From the Forum
Online readers are able to respond immediately to StarBulletin 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.
"Veto overrides create 13 laws." StarBulletin, July 9: I see the Legislature once again caved in to HSTA on the (health) insurance deal. What makes the members of HSTA so special? Nothing really except that they provide contributions and manpower to the politicians. Certainly not their classroom performance.
And the Legislature imposed more taxes on cargo entering the state. Now we are taxed for the cargo to enter the state, we pay taxes on the goods at every stage that ownership is transferred, including when the ultimate user buys the product.
Tax 'em, Danno.
The audacity of this governor is only exceeded by our U.S president. It is the "public, voters and all who work tirelessly, including those who serve in Congress and our Hawaii Legislature" and provide expert testimony, studies and try to connect the state funds and programs to our federal funds and programs, in order to realize a fair share for our Hawaii residents, and who also responsibly connect their efforts to a "balanced budget," who are slapped in the face by egotistic tantrums of superiority! How can they sleep at night?
"Minors buy alcohol in 47% of test sales," StarBulletin, July 10: Hawaii needs to get real tough on this subject. Pass laws to (1) hit stores and bars hard that sell alcoholic beverages without checking IDs, (2) hold parents of minors who violate the law responsible for their offspring's actions, and (3) place the minor into the juvenile justice system for a sustained period. It is the minor who initiated the violation. Tough measures are needed. Talking and counseling just won't do it.
Kids look older and younger. How do you tell if their IDs are not theirs? Enforcement is easier said than done. How many have been arrested for impersonating an adult? What are the fines for adults who loan their IDs, and for kids who deceive?
Bars may not be the real culprits.
The city should suspend their license for three months and levy a hefty fine. There's no way a bar can survive that long. The Liquor Commission should also take a hard stand and don't give in when the owner has to testify to get their license and fine reduced at their hearing. I thought the commission cleaned house, but nothing has changed.
Just a thought. While I'll agree that the business can often be the guilty party, how often is it the server acting without the owner's knowledge? Are we then penalizing the wrong person? Why not fine the server along with the owner? Servers will be less likely to serve underage customers ...
Unfortunately, the bars and clubs are making more than enough money to pay any fine they might get, and attorney fees and bribes. And, given sparse enforcement, it's more than worth the risk to stay in business. Even if all the bars and clubs crack down on underage drinking, there are a million other ways to get a green bottle of liquid courage or a large mouth pop top mug of selfesteem.
"Hot Wheels / 2000 Civic tops list of isles' stolen cars," StarBulletin, July 10: Anyone in possession of a stolen vehicle or parts should have a mandatory five years without probation and driving privileges taken away for 10 years. Tattoo the word "thief" on the convicted criminals forehead in block letters for everyone to see.
All modified vehicles (wheels, lifted, etc.,) must have a reconstruction permit.
Investigate all those shops that issue safety checks, specifically those that permit window tints to pass beyond the legal limits.
Police could stop vehicles and check safety checks to determine which shop it is. Safety check shops are permitting vehicles to pass without the reconstruction permits.
This is my dream list and I'm not running for political office.
And that's why I bought a Saturn SUV. No one wants to steal those.
(Car thieves) are set free as soon as the police paper work is done. I reported a suspicious car parked in my apartment complex with the driver sleeping inside (real reason I called was that he was double parked and encroached on my stall). The dispatcher lady said the car was stolen, within 10 minutes the place was surrounded by five or so police cars. I watched from my window as they cuffed the guy, made him do some paper work on the trunk of the police car whilst cuffed. Then, they uncuff the guy and let him walk out of the lot. I really didn't feel safe after seeing that.
"Mother of slain victim frustrated by outcome/Less Schnabel Jr. walked free on bail and might receive probation," StarBulletin, July 11: What in the world is wrong with our judiciary system? (We) keep putting criminals back on the street!
Of course, it's Hawaii. What do you expect? Another day, another murderer goes free. There are so many multiple felons out roaming the streets it's a wonder that more people don't get killed.
Perhaps the judge would like to camp out here on the "wild west" side for a couple of weeks. Won't be long before one of the iceheads punches some sense into him.
We can't use our beaches because of the crackheads, iceheads, dopesmoking, panhandling, nonworking, nonrentpaying, nontaxpaying, noncontributing leeches on society who put up their shanty towns and badger anyone trying to enjoy this beautiful island. How about busing them to Waikiki beach and letting them set up there? Maybe the problem will get some attention for a change.
Will better pay buy us better government?
I propose that the annual salaries of Hawaii's state legislators be more than doubled to maybe $80,000 or $85,000. Heck, why not $90,000? That way, we could attract the experience and talent we need to better and more quickly resolve the problems that the current talent pool just can't seem to handle.
Paying lawmakers some $34,200 annually when more than half of them view this as a full-time job pretty much guarantees you a majority of mediocre $34,200 talent where the focus is on retaining the paycheck, not on solving problems.
Of course, to retain that often vital family paycheck usually calls for satisfying the multitude of special interests who have refined the art of funding and assisting the re-election campaigns of those who help them, and punishing those who don't.
Those politically interested citizens who command $80,000 or $90,000 in the private sector based on talent and experience could comfortably serve in the Legislature, largely immune from the stifling political obligations afflicting many of today's lawmakers.
