Airport users ignore toothless smoking law
I wrote a letter to the editor last year
regarding the second-hand smoke concerns at the Honolulu International Airport, and I was greatly relieved to hear of the anti-smoking law that recently took effect. Unfortunately, it has become quite apparent that this is a law without any teeth.
Travelers continue to smoke at most outside locations within the airport terminal. Signage prohibiting smoking is sparse or just notes printed on paper. The airport's "cabin to curb" slogan is ambiguous as to what defines the curb because there are curbs and roadways within the secure area that are supposed to be nonsmoking areas.
Security personnel advise us that they are not responsible for enforcing the law, which is apparently enforceable only by the state Department of Health. How often do they patrol the airport sidewalks? As airline employees, are we to enforce this law and remind people not to smoke? What do we do if they fail to comply? It seems like just another typical Hawaii law with no substance or enforcement.
Gay couples shouldn't pay more income tax
Even though I am not gay, I was pleased to see the New Jersey governor signing legislation for civil unions, because I like to believe in equal justice for all.
This coming tax season, ask your tax consultant what the tax liability would be for a married couple, heterosexual, one wage earner and no children, with a taxable income of $190,000, and filing married (joint). Then, ask the same tax consultant what the tax liability would be for a gay couple, no children, one wage earner, filing single, with a taxable income of $190,000. The gay couple has to pay quite a bit more on the same taxable income as the straight married couple. Is this legalized discrimination on the part of Congress? I think so!
Decision could mean 808 for Obama in '08
I am very pleased that Sen. Barack Obama (D, Ill.) is making his decision to run for president while spending time with his family in Hawaii
. I believe that Obama radiates the qualities residents of Hawaii are looking for in a president.
In my opinion, Hawaii is one of the most nonpartisan states in the country. Instead, we vote based on leadership qualities and the ability of the candidate to express such admirable traits. After hearing Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and reading his two books, I believe he possesses such qualities befitting of a president. While I do not doubt that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York will put up a massive fight against Obama if he decides to run, I believe that his local roots and admirable leadership traits are why Hawaii should take an active role in our support of him for the presidential election in 2008.
Property valuations are out of control
The people of Honolulu are being robbed by the city administration and City Council. The increased property valuations do not have to result in real property tax increases, as they would like you to believe ("Oahu's property values up 15 percent," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 16
). The rate should be determined by figuring out what the new tax rate would have to be to raise the same amount of taxes as the previous year, plus inflation, and then adopt that rate.
Two years ago the average valuation went up more than 28 percent, and the city kept the same rate, so the public paid an increase of more than 28 percent, an amount 800 percent greater than the growth in the economy. Why should government costs increase so much more than the economy? Last year (this tax year) the increased valuation was more than 26 percent, and even though the city bragged about giving higher exemptions, the taxes still went way up.
My wife and I are seniors living in our own home, and even with the larger deductions we had another significant tax increase. Our property taxes have increased 105 percent in the last five years and the city is already talking about the higher assessments resulting in another increase!
There is a lot of talk about Oahu's homeless problem. There is no greater reason for that than our runaway increases on property taxes. Landlords pass cost increases on to renters, and these increases are sending rents higher each year.
Readers, tell us about 2007
The Star-Bulletin would like readers to submit their thoughts, ideas and hopes for 2007. Tell us what you would like the year to bring or what you expect 2007 will be like. Feel free to get the family involved -- we'd like to hear from our younger readers, too. And you're welcome to express your feelings in a photograph or drawing rather than words, if you prefer.
Comments and observations may be personal or global, material or spiritual -- whatever is on your mind. We will publish your words on New Year's Day, along with some photos and other artwork you send.
E-mail us at email@example.com, or send mail to Editorial Department, Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI, 96813.
We look forward to hearing from you!
How about tax breaks for hybrid jitneys?
Instead of this billion-dollar rail project, why not just eliminate all buses, go smaller on cars, and go back in time to a jitney system, a modernized hybrid electric/gas jitney.
This would create jobs for independent owners, and the city could grant tax deductions to the owners of the jitneys. At least some thought in this area is appropriate, otherwise billions of dollars and more of Hawaii's unique charm is gone.
Many electric jitneys running with regularity through the bus lines will bring less noise and less pollution. Put a 35 mph speed limit on all city traffic so the traffic flows with ease and with less stress and tension, therefore hopefully eliminating at least some accidents and saving people's lives and limbs. How much difference does it make if a person loses 10 minutes or so going 35 mph instead of 45 mph, especially when accidents might be prevented?
If this seems funny or radical, it is no more radical than a rail system. If this does not seem like a good idea, let's hear from the people of Oahu. Let's use our imaginations to do it better than a monstrosity of a rail. Honolulu needs less industrialization, not more.
Former Hawaii resident
Ewa's growth demands a stop on rail route
City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi's transit route from East Kapolei to Manoa is commendable
, but her proposed route would bypass Ewa, a community of 70,000. This is not acceptable.
By 2020, it is forecast that the Ewa population will increase to 140,000. Traffic during the morning and afternoon rush hour is already a nightmare. Without transit alternatives, it will go from bad to worse.
If the preferred route is to bypass Ewa, the alternative is to build a dedicated spur route that runs along the entire Fort Weaver Road corridor from North Road to Waipahu Transit Center.
