Let voters decide the big, costly issues
Many of my friends and neighbors say, "There is no democracy." My friend Bess believes that "if you can find it in the Star, it is a fact."
Is there a democracy or not? A thin veil hangs between a true democracy and a type of political state that thinks it can decide for all matters and issues of great importance without putting them to a popular vote.
Federal grants will pay for some building of the fixed rail project, but everyone will help pay for it through the general excise tax increase. Only a small group will use it. Vast amounts of property will be confiscated. The final cost will be much higher than politicians have stated.
Perhaps Hawaii should have a referendum process, like they do in some other states, so the people could cast their votes on these larger issues. Yes, Mr. Mayor, there is a Virginia. In fact, there are many!
Traffic jam wouldn't happen under Haraga
Right on, Rosita Sipirok-Siregar of Makakilo ("Don't close H-1 lanes during rush hour," Letters, Jan. 18
). Your last line says it all: "Whoever had this brilliant idea ought to be fired!" If the only person with brains at the state Department of Transportation, Rod Haraga, hadn't been fired, this problem never would have happened.
Obama's ideals offset his inexperience
There is some dissension in the Democratic Party, from our Sen. Dan Inouye, about backing Sen. Barack Obama as a contender for the 2008 presidential election (Star-Bulletin, Jan. 8
). It seems to me, given the state of the nation with the current president, that any potential candidate at this time would be encouraged to put out feelers and gather information.
While I respect and appreciate the party leadership, it's always been with some reservations. It is a wise idea to foster new, upcoming members to carry on the Democratic traditions of pro-choice, pro-livable minimum wage and universal health care. I hope the tradition of paying one's dues can be broader in the case of this new flock of legislators, as passion and commitment, along with the tremendous support Obama is already gleaning, make up for his relative newness.
The 10 years Obama's been in politics seems adequate to me. Coming up to the 2008 election, he's the man for me.
Token tax return would be irresponsible
While I certainly also subscribe to some of the greed that is already too well encouraged elsewhere throughout our culture, I respectfully submit that some token state tax return is irresponsible at this time.
There is a more urgent need to commit funding for aid to the disadvantaged, maintenance of our state buildings, roads and other infrastructure, encouragement of research and other "seed" endeavors, such as high tech, energy savings and green environment. Also, isn't more money needed to address inflation issues such as debt, pay raises and other partial offsets to our basically unregulated gasoline costs? Isn't more money needed to reimburse costs for ceded lands? The list is virtually endless.
It might sound good to have some -- even a tiny -- tax return. But it really doesn't pass any common-sense test -- let alone exhibit aloha -- when we have dire needs for additional state government obligations.
Visitors need access to tsunami information
I was at an oceanside vacation rental in Hauula when the Jan. 12 tsunami watch
was issued. Newscasts flashed tsunami zone numbers that might be affected, but those were meaningless to me. I called Civil Defense to check, but no one answered. Newscasts told me the phone book provided evacuation and inundation zones, but the 2005 phone book I had referred me to a Web site for that information and I did not have Web access.
After the watch was lifted newscasts reported north- and west-facing shores should be on alert. I still do not know if east-facing shores were in danger in the event that a large tsunami developed.
I'd suggest mandating that all phone books provide detailed information about evacuation plans rather than referring to Web sites. Newscasts should specify what areas are in potential danger rather than referring to zone numbers that are not readily available. Newscasts, vacation rentals and hotels should post evacuation routes.
University of Minnesota-Duluth