Priorities are headed in wrong direction
Hawaii is unlike any place on Earth. With the exception of our police and fire chiefs and their staff, where do our elected officials have the nerve to vote themselves a pay raise? Police, firefighters, EMS, nurses, teachers -- the people we depend on to protect us, keep us alive, educate our children -- those who go to "war" in the civilian sector need to use that nasty word "strike" to be paid a respectable income.
We have the ability to buy the Turtle Bay resort, waste who knows how much on the VanCam, put our people at odds over a ferry that has spent more time in drydock, while our students swelter in temperatures that make learning more difficult, claiming we cannot afford the electric bill for donated air conditioners. As if that and our starving people were not enough, we allow Aloha Airlines to fly for the last time.
Many of our elected officials have a primary income. The rest knew the salary before running for office. At the rate we are going, the aloha spirit, and all it represents, might soon be lost if we do not take the steps needed to prevent it from happening.
Keep nepotism out of state government
The House Judiciary Committee, headed by Rep. Tommy Waters, is to be commended for including a much-needed nepotism provision for the State Ethics Code in Senate Bill 945 HD 1, Relating to Ethics.
The nepotism provision in the bill, however, falls short, since it only applies to top officials in state government. However, nepotism is wrong when done by anybody in state government, regardless of position. Nepotism is all the more offensive during tough economic times, when jobs are scarce.
Under the current proposed nepotism provision in SB 945, a state researcher, for example, who is not a "top official" and receives a multimillion dollar grant, could hire his or her spouse or immediate family member with impunity. This makes no sense.
I would like to ask the people of Hawaii to contact their elected representatives and urge them to pass a nepotism law that applies to all state officials and employees. The people of Hawaii deserve an equal chance when state jobs are available. State government is not a private business, but a public trust.
Daniel J. Mollway
Executive director and general counsel
Hawaii State Ethics Commission
Builders misled readers about solar
Regarding the article "Solar water heater bill draws some opposition," (Star-Bulletin, April 3):
In the article, "those in the solar industry" claim that the current incentives -- tax rebates --will work better than mandating solar installations because the homeowner, not the developer, benefits from the rebates. But either way, the homeowner using solar will benefit for decades to come with a major reduction in their electric bill each and every month. This is far more important than a one-time rebate.
The worst piece of information in the article is from the Maui developer Everett Dowling, who tells us that he installs photovoltaic systems to provide both household electricity and for heating water. Photovoltaic electricity is the most expensive electricity there is, and electric heating of water is the least efficient way to do it. Homeowners with photovoltaic systems would be better served by heating water in a cauldron over a fire in the back yard than by using their precious photovoltaic kilowatts. Excess power produced by the photovoltaic system should never be used to heat water, but instead fed back to the power grid for credit. The household's water should be heated directly by the sun. You can't get any more cost-effective than that.
Self-serving lawmakers hurt neighbor islands
Shame on House Judiciary Chairman Tommy Waters. He has chosen to use his elected office to baldly pursue his personal animosity toward 6th District Rep. Josh Green, a physician, rather than to serve the interests of Hawaii's citizens (Editorial, Star-Bulletin, April 10).
Sometimes the worst fate of any politician is that someone actually listens to what they say. That happened to Waters when he jokingly gloated about the "death of tort reform," so now he's trying to get even with Dr. Green's constituents on the Big Island with his vendetta amendment to the ethics bill (Senate Bill 945). Lawyer Waters wants to deprive the Big Island of yet another physician. With so many serious and urgent health care problems facing our state, particularly the neighbor islands, the Legislature would do well to work for the welfare of our citizens instead of inserting private agendas of personal retribution into our laws.
Waters hypocritically said "the measure is needed to address conflicts of interest." Whose interest? Hawaii's neighbor islands need more physicians, not petty-minded Oahu lawyers. No wonder tort reform failed. These lawyer-legislators are demonstrating once again their disdain for the public good.