Con Con could cure what ails DOE
Maybe it's early, but I urge all of Hawaii's voters to cast their ballots in the 2008 general election in favor of a constitutional convention because it will create an opportunity to restructure Hawaii's public education system (Star-Bulletin, Dec. 12
). The existing structure is so obsolete that it is reminiscent of a factory operating in the latter part of the 19th century.
As evidence, consider that the Department of Education has highly qualified professionals as leaders, and its teachers are rated among the nation's best. Yet Hawaii's public schools are among the nation's worst. The structure is so obsolete that it guarantees failure. It's as if the best NASCAR drivers were brought together to win races, only to be given Model Ts to drive.
Although both the Legislature and the Board of Education have the power to restructure Hawaii's public education system, they have refused to do so. It is true that some of the members of both of these bodies understand the issue and know what is needed. But the sad fact is that the majorities in both bodies are controlled by greedy special interests that do not care enough for our children or Hawaii's future.
It's a good thing that we live in a democracy. We control our own destiny. Vote for the constitutional convention. Then vote for delegates who are courageous enough to stand up to special interests and are willing to bring Hawaii's public school system into the 21st century.
Honolulu Marathon entrants faced a muddy obstacle course at Kapiolani Park when they picked up their certificates of completion the day after the race.
Special events damage land and force public out of park
We grew up going to the beaches nearby and picnicking in Kapiolani Park. We love to surf at Publics and boogie at Walls. We love to take a stroll in the park and admire the big shady trees, enjoy a Hawaiian music or ukulele concert at the restored bandstand or Waikiki Shell. But nowadays try to find a parking place that isn't reserved for some special group or function on just about any Friday and most weekends.
It's also about landscape maintenance and tree preservation. "Craft" and ethnic fairs and special events get special kapu parking spots, 50-plus coned off safety systems (rentals) special parking. Then they proceed to drive large heavy vans and trucks on the grass, killing the grass, breaking irrigation systems, and over time harming the roots of historic and exceptional trees. They are not even using the reserved spots, but we might get towed away if we park there. What's up with that?
Swimmers, surfers and beachgoers are legitimate users of the park and we can't find parking.
The tents they use to sell their trinkets and swap-meet style "crafts" have deep stakes, which also can break irrigation systems and puncture tree roots. The damage might not be immediately evident, but over time grass and trees will suffer and irrigation heads and very expensive mainlines will be damaged.
As a landscape maintenance person, I try not to let big trucks drive on irrigated lawns. Sometimes they must, and we charge them a deposit. We shut off irrigation days in advance, dry up lawns for special events, flag the sprinkler heads, valves and lines and have staff carefully monitor the fewest trucks driving on our lawns. Once you let one heavy vehicle or private car or van drive on the lawn, everyone wants to drive on the grass.
Once one truck starts driving on the lawn, then everybody does. It's a snowball effect. One past mayor, bless her heart, never let anyone drive on the grass; even the police were forbidden to do so. We had nice grass in our zoo and Kapiolani Park back then. My biggest worry was sand burrs and kukus on barefoot keiki.
I drove by the park after all the rain and gale-force Kona winds; it was totally muddy with tents for the marathon. There were vehicles all over the wet lawns and more driving up. There were reserved spots with nobody in them, I almost called the mayor and 911, but the surf was junk and the water was pilau, so I let it go.
Please return Kapiolani Park to all of us, and let's walk and relax gently on the grass and share the limited parking fairly, for us, our kupuna and our keiki.
2 easy lessons in success for UH-WO
Regarding the Dec. 9 story on the University of Hawaii-West Oahu's recruiting drive:
I'll tell you how UH-West Oahu could attract students:
» Have at least three parking spaces for each person -- not just students, but each person who will be on campus.
» Push all the buildings together in the center of campus so we don't have to walk 15 or 20 minutes between classes.
Most students are more interested in getting an education than having a beautiful sprawling campus. We need to find a parking space, get to class and then leave campus and go to work.
Lawsuit would prompt change in primary law
Sooner or later, the election laws here will change to reflect our free association rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In strong Republican states, primary election laws already have been modified to reflect the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in California v Jones (2000). Hawaii is among a handful of states whose primary elections fail to comply with Supreme Court case law.
How should change be implemented? Democrats should take the initiative by filing a lawsuit immediately for at least four reasons.
» Both the 2006 Hawaii Democratic Convention and current state Central Committee approved filing such a lawsuit;
» The current primary election law in Hawaii violates the U. S. Constitution;
» Who votes in party primaries is an issue best addressed by political party members; and
» Political parties in the 2008 presidential election cycle will discover the registered voters who are voting in their primaries.
A lawsuit is a timely way to comply with a Supreme Court ruling eight years ago.
