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. Today we present the award winners for March and April.
wrote March's winning letter:
Parents, keep your kids in school
As a teacher, He'eia Elementary's Elizabeth Lee sees one simple, effective way to improve student performance. During her 20-year career as a teacher, Lee wrote, "I have seen a marked increase in the number of family trips that take children away from the classroom."
Teachers are blamed when tests scores are low, Lee wrote, but "parents are never held accountable for their actions."
"The good news is that Hawaii's new school calendar gives parents an increased number of breaks during the school year to go on family vacations, without parents having to pull their children out of class," Lee added.
We agree that this is a good way for parents to teach their children to take education seriously, with the added benefit of raising their grades. And it won't cost taxpayers a dime.
Genie Brainerd wrote April's winning letter:
What has happened to common decency?
When Honolulu resident Genie Brainerd was at a Kaiser High School track meet -- obviously a family-oriented event -- she was shocked to see a man wearing a T-shirt with an obscenity printed on it "in big bold letters."
"This kind of thing is not unusual anymore," she wrote. "Just look at the bumper stickers on some vehicles today."
Worse yet, "We don't even know how to stand up to these people these days," she wrote. "I am ashamed to say that I was intimidated and didn't do anything. Others around me agreed that the shirt was offensive but were reluctant to do anything" -- including the track official she approached.
"Where have all the decent people gone?" Brainerd asked. "Are we all just too scared to stand up to the bullies anymore?"
Assistant editor, Editorial section
Freeway cleaners sweep up the money
Our state Department of Transportation is an endless source of fun. When a tree branch on the H-2 took down an electric line, the DOT clear-cut 2 miles of trees. It looks like the aftermath of a forest fire. You've got to send a message to those other tree branches -- don't mess with us!
And the other day there was an eight-vehicle procession cleaning the far left lane of the H-2. First were three pickup trucks picking up the big stuff. Behind were two police cars with their lights flashing. But best of all, in the middle were not one, not two, but THREE huge, bright yellow street-sweeping machines, one right after the other. Somebody's relative or classmate must have that contract.
Guess what, lawyer -- traffic isn't 'fair,' either
I read with interest in Wednesday's paper
that an official of the Hawaii State Bar Association opposes the new courthouse complex in Kapolei.
Adrienne King, chairwoman of the Family Law Section, opposes the new location, citing traffic and an increase in legal fees to cover transportation costs. "Our position is it's not fair for the people who live in Honolulu, Kakaako, Waikiki and Waimanalo to have to drive out to Kapolei."
Welcome to the real world, Adrienne. Life isn't always fair, as you and your colleagues will be finding out soon. But until you -- and other influential people with a voice, a pen and a vote -- drive (crawl) a mile in the thousands of other commuters' cars, the traffic problem will continue to speed toward gridlock. It's one thing to hear and read about "our" problem but vastly different to experience it.
The governor, the mayor, their staffs and every member of the Legislature should be required to make the commute both ways at least once a week. I can almost guarantee that a solution would be forthcoming -- and not in the 20 years that it usually takes for major projects like the H-3 to reach fruition.
How much individual stress, costly accidents and lost productive hours must residents endure before a solution is at hand?
Person behind wheel must yield to walkers
I'm inclined to support Ken Chang's interpretation of our community standards ("Fault lies with drivers, drivers and drivers" Letters, July 10
), rather than Kelly Yong's view ("Whoever will get hurt should be careful," Letters, July 12
The vehicle operators must be responsible for alert and attentive driving. I always assume the oncoming driver is -- no, not actively trying to kill me, but almost certainly not paying attention. I was confirmed in this attitude recently at the Manoa Innovation Center. I stopped; the driver saw me after he drove across the sidewalk where I would have been.
On the other hand, I have been rewarded recently by drivers being alert, recognizing that I and others are waiting for traffic to clear before crossing, then on their own initiative stopping to let us cross.
Of course, we don't need to be foolish about crossing the street, but, as Chang says, it really is every driver's responsibility to be aware -- yes, see everything that could be affected by their trajectory and make very sure they don't, through inattention or self-importance, kill someone.
