Was DOE on vacation when calendar was changed?
I can't believe it took this long for us to realize there was something wrong with our current unified school calendar ("School vacations might be revised," Star-Bulletin, May 31
). I'm sure it must have been great having all these extra breaks during the school year, but I have found more teachers working during these "breaks," and students who were always "on vacation" even when school was still in session.
I can't believe no one could foresee teachers not wanting to give up their abbreviated summer to teach summer school. In many schools, summer school became nonexistent, to the dismay of many parents and students who needed remedial classes or wanted enrichment courses. Let's hear it for great Department of Education and Board of Education leadership!
Legalizing marijuana is smartest policy
Mahalo for Rich Figel's "Addicted to Life" column May 27
on successful Dutch drug policies that work.
My wife and I have seen firsthand the social benefits that Dutch cannabis policy imparts on their society, and believe we should emulate that approach here. During our visit to Holland, we heard that there are large numbers of calls to police due to problems in the alcohol bars -- but they receive few, if any, calls from the cannabis coffee shops.
For decades, I've read with dismay about the horrible consequences of the so-called "War on Drugs" in our local newspapers. I've often wondered if people here would ever be introduced to the world beyond the "red, white and blue curtain," with regard to a more pragmatic approach to the drug problem.
Smoking marijuana should not be a crime for adults. Let's legalize it and regulate it the same way we do with alcohol and tobacco, two "legal" drugs that actually cause far more harm than pot.
Let's try policies that reduce substance-related problems and impart real social benefits for a change.
Ad campaign against EPA is money ill spent
Oahu's sewage treatment problems continue to be a big issue, with Mayor Mufi Hannemann running full-page, full-color newspaper ads, plus commercials on television and radio. None of this advertising is cheap.
These ads mention public hearings, but primarily the focus is on defending the mayor's position on the treatment and dumping of sewage.
The Environmental Protection Agency has regulations to protect us and the environment. Those regulations were hard-won over a long period of time. Now the mayor is shrugging them off, claiming they cost too much and are not necessary, once again trying to excuse his lack of leadership.
But the EPA and Gov. Linda Lingle are correct. The sewage should be well treated before it is released into the ocean. Hannemann is only complaining, as usual, rather than doing his job. But now he is using those higher sewer fees to advance his political agenda, rather than fixing the problem. This is not how I want my money spent.
Mark G. Valencia
Wasted Iraq money needed in America
Once again we can count on our good old federal government for wasting the people's money on "no return to the people" issues. More than $100 billion to support the Iraq effort, in a country filled with radical religious terrorists killing anyone around them and mostly each other. And we're going to teach them the right way to live. I don't think so.
Well, there goes the next two generations' worth of tax dollars. Each member of Congress should be ashamed. America has thousands of homeless people, runaway pollution problems, a decaying infrastructure, and rampant drug and violence problems, not to mention never finishing the effort to rebuild New Orleans after a devastating hurricane. And they are going to spend all this money on another foreign nation.
It is about time we stand up for ourselves and our needs! There are only about 300 million Americans. Why not give each person in America with a Social Security number a million dollars each, instead of flushing our money down the Iraq toilet? Now that would make some sense and stimulate our economy.
Ertell's volunteer work touched many hearts
The staff and volunteers of the American Cancer Society were shocked and deeply saddened to read about the tragic death of Karen Ertell, the "Ewa Beach woman" who was killed in her home (Star-Bulletin, May 27
). We just want your readers to know that Karen was a special human being who touched the lives of many children healing from cancer.
Karen was a volunteer with us since 1994 at our camps for children with cancer. She spent weeks every year to help in the planning for the camps, and then served as camp counselor and staff director at our Camp Anuenue for children ages 7-17 and Camp Ikaika for teenagers.
Our campers recall how Karen stood out as a vibrant and caring mentor. One former camper, Kiyomi Goto, now a college student in North Carolina studying to be a medical doctor, was in the library routinely checking Hawaii news online and saw your article with a picture of Karen.
She responded in her blog (mochiqtpi.blogspot.com/2007/05/karen.html): "Karen was my cabin counselor back when I was a wee teen. Later, she was staff director of the same camp when I was a CIT (Counselor in Training). ... I can feel the sun on my arms and legs when I remember sitting out on the raft with her, laughing and talking story. The reassuring weight of her hand on my shoulder at the memorial campfires, her comforting hugs, and wonderful laugh are only a few of the memories that will be tucked in a special corner of my heart."
During this year's Camp Anuenue, the children will be putting together a memory book, giving them the opportunity to share with Karen's family some of the joy and spirit of the gifts she has given to them over the years.
Kiyomi, our former camper, expressed the feelings of all of us at the Society when she wrote, "Here's to a wonderful woman whose life was cut short ... "
Chief staff officer for mission
American Cancer Society, Hawaii Pacific Inc.
HOME FIRES BURNING
Stay out of our homes with no-smoking regulations
The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii has gone too far with its suggestion that smoking should be banned in condominiums, apartments and townhomes
First, neither the coalition nor any government agency has any right whatsoever to govern or seek to control any legal activity that happens within the confines of my own home.
Second, if it pursues this course of action, all the seeming good that the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii has done in attempting to make Hawaii's public places better will be eliminated once it ventures into the homes of our citizens.
Third, the real estate industry -- from developers to real estate agents -- will be at the anti-smoking activists' throats as they seek to mandate behavior of buyers and renters. Imagine a real estate agent saying, "I'm sorry, you are a smoker so I cannot sell you this apartment." Never going to happen.
Pass such a law or seek to add it to existing condominium bylaws and people will revolt against the organization and the lawsuits will be plentiful and for astronomical amounts of money -- and they will lose every case. All the good the coalition has done to date will be lost. My advice is to stick with protecting public places and leave homes and apartments alone.
Anti-smoking initiatives work, but need funding and support
In response to the Star-Bulletin's May 28 editorials
: Mahalo for your continued support of Hawaii's efforts in tobacco control.
While we have had much success this past year, we are still a long way from being free of the highly negative effect tobacco has here. Tobacco-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory illnesses continue to take a significant toll on the economy of Hawaii and the health of our residents.
The Department of Health's 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor survey indicates that the adult smoking rate is 17.5 percent -- an increase of .5 percent from 2005. This is going in the wrong direction, and Hawaii's 2010 goal of 14.5 percent looks a long way off.
Minority and disparate populations are the hardest hit by tobacco. The smoking rate for Hawaiians is the highest in the state: 27.4 percent. One-third of smokers are unemployed and more than 50 percent earn less than $25,000.
By adequate funding targeted to programs that we know work, reducing tobacco use in Hawaii is possible. California, which funds these types of initiatives, has reduced its adult smoking rate to 13 percent. Programs like the Hawaii Quitline, targeted media campaigns and evaluation will allow us to take the next steps in the fight against tobacco.
Interim executive director
Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii
What's so funny about cancer-causing behavior?
I just finished reading a letter to the editor about the proposed smoking ban and the second paragraph was solid sarcasm ("Smoking ban would only save owners money," Star-Bulletin, May 31
I have one question -- why? Would you like to live in an apartment house where your neighbor smokes like a chimney and could easily burn down the building because he or she wanted to smoke in bed and then fell asleep with a lit cigarette in hand? What is so bad about not breathing in someone's secondhand smoke?
This letter writer might think it is funny, with her joke about banning autos and barbecues, but I can't remember the last time someone got lung cancer or emphysema from a backyard cookout or driving a car.
Port Angeles, Wash.
Former Hawaii resident