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POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Get homeless away from parks

A question to the mayor: How many children have to be vulnerable and exposed to the destitute and/or desperate, aka homeless, in one Oahu public park before there is serious disaster? This is one single community park, Mr. Mayor, and you want 20 miles of homeless-attracting rail infrastructure?

There are homeless people and their tents all around the lavatories of Crane Park in Kaimuki. There are hundreds of children who play in this park on the weekdays after school. All the Kapahulu Raiders Pop Warner football teams are in this park. This is totally insane. I think you realize that telling the homeless to go a couple of times isn't going to solve anything.

These are forlorn, de- jected, unsupervised people surrounded by children playing.

Here are your options; any one would work for the time being: 1. Close the park. 2. Get the homeless into shelters. 3. Put a couple of police officers on site when there are scheduled children's activities. 4. Let parents have concealed-gun permits.

Forget the rail. Make taking care of the homeless in Honolulu your swan song.

Jim Cone
Honolulu

Public school system is not top-heavy

In promoting local school boards, Randall Roth (”;Hawaii's schools: A bureaucratic maze,”; Star-Bulletin, Aug. 19) once again fails to answer what proponents of decentralization have been unable to explain for years: Prove how the alternative governance system would improve student achievement.

In 2004, when Roth was Gov. Linda Lingle's senior adviser for education, the Legislature rejected Lingle's local school board plan over the administration's inability to tie the proposal to academic gains, cost concerns and opposition from educational leaders.

Instead, lawmakers approved the Hawaii Reinventing Education Act, which gave schools management flexibility without adding another layer of bureaucracy that local school boards would create. Act 51 set up a Weighted Student Formula that channels more funds to schools based on student need, allowing principals to hire staff and implement programs to address those needs. It also established School Community Councils, where schools and community members collaborate on academic and financial plans.

Roth argues that Hawaii's centralized school system is top-heavy and impedes education excellence, when just the opposite is true. State administration accounts for only 5 percent of the Department of Education's $1.8 billion budget. Test scores on the Hawaii State Assessment have steadily risen since 2002.

Greater school autonomy, combined with data-driven instruction, accountability and adequate funding is what will ensure all students succeed.

Garrett Toguchi
Chairman, state Board of Education

Passing civil unions a win-win for state

Like most other Hawaiians, I am saddened by the devastated tourism numbers in our state.

We could have attracted a lot more tourists if the Legislature had passed civil unions, especially when the Senate did support it. The governor, of course, remained silent on the issue. Her support could have helped pass it. My e-mails to the governor, senators and Hawaii Tourism Authority about this way of increasing visitors went sadly, but predictably, unanswered.

Tourism, of course, is not the main motivation for civil unions. Equal rights is. But why not have a positive monetary impact while you do the right thing?

Not only did Hawaii lose out on tourists who would have come, spent money supporting local hotels, restaurants, florists, caterers, etc., these visitors would have had a much more favorable opinion of our aloha spirit, which now seems to mean aloha for everyone except lesbians and gays. Lesbians and gays read the news and are very well aware that at a time when five states added equal marriage, we could not even add civil unions.

So, HTA , Gov. Linda Lingle and Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, let's do the just thing by passing civil unions and increasing tourism. It's win-win.

Mark Koppel
Hakalau, Big Island

Statehood event looked to the future

Having attended most of the Hawaii Convention Center's statehood events on Friday, I can say the yearlong planning and the final execution were perfect. Well done.

How appropriate to look forward and not back. The two speakers who kept dredging up their version of the past were well overtaken by the informative and useful forward-looking folks.

The closing event emceed by “;Uncle Tom”; Moffatt was the best close-to-the-day I could imagine. The Drifters, Platters and Coasters were tops. The only downer was my discovery that a friend in his 20s next to me did not have any clue as to what a “;platter”; (aka record) was. How far we have come in 50 years.

Paul E. Smith
Honolulu

Norwegian system would work in U.S.

I was born in a country where cradle-to-grave health care was there before I was born 80 years ago. Family and friends in Norway have never as much as hinted that they are not totally satisfied with this. One payer all the way!

Jan Blichfeldt
Honolulu

               

     

 

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