Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, March 12, 1997

Senate bill seeks to help people,
not the attorneys

Your Feb. 15 editorial, "Senate bill would improve no-fault," was right on the money -- literally. It seems that the Senate has listened to Hawaii drivers, and has taken a serious look at bringing costs down on auto insurance.

A solution that the senators have realized would NOT work would be to pass on medical costs from accidents to the individual's health-care insurance.

The Senate bill aims to improve the current no-fault system, instead of doing away with it completely. There is potential for savings by improving what we have now and not switching to an all-tort system.

I want savings but I do not want to instead pay legal fees that everyone in an auto accident will have to endure under an all-tort system.

The Senate bill's goal is to help Hawaii residents and business owners, not attorneys.

Shawn Ibara

More needs to be done
to help abuse victims

Evaluating the impact of victim services is not "victim-blaming," as portrayed by Carol C. Lee in her March 7 View Point. The only person being blamed for Arlene Marzan's death is the person who killed her (apparently her husband, who has been charged with second degree murder). The fact is that Arlene Marzan, who had frequented Oahu abuse shelters, was unknown to many agencies who might have helped her.

We know that some of the shelter services are inadequate, because survivors are telling us this. Among their complaints: receiving little, if any, individualized counseling; receiving no follow-up service after leaving the shelter; no support counseling for their traumatized children, only babysitting; and apparently some minimally trained volunteers answering the shelter phones.

Domestic violence agencies, especially those that are publicly funded, should embrace rather than resist constructive feedback, positive or negative. Only through critical analysis can society make significant changes in how crimes against women are handled.

It is heartening to see a new broad-based, grassroots, community coalition founded to focus on safety issues for battered women. The SAFETY NETwork, which sprung up after the murder of Arlene Marzan, exemplifies the way in which individuals can make a difference.

In tight budget times -- when interagency bickering removes the focus from the changes which must take place -- volunteer initiatives such as this are essential to help protect women.

Suzanne Meisenzahl
League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Radio-Free Hawaii
should be on the air

Throughout high school, I have been a loyal listener of Radio-Free Hawaii. As you probably know by now, it ended its programming Friday because of a decision by its new owners. I don't get it.

The station was voted best alternative radio station in Hawaii in 1996 in the Honolulu Weekly. It gained recognition for its original radio programming in Rolling Stone magazine. I never saw its competitor, KPOI, get this kind of publicity.

I am positive no other type of programming will live up to that of Radio-Free Hawaii. Hopefully, it will once again be on the air waves. Until then, it's time for me to turn the radio off and pop in a CD.

Jayson Horiuchi
11th Grade, Moanalua High School

Don't shed any tears
for state's lessors

Peter Savio's March 8 View Point, "Try putting a human face on lease-to-fee," attempted mightily to portray lessors as oppressed individuals forced by the law to unwillingly sell their lands. What Savio failed to say is that the same law that now forces the sale of their land has permitted their land to be leased in a sophisticated "bait-and-switch" scheme.

Leasing their land at incredibly low rates, homeowners were "baited" into building their homes, often on land that was without value for any other purpose due to zoning requirements. After years of improvements that lessors did not pay for, land values increased dramatically.

Now that the land is worth something, the lessors appear at renegotiation time to "switch" their once worthless land for a much steeper rent. And, because of the law, the lessors never gave up ownership.

No other state permits lessors such "bait-and-switch" rights. No, Mr. Savio, your clients have not been wronged by the law. They've been enriched.

Garry P. Smith
Ewa Beach

Why does 70 percent figure
have such a chilling ring?

I'm tired of reading about polls which allege 70 percent of Hawaii's residents want a knee-jerk reaction to the issue of recognizing same-gender marriage. Legislators such as Joe Souki, backed by anti-gay organizations, keep quoting this number as the "holy grail" justification to stopping gays and lesbians from achieving equality.

Do Hawaii residents know that 70 percent of Americans felt that Japanese Americans shouldn't be let out of internment camps after World War II? Do they know 70 percent of Americans were opposed to interracial marriage in 1967?

I recently visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and learned that 75 percent of Americans did not want to "get involved" in order to help Jewish people being annihilated in Germany.

History has shown us that prejudice and hate is usually cloaked in the pretense of religious and political convictions. These "convictions," and the rallying cry of "70 percent" have a horrifying historical ring.

