Supporters of the city's rail transit system plan held signs Thursday outside City Hall.
From the Forum
Online readers are able to respond immediately to Star-Bulletin stories through our Web forum, which can be accessed at the end of stories, editorials and columns at starbulletin.com. Below is a selection of forum comments that appeared last week. Most forum contributors use pseudonyms; their "names" have been omitted here.
Regarding "Lingle 'likely' will sign anti-rail petition," Star-Bulletin, July 3
To sign or not to sign: Will the guv drive over to the anti-rail office in her 12 mpg SUV to sign up? Luckily she won't have to look at any laundry hanging out to air dry on the way. With leadership like this is there any wonder that things will continue to be bleak for a long time to come?
What nonsense! Where was Lingle's pro-people claptrap when her administration was breaking the law for the Superferry? Where was the vote?
Built the frickin' train already!
What's wrong with letting the people of Hawaii decide? Don't we have a democracy here? It seems like Mayor Hannemann is taking opposition to the project very personally. I can understand why a lot of people are having second thoughts about the project being that it is projected to cost so much.
Let the public decide? How many will have made a serious study of the issue? How many can be easily influenced by slick media ads? It won't be the public deciding. It will be which side has better media consultants.
The inevitable, is that traffic congestion in and about Honolulu is only going to get worse, so if those who oppose the mass transit rail are successful in derailing the city's plans, everyone had better prepare to suck it up. I think you got to be a daily commuter to experience the frustration of sitting forever in traffic to appreciate the need for an efficient rail system.
Why are so many people afraid of the referendum? We who have to pay for everything the city does, should be able to vote on the issue. It seems we cannot leave such decisions up to our city leaders. They are all too willing to spend our tax money on hiring consultants to do their jobs.
And for you commuters (who are the problem), consider a change and become part of a more economical solution (carpool?). You can make a difference by not lining up each morning like lemmings, and relieve our politicians from having to think up expensive and nonsensical transit projects.
Nice way of remaining seated on the fence, Governor. You keep making us Republicans proud.
Rail proponents, including Mayor Mufi Hannemann, claim that the majority of the people in Hawaii support the rail. If this is true, then they have nothing to worry about. The vote should favor rail. I am pro mass transit. I prove it every day by using the bus as my main source of transportation.
Hmm ... I may be wrong here, but people are saying that they want to vote on this issue. And to this I say, uh ... you did. You voted for your City Council members, legislators, governor and mayor.You voted on who you wanted to represent you from the bottom to the top. Everyone had their chance to vote.
I was at the State of the State address where the governor said she looked forward to working with the mayor and city on mass transit. This politically motivated flip flop should rule her out for any higher federal office.
Political ambition 1 -- people's interests 0
Father damien's impending sainthood: The suffering souls of Molokai were blessed to have Father Damien come to them and work with them -- live with them, and die with them. I am so happy to hear that his cause for sainthood has been ratified! This is wonderful! How amazing and wonderful are the works of God. I hope and pray that many more miracles will become known through Father Damien ... I am so happy for the healing of Ms. Toguchi!
No disrespect to the good work done by Father Damien, but it would be interesting to know how many cases defy medical explanation. In such cases, how many patients prayed to be saved? And of those who prayed or did not pray, how many were successful?
It couldn't have come to a better man than Father Damien who gave his life to other children of God. May he be forever blessed!
No one should have died for money lost!
(Michael James) had a home, a wife who had a job, and physical health. If he only had asked for help instead of thinking about the end of the world. I'm sure he would have been helped. The VA has excellent counselors. I can vouch for that!
Who out there has not struggled with finances? I for one have. I'll admit to buying an overpriced home and having two kids in private schools, and I tell you, it is a struggle at times. Have I thought what I would do if I couldn't handle the finances? Of course, and killing myself or my family is never one of them. I have no problem selling off my house or sending kids to public instead of private schools. There are a lot of outs for everyone.
HECO wants a rate hike: I'm getting sick of HECO asking the PUC to make the public fund its improvements. When a specific project (i.e. biodiesel plant) is funded through an increase, what happens to the increase once the plant has been fully paid for? Shouldn't the increase then be rescinded? That's not how HECO and the PUC have been handling it. That increase to fund a project eventually becomes part of HECO's profit. I thought the PUC was supposed be looking out for the consumer in this process but it seems it cares more about the wants of the regulated companies. Probably too much wining and dining going on.
Just can't win ... try to save money by conserving electricity ... then HECO realizes a loss in revenue due to the conservation and asks for a price increase.
In a couple of months I'll be on the beach.
Battle of the rival ads has public shellshocked
Everybody's all riled up about rail. The Stop Rail Now folks, the Go Rail Go folks, the mayor, the governor, even the hibernating former Gov. Ben Cayetano and everybody else in between. The rail proponents and rail opponents are accusing each other of misleading the public. This is even better (or worse, depending on one's mental condition) than the Democratic primary between what's-her-name and what's-his-name.
