From the Forum
"Initiative derailed by wording," Star-Bulletin, July 16:
A special election will mean that those who seriously oppose rail will be most likely to go out and vote on the matter which, in turn, means a much greater likelihood of prevailing on the question. Though it appears this move by city officials is to stymie the will of the people, it may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise, because it will force a special election where only the most serious and ardent opponents to rail will vote on the matter. In every cloud there is a silver lining. And the whining begins. Look, the Stop Rail folks should be kicking themselves because these are their own words on the petition. "The following question is being submitted to the people of the City and County of Honolulu to be voted upon at a special election." There is no conspiracy or directive from the mayor to the city clerk. Stop Rail Now screwed it up themselves with their choice of words. When was this "mistake" discovered, and by whom? Were the Stop Rail people notifed and given an opportunity to correct it? Sounds like a petty, dirty trick on the part of the administration. If Mufi was as confident as he claims he is about the results of such a vote I'm sure he would find a way to have the issue put on the ballot. Smells like he is not so confident after all. Geez, is the city supposed to read your mind now? Maybe Stop Rail Now wanted a special election, maybe not. But what is the city suppose to notify them of? Should they do a grammatical check and notify them too? Isn't that John Carrol's job as legal counsel to SRN? It is clear that the people want a say in whether rail should or should not be built. I urge the City Council to find a way to put this initiative on the ballot in November. If not, the rancor on both sides will only get worse.
"Rail opponents, city debate path to ballot," Star-Bulletin, July 17: The City Council should take action and put the question of whether or not to have a rail transit system on the November ballot. It doesn't make any sense to have a separate special election since the rail opponents will have enough votes to have a special election next spring anyway. It will save taxpayers' dollars and it is better to see if the people want the rail system or not sooner than later.
Just goes to show that those Stop-da-Rail people are not thinking this whole thing through. If not rail, what? Toll roads for the rich: $5 one-way? HOT lanes: $10 per day, $50 per week, $200 per month? Regular working people can afford that? (City Councilman Charles) Djou wants to charge you extra just for driving into town. Again, only the rich can afford to go into town. (Djou is) typical of the "anti-anything, scared of anything new" crowd. Think this through, people.
"PETA opposes Army's training that utilizes pigs," Star-Bulletin, July 18:
I have been through this training and I have also served three combat tours. This training saves my fellow soldiers everyday and there is absolutely no substitute for it. Training aids and mannequins do not replicate what you encounter at war. These animals are treated humanely and are fully anesthetized until training is complete.
I can speak from experience when I say that soldiers respect the animals life and understand the value of the training they receive. I have friends who are still alive because of this training.
The Army doesn't need to use pigs. There are a lot of artificial trauma instruments such as "Trauma Man," that can be used in place of creatures that will suffer.
Many people have no concern for the animals at all, they are just possessions, not living beings. People have no compassion anymore, it's part of the "all about me" perspective. How sad for them, and the animals too.
"170 schools miss steeper targets," Star-Bulletin, July 18: Sixty-two percent of students tested in this springs Hawaii State Assessment scored proficient in reading, up from 60 percent a year ago. In math, 43 percent of them were proficient, compared with 39 percent last year. The test that the DOE put out last year was made so much easier. Teachers had months to go over the questions. My question is, "Are the students really failing the Hawaii public school system or is the system failing our students?"
Teachers don't see the actual test questions, but have access to similar questions. They try to integrate the test-taking format into their social studies and science units. If not, there'd be no time to teach all the subjects if we keep teaching to the test. An earlier poster (to the forum) questioned why our kids don't know history nowdays. It's because we only teach reading, math and test-taking to pass the damn test. We spend all our time focusing on the "bubble" kids, who are just missing the mark. We want them to get over the hump and pass. We do nothing to meet the needs of the kids on the high and low extremes.
When Ben Cayetano was governor, he said that we have already failed to properly educate a generation of children. Yet, we continue to elect the same politicians to deal with a BOE that continually fails students and taxpayers by its misuse of funds to educate our children. We, the people of Hawaii, have failed our kids. The politicians only know how to serve the unions and special interests ... So, unless we are serious about improving public education by electing statesmen who will do it, quit complaning. A good start would be demanding a voucher system.
Time to replace top officials at UH
The Star-Bulletin is to be applauded for its timely series July 13
on the gross mismanagement of the finances and distribution of tickets around the University of Hawaii's appearance in the Sugar Bowl.
This fiasco illuminated two core problems on the Manoa campus. The first is the utter lack of oversight by the UH administration over the Athletic Department, which is really the tail wagging the university dog. The second is the general incompetence of David McClain, Virginia Hinshaw and other top UH officials, who are simply not up to dealing with the challenges the university faces. The Board of Regents should replace them as soon as possible.
Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Magnetic levitation can't defy physical law
In a guest column ("City should consider taking a ride on mag lev," Star-Bulletin, July 17),
Amarjit Singh argues that magnetic levitation trains should be considered instead of steel rail. One of the main arguments he makes is "ML requires lighter track and bridges because the trains do not need to place their weight on them. As a result, engineering infrastructure costs are lower than for steel on steel."
