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. This month, we present the award winners for May and June.
Lawmakers should be part-time volunteers
Shortly after Hawaii lawmakers granted themselves and other state officials a pay raise, Honolulu resident Dave Reed addressed the concept of lawmakers as "public servants." In his May 16 letter
, Reed suggested that the Legislature should "change from an annual session to one that convenes for four days each month, for which elected representatives receive NO pay whatsoever."
Reed listed several advantages to such a system. For one thing, lawmakers would be "enacting laws that will directly affect themselves as they try to make a living in the private sector; it will provide a greater understanding of how their actions translate to ordinary people." And, with no paycheck involved, "Only dedicated individuals will seek public office."
As Reed wrote, this might be something to think about during the next Constitutional Convention.
You can't do all your business downtown
"It is a natural human function of all human beings to have to use the bathroom a few times a day," Honolulu resident Scott R. Hadley wrote in his June 10 letter
. "And yet in downtown Honolulu there is no public restroom."
In Hadley's view, this situation is " absolutely negligent on the part of the City Council. ... A city without public restrooms encourages urinating on our streets and increases the smell of urine in places all around Honolulu."
Hadley suggested that the Council "set aside funds for building at least one public restroom facility in downtown Honolulu for the human needs of the people of the city."
Assistant editor, Editorial section
Hawaiian language flourishing
A few weeks ago Kauakukalahale, the Star-Bulletin's Hawaiian language column, reminded us that the Hawaiian language is an official language of the state of Hawaii. The irony of it all is that it's not those reading Kauakukalahale who need the reminding, but rather those with little or no knowledge and consequently appreciation for the Hawaiian language who need to be reminded.
However, riding most recently on the tails of Na Koa O Anuenue football, and it's been a great ride, celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Hawaiian language immersion programs and other efforts to perpetuate the Hawaiian language, many are now learning that the language is indeed alive and thriving, and has been for a long time now.
It's quite uplifting to see this growing awareness and appreciation in hopes that one day more people will read Kauakukalahale -- the only column printed once a week in the Hawaiian language.
Emerald Kapi'olani Adams
Editor's note: Kauakukalahale is published in the Insight section every Sunday.
Anti-smoking ads are too disgusting
Recent nonsmoking commercials airing on television show a child being bathed and another being fed by his father. One depicts cigarettes being fed to a child and the other a child being bathed in water contaminated by cigarettes. Both are "gross" and appear to be in bad taste.
Why can't developers of these commercials be more creative and have better judgment in their development?
Roy M. Chee
Don't let good old boys take over islands
The Hawaii Superferry protest
is probably the only "throw yourself into the water to help the environment" demonstration going now. Let's give them some support. What went wrong was that the government tried to dominate the people once again. What is going on with our governor? I think the protest about the Superferry, plus the reported possible crime already taking place of shipping rocks from Maui to Oahu, must be an indication of issues to come.
Please rethink the option of aggravating our fragile environment with more wear and tear.
Business is in a friendly environment here, and business has always been a way of life in Hawaii, mom and pop stores, newspapers, recreation, ocean and land.
So please don't say that we are not business friends, when what really is up is another good old boy business club. Are you listening to the people? Do politicians ever? It seems that they are on Maui.
Superferry treated passengers well
As an islander who experienced the Superferry from Kauai, I would like to thank the Superferry for its 100 percent restitution for my expenses incurred as a result of the protesters at Nawiliwili. Please accept my apologies for the ignorance that was shown by these people. If there is an issue about your legality in operating as a business, this was not the way to express it. The politicians who put their names to this fiasco should pay for this at the voting booth.
I was born and raised in the homestead of Papakolea and have resided here on Kauai for 25-plus years. I appreciate the opportunity to choose which way to travel interisland, so don't tell me to "catch a plane" and "rent a car." Give me the right to choose.
Lawai Valley, Kauai
With our without ferry, alien species will come
» March 9, 2006 -- a Pacific Whale Foundation vessel, cruising below 13 knots, staying 100 yards away from visible humpback, has a scanning crewmember, but still ran over a calf (Star-Bulletin, May 7, 2006). Multiply this possibility by about 50 vessels involved in whale watching in Hawaii, mainly on Maui.
» About two weeks ago, a kitten was discovered in a mixed dry goods container directly from Mira Loma, Calif., by Costco employees in Lihue, Kauai, when it was unloaded. That's OK -- it wasn't an "invasive species," nor did the kitten carry rabies.
