Letters to the Editor

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Rail system is fine if done the right way

Back in 1992, I was vehemently against the rail proposal by then-mayor Frank Fasi An elevated rail system along Nimitz Highway would have utterly destroyed the cityscape and created an eyesore, cutting Aloha Tower, Kakaako and Ala Moana Beach Park off from the rest of the city. Close your eyes and imagine elevated rail today, and it's easy to understand the impact it would have had on the city.

However, I have never been against rail per se. What Honolulu needs is a comprehensive rail system that connects not only the leeward side but also windward Oahu and East Honolulu. Rail in town needs to be underground to preserve the cityscape as well as allow for further development of land. As Honolulu continues to grow and become a densely populated island, like Hong Kong or Manhattan, this will become evident.

Here's to urging today's leaders for a sensible, underground rail system that will serve the island's future population with minimal impact on ground-level landscape. It will be expensive but worth it in the long run.

Jay Caragay
Timonium, Md.
Former Hawaii resident

Akaka bill is best way to protect entitlements

Na'A'ahuhiwa, an organization of retired native Hawaiian judges, takes this opportunity to support passage of Senate Bill 147, commonly referred to as the Akaka bill, which is now pending in the U.S. Senate.

For Hawaiians, this path toward the goal of re-establishing the right of self-government has been an agonizing one, since our sovereign government was illegally seized by American business interests in 1893 and withheld since then by the U.S. government. However, not all Hawaiians agree that the Akaka bill is the appropriate path to self-determination.

Some view the bill as a ploy made to look like sovereignty and self-determination, but is not. They assert that it is really designed to distract them from their objective -- complete independence achieved without the permission of the U.S. government. They believe that the Akaka bill wrongfully equates Hawaiian sovereignty to that of Native American tribes; that under international law, unlike Native American tribes, Hawaii was a sovereign nation prior to its overthrow.

On the other hand, there are other Hawaiians, Na'A'ahuhiwa among them, who are mindful of the tenuous nature of Hawaiian entitlements legislation from Congress and aware of the risks occasioned by court suits seeking to overturn programs benefiting Hawaiians, particularly children. We believe the Akaka bill represents both a vehicle and a safe haven which would allow us to establish a government entity within the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and statutes and will afford protection for these entitlements and benefits. We believe that the passage of the bill and establishment of a "nation within a nation" represents the beginning, not the end, of the road to justice for Hawaiians.

Na'A'ahuhiwa supports the Akaka bill and encourages other Hawaiians to voice their support.

Walter M. Heen

President, Na'A'ahuhiwa

Indigenous Alaskans don't favor drilling

I'm very sorry Senators Inouye and Akaka voted for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The excellent March 17 article by the Associated Press quoted the senators as saying they voted for it to allow Alaska natives the authority to control their ancestral lands.

The senators seem to have been misinformed. The land the oil companies intend to drill on is part of the ancestral heritage of the Gwich'in people, a tribe that is passionately against the proposed oil industry drilling. Please see www.alaska.net/~gwichin/

Anyway, I wonder what kind of "control" anyone can have on pollution and wildlife destruction once the drilling begins -- or ends. And since when is it OK to despoil ancestral lands under the guise of "controlling" them?

As for other tribespeople in Alaska who think the drilling would financially benefit them: Realistically, I doubt that big oil and gas industry corporations would hire many of the native residents to work for them. The corporations will bring in their own staff, drill and degrade the refuge, take the oil and reap the profits out of state.

In the future, I sincerely doubt that the truly original native residents of Alaska -- the indigenous wildlife -- will benefit from the "Arctic National Oilfields Refuge" on their ancestral lands. Too bad they can't vote.

Anne M. Miller

Car wash would keep critters off ferry

Regarding environmental concerns about the Hawaii Superferry: The ferry is a great idea. Why not just put a car wash on the dock for the cars to drive through and wash off any "alien species" before boarding the ship?

Steven Tomlinson

Life is worth living even when it's not easy

After being paralyzed from the shoulders down 10 years ago in a swimming accident, I sometimes contemplated the value of remaining alive when I learned I would not be restored to my previous physical state.

Going through rehabilitation, I learned that nothing in life was perfect. After meeting many inspiring people who had survived a variety of life-altering experiences, including brain injuries from strokes, epilepsy, birth defects and major accidents, I became inspired to count my blessings and tackle whatever obstacles came my way.

Anyone who knows me personally can say that life has never been easy. Besides not being able to move, I have had to deal with bladder infections, pressure sores, lung infections and other health problems that have often landed me in the hospital. Although times were hard, the one constant was the love that my family had for me. When I felt like giving up, they made sacrifices time and again so that I could continue to be a part of their lives -- perfect or not. That has been a blessing that many of my friends don't have, but apparently Terry Schiavo does.

Yes, I wasn't left brain-dead, but neither is Terry Schiavo. Removing her feeding tube would be the equivalent of my caregiver choosing to deny me food and water and dignity -- preconceived murder. Whether or not she should be pitied and put to sleep like a dog is not the issue.

Matthew Kaopio Jr.

Finally, we have a mayor who listens

When Mayor Harris added to Waikiki's inaccessibility and traffic congestion by turning parking spaces into planters and traffic lanes into median strips, complaints fell on deaf ears. Citizens' concerns regarding the cost and funding of these "beautification" projects and million-dollars-a-pop vision projects went unheeded.

Thank you, Mayor Hannemann, for pulling the plug on many of these projects and for revealing the extent of the city's debt. Please promise you will end the city's propensity to replace perfectly good lampposts with ornate, green, faux fin-de-siecle lampposts accessorized with high-maintenance pots of posies.

Richard Y. Will

Bravo for Mamiya production of 'Aida'

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Support the arts!

Hawaii should stand, applaud and support the fine performance of "Aida" at Mamiya Theatre, which ran through March 13 (See review, Star-Bulletin, March 6).

I attended, not knowing anyone in the cast but intrigued that the production had an open call with a cast from a wide number of public and private high schools. They did an outstanding job from drama to music to choreography -- it all came together beautifully! Kudos to all involved: directors, choreographers, set and costume designers, leads and ensemble, and especially to the parents that nurture the dreams of these children, and the teachers and mentors who work with them.

The cast has been invited to perform the show at a drama festival in Scotland this summer. Please give your contributions to the St. Louis Center for Arts to help them get there. They will represent arts in Hawaii very well and make us proud.

Mary Osorio

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