on agricultural commodities.

The 5 percent one-time adjustment for 2004-2005 originally proposed in Bill No. 35, was based on the city's calculations that given the difference in how the values were calculated, an adjustment of 5 percent represented "revenue neutral" or taxes approximately the same as last year. The mayor's budget projects revenues from agricultural lands to increase from $4 million last year to $14 million this year. For those unable to dedicate their lands for 10 years, they would see their taxes increase by more than 300 percent

In fairness, what other class of lands on Oahu has tax revenue projected to be increased by 300 percent from last year?

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi realized that the existing law was flawed and, left as is, would create financial problems for farmers. Bill 35 is a short-term fix for this year to allow all parties to work on a real property tax methodology that is fair and reasonable to all parties.

Dean Uchida
Executive director
Land Use Research Foundation of Hawaii

Oahu provides aloha, intense experience

Mahalo to so many for the wonderful time we had on the beautiful island of Oahu. We are so appreciative that we have been able to take the drives, enjoy the walks, breathe the air, experience the ocean, stand in awe of the mountains, smell the flowers, see the intense colors, feel and listen to the wind and absorb the beauty of the rainbows.

Most of all thank you to the people; those who have become friends, and those of you who talked with us on the bus, at the Ala Moana Food Court, in Wahiawa, Makaha, Hawaii Kai, Waipahu, Waimanalo and most everywhere else on the island. Thanks to you whose jobs made our visit possible and pleasant.

A special thanks to the fantastic musicians of the islands, who made our visit so special. (You know who you are!) The island music goes with us to our Chicago home, and keeps the spirit of aloha in our hearts.

Phyllis and Lanny Younger
New Lenox, Ill.


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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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