In the meantime, who's looking out for the so-called misled and very much befuddled and misinformed public? Is there anybody out there who's willing to raise the torch to shed some light on this rail issue? Is it asking too much to have a reputable but neutral (if that's possible) organization analyze each one of these ads and in plain language tell us the truth or falsehood within the ad? Am I being idealistic, naive or unreasonable? I hope not. The public needs some respite from the onslaught of misinformation.
Democracy means letting the people decide
I don't get it.
In my American History class, I preach about democracy. You know, where you go to the polls and vote for the individual you wish to represent you in government. Doesn't the same thing go for the issues as well? Or am I reading from the wrong textbook? Is this some other country's view of democracy?
Now we have this hysteria about fixed rail and it has come out that the pro-rail people don't want the decision to go on the ballot and be voted on by the general public. Hello? But isn't that what democracy is all about -- letting the people decide? Isn't this whole fracas about what is good for the general public?
Can the general public decide for themselves?
We're going to spend $3.8 billion to build this fixed rail system (and probably a similar amount to maintain it), and let's see, how much of that is going to come out of the public's pocket? Shouldn't the public have a say on this?
Would someone come by and please slap my head in the right direction?
Rail opponents, be careful what you wish for
For all the amateur and erudite naysayers regarding the rail, rapid transit and mass transit: There will come a time of gridlock.
When you are in such a predicament, you will get out of your cars, look up to the sky waving your arms and ask, "Where is the rail system?"
"My wish is not to be one of those drivers.
This transportation problem has been festering for more than 10 years. Are you waiting to see Honolulu at a complete standstill? Get with it.
Michael P. Augusta
Put money into building Ewa Beach and Kapolei
Why are we building a rail system that is not going to help relieve the traffic congestion in the future? Not only will taxpayers have to pay higher taxes during this economic hard time, hundreds of people will be chased out of their homes due to eminent domain.
The tax dollars would be better used by developing the rural areas such as Ewa Beach and Kapolei into more commercialized cities, so that people do not have to travel so far to go to work in Honolulu and Waikiki.
Transit system will help would-be homebuyers
Some would say that my position as a member of the Public Involvement Team for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project discredits my personal opinion on the issue. I couldn't disagree more.
I am a native Hawaiian and local resident, born, raised and educated. I have never lived outside of Hawaii and I don't intend to. However, in my short life I have seen Hawaii change drastically. The ever-rising cost of living, population growth and job shortages have made it difficult for my friends and family to continue living at home. Many of my friends left for college and never came back because they can't afford to live here.
I support rail transit because it will give us an alternative to buying gasoline at nearly $5 a gallon. It also will provide me the added personal time that I would normally spend sitting in traffic. Most importantly, I support rail transit because it will create opportunities for me to be a first-time homeowner. Transit-oriented development will encourage development along the corridor. It builds up, not out, and contains urban sprawl, thus helping to keep our country, country. It will mean more affordable condos and apartments for first-time homebuyers.
Hawaii will continue to change, but we can shape the future of Oahu by building a mass transit system that promotes responsible growth and gives local people a chance to continue living in the home we know and love. I work for rail because I believe in it!
Leave racial comments out of discussion on rail
It is shameful that Mayor Mufi Hannemann has to resort to accusations of racial bias against him ("Mayor and governor trade barbs over rail," July 4).
If the mayor thinks that people are racists because they see him as a large Polynesian man, he should walk to the front of his desk and be reminded of the word "Mayor" in front of his name.
Mayor should respect voice of the people
Mayor Mufi Hannemann opposes a public vote on rail transit, but states in his ad, "We support the people's right to be involved and informed." Rail is a monumental commitment and colossal expense for the people of Honolulu.
How can the people be involved without the opportunity to vote on this question? You would think he'd support a ballot initiative to let the people decide.
As one who is involved with some of the organizations Hannemann vilifies, I can testify that we are not "smoke and mirrors," but real people with real concerns who would like to have a real mayor.
Julia E. Allen
Wrong flags flying on Independence Day
Sadness, mortification and shame. All of these emotions came boiling up at seeing the three Hawaiian flags flying high atop the King's Alley buildings on Independence Day. Not one American flag was displayed. This is an American holiday, not a Hawaiian holiday. My heart is heavy.
July 4th, a time to break the law?
Hawaii Kai, 4:30 p.m., July 4. It started about 10 minutes ago. Fireworks going off. Big horrendous explosions, whistling aerials and more. Dogs going crazy. People suffering from asthma, who must now turn on their air conditioners, with associated higher electrical costs to cleanse the air they're attempting to breathe.
What is it about some adults that they flout the law, and in front of their kids? Is it that they just don't care? What example are they setting for those small ones? It must be that they have no respect for the law or their neighbors, plain and simple.
But it's to celebrate the foundation of our nation! You want to celebrate the freedoms you enjoy, pay a visit to those lying in Punchbowl, who paid the ultimate price for your freedom to ignore the law.
I once again call on our legislators, those not receiving kickbacks from firework wholesalers, to ban all but organized firework displays. A total ban on personal fireworks. How many structures, how many brush fires, how many young people need to suffer horrible injuries from fireworks? How many more of our citizens, from youths suffering from asthma to our elderly, must continue to suffer so adults, with a child's mentality, can watch their money go "up in smoke"?
