STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
Newlyweds from Japan pose for a photographer at Waialae Beach Park.
Be aggressive in going after the bridal market
Several factors have caused the slowdown in travel to the islands, a few of which include the current fuel crisis, airline bankruptcies, the pullout of Norwegian Cruise Line's two ships, weakening of the dollar and the overall slump in the economy.
Our marketing gurus are once again challenged with making the right decisions on how best to target consumers who will travel regardless of these market conditions.
Looking back at the visitor numbers for the past 20-plus years, one market has been proven to travel regardless of economic conditions: the bridal market. This was demonstrated when couples kept arriving throughout the recessions in the 1980s, the Persian Gulf War in the '90s, and the horror of 9/11 in 2001. Couples are going to get married and they are going to go on a honeymoon, and the world's economic conditions aren't going to deter their plans.
Other destinations have recognized the value of the bridal market, have created beautiful infrastructures to attract it and are heavily marketing to it. As a result, Hawaii has lost some of its edge. Hawaii has everything these couples are seeking -- warm weather, beautiful natural scenery, lots of sight-seeing and lots of outdoor activities.
With 2.5 million marriages a year, Hawaii needs to rekindle the fires and aggressively market again to this lucrative, non-polluting market segment.
Media Matters, Inc.
Add a sales tax to GET to pay for education
In my job I regularly visit all public schools on the island, and to see a majority of them in disrepair is painful. In dealing with the Education Department's $7.1 million budget shortfall leading to cuts in programs, I suggest applying a .288 percent sales tax to the general excise tax, with every dollar and cent earmarked for public schools -- including charter schools -- and the University of Hawaii system.
These monies would be applied only toward the facilities and operations of a school, including programs, but not toward salaries because they involve union-negotiated benefits. This tax would also simplify the difficult-to-calculate GET, rounding it up to an even 5 percent. Even better, redefine the general excise tax to be a simple sales tax, and do away with the stupid "use" tax of .005.
I am normally a fiscal conservative against a tax-and-spend measure. However, we need a committed fund that the Legislature cannot raid for other uses under any circumstances, lest we go another 30 years neglecting the UH system as well as public schools. Again, this fund cannot be raided like our hurricane insurance fund. Otherwise, we'll see pork barrel projects in-state.
Von Kenric Kaneshiro
Increase bus numbers for rider convenience
Take half the money that is estimated to be used to build the rail transit and build an outstanding, very convenient bus system. During rush hours, have buses come every 10 minutes. People wouldn't even need a bus schedule because they would never have to wait more than nine minutes.
With that many buses there would be a seat for everyone. If not, add another bus or two. If the buses aren't full, so what, make it convenient to ride. If a new subdivision opens up, you can have bus service there the next day. With rail, you can have service in maybe six or seven years. If nobody rides the bus in the new area, discontinue bus service tomorrow.
Make the bus very convenient to ride, and subsidize the heck out of it. Example: Charge 25 or 50 cents to ride, or turn in 10 monthly passes and get a free month, or one day a month between certain hours make it free to ride. Make it inexpensive and convenient, they will come.
Publicly funded elections would help democracy
Born and raised in Hawaii, I am a student at Western Washington University and reside in Kona when I'm not attending college. A public-funding option for our candidates is necessary to improve Hawaii's election system, which forces candidates to spend most of their time raising money from businesses, and wealthy donors who don't even live in their district.
Candidates need to be allowed to receive campaign money from the public if they choose to, because the public is who votes them into office. Similarly, the public needs to be able to choose a candidate who they know represents them, the voters, not a special-interest group that donated money to their campaign.
Don't worry about funding this program. When candidates are making decisions on behalf of voters instead of campaign donors, we will save more than enough money to fund this system, which will result in better legislation in general. This program is about choice. If you sign in this program, people will have more choices, and better choices come election time. That is necessary to have an effective democracy.
Bad economy calls for neighborly aloha
I am concerned with the lack of compassion for our hard-working people of Hawaii. In neighborhoods with associations and rules, it seems we are forgetting what being a neighbor is all about, or for that fact, what community truly means.
I grew up when you knew there was a problem by noticing changes in your neighbors' routines. If times were tough, people offered help, or just did what needed to be done. What happened to waving to neighbors or asking about the ohana, baking extra goodies to take across the street to the single-parent home, enjoying smiles of kids whose parents are appreciative for your kindness.
