Letters to the Editor
POSTED: Sunday, March 08, 2009
Stop howling and get to work on budget
Look out, the sky is falling! Or maybe not, Councilman Djou ("$176 million city deficit warned," Star-Bulletin, March 4). Perhaps the mayor is just proposing some reasonable ways to close the budget gap without severely curtailing the services we all depend upon. I sure hope we don't have another big useless political fight over what should be a fair and straightforward approach to solving the city budget problem.
I hope any City Council member who objects to parts of the budget has a better proposal and doesn't just back-seat drive! Our economy is troubled, and we need strong and focused leaders, not a bunch of Chicken Littles—although I hear Hawaii Kai does have a feral chicken problem.
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HB444 is about social standing, not rights
Recent comments of legislators say HB444, the civil unions bill, is not marriage, but the expansion of rights and benefits for gay couples. Opponents are said to discriminate against the homosexual community by denying them rights and benefits.
The same-sex community is afforded rights and benefits along with other persons (siblings, etc.) under the Reciprocal Benefits Act (RBA). If more benefits are needed, expand the RBA and extend those benefits to all. HB444, which gives additional rights to a specific class, will then discriminate by denying those rights to others currently covered under RBA.
Many say this is not the same as marriage, but they use national level arguments to make their case. This is a state Legislature on a state issue and on a state level; HB444 is exactly equal to same-sex marriage except for the title words used.
Bottom line, support for this bill is about a demand for social standing. It is not about benefits as stated and that is the "distortion" in the public. State endorsed immorality over the will of the people is a wrong decision. If this community has 70 percent support in Hawaii, as the ACLU has states, then put forth a clear up or down amendment for public vote. Legislators, do not pull HB444 to the floor in opposition to the committee.
Let full Senate vote on civil unions
I strongly urge the Senate to pull HB444 from the Judiciary Committee for a vote on the Senate floor as permitted by the Hawaii state Constitution. The Democratic Party of Hawaii should allow Sens. Robert Bunda and Mike Gabbard to play Rush Limbaugh and lead the party by default due to a tied committee vote while ignoring the party platform. The Democratic Party has long had a platform of inclusion for all minorities, and this includes gay and lesbian persons. President Obama favors civil unions and the vast majority of us voted for him!
Since HB444 passed the House by a large margin and it is projected to pass the Senate if it is brought to the Senate floor, I believe it is time to give gays and lesbians the protections contained in civil unions. Religious people can still be married in the church of their choice and, for those churches that disapprove of civil unions, this bill does not require them to perform civil ceremonies. Therefore marriage is in no way threatened.
Furthermore, we should practice a total separation of church and state and the bulk of the arguments for rejecting HB444 have been purely religious and/or emotional in nature. Using a well-worn phrase, HB444 is a win-win bill.
Let us show the world by actions and not just by words that we truly are the Aloha State and that we believe in tolerance, acceptance, diversity and equality.
Dwane L. Rogers
Greedy state might right the wrong of rail
The old aphorism "two wrongs don't make a right" faces a serious challenge here in the Aloha State. The first wrong was the Hannemann regime jamming through its fiscally irresponsible train system necessitating an increase in the state excise tax for Oahu residents. Because the city isn't capable of collecting this surcharge, it pays the state to collect it.
But now the state is in financial trouble and rather than re-negotiate plush union contracts or cut employees, the state Legislature wants to steal this money from the city to help sustain the state's fiscal irresponsibility. Hence, two wrongs may make a right; namely Mufi's foolish plan for a fiscal black hole of a train system is nixed by a state that can't be trusted not to steal the money it collects for that purpose.
As Margaret Thatcher was fond of saying: "Socialism works until one runs out of other people's money to spend.
Michael P Rethman
Hysteria about 'fleeing' doctors is unfounded
Claims that lawmakers are snubbing those who favor changes in medical malpractice laws are without merit.
Douglas Suhm's March 4 letter says lawmakers walked out on a Texas doctor the Hawaii Medical Association flew in to testify at a recent hearing. That's a smokescreen, as lawmakers move in and out of hearing rooms constantly and listen to testimony piped to their offices. They also review written testimony.
Representing only 20 percent of Hawaii's doctors, HMA wants the public to think doctors are "fleeing" the islands when in fact there's been a nearly 30 percent jump in the number of physicians in Hawaii over the past eight years.
The HMA campaign also ignores statistics showing a significant drop in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Hawaii. There is no litigation explosion.
Further, states like Texas that have placed caps on awards haven't solved their problem of attracting specialists to rural areas.
The medical community should get behind real solutions to attract specialists to our rural areas rather than push for legislation that will strip patients of their rights and force all taxpayers to pick up the tab for serious mistakes by doctors.
Hawaii Association for Justice