Enough is enough.
Mocking comments won't help economy
I am astonished by the comments from Paul Brewbaker, one of the state's chief economists, in Wednesday's "The Buzz" column.
First, Brewbaker mocks Plano, Texas, by rhyming it with Drano. He should take a look at Google Maps and learn where Plano is located -- the suburbs of Dallas. Dallas, unlike Honolulu, is a city with a growing technology job base, a competitive offering from numerous Ph.D.-providing universities and a productive school system.
Brewbaker scoffs at those who listen to economic reports and think "that by making things different they could engineer higher Hawaii incomes and lower Hawaii living costs."
So Brewbaker's plan for improving Hawaii's economy is "don't bother"? For those of us who don't earn our incomes from the few remaining stable banks, let me apprise Brewbaker that making the University of Hawaii-West Oahu a world-class university with Ph.D.-level research instead of being a glorified community college is a start.
Turning his economic attention to our Department of Energy, the broken job engine of Hawaii, would be helpful. Maybe he can come to the Ewa Plain and tell me who is going to buy all these foreclosures with the retail jobs being developed in the Shopping, err, Second City. Perhaps he can eventually take Mall, err, Mass Transit, out here to observe the fruits of his forecasts.
R. Scott Belford
Ewa Neighborhood Board
Traffic and Transportation Chairman
Turtle Bay vision can become reality
This letter is to the people of Oahu, and to all of the people who love Oahu. I am in the second group. I live in upstate New York, and I am hoping to visit the North Shore of Oahu soon. Turtle Bay is fine now; I want the people who work at the resort now to keep their jobs; I also do not want to tamper with the delicate natural balance in order to keep all of the turtles alive.
I strongly agree with the governor's support of keeping Turtle Bay at its current size. Oh, developers! The time has really come to help preserve the special beauty of northern Oahu. I do not want to lose the two-lane highway, and I love every one of the sea turtles. Work with the governor, who is not "The State," but, rather, a good person who has perspective and some power to manage development in Hawaii. Work with her.
Diane Esther English
Paradise for sale to the highest bidder
Tom Dolan ("How can lawmakers give away ag land?" Letters, June 30) hit the nail on the head: "Once agricultural land is gone, it's gone forever." Either our legislators and governor just don't get it or they just don't care. It's not incomprehensible to me that "our" Legislature and governor would give away 15 percent of agricultural lands to "entities" that will profit enormously from the sale. See, the key word is "profit." They sell us out at every turn. Anything and everything goes to the highest bidder -- paradise, it's all for sale! Really, they couldn't dig the knife deeper into our hearts.
Forget about the sustainability studies or Hawaii's survival into the future. Forget about the pandemonium should we be cut off from the mainland. The whole state is in gridlock over car accidents. Forget common sense. Soon, nothing will be left. I know -- we can eat a shopping center or one of those mega luxury condominiums built to address the affordable housing issue.
I know, invite us over your house, "eh, come eat my house" in true Hawaiian style. "Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono," the state motto isn't it? It's all shame. The state should give the motto back to the Kamehameha dynasty whence they took it -- and where it belongs.
Tourists won't find relief along Kalakaua
Waikiki Beach strip is a nice place to visit, but it sorely lacking in public restrooms. There are no facilities in restaurants and fast food places. This is unacceptable. As the No. 1 tourist destination on Oahu, it is deplorable that there are no public restrooms along the strip that I could find. I won't return.
Charles R. Stewart
Hobe Sound, Fla.
Laws of man can't replace laws of nature
The California court ruling allowing gay marriages must be one of the most egregious usurpations of authority ever. The bonding of one man and one woman is a law of nature. It goes beyond state, federal or international law. It is the law of our planet. If one is to go back to the beginning of this law, Adam and Eve (if you're religious) or a male cell and female cell (for evolutionists), it was ever thus. But now this cornerstone of our civilization is being cast aside by mere mortal men, put in power positions. No court should be "able" to tell the creator he made a mistake and an unconstitutional law. To change it now is not an option.
City and state electees should have call-in show
If the City Council and state Legislature want more citizen input and participation in government, they should have a live telephone call-in suggestion/comment line during the live telecast on 'Olelo cable television.
Not everyone has a computer and e-mail, but most people own a phone and a TV. It would save gas, bus fare and parking money to attend the public hearings.
Our state consists of seven major isles and not everyone can attend in person. There should be no excuse for anyone to not share their ideas and opinions with their elective officials.
Councilman responds to his community
During the past eight years I have alerted City Councilman Rod Tam's office to the existence of hundreds of dangerous conditions in our community. These dangerous conditions (road deficiencies, traffic sign malfunctions, sidewalk dangers, etc.) threatened the public. In each case Tam's office assisted in getting the dangerous conditions promptly eliminated or corrected. Due to the actions of Tam and his staff, many serious injuries to the public were prevented.
No break in sight for property taxpayers
I just read "Housing primed for soft landing" (Star-Bulletin, June 2). Just thinking out loud -- will our property taxes now drop 8.8 percent? Somehow I doubt it.