Little fish's big name spells Hawaii
It is being proposed that the state fish be the o'opu, known only to scientists and local fishermen.
The state is proposing the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, the little fish with the long name, known most of the world over by being in the song "My Little Grass Shack."
The length of the name belies its simplicity. In Hawaiian words, every syllable ends in a vowel, or can be a vowel by itself. Thus we get hu mu hu mu nu ku nu ku a pu a a. Say that over a few times and you've got it.
Our Fearless Leaders missed the boat when they named the yellow hibiscus as the state flower when it is the red hibiscus that is made known in songs. I hope they don't do that again.
It's high time for a taxpayer revolt
Taxpayers of Oahu: Instead of complaining about the amount of taxes you pay, I suggest we follow the example of Oregon in the '80s. Faced with an unacceptable rise in property taxes, a grassroots movement scrutinized what the taxes went toward, forced measures for vote which defeated the programs that leeched off the property taxes, and attained relief.
Of course your elected officials will spin doom and gloom, but think about it -- is doom and gloom worse than being unable to live like a human being because you can't afford your taxes? If 47 percent of your property taxes go toward public safety, why are boulders flying down the sides of mountains, and houses destroyed because our storm drains back up due to not being clear?
Tax collections belongs with state
Hurray for the state Senate holding up the bills that would have transferred the tax collection duties for the new county surcharge to the city (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 10
). The state already has the infrastructure built to handle excise tax collection. So it seems like common sense to use the state system instead of building duplicate county systems or paying a third party.
Isn't excise tax collection a state tax department core competency? Yet the state is willing to let a third party take over tax collection responsibility.
The state's resistances stem from not wanting to over-tax a workforce that is already heavily burdened. Does this mean that the 10 percent of the surcharge revenue for the state's administrative fee, which is projected to be approximately $13 million a year, is not enough to provide the needed resources for the tax department? It's hard to believe that the state would need anywhere close to $13 million annually to handle this responsibility.
Just wonder what is the underlying reason for such a position.
Gary Y. Fujitani
Ignore the hysteria about mercury in fish
Scaring expectant mothers away from the health benefits of fish through overblown warning labels is irresponsible, and indicates a serious misunderstanding of science ("Mercury warning signs would help fish buyers," Gathering Place, Jan. 31
). The FDA's "limit" for mercury already has a ten-fold margin of safety built in. This means Hawaii residents -- pregnant women included -- would have to exceed it 10 times over before worrying about theoretical health risks.
It's customary for government regulators to add safety factors to health advisories, and it's sensible to do so when we're talking about lead in paint or cyanide in our drinking water. But fish is a healthy food. In 2005 a team of Harvard researchers found that overreacting to government health advisories (and eating less fish) is a greater health risk than anything we have to fear from mercury.
More than a dozen big-budget environmental groups -- including the Turtle Island Restoration Network -- are needlessly scaring Americans with wild tales of fish-related mercury poisoning. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, absolutely zero Americans have enough mercury in their bodies to constitute a real health concern. Consumers can visit www.FishScam.com for this much-needed perspective.
Director of Research
Center for Consumer Freedom
Coddled prisoners don't mind going back
I would think that the state of Hawaii could easily reduce the need to send criminals to the mainland if they would just do incarceration the way Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz, has done.
On Aug. 3, 1993, he started the nation's largest tent city for convicted inmates. More than 2,000 convicted men and women serve their sentences in a canvas incarceration compound surrounded by a chainlink fence. It is a remarkable success story and has garnered the attention of government officials and media worldwide.
Equally impressive are his "get tough" policies. Arpaio doesn't believe in coddling criminals, frequently saying that jails should not be country clubs. He banned smoking, coffee, pornographic magazines, movies and unrestricted television in all jails. He has the cheapest meals in the country, too. The average inmate meal costs less than 20 cents.
I just don't understand why, with this year-round nice weather, Hawaii doesn't do these same things. Prison is not supposed to be someplace one doesn't mind going to.
Gordon "Doc" Smith
Flags would save pedestrians' lives
I read Cynthia Oi's Jan. 25 "Under the Sun" column
on pedestrian safety with interest. While I agree that the underlying problem is lack of driver civility, I do not agree that carrying a Day-Glo flag across the street to avoid being hit by a car is humiliating.
The system would work like this: Baskets with brightly colored flags would be placed at marked crosswalks. Pedestrians would take a flag out to indicate to drivers that they wish to cross. Upon reaching the other side, the pedestrian would simply put the flag in a basket on that side of the street.
Thirteen other states have adopted pedestrian flag programs with good results. After the concept was introduced in Tampa, Fla., pedestrian accidents declined by 36 percent. Salt Lake City, Utah, has instituted a similar program and it is working there as well. At least one town in New York has provided pedestrian flags at crosswalks with good results.
I believe this low-cost, low-tech deterrent to reckless driving is worth a try and I have introduced a bill, HB 1901, to set up a pilot program here in Hawaii. In other countries such as Australia, drivers are trained to stop whenever a pedestrian approaches a crosswalk. Until Hawaii drivers pay more attention to pedestrians, we need to do what we have to do to protect our kupuna -- even if it feels silly at first.
Rep. Marilyn B. Lee
D, Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres)
Evicting sick women doesn't help anyone
I was appalled by the front-page article Feb. 6
regarding the state's eviction of Josephine Wong and her young daughter from Kuhio Park Terrace, the state's largest federal housing project. The article stated that the eviction was under a controversial new state policy aimed at cracking down on public housing tenants who miss rent payments.
The state has a $574 million surplus and was kicking Wong, who is incapacitated by lupus, out into the street. If Wong went into a women's shelter, her daughter would be placed in the care of the state. How would making her homeless and separating her from her daughter help?
Fortunately, this story had a happy ending, as Network Media came to her rescue by paying her rent for a year. But how many others are in Wong's situation, in poor health or disabled and in need of more assistance that the state is willing to provide? Where is their safety net?
If the Star-Bulletin set up a fund to help people such as Josephine Wong pay their rent, I would be the first to donate.