Cell bill discourages bus ridership
The City Council has passed and submitted to the mayor Bill 71
, which restricts cell phone use while riding on TheBus. This bill does not apply to those who drive and gab on the phone at the same time and pose a greater risk to those around them than any obnoxious bus passenger.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who ardently wants sufficient public transit in Honolulu, has the power to stop the bill in its tracks. I hope that he realizes this bill needlessly punishes those who, rather than contribute to the severe traffic problem, opt for public transportation; that it provides yet another disincentive to take TheBus; and that it is another small degradation imposed on those who cannot afford middle-class standards like a car. I hope he vetoes Bill 71.
Military should end senseless ban on gays
Even as America's top Army general, Peter Schoomaker, warned Thursday that the U.S. military "will break" under the strain of war zone rotations, and calls for lifting restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops, neither the White House nor the Department of Defense has shown any inclination to end the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
According to the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network, between 1994 and 2005, there were more than 11,000 forced discharges under this policy, including at least 50 Arabic language specialists. The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law has estimated at least 41,000 gays and lesbians would sign up for duty if the ban were lifted.
This flawed policy burdens everyone in the military and their families. Servicemembers are either kicked out for doing a fine job and being honest about their sexual orientation, or others are more likely to be called up for service, because the military is discharging qualified gays and lesbians who want to serve with integrity and self-respect. The goal of a bigger military could be achieved by ending discrimination against gays.
Gay & Lesbian Community Center
No, you don't have a right to pollute
Ever since that great new smoking law went in to effect we've all had to endure all those whining, dirty, cigarette-tossing, stinky smokers. They just don't get it.
Especially lame is David Lee Parker (Letters, Dec. 15) acting like all his civil rights were taken away and that it's written in the Constitution that cigarette smokers have a right to pollute our air. As he puts it, a little second-hand smoke isn't going to hurt you. How inconsiderate. He goes on to say, "If you can't stand it, hold your breath." This is the way it works to all those who just simply can't grasp the fundamentals of the new smoking law.
As humans we have a right to and are designed to breath clean, fresh air more than smokers have a right to pollute it around us. Smokers don't realize how stinky and foul cigarette smoke is because their lungs, airways and nasal passages are polluted. The cigarette companies get big, fat and rich, and smokers get hundreds of kinds of cancer and die.
We don't care if you smoke a carton a day -- just keep it to yourself. Smoking, yuck.
New airline already driving away jobs
I am writing in response to Mililani resident Bob Ching's Dec. 15 letter
, "Fly go! or watch prices rise out of sight."
Yes, Mesa has entered the Hawaii market and caused interisland fares to decrease substantially, but recent news indicates that jobs from Hawaiian Airlines are being lost to jobs in the Philippines and India ("Hawaiian Air to shift some 230 jobs abroad," Dec. 15). In actuality, what is happening is dangerous not just to Hawaii's economy, but to our nation's economy as well.
Really, you think it's just about low prices? Each time you fly go! you contribute to outsourcing. Those are jobs that Americans (from Hawaii) should have.
Buy American -- don't fly go!
Lisa Noelani Robbins
Newport News, Va.
Former Hawaii resident
Pearl vet endured rudeness at airport
I was at Honolulu International Airport for a flight out to Osaka on Dec. 8. I was handicapped myself, recovering from surgery, and looked over to see a Transportation Security Administration agent screaming loudly at an elderly gentleman -- a Pearl Harbor veteran on his way home to Oregon.
He was selected for secondary screening, and the agent who was handling him treated him like a second-class citizen instead of a veteran we had just honored the day before on Pearl Harbor Day. He was screamed at and was confused as to why a bottle of aftershave lotion that made it all the way to Hawaii was causing such a problem at the airport.
The TSA and the airport employees were unhelpful and disrespectful, and I felt compelled as an American to find this man and offer my apologies and thank him for his service. I also bought him a cup of coffee and sat and talked with him.
An airport employee pointed in the direction of the USO, where this man could not possibly walk, but offered no assistance in getting him there to spend his four-hour wait for his flight.
As a military wife, I see the way Americans take service to our country for granted, but an emphatic "shame on you" to the people who treated a Pearl Harbor veteran so poorly on his last day in Hawaii.
Wave energy is way of Hawaii's future
Engineer Manfred Zapka and University of Hawaii professor James Dator, joined by 21 UH scientists, persuasively sounded the alarm for action ("Peak oil era will be hard on Hawaii," Insight, Dec. 10
). The authors call for "timely migration to new sources of energy supply and serious conservation."
Migration to new sources of energy requires Hawaii's monopoly utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company, and its subsidiaries and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, to develop or seek renewable energy technology. Given the sluggish rate at which these utilities are moving, Hawaii will be hard hit by oil shortfalls.
Engineers who have developed the most powerful systems, Wave Energy Converters, came to Hawaii recently for meetings with government officials and the utilities. The utilities took a "wait and see" approach rather than encouraging these wave energy systems to harness Hawaii's ocean energy to power our islands.
In Hawaii, where we are blessed with the second-best wave climate in the world, Wave Energy Converters could supply all the power needs of neighbor islands and 80 percent of Oahu's.
It's time for the Legislature to step in and use a system employed in the United Kingdom: Wave Hub. The UK has set up a Wave Hub in the southwest region of England, noting that "wave energy could generate up to one-sixth of the UK's electricity consumption." The Wave Hub establishes an underwater site where different wave energy systems can connect, test their systems and distribute power to the grid.
The UK's Wave Hub will create 100 new jobs, 450 indirect jobs, and add 15 million pounds a year to its regional economy within three years.
By enacting and funding legislation to establish a Wave Hub, legislators would replace diminishing, costly and polluting oil, reverse the dollar drain, build a new industry, create high-paying technical and support jobs, and enable Hawaii to become the technical leader in the Asia/Pacific region.
As Zapka and Dator correctly note, "Developing technology and policies to lower oil dependence is a great opportunity for Hawaii. Not taking the peak oil seriously or adopting lukewarm mitigation measures might prove to be the most costly mistake we will ever make."
Let's catch this environmental and economic wave!
Rep. Cynthia Thielen
Assistant Republican floor leader
House of Representatives
Merging schools can bring other problems
I am writing in response to "School mergers being studied" (Star-Bulletin, Dec. 14
). As an elementary teacher, I am bothered by the thought of schools with low enrollment closing and merging with other schools. As was stated in the article, we need to take in consideration issues that can arise if schools merge together. The first is, teachers will have more students to teach. Currently, a lot of classrooms including mine are maxed out, and we have no educational assistants to assist us. We are confronted with big class sizes, no help and the pressures of meeting No Child Left Behind requirements.
The second issue is cost. Why spend additional costs to build more classrooms or space when you can easily solve this problem by moving students from schools that are full to schools that have low enrollment. This will create smaller class sizes, creating a better learning environment. Multitrack schools could actually come out of this horrible system and accommodate all their students at once.
Again ... if the Board of Education is considering this merger, I would strongly urge the members to think about the issues that teachers and students will face.
Enjoy holiday lights, but watch the wattage
As we approach the holidays, many of us are showing our holiday theme by displaying Christmas lights around and in our homes. We need to be mindful of the amount of lights we connect into the wall. As each light bulb is plugged in, it can easily bring a home's circuitry to full capacity. Some homes I have seen in the past have so many lights hooked up, it could have equaled an oven range's consumption rate in total wattage.
Let us all have a safe and happy holiday season.