Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, February 18, 1998

High gas prices in Hawaii are fueled by Chevron

Chevron's spokesman, Dave Young, should be ashamed of himself, suggesting that anyone questioning the status quo is not worth listening to (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 12). Well, Mr. Young, my wife and I have been customers of your company for 32 years, and we are offended by your cavalier comments.

I used to think that Chevron was a good corporate citizen. But Young's off-hand remarks were an insult to every thinking person on Oahu.

Young owes the public an explanation as to why Chevron has been sucking out millions of dollars of windfall profits from hard-pressed consumers and small businesses over the past several months.

Is this Chevron's plan for Hawaii's economic recovery? Is this why Chevron supported raising the excise taxes for most of its customers? Or why it embraces squeezing every drop of revenues from tourists who drive rental cars or rent hotel rooms or who fly in and out of the islands?

The problem with some big businesses is that they seem to think their short-term view is the only one that counts. In both politics and business, arrogance goeth before the fall.

Ken Harding

Low-income voters should rally at the state Capitol

Economic courses and lessons in life have taught me that low-income people will spend every penny they can get their hands on, and higher-income people will invest their excess income.

A few years ago, New York City was faced with low occupancy of their hotel rooms. It cut the room tax and the occupancy rates blossomed. NYC also ran two tests in the past few months to see what would result from eliminating the sales tax. In both tests, sales went through the roof (over 200 percent).

So Toto, we are not in New York. Here in Hawaii, we think we can jump-start the local economy by increasing the excise and hotel room taxes and giving tax breaks to the higher income folks.

There are many more low-income than high-income voters. We have just seen what a large Hawaiian protest can do at the Legislature.

So let's wake up and get down there with signs and a lot of noise, and get this situation on the right track.

George Fox

Tax proposals will affect people in different ways

As a member of the Chamber of Commerce committee that developed the Economic Revitalization Task Force's tax proposal presentation, I would like to set the record straight. Schedules that we prepared for the chamber should not be taken as definitive proof as to the impact of the tax proposals on any one individual or company.

Our goal was to help educate chamber members on the mechanics of calculating taxes under the proposals as written. Each taxpayer will need to apply the proposals to determine its bottom-line impact.

Several of us at Arthur Andersen, who are familiar with the tax proposals, believe the package is a constructive start to developing reform that will spur the Hawaii economy and ultimately benefit local business and individuals.

We hope our efforts enhance discussion of the package as it progresses through the legislative process.

Katherine O. Szem

Lawyers aren't the ones causing consumers grief

In response to your Feb. 12 editorial, you make the inflammatory statement that "attempts at reforming Hawaii's tort system have bogged down in the past by lawyers trying to protect their turf. If greed can be replaced with fairness, the courts can stop being a menace to business."

You have it backward. The greed in this so-called tort reform is on the part of insurance companies and multibillion-dollar corporations like the tobacco and automobile industries, who are trying to replace consumer rights and protections with a license to kill and injure with impunity.

My firm has represented victims of toxic torts perpetrated by industries that were only interested in the bottom line. Whether it involves asbestos manufacturers, cigarette companies or latex-glove manufacturers, the only way the average person has a chance to vindicate his or her rights is through the legal system.

Hawaii has already had tort reform passed at the insistence of Governor Ariyoshi in 1986, which your editorial did not point out. Large parts of joint and several liability (which you misleadingly call "deep pocket") law have already been taken away from Hawaii's residents.

All the current bills are trying to do is nail the lids on the coffins of victims of defective products.

Gary O. Galiher

United States acts like a bully in conflict with Iraq

Our military and government are gearing up for bloodshed in Iraq, and no one seems to notice.

Plenty of Iraqi innocent folks -- women, children, all parts of their society -- will die, by being blown up by American bombs paid for with our money. It's something that just doesn't sit well with me.

Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, no doubt. He's just like the many tyrants that U.S. foreign policy has supported over the years. It's become the American way -- from Grenada to Nicaragua, from Vietnam to the Middle East. Gunboat diplomacy is our forte. Sad, and shameful.

