Letters to the Editor
Tuesday, January 6, 1998

Churches should pay fair share of taxes

Bishop Francis DiLorenzo (View Point, Dec. 19) claimed the Catholic Church "has an unmatched record of social service" in Hawaii. Yet according to government reports, churches on average give less than 1 percent of their total income to charity.

Most of the community services provided by Catholic Charities are funded by the federal government and private donors, yet the church has the audacity to collect administration fees from these contributions.

Churches are extremely inefficient and wasteful compared to legitimate charities, such as the Red Cross and United Way, which average an 85 percent charitable return on every dollar.

The state of Hawaii receives nothing from churches, while critical services are eliminated because of declining tax revenue.

Last year, churches in Hawaii were granted more than $1.3 billion in property tax exemptions. This while the city of Honolulu is considering raising property taxes. Hawaii's taxpayers should be outraged!

Mitchell Kahle,
Michael Quinn, Holly
Huber, Mike Last
Members of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church

Jones Act is working so why run it aground?

To believe state Rep. Gene Ward's attack on the damage that the Jones Act produces (View Point, Dec. 5), one would need to have no knowledge of its benefits. The fictitious facts quoted were outrageous.

On the other hand, R.J. Pfeiffer's Dec. 26 View Point put fact and knowledge first. He easily dispelled the false accusations in Ward's column.

The Jones Act protects the men and women who work on board merchant vessels. Foreign flag seamen do not enjoy this benefit. Over 300 seamen are lost on the ocean each year while working on dilapidated foreign-registered vessels. Companies put profit ahead of human life, profit ahead of environmental concern.

On the international level, these issues are being confronted by the leading maritime countries. But Ward chose to side with those who only want to eliminate laws to benefit themselves without concern for safety, environment or trade routes.

Why should we weaken or remove laws that protect and serve us?

J.J. Arnold
Member, Seafarers International Union of North America

Justices are too busy to be selecting trustees

As an attorney with experience in trusts, I submit that the Supreme Court's decision to withdraw from the process of selecting Bishop Estate trustees was correct.

The justices are employees of the state, paid with taxpayer funds and charged with administering our justice system. Their workload has increased even though their pay has not.

It is a full-time job commanding their diligent efforts during the work day and, I am sure, intruding regularly on their thoughts during off hours.

To assume the additional task of selecting trustees for the largest educational endowment in the country is to necessarily hamper their ability to well perform their "day jobs."

As Justice Klein points out, their abstinence will create a void. It is, however, a void that probate courts have been filling for hundreds of years under the English common law.

Carroll S. Taylor

Bishop Estate, task force have too much in common

Perhaps it is the result of too many dance troupes tapping, stomping and glissading in Hawaii that has caused the Bishop Estate and the Governor's Economic Revitalization Task Force to lose their toehold on reality, and become footloose and fancy free in their investments and tax reform proposals, respectively.

Rather than walk the straight and narrow with conservative investments, the Bishop Estate tripped on its own fancy footwork of risky speculations.

The administration and task force both refuse to reconsider their inadequate and substandard tax choreography, roundly booed by mainland experts and local critics.

They sidestepped dealing with the major cause of the high cost of doing business in Hawaii - the inflationary effect of land monopolies and speculators in Hawaii.

Their failure to include in their repertoire strong recommendations to tax land monopolies and speculators into submission shows their lack of professionalism and lack of concern for the public welfare.

Richard Y. Will

HMSA should tell patients there is no confidentiality

In his role as spokesman for the Hawaii Medical Service Association, Fred Fortin declares that "we (HMSA) have a mandate to protect our members' interests against fraud and abuse...we are very aggressive about it, and we make no apology."

I ask Fortin: What of your mandate to provide financial assistance to those who have paid you the premiums you have requested from them?

When HMSA states it is entitled to confidential patient information because members sign a blanket agreement to release medical records, is this not putting the letter before the heart of the law?

Does HMSA inform the patient that there is, in effect, no confidentiality, that any sexual indiscretions or even thoughts that put the patient in poor light, that any of the many details about their bodies and minds may be demanded by HMSA agents?

HMSA fears being defrauded by physicians because they have enough courage to stand up to a Goliath and will even risk going to jail when it would harm their patients.

Mahalo to Dr. Eileen Wang for her courage.

Dr. Blase Harris

Bishop Estate Archive

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