Vote on rail will prove majority's support
Whether the rail issue goes to ballot is moot. People who realize the need for a rail system vastly out number those against it. Putting it on the ballot will just verify this fact. Hopefully, the mistake the City Council made more than 10 years ago will be corrected -- unfortunately at a much greater cost than was possible back then.
Let's put it on the ballot and stop the "stop rail" people from getting more press time. There are more important things to address.
Charles W. Santiago
City Charter is being misinterpreted
City Clerk Denise De Costa (Letters, Aug. 6)
would have us believe that the following wording in the City Charter prohibits her from accepting the nearly 50,000 signatures on the petition to put the rail question on the November ballot: "No special initiative election shall be held if an election is scheduled within 180 days of submission of the proposal."
Some common sense is in order. The intent of the wording of the Charter is to save money and not hassle voters with interminable elections. So the Charter says not to hold special elections for initiatives (even if, as in the case of the rail initiative, they specifically call for a special election), if the initiative could instead be folded into a regularly scheduled election.
De Costa seems to think the intent of the wording is to throw up bureaucratic roadblocks to make it much harder for voters to directly decide major aspects of policy.
Which intent seems more reasonable to you?
Basically, De Costa is violating the law and trying to waste our money by refusing to accept the rail petition. The judge who reviews the pending appeal of her decision should promptly slap down her erroneous interpretation and order her to put this petition on the ballot.
Military covered up soldier's training injury
On July 29 the Star-Bulletin's Gregg Kakesako
reported a disturbing story about a soldier being injured during basic training. It caught my attention since it appears that the Army is trying to minimize the extent of the soldier's injury. It is a disturbing story since the young man (Pvt. Ja Van Yiu Lin) is only 19 and might be permanently injured -- he told his mother he could not see from his left eye and has difficulty hearing on his left side. He also reported that he suffers from intense head pain and nose bleed after a drill sergeant threw a bed at him hitting him on the head.
The mother, Lisa Moniz, tried desperately to get honest answers, but it appears that she was stonewalled by the Fort Sill command and given the runaround. It was only after she called Sen. Daniel Akaka that she got some response and an investigation appears to be under way.
The most disturbing part of the story is when she was told that her son was fine and then was allowed to talk to him but under suppressed conditions since there were other people there at the time. It appears that the Army and the Hawaii Army National Guard is trying to squelch this from the public since it might affect their image and recruiting. Although this was a sad and disturbing story, kudos to the Star-Bulletin for exposing this serious incident.
Author's moral voice will be missed
The recent passing of Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, famed for his expose of the Soviet concentration camp system in his book "The Gulag Archipelago," is a tragic loss that will be deeply felt by many in the academic community. Solzhenitsyn challenged us to question our values, to take personal responsibility for our actions and to realize that the West's insistence on petty materialism is a danger that we cannot overlook.
His teachings have the rare quality of illustrating that true freedom begins not with government, but inside of ourselves. During his famous 1978 Harvard commencement address, Solzhenitsyn said that we need to seek "fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it."
In Hawaii, as we attempt to cope with so many difficult social challenges, I think we can draw wisdom and inspiration from those words. Perhaps our high school students could learn from studying Solzhenitsyn in civics class, as it would certainly point them toward the indispensible virtues of good citizenship.
Daniel de Gracia
Constitution should bar special interests
Quite a few persons have been published in the newspapers this year, making claims and allegations regarding the potential in a future state Constitutional Convention. Most of the discussion has been either wildly idealistic or wildly partisan.
For instance, take the call for a Con Con to implement nuclear power plants in Hawaii. Such a suggestion stands as much chance of success as proposing Oahu's rail transit be extended to California. And should it succeed, is the author prepared to store the nuclear waste produced in his backyard or on the lanai of his apartment?
I too have been considering this November's Con Con vote, and I can find just one justification for tinkering with the Hawaii Constitution -- to ensure and further the prospects for popular democracy in our islands. To that end, I propose the would-be convention add this short but terribly urgent preamble to Hawaii's guiding legal document: the admission that "All rights, privileges and responsibilities enumerated in this Constitution are solely provided to natural-born human beings, and are not intended for the benefit of secondary or artificial creations of human production."
For indeed, the greatest threat and obstacle to popular democracy is the economic power of private special interests. To override this barrier to government operating always in the public interest, it has become necessary to legally specify that corporations and other property, wealth and economic power do not have equal rights with citizens in the halls of law and politics. Let's include this in any discussion of democracy and constitutional issues.
HSTA can't have it both ways on drug tests
Random drug-testing is patently unconstitutional and I've been a vehement opponent of the state's ill-conceived efforts to abridge teachers' Fourth Amendment rights from the beginning. However, the Hawaii State Teachers Association can't have it both ways. Once our feckless union leadership failed to quash the state's drug-testing proposal during negotiations and the membership subsequently ratified the contract, our fate was sealed.
Recent HSTA statements opposing random drug-testing are completely disingenuous and self-serving and serve only to undermine public support for the union. How are we going to negotiate fair contracts with the state in the future? Who will trust us if we pursue this course and renege on this or that portion of a ratified contract? We'd be up in arms if the state pulled something like that on us. Sorry teachers, but we made this bed and now we have to sleep in it. Our only recourse is (and has been since ratification) to challenge the constitutionality of random drug-testing in court.
Obama's vacation will be well-earned
Welcome him with open wallets! The "anointed one" came to Hawaii for one reason and one reason only; to take your hard-earned money back to D.C. Well, get used to it, Obama supporters, it has only just begun.
Kobayashi's move denies voters a choice
City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Ann Kobayashi says, "Let the people decide" in reference to rail transit, but her actions in the Duke Bainum setup just shows how hypocritical her words are. Her timing has made it impossible for the people of her district to have a choice in the race to pick her Council successor. The choice for mayor, however, appears clear.
Bikes endanger pedestrians, too
Bikeway or walkway? The law says one thing, but bicyclists do their own thing when it comes to pedestrians. Bikes belong on the road, not the sidewalks.
I don't know how many times bikers have forced walkers off the walkways/sidewalks so they can ride by. The bumper sticker "Share the Road" is a joke! How about sharing the walkways?
Bikers say the road is dangerous. Yeah, like bikers aren't dangerous to pedestrians. Yes, there is danger to walkers by scaring them when a bike zips by. Collisions are not fun.
If bikers come from behind, don't just ring the bell. Tell us "coming to your right (or left)." Humans don't have eyes behind their heads yet.