We'll be ready for rail in a decade
If the train could be built this year, ridership would be pathetic and subsidy-to-cost horrendous. Five years out? Almost the same.
But 10 years out? Policy should be to penalize private car ownership. Tax cars more and require a special tax sticker to enter urban Honolulu -- beyond Sand Island from the west, beyond the Kahala Mall offramp from the east, and over the Pali, Likelike and H-3 town-bound.
Honolulu takes too much from taxpayers
The people have given the government of Hawaii a monopoly to tax and spend. As all of us are tightening our belts the geniuses of government are increasing salaries and charging more fees.
I have seen the taxes on my home go from $3,200 up to nearly $25,000 a year. I am semi-retired and am now actively looking to move elsewhere. I paid $650,000 for my home originally. It is confiscation of my major asset.
For nearly a year I await the chance to appeal my tax valuation. I was told I must do it every year as a reassessment is good only for that year.
Another example: I have a rental. It has been vacant for nearly a year while we were remodeling the home. We spend $13 and change for water and another $143 monthly for sewer on my home in Kalihi. Now the government wants to raise sewer fees by 18 percent.
I work for myself and get none of the benefits of working for the City and County. The way things are going all my paycheck will go to the City and County and tax collectors, leaving me with a big fat "zero income" for all the hard work I do. I am mad as hell at tax time and I am not the only one. The people giveth and the people can take away powers only if they vote out spenders!
Price of oil bodes well for bicycle riders
Who would have thought that the oil price would force the American public to drive less? Yippee -- and perhaps there will be better laws in place to protect bike riders, too.
If the government does nothing else we could at least provide more bike lanes, bike paths, more public awareness for the protection of bikers, and also more lowering of speed limits to save gas as well as protect those of us who want to stay healthy and alive on a bike.
I would love to see a more walkable, ridable community. How about carpools for country workers where they can park at the bigger parking lots at the stadium or gym, and then be bused to the civic center?
We are at a place where a more consciousness has been becoming a public phenomena. Yikes, the government might even reward people for carpooling and riding bikes.
City should consider value of HOT lanes
Why is the best solution to traffic congestion not really being considered by the city of Honolulu?
Many people claim there is no better alternative to the city's proposed heavy rail plan so we should just go ahead and spend the money and build it. I ask why these people do not know about the high occupancy toll lanes proposed by University of Hawaii professor and candidate for mayor Panos Prevedouros many months ago.
His plan would cost in the millions, not billions. It would not have 20 or more monstrous, ugly stations, would not displace 200 businesses, would reduce traffic on H-1 and would be user friendly. The proposed high-occupancy reversible elevated expressway with increased bus rapid transit would stop in Iwilei. It could be built much faster. It would get people to their destination in half the time of the rail plan. It would not bankrupt the City and County of Honolulu.
Many other places are putting in HOT lanes (Arizona, Washington, D.C., Bay Area, Florida, Colorado) because they work. They are a more modern solution to traffic congestion, versus rail which is becoming less popular because of obvious limitations and expense.
What if we choose no higher taxes?
The mayor says he wants to give our Leeward neighbors a "choice" of transportation alternatives by building a rail system.
Well, if I had to choose between paying higher gasoline prices or paying higher excise and property taxes, I'd choose higher gasoline because I can choose not to drive, but with higher taxes I don't have a choice!
To have Mayor Hannemann spend our money to convince us what he has already decided upon is arrogant and insulting.
Voters should study rail issue carefully
Caught between the highly partisan pro- and anti-rail factions are Oahu residents who have yet to decide which side to join. As a rail supporter, I recommend they study three issues that I find compelling -- mobility, reliability and renewability.
Mobility is the primary reason to build a fixed guideway system. Commuters who travel between ewa and downtown Honolulu don't have it today thanks to traffic that continues to worsen. With rail, commuters who choose to ride will get their mobility back.
Rail will be reliable, with predictable arrival times. Only grade-separated transit delivers riders to their destinations on time, every time.
Since rail will run on electricity, it eventually will use "green power" as our society transitions from fossil fuel to renewable forms of electricity generation -- wind, solar, municipal waste, ocean thermal energy conversion and perhaps others. Rail will reduce pollution and be a natural market for renewable energy.
I'm a paid consultant to the city, something rail critics love to "expose" in commenting on your Web site. Citizens can decide for themselves which is more relevant -- these three issues that deserve their careful consideration or my status.
Voting rights aren't automatic for military
There is a general misconception that active military stationed in Hawaii, their spouses or dependents of voting age are eligible to vote in our elections. This misconception is because our Office of Elections is doing a poor job of educating the public about the eligibility requirements of voting in this state, has no effective enforcement of the eligibility laws, plus it has virtually no safeguards in place to prevent ineligible voters from voting in this state.
The eligibility requirement that active military stationed in Hawaii do not meet is that they are not legal residents of the state. According to the Hawaii Revised Statutes, no member of the armed forces of the United States, the member's spouse or the member's dependent is a resident of the state solely by reason of being stationed in the state.
They of course could exercise their right to vote in their respective home states.
Silent majority will be heard at ballot box
In our constitutional democracy, voices large and small have the right to speak. That is our way. So it is good that they be allowed to stand on corners, shout and scream on soap boxes, picket our public halls, wave angry placards, clothe their agendas and their candidates with hype, smoke, bells and whistles, and boo those they disagree with. That is our way. These voices are the loudest and receive the most print.
At times, to the many whose voices have long been mute, the world has gone insane. There will be a day when the majority will step into the voting booths and end their long and uneasy silence with a thunderous scream. That is also our way. It behooves our leaders to hear all voices, those that are loud and those that are silent, and to always remember that that is the way it is.
Nelson S.W. Chang
Olympics show need for universal language
As I watched the Olympics on television last week and individual interviews of the winners from different countries, I have come to the conclusion that a universal language is appropriate and most convenient if we are to engage in competition such as the Olympics. My suggestion is that it be the English language. Many proud countries will protest, I'm sure, such as France, Germany, Spain, Russia and China, to name the obvious countries.
Approximately 60 percent of the athletes around the world now speak or understand English, according to the sports interviews I have heard. It might be a slow process; however, if the obstinate politicians can agree to such an idea, it should be brought up at the United Nations.
BOE members have priorities backwards
Thank you for exposing the Department of Education's financial carelessness through the organization of your paper on Aug. 8. After reading your side-by-side articles, I was appalled.
The first article outlined Gov. Linda Lingle's demands to the Board of Education for specific numbers on expenses for a trip taken in June. The BOE sent 651 individuals to Disney World Resort on Hawaii taxpayer money. The total estimated expense for this mass vacation was in excess of $1 million. That article ran right above a second article talking about the DOE's proposed budget cutbacks. Among the cutback victims was junior varsity sports, budgeted at $1 million per year. This hit home for me. Like many other former student-athletes, JV was as good as it got for me, but it allowed me to continue playing soccer, kept me in shape, productive and out of trouble during after-school hours.
After reading the two articles back to back, I couldn't believe that taxpayer money budgeted for the benefit of our children might leave our youngsters without JV sports (among other things) while 651 individuals got to have fun in the Florida sun with Mickey Mouse!
Ronald K. Orr