Don't let Act 51 kill PSAP program
We are writing to bring readers' attention to a decision made by our local schools that we consider to be short-sighted.
We are educational assistants affiliated with the Primary School Adjustment Project. The Primary School Adjustment Project is a prevention program that targets low-risk students who would otherwise receive no specialized services. PSAP nurtures the emotional and social needs of the child with mild problems that are typically overlooked and prevents the need for more specialized and intensive services these children might need without the preventive efforts of a project like this.
Our Legislature pushed for the PSAP program to be implemented in every school in the state of Hawaii, originally to satisfy requirements of the Felix decree. The program has now been in place for a number of years and we have years of data to show that it has helped a lot of students with mild social emotional and behavioral problems. Without the help of PSAP the problems of these students could easily have grown into more serious problems later on in their lives, with accompanying long-term consequences for our state.
One consequence of Act 51, the Reinventing Education Act, with its new student-weighted funding formula, is that programs like PSAP have either been eliminated or reduced in staff.
We believe this is shortsighted because the PSAP program focuses on prevention of long-term problems. Schools are now pushed to show good performance in terms of grades and test scores; therefore, less emphasis is being put on the social emotional needs of the child that is necessary for learning to occur.
As a result, schools are forced to eliminate programs that could help the children grow into emotionally healthy adults and not just "good test takers."
We know that PSAP is an essential component of the No Child Left Behind act. We consider it a serious mistake to eliminate PSAP from the schools and we hope you will support our point of view for the sake of Hawaii's keiki.
PSAP child aide
Hahaione Elementary School
PSAP home school liaison
Kamiloiki Elementary School
Sewage procedure needs clarification
This is to clarify the story written in Friday's Star-Bulletin headlined "City lacked consent to dump sewage
." The article appears to imply that I misled the public when I stated that the Environmental Protection Agency "knew, and approved, of the city's contingency plan (Spill Reduction Action Plan) to dump sewage into the canal in the event of a sewer main break."
The article confuses apples with oranges. I agree with the EPA's statement that it did not approve of the sewage discharge into the Ala Wai Canal at the time of the March 24 force main break, but I reiterate that the EPA did approve of the city's contingency plan.
For your information, the EPA approved the City's Spill Response Procedures Manual Metro Region (dated November 1995) pursuant to a letter dated April 4, 1996, from the EPA to the city. This Spill Response Procedures Manual is one of several volumes of the Spill Reduction Action Plan that the city was required to submit to the Department of Health for review and the EPA for review and approval pursuant to a Consent Decree entered into in Civil No. 94-00765DAE, United States of America, et al. v. City and County of Honolulu dated May 15, 1995.
The Spill Response Procedures Manual Metro Region contains a spill response procedure flow diagram for wastewater pump station emergency action. Several spill scenarios are presented in the flow diagram, one of which is a force main break. The flow diagram indicates that one of the spill response procedures would be to divert sewage to a storm drain that ultimately leads to the Ala Wai Canal.
The October 2004 Force Main Contingency Plan Report submitted by the city in response to a state Department of Health Notice and Finding of Violation, Docket Nos. 2004-CW-EO-01N and 04-WW-EO-2, also acknowledges the city's procedures for responding to wastewater collection system failures. The report does not identify the November 1995 Spill Response Procedures Manual as such, but clearly identifies the procedures contained in that November 1995 manual.
Eric S. Takamura
Director, Department of Environmental Services
City and County of Honolulu
Ala Wai Canal needs a good flushing
Fortunately, the Ala Wai Canal had just been dredged before the sewer line broke March 24. Otherwise, think of all the contaminated material that would need to be removed.
The Ala Wai and all connecting canals/streams and the harbor need to be flushed out. At the beginning of the Ala Wai, clean ocean water needs to be pumped in by the zillions of gallons. While this is happening the bottom of the canal needs to be "sprayed" to loosen up all material so it can be flushed out. This also needs to be done to the entire harbor.
Of course, the material being flushed needs to be channeled far out to sea, via a retaining device, a channel created with flexible material extending far out to sea.
Dinged cans should be worth just as much
Long before the "bottle bill" Hi-5 tax I would recycle all my aluminum cans and a few of my neighbors'. At 28 cents or more a pound, I always made a few dollars for my time. I also felt proud that I was helping to save our environment.
