Don't let naysayers derail our economy
After decades of overcrowded roads, long commutes and now the increasing costs of gasoline and a slowing economy, Honolulu has a new opportunity to build a rapid transit system, supported by $900 million in federal aid. It will provide thousands of jobs. Regardless of the type of rail system -- steel or rubber wheels, above or on the ground -- Honolulu must come to grips with the fact that something must be done and done now.
The Hannemann administration has offered us a chance to move forward and still remain flexible to the small additions and alterations it will take to make the program a success. Yet as with the Superferry, overall development and military expansions, a vocal minority seeks to derail the rest of the state and our image worldwide. If there is a lack of tourism and economic growth, we have nothing to blame but our own lack of aloha that drives away visitors and the investments required to provide us with a base for our own needs.
I support the mayor and his transit program and urge you, too, to look closely at supporting it within your circle of family, friends and community.
Eric A. Kim
Voters elected Council to decide rail issue
I guess people who want the rail to be put on the ballot don't have much confidence in their elected officials. We elect our representatives because we have confidence in their representation and decision-making. We should trust that they know what is best for the community. Good politicians listen to the people they represent and make decisions based on the information presented before them.
Voting to go forward with the rail system was a decision that benefits the greater population of the City & County of Honolulu. If the signers of the Stop Rail Now petition don't trust the elected officials who represent them, they have the power to replace the incumbents with new representatives through the voting process.
A few decades ago, our elected officials failed to fulfill the needs of the people by voting down mass transit. Now, several billion dollars later, they finally agree mass transit is needed. Let our politicians do their jobs, or vote them out come election time.
Steven S. Fukunaga
Big Isle sees benefits of public funding
Public funding of elections is about more choice. Candidates can choose to qualify to run as publicly funded candidates or they can choose to run with private money. Similarly, the people then have more choices in the candidates. "Clean" elections also free up candidates to spend more time with their constituents, instead of spending up to 80 percent of their time raising special-interest money on the taxpayers' dime.
Publicly funded elections are a taxpayer savings program. When politicians make short-term decisions based on the wishes of campaign donors, that often leaves us with poorly planned development, poor health care and bad energy choices. With these bad decisions and poor planning, guess who ends up footing the bill to correct the problems? Taxpayers.
Public funding changes the style of campaigning. Instead of dialing for dollars from well-connected donors who live outside of their districts, candidates instead go door to door in their communities and hold meetings to explain to their neighbors why they are running for office.
The Big Island has spoken and it deserves a chance to run this program. The County Council, the mayor's office, small business leaders and a majority of residents see the wisdom in this program. Let's give them a chance to test it out.
Health insurers' rates are hard to explain
It is sickening to see medical insurers raising rates every year. Even when they are crying about losses, they still seem to have millions of dollars to advertise. Where is that money coming from and why do they need to advertise?
HMOs offer so-called discounted rates, but they are always referring patients to other departments, and each time they do this it is another visit and another charge. Standard medical insurers offer something like 80 percent payout of the regular fees, 20 percent of which the insured have to pay, but they do not tell you that you get bills from several departments and it is up to you to determine whether you are paying 20 percent or more.
Now HMSA wants 10.4 percent more in the premiums that our employers will have to pay out (Star-Bulletin, June 19). Kaiser is certain to follow, and since the employer takes the hit initially, it is not immediately apparent. Unfortunately, this means that employee wages won't increase.
U.S. Navy has proved nuclear power is safe
We are being faulted for not drilling for oil. The real fault is not building nuclear power plants so that we won't need to burn oil or coal for energy.
In a program started by Adm. Hyman Rickover more years ago than many of you reading this are old, the Navy installed nuclear power plants on its submarines and surface ships with no problems, yet we don't allow them to come into our ports, a fear engendered by the accident at Three Mile Island in the early days of nuclear power, and enforced by that clumsy accident at the USSR's Chernobyl power plant, which had insufficient design and safety standards. Compare the Navy's record!
The United States has only 104 nuclear power plants, yet they produce 20 percent of the electricity. Many small countries have lots more plants than that.
Nuclear power is the way to go, as fast as we can build the plants.
TheBoat is great benefit for commuters
In a time when rising costs seem to overwhelm our financing, there's a good deal on Oahu that needs recognition. I am referring to "TheBoat" ferry service between Honolulu and Barber's Point (Kalaeloa Harbor).
The other day I took the ferry from Honolulu to Barber's Point and returned again just to assess the value of the service. I was very impressed. The ferry arrived at Aloha Tower precisely on time and boarding for the return trip to Barber's Point was simple and timely. The price -- $2 each way or use your bus pass -- is very affordable. When you board the boat, you are greeted by service crew members who are professional and happy to be there. Once on board, you will notice a countertop with complimentary newspapers, comfortable seats with great views and beverage service (coffee, tea, water, juice, soda), most offered for only $1. Pastries, chips and cookies are also offered at a reasonable price.
When TheBoat put in at Barber's Point, I was furthered impressed by the well thought out bus connections. The F11, F12 and F13 buses arrived at the Kalaeloa Harbor dock about 20 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Passengers arriving were not rushed to make the connection and debarking passengers were provided continued transportation to their final destination. Boarding passengers were likewise greeted with aloha.
After leaving Barber's Point, the ride back to Honolulu was a carbon copy of the first leg of my journey. The departure was timely, the ride was smooth, the customer service was superb and the experience was delightful. Upon arrival in Honolulu, the F2 and F3 buses were positioned for easy access and timely transit to the final destination.
TheBoat is a service that deserves recognition and praise as a commuter service or just a delightful boating experience.
John M. Friedel
Don't let racial slur divide Hawaii
Rod Tam made a big mistake by using the word "wetback." This racial slur should not be used by a representative of the people of Hawaii. He asked for forgiveness, but the Latino community seems not to be satisfied with his apology ("40 protesters rally against Tam," Star-Bulletin, June 13
). They want him to be removed as chairman of the Zoning Committee. They are making a big issue of this, but it may work against them. I'm Japanese and at one time the word "Jap" was used frequently. It is not good to hear, but there are more important things to worry about. Right now, we have so many illegal Latinos in our country and, to me, that's a more important issue.
In Hawaii, we should all try to accept each other, even after slurs and other misgivings. Let's not make this an issue that separates the Latinos, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians, and all other ethnic groups. Accept Tam's sincere apology. We are a melting pot and should stop this vendetta against Rod Tam.
Francis K. Ibara