OHA runs smoothly with Strategic Plan
In a letter to the Star-Bulletin, my friend Whitney Anderson calls for replacing Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Haunani Apoliona and administrator Clyde Namuo for gaining publicity but not having a "set plan of action," which should be shared with all trustees regardless of faction.
First, OHA has a plan of action in its Strategic Plan adopted in 2002.
Second, I can categorically say that the OHA board has no "factions."
Like Whitney, I served in the state Legislature and as chairman of the Honolulu City Council and was a member of both "losing" and "winning" factions in those bodies. "Faction" implies that there are clandestine discussions and decisions by a group of trustees before issues are presented at meetings. That simply does not occur at OHA. Every issue is presented to the board in open session, discussed and voted upon. Up or down. The problem, if there is one, is that some trustees take umbrage at not having their views accepted by the board.
As for the Superferry issue, OHA's position was clear from the outset that an environmental impact statement should have been prepared and filed.
Yes, the eventual eruption was damaging not only to Hawaiians but to the entire community. In my view, OHA's intervention at that point would only have stirred emotions even further. The crux of the ferry protest was not based solely on culture; it was an outburst of pent-up emotions and concerns about development in general and its impact on our very existence as a community.
Whitney's experience as a legislator should have made him aware of the difficulties of facilitating discussion among a group of people hell-bent on preventing something from happening.
Perhaps the time will come for instituting some form of ho'oponopono, but we are not quite there.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Using fake license draws harsh penalty
Mahalo Star-Bulletin for your Dec. 10 editorial
supporting Mayor Mufi Hannemann's request to Wal-Mart to cease selling the "Superbad" DVD package containing a fake Hawaii driver's license.
This is an important issue and we moved immediately to protect the integrity of our Hawaii driver's license.
We are serious about preventing forgery and gave careful consideration to the possibility that these fake licenses could be used for underage drinking or identity theft.
Under state law, anyone convicted of using a fake Hawaii driver's license faces misdemeanor penalties of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Anyone convicted of forging a license faces Class B felony charges, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
I commend Wal-Mart for promptly removing the DVD from its shelves throughout Hawaii. I also thank the Star-Bulletin for realizing the importance of the mayor's action on an issue with devastating consequences.
Jeff J. Coelho
City Department of Customer Services
Shooting shows need to repeal gun laws
It is time that the anti-gun advocates face facts: Banning guns does not solve our horrendous violence problem. The killer in the Omaha shopping center had a previous conviction; he should not have possessed a gun. The shopping center had declared itself a "gun-free zone;" he should not have taken a gun there.
The results: The criminal obtains a gun, goes to the "gun-free zone" and shoots the law-abiding citizens. How many Columbine, Virginia Tech, Westroad Mall tragedies before we demand that our legislators repeal anti-gun legislation and allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves?
Readers, write your state and national legislators requesting they repeal current anti-gun legislation, restoring our constitutional rights, and enacting:
» national nondiscretionary concealed-carry laws and castle laws for all law-abiding citizens;
» national prohibition of gun ownership by all felons and the mentally unstable; include swift, sure and severe penalties for the use of guns in crimes and for the possession of guns by felons; and
» use of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' database for quick, in-store background checks for those seeking to purchase a gun.
Basketball fans want to hear real music
Some things never change -- such as the music played at the University of Hawaii men's basketball games. When Bob Nash became head coach, he said he hoped to bring an uptempo style to the court. Too bad the pregame music is the same dull hip-hop dreck that's been played for the last two seasons.
Besides that, most of the fans are over 30, so why play stuff that primarily appeals to teenage boys who wear their pants halfway down their butts? Speaking of which, I don't get the new uniforms. The horizontal stripe across the back of their shorts make the players look like they need to hitch up their britches, too. However, I must say the Rainbow Dancers' outfits are, um, eye-popping.
Music and distractions aside, the games have been exciting. So please come to the Outrigger Rainbow Classic tournament that begins Wednesday. And since it's a holiday tournament, wouldn't it be nice if the Music Guy included a few Christmas songs in the mix? Last year, they played reggae in between games -- which would be appropriate if the 'Bows were playing against Bob Marley University, or fans were stoned on egg nog and reefer.
There are plenty of fun, upbeat Christmas tunes to choose from -- rock, rap, R&B, even Alvin and the Chipmunks. It won't change the outcome of the games, but it might brighten the mood in the arena. Anything but that dreary, repetitive yelling they call hip-hop "music."
There's no such thing as a legal revolution
With regard to Steven Toyama's Dec.13
letter arguing that the revolution overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy was illegal, I would like to point out, as a lawyer, that all revolutions are illegal by definition, including the American revolution.
Earle A. Partington