Souki wronged community through his shenanigansLegislators are "public servants" elected by voters. Their duty and responsibility are to serve the best interests of the majority, not conflicting special interests.
Yet House Speaker Joe Souki sided with special interests on the general excise tax increase and initially on the capping of compensation of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustees. He only backed down after intense public pressure.
Now Souki warns of "anarchy" in the Legislature, because Rep. Ed Case yanked the compensation bill out of committee to the House floor and succeeded in making changes to the status quo.
Souki was the cause of this action. He violated conflicts of interest by allowing two other two members, who had business with the estate, and himself to defeat the first attempt to cap the compensation.
It is the duty of members of the Legislature to oppose their leadership should the latter act contrary to the best interests of the community.
America must declare war on tobacco industryEach day that America waits for Congress to act on effective tobacco control legislation, 1,000 more people die from tobacco-related illnesses. Three thousand more children start using tobacco products. And tobacco-related health-care costs continue to soar into the billions.
Remember that the tobacco industry lied when it told us that smoking is not dangerous. It lied when it told us that smoking is not addictive. It lied when it stated that cigarette additives were not harmful.
It lied about the danger of second-hand smoke. And it lied when its officials testified that they were not marketing to children when, in fact, the tobacco industry was influencing another 3,000 young Americans to begin smoking every day.
All of those deceits are undeniable proof that the industry can never be trusted.
The time remaining in the current legislative session presents an excellent opportunity to protect our children and all Americans. Waiting is not just a matter of lost days. It's a matter of lost lives.
Dr. Beatriz Rodriguez
President, Hawaii Affiliate
American Heart Association
Raising cigarette taxes won't dissuade smokersWhile I support the goal of reducing youth smoking, raising taxes on tobacco will not help reach that objective. State taxes went up 15 percent from 1993-1995 but, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, youth smoking went up 15 percent in that same period.
The June 20 Proposed Resolution offered the most comprehensive and realistic chance to resolve the tobacco conflict and change the way tobacco products are made, marketed and sold in this country.
I firmly believe that this debate is about whether adult Americans can be allowed to make their own decisions. If smokers, as a group, were a race or religion, there is no way politicians could discriminate against them as they have.
John S.W. Chong
Victim's family doesn't know what happenedAs has become typical of the Star-Bulletin, articles and editorials on the Pupukea shooting of Fortunato Barques III reflect the same negative tone toward police officers that we have come to expect from your newspaper.
Based on information provided by investigators, the officer was checking a problem area when: 1) he observed Barques involved in suspicious activity, 2) he attempted to investigate, 3) Barques attempted to flee, committing traffic violations in the process, 4) Barques continued to be uncooperative upon stopping and fled on foot, 5) Barques was observed to have a pistol in a shoulder holster and 6) Barques made a furtive movement toward the pistol.
Once it was determined that Barques had a pistol and refused to cooperate, he assumed the role of a potential assailant. Because criminals are dangerously unpredictable, once the furtive movement was made toward the pistol, the officer's training and will to survive took over. It was Barques' decision to take this incident as far as it went.
It is unfortunate that Barques' family must suffer because he chose to break the law. They, however, were not at the heiau and did not see what happened. The use of their unsubstantiated, emotional comments and opinions to discredit the police officer and investigators is nothing more than cheap sensationalism.
Richard T. Wheeler
SHOPO Oahu Chapter Chairman
Barques' father, lawyer should be ashamedThe Tallest Story Award for 1998 should go to Fortunato Barques III's father and lawyer, who insist "a reasonable man" needs to walk around with a shoulder holster to protect the family from a wild pig.
His attorney claims Barques was not on drugs, yet "a reasonable man" does not walk off and abandon a girlfriend lying on the ground.
A jury may not know what every police officer knows: Anyone who gives an armed drug addict a second chance seldom lives to give anyone else a chance.
It astonishes me that no one blames Barques' father, who failed to teach his son how to make rational decisions, how to hunt wild pigs or why an armed law enforcement officer should be heeded.
Hawaii has always been home to high gas pricesYour May 8 article on gas prices quoted a so-called "petroleum expert," Fereidun Fesharaki saying, "The economics say if you pass on the savings, you deserve to be sent to a mental hospital."
Has this "expert" ever thought that if you take a lesser profit from larger sales, you would ultimately wind up with an even greater profit?
Here on the mainland, when gas prices dropped, they went from an average of about $1.40 a gallon to below a dollar a gallon. Nothing like that happened in Hawaii.
I own a home in Kona and know just what we on the Kona side must pay for gas. It averages about 10 cents higher that in Hilo. I don't understand that either.
Los Angeles, Calif.
(Via the Internet)
State auditor needs to improve her workIn a May 5 article, the legislative auditor erroneously repeated her claim that my department paid for child and adolescent mental health services which were not rendered. We conclusively rebutted this assertion in hearings held early this year.
In our pilot project to provide adolescent mental health services for the Big Island under the Felix Consent Decree, we contracted with Kapiolani Health Hawaii (KHH) to manage and provide the required services. In the first contract period, KHH spent $2.3 million less than what was appropriated, resulting in savings for the state.
We provided this information to the auditor, yet her report still characterized these savings as payment to KHH for services not rendered. What in fact happened was that the savings were carried over and applied to the second year of the contract.
While the auditor continues to rip into departments about their alleged management shortfalls, her office chooses not to take into account the institutional restraints under which departments such as mine operate.
These restraints include a burdensome personnel and collective bargaining system, which is impacting state functions far more than it was intended to. The Felix court monitor stated as much when it wrote, in a recent report to the governor, that the DOH had instituted important changes to the children's mental health program and that "resistance and barriers in the civil service system presented a number of obstacles to rapid and smooth implementation."
In response to what I see as shortfalls in the auditing process, I have the following modest proposals.
For the legislative auditor: Take our exceptions to your reports seriously and do not dismiss them as knee-jerk defensive posturing. Establish a framework of analysis which identifies the limitations under which managers such as yourself operate, and where the "system" impedes such managerial actions. Hold us accountable for what we can manage, not for everything wrong in the system.
For the Legislature: Direct the legislative auditor: 1) to conduct her audits within the framework suggested above and 2) to conduct a study on "system" constraints, including the original purposes of the restraining components of the system, which has evolved since then, and what needs to be done.
Dr. Lawrence Miike
State Department of Health
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