Our bottle law has been a real bummer -- making us pay 5 cents for a can, then adding a penny for administrative costs, then taxing it all at 4 percent.
What I'd like to know is, what has happened to my 28 cents a pound? Recyclers pay only 2 cents a pound for non-Hi-5 cans. And why do we need "administrative costs" if this program is overflowing with millions of dollars?
I thought this program was to encourage recycling, and it does for those who treat their cans like gold coins. But the other day I had to throw away 80 plastic bottles because they lost their labels. I found the bottles (six trash bags full) all over the beaches after the heavy rains washed them from our storm drains. There were so many more -- some in bad shape, but worthy of being saved. But the recyclers say the state only pays if you can read a Hi-5 label.
The program has come a long way, but when do we get to a point where a can is a can?
Lawmakers serious about energy reform
A column by Rep. Cynthia Thielen ("Lights flickering on energy reform," Star-Bulletin, April 6
) attempts to politicize the idea of energy independence for Hawaii. In the column, Thielen creates the false impression that hope has died for energy reform measures this year.
The goal of freeing Hawaii from its dependence on fossil fuels is one we all can share. So far this year, Hawaii's lawmakers have managed to avoid making energy bills into partisan issues. Thielen's column distorts the facts and hurts our chances for energy reform.
Final decisions on bills under review at the Legislature are made in joint House-Senate conference committees in the closing weeks of the session. The process ensures that bills are given a thorough review by both houses. It also means that the most workable provisions in bills under review frequently resurface in the language of other bills, as lawmakers pinpoint the most effective vehicle.
We are working hard to continue the solar energy tax credit, mandate energy efficiency in state buildings and change the way utilities are regulated. We cannot continue our 77 percent reliance on fossil fuels for energy production -- and this year we have far greater consensus than we have ever had before. The people of Hawaii deserve legislative relief from our fossil fuel dependency -- and this year, energy reform is an idea whose time has come.
Sen. J. Kalani English
Chairman, Senate Energy, Environment and International Relations Committee
Stadium Authority must do its duty
After reading your editorial "Stadium should be managed by UH" (Star-Bulletin, April 3
), I felt compelled to respond.
First, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not against the University of Hawaii. I am a graduate of our only state university, donate to the UH Foundation and have held football season tickets for many years. I fully support UH.
At the same time, as a member of the stadium authority, I have a fiduciary duty to the people of Hawaii to see that Aloha Stadium is managed and operated efficiently. This is especially so, because, unlike most other state agencies, the stadium does not seek operational funds from the Legislature.
Because the stadium is self-supporting, the authority must always be mindful of the bottom line. In addition to ordinary annual expenses to cover payroll, maintenance and security, which increase every year, the authority must make provisions to set aside funds to take care of nonrecurring expenses that arise with an aging facility like our stadium. The situation might occur in the future where the authority will need this $350,000 to operate. In view of the above, a thorough discussion was necessary to ensure that the financial viability of the stadium will not be unduly compromised.
If university officials wish to take over the management of Aloha Stadium, they should lobby and convince the state Legislature. If they are successful, the Stadium Authority will no longer be needed and will cease to exist. Until then, I and my fellow Stadium Authority members will continue to uphold our fiduciary duties as mandated by the Legislature.
Alvin S. Narimatsu
Member, Aloha Stadium Authority
Charter schools do as well with less money
The Department of Education reports per-pupil allocations for 2003-2004 at $8,355. Not in our charter schools! That year we were allocated $5,355 per pupil. We were forced to pay back $1,110 per pupil for "fringe benefits." Then we were charged $193.94 for DOE "services." Thus the charter schools in Hawaii received $4,051 per pupil that year, or 48 percent of what was spent for each public school student.
And guess what? Our test scores were just as good as the scores for DOE schools. Go figure!
John Thatcher II
Don't get mad, just let the speeders pass
By newspaper articles, radio and TV, most of us know that excessive speed kills the driver, his or her passengers, pedestrians and fellow motorists. Let's face it, most drivers exceed the posted speed limits by big numbers. Even so, the speed demons want to pass -- and they do! So to be safe, don't do anything to irritate the speeder, who might be high on alcohol or drugs. Let the demon pass. Hopefully, the police will catch the speeder before the worst happens.
