Smoking ban helps people and businesses, too
Many indicators point to Oahu's bars and restaurants -- and their patrons -- doing well one year after Hawaii's smoke-free law went into effect.
A smoke-free Hawaii helps brand our state a desirable destination, particularly since most of our visitors are not smokers. In fact, more than half our mainland visitors come from states that also have smoke-free restaurants and bars. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau reports spending is way up from North American visitors and from meetings and conventions this year, another plus for our bars and eateries.
Seventeen states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico now have smoke-free laws for both bars and restaurants, along with many municipalities.
Opponents continue to generate negative headlines based on anecdotal, nonrepresentative examples of economic harm. However, evidence is building that smoke-free does not hurt business and might have a positive effect. A New York City report released following the first year of its smoke-free law found city restaurants and bars thriving -- receipts up 8.7 percent -- and workers breathing cleaner, healthier air.
Hawaii should be very proud as we look forward to our second year of smoke-free workplaces and public places that provide increased protection for employees from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii
Don't pay the coach at expense of school
With all the attention on the WAC Championship, Hawaii residents seem to either forget or ignore the travesties occurring at the University of Hawaii. The locker rooms are falling apart as is the Science Building, students aren't safe in their own dorms since there is no security there and low-paid professors struggle to make ends meet. Whenever these matters are brought up (usually between the end of and beginning of football season), the university simply says there's no money.
Yet Warriors Coach June Jones' salary has doubled from $400,000 to $800,000, and he stands to be making $1.6 million the next time he signs a contract. Now half of that comes from donors and the other half comes from ... you guessed it, the university. Why does the university put Jones' comforts and ego ahead of such necessities as student safety, adequate facilities for athletes and students and professor salaries? It seems like UH needs to set its priorities straight. Because when Jones eventually leaves, the professors, the locker rooms, the science building and the dorms will still be there and will need to be taken care of!
Undercover Web cops should target B&Bs
The claim that we cannot enforce the prohibition of B&Bs is bogus.
While it is true that current enforcement procedures are ineffective, the fact is that the proliferation and success of unlicensed B&Bs is an Internet phenomenon, and the Internet can easily be exploited to enforce the prohibition.
Step 1: Amend the wording of the law to specify that what is illegal is not having transients occupy a portion of one's home, but rather that offering the short-term use of one's home for money is illegal.
Step 2: Enforce the law. For example, the officer who enters a chat room after school is out and poses as a 15-year-old girl looking for some action could earlier in the day pose as, say, a couple from chilly Oregon wanting to enjoy a few sunny days in balmy Kailua. When he then makes a reservation and seals the deal with a deposit, all he has to do is wait for the transaction to be posted. He can then collar the miscreant and march him/her off to the pokey. If it turns out that the miscreant also has failed to pay the transient accommodation taxes to avoid blowing his/her cover, so much the better.
Just choose a solution and put it into effect
Hawaii needs to get its house in order concerning the bed and breakfast issue and it must do it shortly and smartly. At least two major national and international travel magazines, Conde Nast Traveler and Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, have lengthy articles in their current issues advising potential travelers to Hawaii of the B&B turmoil and warning of the uncertainty of finding affordable and available places to stay.
The granting of licenses is obviously a big issue. Proponents of opening the B&B licensing gates say most illegal operators are paying all fees and taxes required to operate. My suggestion is this: Pick a time period, say two or three years back, and issue licenses to all vacation home renters who can show they did indeed pay all required fees and taxes during that time period. Shut down the others.
As for how many licenses to grant, again, pick a number. Say 10 or 15 for each public access path to the beach.
OHA needs change of direction in 2008
The chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs should be replaced during the 2008 elections, as should the office's director. OHA leadership has done much as of late to gain publicity while doing little for the beneficiaries. The director needs to work with all trustees and not just the majority faction. Leadership must set a plan of action, which needs to be shared with all trustees regardless of faction, and then put that plan into motion.
The Superferry issue left much hurt in the Hawaiian community, and in the community at large. We need community hooponopono to reunite people and bring our community together again. Folks must remember that Kamehameha unified our islands nearly 200 years ago, thus making us one people. We are not Maui Hawaiians, Kauai Hawaiians or Oahu Hawaiians -- we are all simply Hawaiians. No native indigenous people in America, Hawaiians being the exception, can claim that they were once a single nation united under one globally recognized government.
I understand completely that the Superferry is a private company, but this issue has affected the state's general citizenry. OHA could have and should have facilitated meetings with its beneficiaries on Maui and Kauai to hear their concerns, and then worked with other elected officials to mitigate these concerns. OHA has cultural experts whose expertise would have been beneficial to the discussion, and could have potentially eased people's concerns. Instead of being proactive, OHA sent a representative to a hearing called by the Legislature to read a one-paragraph statement. That's a demonstration of poor leadership, which seems to be the norm at OHA lately. For these and other reasons, I encourage folks to join me in voting for change in 2008.
Whitney T. Anderson
Take foreign policy off the back burner
Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent decision to annul his country's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty is something that we need to keep in mind with primary elections only a few months away. Putin's decision to withdraw from the CFE Treaty comes right on the heels of a growing desire in the Russian Federation to restore their military prestige to superpower levels. While we were so involved in the swirling vortex of in Iraq, we let our foreign policy and diplomacy with other nations go to the back burner.
This should not have happened. We need to politically engage the Russian Federation and prevent the icing-over of relations between East and West. I grew up, like many others, in the chill of a Cold War arms race. Those of us who experienced it in the 20th century need to stop it from happening again in the 21st.
Daniel Paul de Gracia II
Let's put $3 billion into schools, not rail
Why don't we have the state set aside $3 billion into a 30-year fund with a deliberate plan to improve the education infrastructure for K-12 and higher education and increase teacher salaries?
Repurpose the money from the City and County of Honolulu, which would otherwise squander the $3 billion (more like $6 billion after cost overruns) on a frail rail transit system that Oahu's people don't want; that has a poorly mapped route that misses key communities; and that is going to be managed by the same people who way overran that "big dig" project in Boston by sixfold or $12 billion. Hello? McFly? Hello?
Public officials should disclose their secrets
As our government takes more liberties with personal freedom, citizens also should be allowed disclosure concerning those who who are elected to represent them. Public servants, whether elected, appointed, or hired, should be under the microscope just like the rest of us. If people run for or work in a public office, they become an example that reflects on the whole community, young and old.
When a politician gets a DUI or is caught with his pants down in a public restroom, it's a shame on the people who voted for them and the area they represent.
Sexual preferences also should be made public knowledge. The recent story of the California council member's sex change made his/her category questionable, is a terrific example of coming out being found out. Hawaii has long been famous for its relaxed attitudes, and I'm sure openly gay politicians would be respected for their work ethic.
The voters should have all possible information on the candidates and, not be surprised later. If you feel that sexual preferences or possible misconduct from alcoholism or drug habits are irrelevant to the ability of the candidate to work for society, then by all means vote them in or out.
Old Glory returned to Kahala post office
The wheels of government turn slowly ... but apparently they do turn. After many years of absence, the Waialae-Kahala post office flag pole has been resurrected. It's nice to see our country's flag flying crisply in the Kahala skies once more.
Stephen N. Bischoff