Living Aloha means to "be" Aloha. The rising cost of living puts everyone in a crunch to stretch the dollar out as far as we can, some working two jobs plus the spouse working, too, just to make ends meet. Should we put more pressure on them by insisting they trade in their larger vehicles so they actually fit in the garage-driveway that was originally built too small for an average car? Or complain about the overgrowth in their backyard? Or calling to have your own neighbor's car towed because it was facing the wrong direction?
Asinine, redundant and ridiculous, in my opinion. And truly sad, to say the least.
Democrats have power but don't use it well
It is an impressive feat for Hawaii Democrats to have as much power as they have in the Legislature and still not accomplish anything of importance. They squabble over legislation that serves no more purpose than to protect their friends and beat their enemies. There are no big ideas, no innovative solutions.
Why do we keep electing novice Democratic legislators when all they do is squander their power? If the Democrats are not able to take advantage of the majority positions they hold, then why not give the opposition a stab at it next election cycle? The governor has fared pretty well. Surely, adding a few more from the other side cannot make things any worse than they already are.
Which is the 'witch' in capital fund probe?
Gov. Linda Lingle has characterized Sen. Donna Kim's investigation of Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Ted Liu's admitted mishandling of a hydrogen energy development venture capital fund management contract as a "witch hunt."
After watching Kim's blistering and sarcastic interrogations of Liu and his staff on some of the televised Senate hearings, I wonder if the term "witch hunt" refers to the person being hunted or the person doing the hunting.
If it's the latter, ahhhh, is "witch" spelled correctly?
Ethics is low priority with some legislators
It is certainly gratifying that the state Senate rejected the ethics bill to which Rep. Tommy Waters attached his vendetta amendment. Sen. Lorraine Inouye deserves our appreciation for her part in undoing his reprehensible behavior. That's the good news. The bad news is that it appears that this same representative may have used his skills to get the entire ethics bill defeated without him having to vote against it. The original bill without the vendetta amendment would have prohibited nepotism by state and county executives, legislators, prosecutors, council members and other government board members. Ethics in government should still be a priority, but it may not be so for Waters and his lawyer friends in the House.
Gloria J. Blum
Kauai protesters defy past generations' aloha
The protesters on Kauai who said nasty things about us Oahuans who were going to come to their island to steal their opihi, hook their fish and ride their waves are suddenly quiet. Now that the cruise ships and the tourists have quit coming to Kauai and Aloha Airlines is out of business, they want the Superferry back. Crazy.
As for all the honest and humble local people, Hawaiians included, now is their time to take their island back from those greedy newcomers and fix their problem (hooponopono) with their ohana. Those newcomers who plowed into their neighborhoods, took over businesses, government and the county council aren't saying a thing to help them.
They have all kinds of money so have no need to worry where their next meal is coming from. The local people think that they are concerned about you? No, they are not. They used them as pawns when they disrespected our governor. Shame on them for making the rest of their Hawaii ohana resent their island.
I vowed never to visit Kauai again as my husband and I did for 14 years to get back to our roots in Hanalei. We used to be welcomed with open arms to swim at Kalihi Wai where our family owns land. We could dive and pick opihi for dinner, and then the Kauai people allowed the loud-mouth minority to speak over them.
My grandmother was pure Hawaiian. She spoke gently, humbly and was so gracious; thank God that she was not alive to witness the hostility that the entire country saw. Stand up and be proud that those who have roots want to come back to Kauai to be revived of our ancestral mana. And if we wanted to come with our cars on the Superferry, it's because we are just like the Kauai folks. We'd rather spend our money on them, not the car rental agencies or the hotels.
Chamaigne Kehaunani Hookala Ralston
Obama dodges issues of integrity, abilities
Sen. Barack Obama and his supporters keep trying to dodge the issues of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Weathermen and other friends and associates of this presidential candidate. Obama and his supporters claim foul when he is questioned about his choice of associates and demand that we stick to the real issues like Iraq and our economy.
I'm sorry, but the real issues include Obama's ability to select appropriate advisers and appoint the appropriate people to important posts. The real issues concern his integrity and decision-making abilities. During the next four years our country will face many more problems than the issues he wants to discuss now.
As voters we want to be assured that whoever is elected can make the best decisions for this country and appoint the best people to responsible positions regardless of what problems we may face.