If American bombers attack Iraq, it will not be a U.N. action. It would be the U.S. once again not being able to tell the difference between being the world's policeman and the world's bully. Call Senator Inouye's office and speak out.

David Hill

How sad that disabled golfer must sue to use golf cart

Bill Kwon's Feb. 12 Sports Watch column, accusing a pro golfer of wishing for our pity, was callous and reflected insensitivity.

Casey Martin's chosen work and well-developed skill is playing golf. Those who watch pro golf do so to see the skill of the players hitting the ball, not to assess their abilities to walk on well-groomed courses while caddies carry their clubs.

A rare disease limits Martin's ability to walk, but attitudes, often held by the abled bodied and even some disabled, can impose insurmountable obstacles for anyone with an impairment.

The real pity is that it was necessary for Martin to have to sue the PGA for permission to use a golf cart.

Celest Pearsall
Hawaii Kai

Casey Martin ruling is travesty for golf

A judge who does not play golf should not have presided over the case of Casey Martin vs. the PGA.

If the judge had been a golfer, he would know that walking for miles on a golf course causes physical and mental weariness, and that such exertion affects a golfer's game.

The rules of the PGA Tour were made to be fair. They create a level playing field for all who qualify and agree to abide by the rules.

Casey Martin, with one bad leg, used the Americans With Disabilities Act to gain the big advantage of using a golf cart. He used his disability to gain the sympathy of the soft-hearted.

Now any person with a disability, such as someone with a heart condition and who tires fast from walking, will also qualify for a golf cart.

Those who disagree with the Casey Martin decision should not purchase any Nike products, including shoes manufactured in Vietnam by $4-a-day laborers.

Wilbert W.W. Wong

PGA has long history of discrimination

Congratulations to Casey Martin! It is not surprising that the PGA tried to exclude him from playing on its tour. After all, it barred blacks from playing at the Masters not too long ago.

It is shocking and disgraceful that so many pro golfers defended the PGA's position. What were Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus thinking when they testified against the obviously disabled Martin?

Golf is a game of skill in hitting a ball toward a target and into a hole in as few strokes as possible. Who cares how you get to your ball between strokes?

Anybody who thinks golf is an endurance sport should take a look at all the out-of-shape, cigarette- and cigar-smoking "athletes" on the various pro tours.

The judge made the right decision in applying ADA standards to this case.

Matthew Lanin

Prisons should focus on rehabilitation

I think it's foolish and a waste of taxpayer money to build more prisons. Does anyone ever review the status of the incarcerated?

Many pre-trial detainees don't even know their own status. There are convicts with harsh sentences -- from first-time offenders to others who have murdered or been convicted of harmful distribution or possession of weapons and/or firearms.

Corrections facilities should focus on rehabilitating individuals. Right now they are housing mentally insane people who require more attention, and who take up bed space because they can't be allowed to room with the population.

Debbi Auld
(Via the Internet)

If all trustees must be fired, then so be it

I want to applaud the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association for finally coming forth with a statement asking for the removal of Lokelani Lindsey as a Bishop Estate trustee. Its Jan. 20 statement supports the positions of Na Pua, and trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis.

As a graduate of Kamehameha, I have been very displeased by the reports from Judge Patrick Yim, Master Colbert Matsumoto and Attorney General Margery Bronster. It is pretty hard to deny wrong-doing when three separate people come up with similar findings.

I hope that the alumni association does not stop here, but takes a more active role in helping to resolve the problems at KS/BE. If that means the removal of all five trustees, having a court-appointed receiver in place, and/or suspending trustee pay until all matters pertaining to the estate are resolved, so be it.

The will and trust of Princess Pauahi Bishop must be protected to ensure the future of all Hawaiians.

Duke Mossman
Kamehameha Schools, Class of 1981
Heber City, Utah
(Via the Internet)

Bishop Estate Archive

Time for public employees to give back to taxpayers

During the last few years, bureaucrats knuckled under to pressure and threats from public employee unions. These unions pushed for and got pay increases and benefits far above what the economy could support.