The state Constitution envisions a part-time Legislature, meeting in a 60-day session, bringing together a wide spectrum from the community to work about three months to set policy for the state, not to micromanage.
Maybe the better, and obviously cheaper, solution would be to give lawmakers only $5,000 a year, making sure those who show up have gas money and are motivated by public service, not a skimpy paycheck.
Building rail line is a developer’s dream
As an active collector of signatures for Stop Rail Now, I have noticed that when the subject of development is raised, eyebrows also raise. The arguments ebb and flow but one thing remains constant, the concept of rail will bring the full weight of the government to bear on the owners of the homes and businesses in the path selected for the rail project through eminent domain.
One option championed by Panos Prevedouros is the tried and true high-occupancy, reversible, managed, elevated expressway over the existing highways (H1, H2, H3 and most sections of all other major surface streets). Since we already own the land, there are no businesses or homes in the way to be condemned and demolished. This is the least expensive option vs. the rail as the most expensive option.
This project requires our clearest thinking and honest analysis of all the facts.
Let the people decide.
Rail helps workers, environment, economy
I am writing on behalf of the Building Owners and Managers Association Hawaii to express our support for the proposed rail system and related improvements in transportation on Oahu. We represent the owners and managers of commercial real estate throughout the state, with most of our members here on Oahu. We believe strongly in the rail system because:
» Since the employees of tenants in the buildings owned and managed by our members commute to work, rail is a critical alternative with broad social benefit as we face rapidly escalating fuel and parking costs.
» Parking services offered in the buildings owned and managed by our members are under ever-increasing pressure from increased automobile use with no hope of any increase in available parking space, particularly downtown, resulting in escalating parking rates. Rail will help reduce the demand for parking and stabilize parking costs so they are more in line with other major U.S. cities.
» Rail will make our downtown and other locations to be fed by rail more environmentally sustainable. BOMA Hawaii is strongly committed to improving the sustainability of our commercial real estate industry.
» The rail system, particularly with the airport leg, will significantly modernize Honolulu so we can compete with other cities in the U.S. and around the world for economic opportunity. Failure by Honolulu to do so at this moment will threaten our state's economic sustainability.
We support Mayor Mufi Hannemann in leading us to a more environmentally and economically sustainable future - one that includes a rail system.
Cecily Ann Ching
Building Owners and Managers Association Hawaii
People in Central and West need rail now
People who doubt that a rail system will be highly used should scrutinize what is happening in the world today. Gasoline prices are soaring because the world's supply is low while the demand is high. Gasoline is not going to get any cheaper. It will continue to rise and eventually people won't be willing to pay such exalted prices for it.
I recently started to use TheBus. I find it way better than paying more than $400 a month on gas. A monthly bus pass was only $40. The bus is extremely affordable and reliable; however, it's also inconvenient, it takes two or three hours longer than driving a car that would only take 30-45 minutes and and the frequent stops make it seem longer.
The anti-rail movement is proposing that a statewide vote be made on the issue, but that would be unfair as the majority of Oahu's population is on the East side of the island. It would seem unjust because a bigger population just doesn't care about the other side of the island.
If you oppose the rail, you are basically saying "tough luck" to those who are tired of being stuck in rush-hour traffic, which takes two to four hours of their everyday lives.
Bust out the cleanser and sanitize buses
Mahalo to Anita Diaz (Letters, July 11)
for questioning the "integrity" of TheBus officials on the cleanliness of the buses. My fellow bus passengers and I cringe at some of the exact conditions that Diaz complained about: dirty floors, stinky seats, filthy fixtures and windows. I remember seeing mold along the sills of the windows several times. At first I did not want to believe what I saw, but after several occasions, I did complain to the TheBus and was promised that "they would look into the situation." Shall we call that a "rubbah stamp quote?" Nothing was done.
There are ignoramuses who eat on the bus and certain drivers just go on their merry way without reprimanding them. Food equals crumbs equals, oh, did I mention cockroaches? "Not even!" TheBus people will say. So why are there roach traps under some seats?
The last straw is sitting on an express bus where the smell of urine permeated from the back stairwell. AUWE! I thought the drivers had portapotties at Alapai? This is the undeniable truth, which TheBus will, of course, deny.
Please, don't look the other way, Mr. Morton (Oahu Transit Services president); you need more maintenance people. I'm sure the guys on hand are doing their best, but the ratio of manpower to buses should be increased.
One final word to TheBus people - SANIWIPES!
Maureen B. Hanakahi
Kupuna Care worthy of veto override
One bill you didn't mention in your editorial Friday most certainly rises to the level of urgent community need. The line-item veto override of Senate Bill 2830 puts back the $500,000 for the Kupuna Care program. If direct care to our kupuna and the family caregivers in our community is not urgent, I don't know what else could be. Kupuna Care provides for bath services, chore services, weekend and emergency respite and care. Keeping family caregivers doing what they are doing should be one of the top priorities for our state.
Happy 93rd birthday to a Hawaiian treasure
I have been playing the Hawaiian steel guitar since 1942, which probably gives you an indication of my age. About 20 years ago, it was my joy to meet and play with Jacob Kaleikini, who is still semi-active in music in Waikiki. Jacob will be celebrating his 93rd birthday tomorrow! I would like to invite all his musical friends to wish him a Happy Birthday.
Jacob Kaleikini is indeed a living Hawaiian treasure. Mahalo.
George "Keoki" Lake