Four stations with a dedicated park-and-ride facility can be spaced one mile apart at North, Keoneula, Geiger and Renton roads. Shuttle buses can connect each neighborhood to the nearest transit station, or commuters can drive to the nearest transit station and ride the rail into town or Kapolei.
This alternative has its merit. If this system is done properly, it will not only be attractive, but in the long run, it will benefit the entire Ewa community.
Sorry, Waikiki, but Ewa is more deserving of a spur route than you.
Oahu can't bear cost of expensive rail plan
Having lived and worked here for 47 years, my fixed income has been stretched to the limit and is now not sufficient to withstand a huge cost-of-living leap in '07 due to an increase in the general excise tax.
With respect, I must say the city's monster rail project is too extravagant for this island to bear. I can't understand why city officials don't see that. It is just not good management for Honolulu, or for Hawaii's people who will suffer. The only thing I can see is that it is not about people -- it is about money and power.
There are alternatives; Tampa, Fla., has been successful with its elevated tollway plan, which is much less of a burden to the taxpayer. I am not alone and must speak for other voters in my category. Please listen to us. The rail project is deadly to the people of this island. There will be much more homelessness and crime (because people will not be eating right or will turn more to drugs and the selling of them to get money to live), and it will become a Third World-type of existence ... a hell of a "paradise." How will that affect tourism?
Do you really want this for Hawaii?
Watada is destined for great future
Bravo, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada
, for refusing to participate in the Iraq war. There is a hero, someone who is courageous enough to put his freedom on the line to oppose an illegitimate, immoral war that is based on deception and that we are losing.
Prison might be in your future, Lieutenant, but take comfort from the fact that several of history's greatest leaders have been jailed before going on to noble accomplishments.
Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian freedom fighter, pledged, "We will faithfully follow truth and refrain from violence to life, person or property." He spent time in jail, but he helped gain India's independence from Great Britain's colonial rule.
Martin Luther King was arrested and fined for political action. He won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
Nelson Mandela spent a quarter of a century in jail for his political actions. He went on to become South African president and one the world's greatest statesmen. He shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
When you go to jail, Lieutenant, take books on government along. You obviously have a great future ahead of you. Your proven fortitude, strength, honesty and intelligence could qualify you to be our first U.S. president of Asian ancestry!
Gerhard C. Hamm
Other military leaders should join Watada
In regard to reader Bob Haglund's remarks that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada did not set a good example (Letters, Dec. 20
), I would suggest that Haglund is not basing his opinion on facts that were eloquently presented last Tuesday
by Watada to an overflow crowd of enthusiastic supporters of the Constitution, civil rights and international law. Upholding the Constitution, civil rights, and international law is the most patriotic act that an officer can teach those in his command. Apparently the president and his Cabinet failed this civics lesson, for they have committed war crimes against humanity by the illegal invasion of Iraq, which has resulted in the deaths of what is now said to be 650,000 Iraqis.
The question that the public and media should be asking is why other military commanders have not protested. Do they not have a conscience?
Watada has my full support and admiration for his integrity and courage. There should be no punishment for doing the right thing. In fact, I would suggest that the wrong person (people) is on trial.
Obama seems able to unify Americans
What sets Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
apart from other presidential aspirants is that he is relatively untainted by the preferences and prejudices of the baby-boom generation. He reaches across the board to all citizens alike with charm and candor wherever he goes.
There is evidence of a subtle synergy at work here. It appears to have a strangely unifying effect on the population after years of being splintered by the myopic declarations of politicians bent on perpetuating their narrow, divisive partisan goals at the expense of forging a national consciousness of unity from which democracy ultimately draws its strength and currency.
Sages of east and west have reminded us time and again that we have to cease finding solutions in the realm of opposites where each side digs its heels in the ground and self-righteously declares itself right while denouncing the other as wrong. This is the world of duality that we have unfortunately come to accept as reality. The wisdom of advaita or nonduality challenges us to look for a solution beyond the culturally ossified norms of right and wrong. How many more people do we have to see maimed and slaughtered before we awaken to this realization?
Obama is in Hawaii right now pondering his widely expected candidacy. He needs to be acknowledged for bringing a brand new perspective to the political discourse.
Next Step brings Christmas to keiki
'Twas the week before Christmas and all through Next Step,
The keiki were dreaming of gifts they might get
Christmas at Next Step is a sight to be seen,
What is Christmas? Many asked me, and what does it mean?
Why all the gifts wrapped in red and green?
Why is there a tree, along with food and ice cream?
This question I pondered, as it was hard to respond,
How do you explain Christmas to someone from beyond?
Then I thought of a language that we all understand,
The love of our family, our God and our land
Christmas is a time of celebration and love
A time of reflection and giving thanks to above,
A time of wonder, forgiveness and joy,
A time to show love in a hug, or a toy
As I left Next Step to go back to my home,
A place for my family and a husband I call my own,
I felt a sense of warmth for the families that live there,
For we are the same people, with the same concerns and cares,
We love our children; want the best for their lives,
We work hard for a living and try our best to survive
They are my brothers and sisters, living a Next Step for different reasons,
What they don't know is that they have taught me the true meaning of this season
No matter where you live, what you drive, what you own,
The meaning of Christmas is there in your home,
Hug your children, hold them close, and love them dear,
Help your neighbors, strangers and spread the holiday cheer,
Merry Christmas to all of you where ever you live,
For Christmas is love, and the love that you give.
Next Step volunteer
Editor's note: The Next Step Project in Kakaako is a state transitional housing shelter for adults and children.