» Sept. 4, 2007 -- the largest marijuana bust ever on Kauai, 6,000 plants at the base of Waialeale. How did those plants get there from Oahu, anyway?
Pride of Hawaii cruise ship, sponsored by powerful Democratic senator, few Hawaii workers employed on board -- no worries. Hawaii Superferry, many local workers employed on board, sanctioned by Republican governor -- worries.
Is a puzzlement!
Politicians treated general shamelessly
Our politicians are out of control. I was shocked, shamed and then saddened by the manner in which our politicians treated Gen. David Petraeus during his report to Congress.
They sat there with their own inflated sense of importance and berated the general for being an administration mouthpiece. They accused him of "cherry picking" facts and providing a slanted view of the war ... all before the man even opened his mouth.
These blowhards spouted off about how they were the only ones who cared about the troops. Hogwash. When it becomes politically expedient to throw us under the bus, the politicians will be first ones to shove us. Freedom to dissent, absolutely! Our politicians forget that men and women like Petraeus have paid for that freedom with their blood and lives. Ever notice that those who scream the loudest are never the ones at personal risk?
Notice that I never mentioned a political party ... they are both as bad as each other.
Testimony on Iraq changed nothing
Regarding the appearance of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker before Congress last week:
More of the same. According to the general and the diplomat, the war in Iraq will continue with no end in sight. The markers keep moving to coincide with the latest assessments. The talk is the security of Iraq, but what about the escalating costs in lives and the nation's resources? What price glory? This war would end if taxes were increased to finance it and a draft was activated. Meanwhile, we just keep bumbling along with an inept Congress and a bankrupt Bush administration.
Military arrogance not wanted here
What's next in the display of American military might and arrogance in Hawaii?
Now we get to hear the sweet sounds of the Thunderbirds stunt planes roaring right over our heads.
They're oh so cool, but these guys crash, too. Who will clean up the debris in our backyards? No worry.
Instruments of death bring evil to Hawaii
As the Thunderbirds roared over my Manoa studio Thursday morning, I felt one thing: the presence of pure evil.
The amount of time, talent and money and the sheer will it has taken to create these instruments of death brings me to tears.
That we would use such sophisticated "weapons platforms" to rain horror and destruction on so many people throughout the world is something about which we should all feel deep shame.
We also need to reflect on the reaction that others might have to being the subject of a U.S.-sponsored "air show."
Terrance C. Horton
STAR-BULLETIN / 2004
Hawaii's hardy weeds defy control by manuel means, says horticulturist James L. Brewbaker in the letter below. Above, teens help clear a weed-infested area at the Waimea Valley Audubon Center.
'Organic' farming needs new definition
Organic agriculture is doomed in Hawaii, if by only one little thing: weeds. Plain old weeds. The book "World's Worst Weeds" notes that invasive weedy species love Hawaii. And until our definition of organic farming changes, the weeds will continue to win in the tropics.
Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff ("Gathering Place," Sept. 11) attacked columnist Betsy Hart for simply asking, "Why pay more for organic foods?" Indeed, our markets and the Earthjustice lawyers do owe us an answer to this question. Almost universally the scientist's answer is, "Don't pay more."
In a recent issue of "Crops and Soils," Alex Avery records that in the 285 studies to date, organic produce showed no consistent nutritional benefits. And increasingly the organics arrive with nasty buggies (e.g., the cow-pooped spinach).
After 50 years in tropical ag research, I tip my hat in awe to Hawaii's weeds. Ask any Hawaii farmer, organic or not, about honohono or nutgrass, guinea or sandbur, spiny amaranth or wiregrass. He or she will admit that these babies defy control by hoe, and they love all fertilizers, organic or not. To be sure, a lawyer's wages might sharpen their hoes.
Yet our supermarket shelves are full of excellent chemicals for weed control. They are inexpensive, benign, effective. And they are used on the soil and its weeds, not on the crops we eat! Earthjustice claims our islands are "at risk" from GMOs, yet this type of herbicide-resistance is perfectly safe and has reduced pesticide use on a billion acres.
Let's redefine "organic" to "pesticide free." Otherwise, kudos to the Betsy Harts of the world, who wisely declare the term fraudulent and us shoppers deceived.
James L. Brewbaker
Professor of horticulture and genetics
University of Hawaii-Manoa