Le Roy J. Henry
Bush leak imperiled national security
For national security reasons, CIA agent Valerie Plame's disguise as a private energy analyst was kept so secret that not even her neighbors and friends knew she was working behind the scenes to uncover nuclear weapons links between terrorists and foreign governments. But her cover was blown when newspaper columnist Robert Novak revealed her identity after learning it from a White House source.
President Bush said he would fire whoever leaked this information. After a lengthy investigation, vice-presidential aide Scooter Libby says that Bush authorized Vice President Dick Cheney to leak that information. Further, the White House claims no crime has been committed because the president has the authority to release classified information. Is this more White House spin?
During a time of war, Plame was working to uncover terrorist activity involving nuclear weapons that could bring another 9/11 attack. Bush and Cheney gave aid and comfort to the enemy when they authorized the leak of Plame's ID. Years of work by Plame and the agents working with her to stop terrorists from attacking America was halted by Bush and Cheney. Did they violate their oaths of office and commit treason?
By the time he leaked, it wasn't classified
It's against the law for a public official to leak classified material to the press. It's a serious crime. It's a felony! It's as simple as that.
But if the president leaks classified material to the press, then the information is no longer classified.
So ... he wasn't breaking the law. He committed no crime. There was no felony.
See how simple it is?
John A. Broussard
City, state should form homeless task forces
Will not our leaders lead? The severe problem of homeless people is well known and documented. So why aren't state and city task forces actively steering the effort to bring about solutions? Many citizen hands are ready to help, but we simply need our leaders to wake up and lead.
One possible solution sits vacant in Arkansas
The national news bombards us with pictures of hundreds of house trailers sitting in Arkansas that were to be used for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but are still sitting vacant. Our homeless problem has been receiving a lot of interest, especially recently with their eviction from Ala Moana Beach Park. We have a surplus of cash at the moment, and Governor Lingle has political capital with our current president. Why don't we get those trailers over here as the first step toward addressing the homeless situation?
I know it is not that simple -- every state has a homeless problem, and even if we were to get these trailers, there is the matter of electricity, water, sewage, the NIMBY factor (perhaps two trailers under every overpass?), but not every state is awash in cash, and making a bold move would be refreshing and, dare I say, Fasi-esque.
Frederick D. Wagner
Junk cars, druggies overrun paradise
Clean the homeless out of Ala Moana Beach Park ... sending them where? The west side?
I challenge the mayor, the City Council and our legislators to drive along Leeward beaches and view the homeless problem we see each day. Maili Beach alone has more than 200 tents permanently parked on it. Clotheslines strung between palm trees (now THAT is the Hawaiian dream!), junk cars and old tires stacked by dumpsters. Taxpayers cannot use the bath houses for fear of interrupting a drug deal or sexual encounter.
Electric Beach, Tracks, Maili, Waianae, and heaven forbid you venture past Makaha. The beaches are overflowing with homeless tents and "communities." Drugs, theft and vandalism run rampant. Oh, but that is just the west side, right?
Take a drive, lawmakers, see for yourselves. And please don't tell us about the "bills before us" that will magically make it all go away. Each day we see new arrivals, new junk cars, new problems. Come out here and see reality.
Set up camps for those who need our help
The homeless issue has been with us long enough that we should have already come up with some solutions. As I thought about this problem, I remembered the scene in "The Grapes of Wrath" where the family comes upon a government-run camp that is clean, safe, democratic and orderly with a kindly gentleman in charge.
Why can't we have camps or programs like this for our homeless? What is stopping the state, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the county from setting up such camps? If the governments would find the property, then the private nonprofits such as the Institute of Human Services and churches could run the programs.
Anyone who uses the facilities would be expected to do their share of chores: cooking, cleaning, maintenance, child care and so on. If they can't do chores because of physical or mental handicap, then they should be institutionalized or put in halfway programs. Too many of our mentally ill go without the care they need because they're on the streets.
If a decision is made to move the homeless out of our parks, then there should be a plan to move them to another site before they are moved. It just makes the problem worse and makes it harder on the families when you move them without setting up an alternative ahead of time.