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Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Consumers need relief from gas price gouging

Compared to the mainland, the price of gasoline in Hawaii has remained at an unconscionably high level for a very long time. As examples, since October 1997, the price of crude oil has fallen more than 20 percent and pump prices on the mainland have declined a minimum of 10 percent. But not in Hawaii!

The expense of transportation is not causing this, as all of our crude oil comes by sea - the least costly of all transit methods. Who is profiting by this disparity in gas prices? It sure is a mystery, or is it?

Enough of the shibai! What is being done for the consumer on the state level? A new slate of state officials appears long overdue.

Charles F. Monsell

Defendants in Ireland case deserve some sympathy

As the aunt of Shawn and Ian Schweitzer (defendants in the Dana Ireland murder case), I can no longer remain silent.

The letters to the newspaper and comments from the Ireland family have affected us deeply. We sympathize with the Irelands and their great loss, but my nephews and their parents have suffered, too.

For many years they have lived under a cloud, unable to clear their names and get on with their lives. There is a behind-the-scenes horror story here that many of you would find disturbing.

For those who believe that the silence of the family must mean guilt, nothing could be further from the truth. Belief in God and truth, and an unwavering trust in attorney Ira Leitel, have kept this family strong.

Now the machinations of the prosecution removed the only person who has fought for and stood by this family through all these hard and many years. Our respect for Ira, an attorney of undisputed integrity with a long and distinguished career, is profound.

All we ask is that people in the community go beyond what they may read and see in the media, and ask themselves this question: In a horrendous and gory crime such as this, why has it taken so long for Shawn and Ian to have their day in court?

B.K. Schweitzer
Keaau, Hawaii

People who can afford it will pay more in taxes

A tax cut will not jump start the Hawaii economy, nor has it ever done so. A polite description of such a view is voodoo economics. A not-as-polite description is ignorance.

Hawaii has a colonial economy in which resources are brought into the state by visitors and are taken out by national and international corporations. These corporations can and should jump start the economy, because it can only raise their profits.

Most people in Hawaii are responsible citizens. They will accept an increase in the income tax and the GET if it does not fall on persons with lower incomes.

Why will I and others accept a tax increase? Because as a responsible citizen, I and many, many others want our keiki to have decent schools and want disadvantaged persons to be helped.

It is as simple as that: Raise the income tax, the GET and the corporate income taxes, and give the national and international corporations incentives (negative ones, if necessary) to invest in Hawaii. And yes, I live on a fixed income.

David Pfeiffer

Cayetano should be commended for listening

While I have been very critical of the Economic Revitalization Task Force's tax proposals, it is important to note that the governor has obviously been listening to the community's reactions. This was shown in his recent proposed changes to the plan. Hopefully, he will continue to listen.

While I am still not in agreement with the tax proposals - in particular the proposed rise in the general excise tax and failure to propose higher income tax brackets for very high-income residents - I admire Cayetano's honesty, courage and willingness to backtrack after hearing the community out.

Now it is up to the Legislature and the rest of us.

Ruth Ellen Lindenberg

Death with dignity can be tremendous comfort

Eugene Douglass' Feb. 28 letter asks, "Where is the dignity in doctor-assisted suicides?" I have worked with hundreds of doctors during the past 22 years, and they don't make unilateral decisions to hurry the dying process.

The doctor's duty is to carry out the wishes of the patient, family or the person appointed as guardian, when all measures to preserve life have failed.

I cared for a regal, Hawaiian woman, the matriarch of a large family. She had two terminal illnesses, against which she fought gallantly.

Time was running out and she took stock of her situation. Her second leg was being amputated, she was on chronic dialysis, had serious heart problems, diabetes and suffered from constant, severe pain.

The family, doctors and patient met several times and finally respected her wishes to stop treatment and to be kept comfortable.

For eight days, prior to her peaceful death, her family looked at photo albums, reminisced, brought the grandchildren, chose the dress she would wear, and played her favorite songs on guitars and ukuleles.

They braided her long, white hair and gave her massages. She ate her favorite foods because the rigid diet was discontinued.

She was surrounded by all those who loved her. She had time to mend fences and say her farewells.

That is death with dignity. How many of us are fortunate enough to orchestrate our last wishes and live to see them carried out?

Marilyn Moe, R.N.

Prisons have to be built somewhere, or crime wins

We don't want prisons in our backyards. Neither do we want homeless shelters or power plants. I've even been approached with requests to sign petitions to keep out senior citizens facilities.

But we want the bad guys locked up in jail, we want the homeless off the street, the bulb to light when we turn the switch "on" and our elderly to be taken care of.

Like it or not, prisons, homeless shelters, power plants and senior citizen facilities have to go somewhere. We should be looking for ways that we can help, rather than spending all our energies figuring out how to dump things in someone else's back yard.

M. Matsuoka

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