Tam's ethics snit doesn't pass sniff test
Let me get this straight.
Honolulu Councilman Rod Tam, who works for us, thinks Councilman Charles Djou, who works for us, breached some kind of ethics code by telling us what was going on behind closed doors in talks with attorneys, whom we paid for, about a $300 million lawsuit settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, which works for us (Star-Bulletin, July 20).
I hope those secret talks involved persuading the EPA, which works for us, to use the settlement, costing us some $325 per each Oahu resident, to help refurbish our aging sewer system.
I also hope that city Ethics Commission Director Chuck Totto, who works for us, doesn't take more than a few tax-paid moments in deciding to toss Tam's "complex" complaint where it belongs -- in our aging sewer system.
Just give her a ride, not a lecture
I am a Japanese woman from Japan who read Chip Davey's guest column ("That friendly stranger behind the wheel could be bad news," Star-Bulletin, July 8
). I am about the same age as the girl Mr. Davey kindly gave a ride to, so maybe the girl in the short sundress and high heels thinks the same way I do. I am an adult woman and I don't need a father figure I just met telling me how to dress, nor do I need this father figure to tell me not to accept rides from strange men after he has just done the same thing. Any normal girl would feel downright creepy hearing that last sentence after they're trapped in the same car with the strange man.
Moreover, I do not need this father figure to tell me to call him when I reach my destination, nor do I feel I have to return his calls.
I would like to ask him if he has also kindly given rides and advice to men and old women. I would like to end this with an appropriate Japanese term: "Arigata meiwaku," which means, "Thanks, but no thanks."
Do your part to keep local businesses alive
As a longtime customer of the Flamingo restaurant, I am saddened to hear of its closing. Although the Star-Bulletin's July 14 article
cites the expiration of the lease and rising costs of business as the reasons for closure, it is well known that mainland businesses entering Hawaii's market is a cause for the escalating cost of doing business in the islands.
Local businesses disappear due to mainland corporations and the support they receive from people who move to Hawaii with no connection to the islands, the people or the culture. The Kamehameha Bowl is a good example of closing a business that was so important to our local senior population.
Now we have Walgreens. The expectation is that Walgreens will eventually strangle Longs Drug, which has been a loyal, faithful, long-standing and reasonably priced business.
Hopefully, people who care about our islands and our way of life will continue to spend more of their money to support local businesses. The closing of the Flamingo is affecting 52 local employees, some of whom have been faithful to the Flamingo for 20 years. I hope a local business will occupy the space. Come on, locals!
Where did Iran learn to inflict such abuse?
National Public Radio on Thursday reported the shocking treatment of supposed enemies of the Iran regime. They are imprisoned for months, are not allowed lawyers, cannot confront their accusers, are subjected to advanced interrogation techniques and are even denied habeas corpus.
Obviously, the current Iranian government administration is immoral, depraved, dishonest, degenerate, evil and deserving of universal condemnation.
John A. Broussard
Tourism is down because visitors get soaked
As a former regular visitor to Hawaii from the West coast of Canada, I have been predicting hotel occupancy rates would drop for a couple of years now (Star-Bulletin, July 6
). As soon as the Asian economies took a hit Hawaii had to pay the price for the attitude the islands have developed over the years. Your populations seem to have come to the conclusion that the tourists can be endlessly ripped off with no consequences, which is totally foolish in the long term.
Pretty much everyone is soaking the tourists with extra fees and charges, not properly disclosed at the time of booking. Examples are as follows:
» Hotels: Parking, average $10-$15 per day; fitness rooms extra, cabanas extra. In-room safes extra, in-room coffee extra.
» Outside the hotel: Quoted car rentals have large insurance extras (which are included in most states). Costs for gas are more for tourists (unless they have some local resident card like the "ohana card"). The same can be said for groceries. Even the numerous stamp machines issue two 24-cent stamps for 85 cents, so that to send a postcard at 75 cents you have to put in $1.70 (this one is irritatingly sleazy).
The trouble with creating this feeling in the tourists is that the effect is long term; even if you change it, people take years to notice, having been bitten before.
My father taught me as a boy, "You never regret treating people the way you would like to be treated."