Now, as Hawaii's economy skids ever closer to the brink, public employee furloughs or layoffs loom on the horizon. I recommend a rollback as a simple means of redressing past bureaucratic largess.

Let's say that public employee pay is rolled back an average $1 per hour, based on a sliding scale. Assuming a 40-hour week times 52 weeks per year times 45,000 state employees, we achieve an annual savings in excess of $93 million.

Next, eliminate overtime in all but the most crucial circumstances. Finally, eliminate two or three holidays in favor of productive work days. Total annual savings should easily surpass $120 million, if not more.

Such actions should also avoid immediate furloughs or layoffs, and allow a more ordered personnel reduction through attrition and retirement.

Public employee unions were more than willing to take while the getting was good. Are they now willing to give back, not only to save jobs but to save Hawaii's economy?

Kerry A. Krenzke

Hawaiian community united against Case

Mahalo nui to all the wonderful people who marched, camped out and testified at the state Capitol against Sen. Ed Case's Hawaiian autonomy bill.

All of the protesters, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, keiki, opio and kupuna, carried themselves with the utmost honor, dignity, respect and, most of all, aloha. Witnessing the Hawaiian groups rallying together made me so proud to be Hawaiian.

Eric Poohina
(Via the Internet)

Legislators must examine state's antiquated tax rates

When preparing my 1997 Hawaii Income Tax Return, several injustices seem apparent. Comparing Hawaii's rates to those of the federal government, it is clear that our legislators have done nothing to keep income taxes in line with inflation.

For example, the federal government adjusts the tax rate schedules each year to account for inflation. In addition both the standard deduction and personal exemption figures are adjusted annually for inflation. Hawaii's numbers have remained constant for as many years as I can recall.

This bracket creep is hurting all Hawaii residents. We are being forced to pay income taxes at rates far above what is fair, considering the decrease in purchasing power of our dollars! When will our representatives act in our behalf and update our income tax structure?

Stuart Gross
(Via the Internet)

GOP is winning war against tax proposals

On opening day of the Legislature, Republican leader Quentin Kawananakoa, in speaking about the Economic Revitalization Task Force's proposals, stood before the people of Hawaii and drew a line in the sand: No excise tax increases!

The Cayetano administration touted the task force's recommendations and stressed that the only way the plan would work is if it was embraced in its entirety (including a 35 percent excise tax increase). No changes or substitutions allowed.

Now, since the people have made enough noise, it seems as though some tinkering can take place. The governor has found a way to reduce the size of the increase in the excise tax. If Cayetano really believed that we could do with a smaller increase, why didn't he figure it out before bringing it to the public?

This type of wishy-washy leadership is the result of decisions being made that are void of any principle or conviction, with its basis in political expediency.

It is still early in the fight, but indications are we may be moving in the right direction. Round one: the Republicans.

Mark Middleton
(Via the Internet)

Slashing Bishop Museum funds is shortsighted

I am extremely concerned about state Budget Director Anzai's proposal to cut the annual state appropriation to the Bishop Museum (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 3).

As the state museum for natural and cultural history and the sole repository for many priceless cultural artifacts and scientific collections, the museum's value to the people of Hawaii, visitors from abroad and the world's scientific community is beyond question and beyond price tag.

Thousands of Hawaii's school children visit the museum every year to absorb knowledge from the many museum exhibits and education programs.

Thousands of scientists, scholars, artists, musicians and members of the community visit the museum's archives and library every year to delve into the historical documents and photographs available only at the Bishop Museum.

Hundreds of scientists from around the world visit the research departments every year to sample and study the globally unique entomology, botany, ichthyology, vertebrate zoology, and geology research collections at the museum.

All of these activities could suffer due to the proposed cut.

The state appropriation represents more than money, it represents a commitment to all of the endeavors that the museum undertakes and that will be lost if the state withdraws its support.

I plan to let my state representatives know that I strongly condemn Mr. Anzai's latest budget proposal. I urge all other concerned citizens of Hawaii to do the same.

Kevin T. M. Johnson

Bishop Estate Archive

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