Mark C. Breda

Senate marriage amendment
preserves Hawaii ideals

This letter is intended to clarify the Senate's position on HB 117, SD 1, the proposed constitutional amendment to preserve traditional marriage. Debate on this issue has too often been confused by strong emotional feelings on this topic.

Some misconceptions center on the following points: 1) the Senate version is not a "clean" amendment and the voters will not be presented with a clear choice on this matter; 2) the measure will enact, not ban, same-gender marriage. Each of these statements is simply wrong:

MISCONCEPTION 1) The Senate amendment is not a "clean" amendment. The language that the bill would put before the voters simply asks: "Shall the State have the power to reserve marriage to couples of the opposite sex; provided that doing so does not deprive any person of civil rights on the basis of sex?"

This question is not ambiguous or difficult for voters. It contains two simple affirmations of Hawaii's principles: the institution of marriage is a union between a man and a woman; and no person should suffer discrimination on the basis of sex. The question addresses the concerns of our residents to preserve traditional marriage yet also ensures that all individuals are treated fairly. We believe that our citizens are willing to reaffirm both commitments.

MISCONCEPTION 2) The Senate amendment will enact, not ban, same-gender marriage. Ensuring equal rights to all our citizens is a part of Hawaii's legal and social fabric. Hawaii was the first state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The new amendment will not extend a right of marriage to same-sex couples, nor will it extend rights regarding parentage, custody or child adoption. But it will ensure that our other laws are applied equally. A companion to the amendment identifies some of these laws, including inheritance, health insurance, wrongful death claims, survivors rights and medical decisions.

Avery B. Chumbley
Matthew M. Matsunaga
Wayne Metcalf
Michael McCartney

Hawaii State Senators

Gay marriage foes
need to present a united front

The battle for the soul of America continues with the popular push for the constitutional amendment upholding traditional marriage. At stake is the social structure of the nation of which the homosexual movement is but part of a much larger picture.

Christians are being demonized for their adherence to the biblical standard for the psychological and physical well-being of children -- the traditional family.

Those of us who prefer conservative mores -- Buddhists, Jews and others -- should band together to preserve our traditional family structures.

Janice Judd

Clinton should reassess
tuition credit requirement

Among his education goals, President Clinton hopes that two years of college should be as common as the idea of all students completing high school today. He is proposing that a tuition credit of $1,500 be granted to each student for each of these two years. In order to qualify for the second-year grant, however, the student must maintain at least a B grade average during the first year.

If the president insists on this condition, his goal will not be reached.

Most instructors grade according to a curve. In the Harvard curve, for example, A and B grades should be given to only 23 percent in a class. Also, 23 percent are at the lower end of the achievement continuum, and a grade of C would be given to a little over 50 percent.

I don't think this is what President Clinton had in mind.

The idea that a C student is considered a failure and therefore should be denied a second year $1,500 grant is short-sighted, unrealistic and cruel.

Art Wong
Retired Principal

Public teachers got raise
through legal blackmail

As a supporter of employee rights to engage in collective bargaining, as the husband of a retired teacher who walked the picket lines a quarter century ago, and as one who has sat on both sides of the bargaining table, I am pleased that the public school teachers received a raise.

But that does not change the fact that the raise was obtained through legalized blackmail: the threat of strike.

In the private sector, where profitability of a company is the essential issue, the right to strike is vital to assure an even playing field for both labor and management. In the public sector, the issue of who constitutes management and who labor is so clouded as to make the option of going on strike a very one-sided club.

Neither state nor federal employees should have the right to strike. Instead, salary increases should be tied to the economy in some fashion, and other issues resolved at the bargaining table.

The services of all Hawaii public employees are absolutely vital so any strike threat is bound to be successful whether the state can afford to pay or not. That's not a level playing field.

Frank J. Kocsis

Cayetano earns high marks
for support of education

With the new teachers' contract, Governor Cayetano has produced innovative and bold initiatives for our education system. Adding seven days to the school year was a brilliant idea.

Not only will this improve education, it will also give a substantial pay raise to our hard-working teachers. The average annual pay will now rise from $35,800 to $41,396.

This will help attract the best and brightest into the teaching field.

Whitney C. Kawata

Same-sex archive

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