We have the laws -- we need enforcement
Regarding your Oct 22 editorial
"Law needed to keep parents from leaving keiki in vehicles":
There should be enough laws now concerning child neglect and endangerment without adding more. They need to be enforced. Precedent and expert opinion have established that leaving children alone in vehicles is negligent. More laws will only add to a list of statutes that is already too long.
Law wouldn't make parents any wiser
The number of incidents of parents who left their children in an automobile with the engine running and the keys in the ignition is alarming. The potential loss of their children is terrifying. It scares everyone.
In light of the recent publicity given to such similar mishaps and the terrible risk taken, such conduct can only be judged as reckless. So it is not surprising that well-meaning voices have been raised advocating punishment of the parents who commit such reckless acts. Punishing such reckless parents can only be justified if it results in deterring such conduct.
It is doubtful that the payment or the threat of a fine or even imprisonment will accomplish what the possible loss of a family's most treasured possession, their children, will not. Pity the prosecutor who prosecutes parents who have already suffered the ultimate fright and/or the unthinkable loss of a child. It would shock the conscience of the people to see images of victims of crimes being led away in handcuffs.
Public awareness of the dangers and risks involved is clearly called for. Mandatory education for offenders might avoid the repetition of such incidents. Punishment, however, is not likely to be effective. Otherwise, let us prosecute all those who fail to lock their doors and close their windows at night. There is probably no crime that a victim would not have avoided if he had but exercised greater care.
Nelson S.W. Chang
Light rail has many positive results
Dennis Noe asks, "What is the magic about a rail that makes us think our lives will change for the better?" ("Transit system makes no sense if no one rides," Letters, Oct. 14
Cities that have built light-rail systems since 1981 report the following results:
» Many new passengers are attracted to light rail who never rode buses before. More people ride during midday, at night and on weekends.
» The number of passengers riding on the buses increases, if bus schedules are coordinated with those of light rail.
» The public's attitude about mass transit changes from negative to positive. Voters become willing to approve increased public funding for mass transit.
» Merchants near light-rail stops report increases in sales. The additional business does not need more parking spaces.
» Investors become willing to build high-density residential and commercial structures near light-rail stations, increasing the city's tax base.
» Greater use of mass transit reduces the level of air pollution.
» The increased efficiencies of rail service improve the transit system's revenue-to-cost ratio.
Honolulu needs a backbone system of light-rail lines to provide people with an alternative to driving their automobiles everywhere. For example, light rail could help to alleviate congestion during events held at Aloha Stadium or the Blaisdell Center.
Charles J. Lietwiler
Former Hawaii resident
Mayor should allow triathlon to continue
I had dinner last Thursday with a couple from Great Britain who were leaving the next day after having spent 22 days in Hawaii. They both participated in the Honolulu Triathlon. They, like many of the thousands of other competitors and families, had a great time, spent a lot of money here and were covered widely in the media all across the world. That media coverage is favorable to Honolulu, and gives the impression of a progressive, urbane city that is an important enough destination to host world-class events and is wonderful to visit.
That's why it troubles me that Mayor Hannemann is reaching for the nuclear option of cancellation of these races (due to safety issues) (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 22). He represents this city to the world. What kind of message does he send about sports, fitness, tourism and the kind of city Honolulu strives to be by threatening to cancel an event that the city should be bending over backward to accommodate? I hope the city will show its support for events like these, and reconsider its apparently hostile approach to addressing the issues with the Honolulu Triathlon.
Penal colonies would solve overcrowding
There is a solution to our prison dilemma. How about a couple of penal colonies, one for men and one for women? Use our existing heavy-duty prison facilities for dangerous prisoners and give those who have been incarcerated for social problems and a variety of other nonviolent crimes the option (no complaints later) of going to a penal colony.
There are 137 islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. If we can get the environmentalists to loosen up a bit, maybe a couple of suitable islands can be found. If not, there's always the Big Island. It doesn't have to be a country club; think a single barbed-wire fence, surplus Army tents and very little heavy security.
Prisoners could grow some vegetables, raise a few animals for food, keep the parks, roadways and stream beds sparkling clean. Run these facilities sort of like military basic training, instead of a prison. Costs per inmate should be way below the $40,000-plus per year we are now paying, and capital costs to get set up should be substantially less than what new heavy-duty prisons or continuing to send inmates out of state will cost. We need to keep our inmates close to home for family support.
Use surplus money for public schools
As a public school teacher, I applaud state Superintendent of Public Schools Pat Hamamoto for asking an additional $453 million to partially fund some of the school system's many needs (Star-Bulletin, Sept. 28
). Year after year the Department of Education has asked for money for overdue maintenance, construction and other critical needs. And year after year we have heard that there is not enough money to address these needs.
We must recognize that Hamamoto is really asking for this money on behalf or our public school students. We are talking about children -- children who deserve high quality educational opportunities. We are talking about children whose lives -- whose futures -- are shaped by their years in our public school classrooms. We are talking about children who will shape our communities for decades to come.
If our political leaders fail to invest a substantial portion of our budget surplus in our public schools, the message will be clear: despite their talk, they are not committed to offering our public students the educational opportunities they deserve.
Bottom line: If we don't fund these needs when we have such a hugh surplus, we will never fund them.
Niu Valley school celebrates 50 years
Congratulations to the entire Niu Valley Middle School ohana -- students, staff, parents, administration and community -- for their fantastic 50th anniversary. It was heartwarming to see the various segments of the school community participate in the games, entertainment, food and Open Market, silent auction and, of course, reminiscing through past student publications and meeting old friends. One could not help but be amazed that so many notable persons had walked the halls of Niu Valley Middle School.
Yet through all of the merriment, the victims of Hurricane Katrina were not forgotten. They will be recipients of the White Elephant Sale. What an example of everyone coming together for a fun time and caring for others.
Good dogs sniff out drugs at isle schools
Congratulations to Saint Louis High School and Academy of the Pacific for using trained canines to keep their campuses drug free. Our military has been using these dogs for years because they are very dependable. Hopefully more schools will do the same.
Garbage workers deserve our applause
We would like to commend the city's refuse guys. Without them, this island would be waist-deep in trash, appliances and discarded furniture.
M. & S. Wentovich