The Star-Bulletin chooses a monthly Golden Letter winner. The award is given to the letter writer who has best expressed his or her views in an informative, entertaining or persuasive manner.
A symphony of drama, fun and discipline
A Nov. 28 feature story
about the Hawaii Youth Symphony drew enthusiastic response from several readers, among them former symphony member Pamela Tao
Tao, now a San Francisco resident, fondly recalled her experience in the youth symphony. The young musicians had much more to deal with than just handling their instruments, learning to play and read music, memorizing their parts -- "and being teenagers," she wrote. "I remember the drama -- will the woodwinds remain in tune during this part we had trouble with in rehearsal? There was intrigue -- who will get first chair this year? And fun -- good heavens! Are the lower brass players actually singing along with the 'Messiah'?"
Even today, Tao wrote, when she listens to certain works of music, "I wait for specific measures, and when they arrive, they bring back memories of skinny, shy kids who would try every week to leave their awkwardness behind to bring the beauty of a master composer to life, under the guidance and love of a dedicated, gifted and kind man" -- director Henry Miyamura. He remains with the youth symphony to this day -- and Tao still has her oboe.
Star-Bulletin editorial page assistant editor
Flags can add safety when crossing street
Pedestrians, take action -- make drivers look at you! I waved a bicycle flag while crossing the Pali Highway, where there are no traffic lights, just crosswalks. Even busy, distracted drivers talking on their cell phones quickly notice a person pointing and waving a flag at them. Drivers appreciated the help noticing me, and my fellow pedestrians felt safer crossing the street.
With a crossing flag, even drivers who are behind a stopped car can see there is someone trying to cross up ahead. Sometimes drivers try to go around a stopped car. A flag held up high or out in front of you will alert other drivers you are crossing.
You can look at drivers and hope to be seen, or make the drivers notice you. And if they still don't see you, step back. You are not just protecting yourself -- you are also saving some driver from the lifetime of guilt and regret of hitting someone.
Pedestrians, unite! Use a crossing flag!
Gordon J. Trockman
Our roads are ruled by competitive cheaters
Is it human nature to cheat? It seems that way when it comes to drivers and pedestrians alike. Drivers want to run red lights or block intersections so they can get to their destination seconds or minutes quicker. Pedestrians want to get to the other side quicker as well, even though the flashing sign tells them not to enter a crosswalk. Sometimes they don't even bother with crosswalks. Both of them perceive the other as cheaters so that motivates them to out-cheat their counterpart. The hypocritical attitude of violators seems to be, "I will not be cheated, so I will cheat."
The cheats usually end up paying one way or the other.
Waikiki Aquarium is perfect where it is
I vehemently disagree with House Speaker Calvin Say's misguided concept of replacing the Waikiki Aquarium with a new "world-class aquarium" in Kakaako. State government and its attendant tax credits have no business being in this fishy business to begin with.
A similarly idiotic move to relocate the Honolulu Zoo was loudly trumpeted years ago. Both the zoo and the aquarium belong exactly where they are.
In fact, they (along with the Waikiki Shell, Queen's Beach and so many other primo parts of the splendid expanse of Kapiolani Park) are exactly what make that park "world class" in its own right.
I am more than a little sick of this highly contagious "world class" disease to begin with. Bigger is not always better. "Old style" Hawaii is perfect just as it is. We should be focusing on worthwhile projects that emphasize our unique island heritage, such as the wonderful resurgence of Chinatown. Preserving a historical slice of Hawaiian heritage at the aquarium is a good place to start.
Besides, anyone who has visited our wonderful little revitalized aquarium lately knows that nowadays it looks pretty darn spiffy on its own terms.
Bradley A. Coates
Haraga's absence is the public's loss
Rod Haraga, our former Department of Transportation director, was a rare breed of state cabinet member. I cannot recall any cabinet member who did such an exemplary job of keeping the residents of Hawaii informed. He was visible and communicated directly and frequently regarding road repairs and freeway closures on the evening news.
No one likes inconveniences, but they become acceptable when explanations are provided. I believe if Haraga were still our DOT director, the gridlock on Martin Luther King holiday would not have occurred because he would have told the motorists well in advance so that they could adjust their travel plans.
The governor's image is enhanced when her cabinet members are visible and communicative. I am disappointed that she chose not to reappoint Haraga.
Fireworks law would eliminate freedom
I am a retailer of fireworks and my sales reflect much greater numbers for the New Year's season than Fourth of July. Why are lawmakers trying to ban fireworks sales and usage on the lesser of the two holidays?
Dry vegetation is cited as a reason. So because it is drier during the summer months, we should ban a tradition? Maybe people should practice a little more common sense and not set off their fireworks in those areas.
The Fourth of July represents the freedom we have as Americans. It is a day to reflect what it means to be American and a day to honor those who protect and preserve its freedom. So why are lawmakers trying to take away our freedom on that day?
So if you're thinking of banning fireworks why not go all the way and ban hot dogs, lemonade, barbecue and red, white and blue as well?
Drunks, prostitutes are ruining Waikiki
I challenge lawmakers and liquor commissioners to take a ride down to Waikiki's Kuhio Avenue on a Friday or Saturday night. How can they allow so many bars in such close proximity to one another?
On Kuhio alone, from Seaside Avenue to Kaiulani Avenue, there are 12 bars and/or nightclubs. From 3:30 to 5 in the morning, Kuhio is a zoo. From numerous large fights breaking out to prostitutes and pimps on the street corners, Waikiki is an embarrassment to our city and our state.
We need to give police the tools they need, such as a "drunk in public" ordinance that will allow them to take an individual into custody if he might be a problem if left on the streets. Why do our officers have to wait until an assault or a robbery occurs?
Police officers tell me that most of the prostitutes in Waikiki have been arrested numerous times. If an officer sees the same prostitutes on a nightly basis, he should have the authority to arrest them for loitering for the purpose of prostitution, a law that is on the books but never enforced.
Lawmakers need to do something about these problems. Waikiki, our state's economic backbone, is a great place to start. Come on guys, do something!
Why not build prison complex on Hawaii?
On the subject of building more prisons: Just what are the obstacles in building a large prison site on the Big Island in a nonresidential area? Are there any large state lands not being utilized now out in the "boonies"?