Families are back at Ala Moana park
I have never seen Ala Moana Beach Park look so good. Since I moved here eight months ago, it has been a permanent encampment for the homeless.
Although I do feel for the homeless' plight I agree with the city's decision to close the park to overnight camping.
It has been the first time that I have actually seen families out in the park playing ball and Frisbee and enjoying the park, for which it was originally intended -- pleasure.
Where is the mayor when disaster strikes?
I feel that sometimes I am playing the game "Where is Waldo?" but the difference here is that I am looking for our mayor. When New York City faced its 9/11 disaster, its mayor was right there the whole time. When New Orleans faced its hurricane disaster, its mayor was there all the time, standing by his city.
Honolulu is facing its worst disasters -- flooding, people dying and getting sick from sewage, landslides, roads ravaged by storms, corruption in city departments. Where is our mayor? Mufi Hannemann is traveling, looking at trains in China. Our mayor returns home long enough for photo opportunities and to place blame on the previous mayor for all our city's troubles. So far Mufi has managed to take a trip abroad every month (more than our governor). It is time our mayor focuses on his home city and the basic priorities at hand. If you need to look at trains, have them come to you or get a video. A mayor leads by example, and so far Mufi's examples are poor ones.
City should speed sewer repairs
After hearing of the large sewage spill in Waikiki, the Surfrider Foundation-Oahu Chapter was alarmed and seriously concerned about the impact on South Shore surf spots and beaches. Not only were the beach areas dangerously polluted with high levels of bacteria, but our world famous surf sites such as Ala Moana, Kaiser Bowls, Threes and Pops were also polluted.
This huge spill is a shame not only as a bad accident but because it was preventable. If repairs and maintenance had been conducted as they should have been, this spill might not have even occurred.
Hopefully, this spill, which made the national news showing the world famous beaches of Waikiki posted with sewage warning signs, will be a good wake-up call for the city administration to act faster in making the needed improvements to seriously reduce the chance of future spills and to incorporate better spill procedures that will lessen their impact.
Pay raises for city would be outrageous
For the second year in a row, city officials might get a pay raise, even though a surprising number already make six figures ("Plan boosts pay of city officials," Star-Bulletin, April 20
). Yet they always claim the city doesn't have any money to fix desperate problems like a broken sewer system that is killing people and thousands of homeless people chased from one park after another.
Those who made the decision to divert 48 million gallons of raw sewage to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor should be fired, not given pay raises. And the lack of action to find a real solution to the homeless problem is a disgrace to the entire city administration.
Voters should remember this skewed sense of priorities the next time they cast ballots in a city election.
Akaka is valuable behind the scenes
While Time magazine has every right to question the effectiveness of Senator Akaka
, it does demonstrate a lack of understanding of the legislative process. Like a football lineman, whose blocking often remains unnoticed, without his efforts the team would not score. As the ranking member of the Senate subcommittee responsible for almost 2 million federal employees, Akaka has been able to work closely with the chairman, Sen. George Voinovich (R, Ohio), to achieve success in many areas, such as:
» Over the objections of both Democrat and Republican administrations, pay parity for civilian employees and military personnel has been the norm.
» Even with the implementation of the National Security Personnel System affecting Department of Defense civilians, Akaka has been able to protect the cost of living allowance for employees in Alaska, Hawaii and the territories.
» Federal employees now earn compensatory time off for unpaid weekend travel to meetings and training. This is especially important for Hawaii employees traveling to the East Coast.
He has been responsible for many other benefits for federal employees. Only when you learn the full story can you appreciate the senator's true effectiveness.
A kind, lovable man but ineffective senator
Take a moment to think about the priorities you feel your elected leaders in Washington, D.C., should address. Now list the three or four qualities you hope those elected leaders have to get the job done.
Did "affectionate" or "lovable" top your list? Probably not. While they are undeniably great characteristics, as the recent Time magazine article points out, a true leader should have a lot more to offer.
Time called Senator Akaka's work product "innocuous" and "unambitious." And he "is living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise."
Akaka concedes he hasn't passed many bills, but reassures us that he does much of his best work in committee. Probably not a good defense since the Time article begins by calling him the "master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee."
Akaka will rightfully go down in history as a kind, gentle, caring man who brought many years of much-needed aloha to the U.S. Senate. But it is time we acknowledge what the rest of his colleagues, scholars and political observers have known for some time; Senator Akaka is not terribly effective in Washington, D.C.
Hawaii's team in Washington needs someone who wants the ball, not a benchwarmer.
Long Beach, Calif.
Former Oahu resident
Plan more parties on Magic Island
I took my family to the Honolulu Centennial Family Festival
on Magic Island on Friday, April 7, and was surprised by the uncrowded nature of the event. The food was onolicious. We enjoyed having our dinner picnic-style on the grass while enjoying the free entertainment.
I'd like to see the festival happen again at Magic Island. I hope we won't have to wait another 100 years for it! Let's make this an annual affair.
Alan Piiohia and family
Harbors Division should cover ferry
The impact of the proposed Superferry is of major concern not only to the maritime operators that need to share dock space and yard areas but to the truckers, cargo consignees and ultimately the general public. In communities such as Maui, less port space will mean delays in getting cargo to and from Oahu and probably more expensive transportation through the air. Consumers will experience some delays and ultimately pay more at the counter.
The agency that needs to address these concerns is not only the ferry operator (Editorial, Star-Bulletin, April 14). The ferry operator will be just one of many operators using the harbor. They are neither fully cognizant nor sympathetic to the needs and concerns of all other operators. The Department of Transportation and specifically the Harbors Division is in charge of managing our harbors.
The decision to allow this operation and specify its location and scheduling is Harbors Division's. It needs to provide all of us, including the Legislature, with an assessment of the impact of its decision, including concerns of all other users.
Thomas T. Fujikawa
Retired state harbors administrator