It seems that the author has repealed Newton's Third Law, which states that for every force there must be an equal and opposite reaction force. This law explains why rockets fly. The force backward on the gas pushes the rocket forward by Newton's Third Law.
If there is a force holding the train up, there must be an equal and opposite force pushing down on the rail and magnets supporting the train, and this force is the same as the train's weight. The support needed remains the same.
There might be good arguments for mag lev, but this is not one.
Fred Harris, Eric Dodson
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Hawaii
Councilman's remarks were off base
I am very disappointed in Leeward City Councilman Todd Apo (District I, Waianae-Ewa-Kapolei) for his arrogant remarks about the possible rejection by the city clerk of the stoprailnow.com petition for a vote on rail in the general election. Apo said, "If the ballot initiative organizers screwed it up, they screwed it up."
The only people getting screwed are Apo's constituents. More than 40,000 citizens have signed the initiative that calls for a vote on the most expensive project in Hawaii's history and one that will unlikely bring any relief to Apo's district. To summarily dismiss the voices of these citizens reeks of an out-of-touch Council hiding behind city attorneys' incorrect interpretation of the City Charter.
If the voice of the people cannot be heard on this issue then the only remedy is to vote out the mayor and Council members who are deaf to their needs.
Garry P. Smith
Candidate, City Council
Rail will offer quiet alternative to traffic
As someone who will be working when the rail transit or alternate is complete, I feel the need to voice my opinion.
I think that rail transit is actually better than rail opponents think. Rail noise on a light rail system is a lot less noise than freight trains or other large trains. Electric rail can also be powered by solar, wind or hydroelectricity, unlike the alternate HOT lane system, which uses oil that will become more scarce in the future.
Finally, let's remember when a whole section of the H-1 was closed due to a damaged overpass. The H-1 is the only major thoroughfare from Honolulu, and people will crowd to any available road when that is closed, making buses stuck in the same traffic as cars.
Even with a vote, we need more info
Am I the only one missing something in the rail debate? If there is to be a vote, and there should be given the impact and cost, I believe that the public has not been given critical information necessary to make an informed decision.
To vote intelligently, people need to know how rail can actually get them and others out of their cars. This will depend primarily on expected fares vs. current costs, and acceptable schedules and travel times.
Lacking this information, people will vote solely on the high costs vs. unclear benefits.
Richard W. Griggs
Don't lay a guilt trip for global warming
Your July 14 editorial "White House dithers on greenhouse gases"
suggests we should feel guilty about global warming, that it's our fault.
I find it interesting that tens of thousands of scientists, including many in Hawaii, think differently and have publicly stuck their necks out by signing the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine petition (http://www. petitionproject.org/). The petition reads in part: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth."
It's our fault. Really? Assuming guilt for this episode of global warming is not the first climate or other environmental guilt trip we humans have been on. One writer points out, for example, that during the miserable cold period during the Dark Ages, Christian leaders said that God was angry with us. At the same time Hindu leaders said several gods were angry at people. During the Little Ice Age, villagers in the French Alps called on the local bishop to exorcise the demon from a local dormant glacier that was now advancing on the town and witches were blamed for crop failures.
The unintended consequences of potentially unnecessary draconian responses to a natural phenomenon might be the unnecessary suffering that will fall on the poor.
Students need options to conventional school
With education commanding a huge percentage of the state budget and yet children "failing" to meet No Child Left Behind school accountability standards, it is overdue that parents, community and child development agencies collaboratively voice the need for alternative approaches to conventional model eduction -- especially in the early years, when personality and character of children becomes neurological infrastructure of that future adult.
Whatever the pedagogy, the current practice, being the way it has always been done, seems to serve nobody short of perpetuating an institution. And that, readers, is what has brought us to the problems we face today with contemporary public schooling.
Greedy artist dimmed child's visit to Waikiki
There is an artist in Waikiki who paints beautifully with watercolors. My 11-year-old daughter was fascinated by them and so we paid to have one done for her. As we got up to leave with our painting, the artist's wife insisted we had not paid for it, although we had given her the money prior to sitting to have it done. We reminded her of this, but she kept insisting we had not paid. After much back and forth, I finally paid her for it again. My daughter was heartbroken by the exchange and says she does not like Hawaii anymore and never wants to visit again. She's at that age where discovering the world is neither fair nor just is a hard and, unfortunately, lasting lesson. To be called a liar on top of it made it even worse.
I know how frustrating it can be to deal with tourists, as we also live in a resort community with more visitors than residents and not all those visitors are easy to deal with. Fortunately, for every rude and devious person, be it visitor or host, there are many more who are kind and fair to balance it out. But even just one bad act can have lasting consequences. Of all my daughter's good memories of our trip, I know this one small act of greed will stay with her for a very long time.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
I respectfully recommend that Sen. Barack Obama offer the vice presidential nomination to former Vice President Al Gore Mr. Gore might not wish to become vice president for another four to eight years; however, it would give him another chance to become president and what else is he going to do for an encore? He is ready to step in as president, if needed. I am confident Obama would win the election with Gore as his running mate, barring an unforeseen calamity.
Gore has provided the leadership to address our biggest problem, which is the economic, national security and environmental crises created by our continuing to rely on fossil fuels for our energy needs. This needs to change ... fast!