Letters to the Editor

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Friday, December 31, 2004

Bandmaster Mahi should keep his baton

We are saddened to learn that Mayor-elect Mufi Hannemann will replace 20-year Royal Hawaiian Band leader Aaron D. Mahi ("Band director to be replaced next year." Star-Bulletin, Dec. 30). This is a great mistake. The position should not be governed by "politics," but by choosing the most competent, educated, capable and experienced musician and leader. Mahi is pure Hawaiian and speaks the language and teaches band members to sing in the language correctly. He is an inspiration to the band and to the diverse audiences that hear them perform!

Mahi has improved the band's stature over many years and has been honored internationally for his musical accomplishments. To replace him with a political appointee would be to downgrade the Royal Hawaiian Band to the status of an ordinary marching band. The band now exemplifies excellence, stature and traditional Hawaiian music values and adds great luster to the reputation and appeal of Honolulu as a visitor destination and cultural asset. Those qualities are personified by Mahi. Let's keep him doing this excellent job!

Victor Rittenband and Nancy Gustafsson Rittenband

Mayor's legacy will be higher taxes

What has Mayor Harris done this year besides raise property taxes twice? Doesn't he realize there are retired people living here who are just managing to keep ahead of the wolves and have no way to increase their retirement income?

Perhaps it is time to lower the property tax so that retired people here will have more to spend on their homes. Who decided that property values have increased so much?

This increase is typical of Democrats who believe that when all else fails, raise taxes to cover expenses.

Perhaps one day Mayor Harris will be facing the same wolves that the retired people of Oahu are facing. I urge him to think about that as he leaves office.

Curtis R.Rodrigues

Give the police tools to punish bad drivers

It's too bad the state has not acted against careless drivers. Changing and making new laws will not solve the problem ("Lingle's traffic plan includes Dem ideas / Her proposals address excessive speeding and pedestrian traffic," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 29).

Providing resources to assist law enforcement to enforce current laws will work. Speeding, red-light running, stop-sign running, tailgating and general inattention to driving are some of the causes. This should not surprise state officials since we have had much public debate about these conditions during the past several years while many have lost their lives.

Kenneth L. Barker

Thanks to all who help feed the hungry

For many the holiday season brings together friends and family, but for others it also brings an increased need for food. During this time of year, food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks, such as the Hawaii Foodbank, Inc., are working extra hard to feed the hungry. We commend them for their diligence and dedication.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service administers the nutrition assistance programs that were initiated as a safeguard against hunger -- our nation's nutrition safety net.

In 2003, nearly 90 percent of U.S. households had access to enough food for active, healthy living. Despite the strength of our nutrition safety net, the problem of hunger still persists. In 2003, 3.9 million households had at least one person who went hungry because they could not afford enough food.

We want to thank all the individuals and organizations, including America's Second Harvest, involved in reducing hunger and improving nutrition. They are helping us get closer to realizing our vision of ending hunger.

Allen Ng
Western Region regional administrator
U.S.D.A. Food and Nutrition Service

Population growth should be curbed

There have been many letters recently about the lack of affordable housing. Most of the letter writers blame our city and state governments for unnecessarily restricting the supply of new housing, thereby driving prices up.

While I agree that it is a supply vs. demand issue, I don't agree with the notion that we should let developers build on every open space simply to alleviate prices.

We need to find a way to stop huge numbers of people from moving here and creating a huge demand for housing.

At the university level, we charge out-of-state tuition to assure space for local students and to help subsidize their costs. Maybe we need a similar mechanism for housing. The bonus is that if we slow down the population growth on Oahu it will prevent other problems from worsening -- traffic congestion, homelessness, sewage spills and water shortages.

Bryan Mick

STDs' epidemic dwarfs other health threats

The Joint U.N. Program on AIDS estimates that there were 36 million people with AIDS in the year 2000. The number of people with AIDS in the United States was 774,467 as of Dec. 31, 2000. Other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes, are associated with becoming sexually active and switching partners. Botulism, anthrax, SARS and even smallpox pale in comparison to the number of sexually transmitted diseases.

Still, the loss of 116,000 people (and rising) in the Southeast Asian earthquake and tidal surge commands attention. The spread of cholera in the wake of a storm surge in Bangladesh in 1996 was forestalled in some measure by $20,000 raised in Hawaii by Jan Rumi, also by a U.S. military team under the command of then-Marine Lt. Gen. Henry Stackpole.

Now, because the entire rim of the Indian Ocean is involved, the problems of providing potable water and separating wells from cisterns is on a whole other magnitude of difficulty than Bangladesh.

Richard Thompson
Honolulu resident
Currently visiting professor at Kyung Hee University
Suwon, Korea

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