Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arts activities cuts understood

Concerning your report on the impact of potential layoffs at the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture & the Arts (”;Arts foundation layoffs imperil federal funding,”; Star-Bulletin, Sept. 21): We've just received word that layoffs are rescinded for two of the 10 endangered positions.

Welcome news, of course. But the commissioners, with many others in the arts community, are concerned that state funding for arts grants will disappear and with it federal and private matching funds that put millions of dollars into local arts organizations, programs and education. And we still will need experienced, qualified staff to run any grant programs so taxpayers get their money's worth.

From long discussions with the Governor's Office, we know this situation is understood at the highest levels and whatever is done will be with an understanding of the impact.

The commissioners' goal is to protect a core of vital activities—education, outreach, support for the arts and artists—so when the downturn is over, as it certainly will be, we have a foundation to build upon, and not have to start over.

Peter Rosegg

Oahu commissioner, Hawaii State Foundation on Culture & the Arts (on behalf of the other commissioners)

Let's hope rail aids city center

I hope that our rail system can do for downtown Honolulu what Phoenix's rail has done for its city center.

Over the past few years, our downtown has started to tap its potential as a cultural and nightlife hub. Events like First Friday and the Hoolaulea show that downtown can be a vibrant, fun destination for families and young people. But downtown Honolulu is stifled by the lack of cheap parking and small, congested streets that are overrun by cars. Unless you work downtown and pay for a monthly parking stall, there is no easy access there.

That should change with our rail system, because it has stops at Aloha Tower and in Chinatown. Like Phoenix, people will be able to hop on a train and travel quickly and cheaply to downtown, where they can have fun and spend money at local restaurants and shops. Phoenix has shown us that rail is the way to truly bring a downtown area to life.

Kimberly Kalilimoku


Dawson should be DBEDT chief

There is an easy, practical solution our good governor could consider to help offset the economic problems at Hawaii's Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism described in the story “;Liu blasted over layoffs”; (Star-Bulletin, Sept. 22): Replace Liu with the head of the state film office, Donne Dawson, whom Liu is apparently intending to dismiss.

Dawson's film office has generated income and a good image for Hawaii around the world. Liu's Aloha Tower Development Corp. just killed a $300 million project that could've turned the Aloha Tower fiasco around. And the court has just affirmed a damage claim that will cost the state over $3 million due to ATDC's dealing with the developer whom the state had invited to come to do the project. Auwe!

John Michael White


Unions focused on the status quo

The many recent retrospectives of Hawaii depicting the time of statehood seem to have overlooked one significant factor — the complete reorientation of Hawaii's unions since then.

Fifty years ago Hawaii's unions fought to improve social conditions affecting ordinary workers and common people. Unions took on the power structure that was controlled by a few dominant families. Unions presented a vision of a society in which all people were free and equal.

For example, unions took action to advance public education. They understood that education provided a way for children to achieve their highest potential, as long as they were willing to work hard. In this way, good education could trump low social or economic status.

Through the years unions lost that lofty vision. Today they limit themselves to narrow concerns about salaries, benefits and working conditions for their members. They are unwilling to fight for social issues.

Hawaii's public schools have been doling out substandard education to for decades. High-quality public education would benefit not only the many union members with children, but all of Hawaii's people — yet Hawaii's public unions seek to maintain the status quo.

John Kawamoto


Have furloughs on paid holidays

Has anyone explored the possibility of having the required furloughs for the Hawaii State Teachers Association contract fall on days when the schools are closed already? I am not sure exactly how many holidays the teachers are paid for, but add to them election day and that would solve most of the days they are looking to recoup without closing the schools, shortening the school year and requiring parents to find child care. The remaining number of furlough days could then be taken as planned.

Having furlough days on paid holidays would work for other state employee contracts, and would minimize the effect on the public.

Candice Ching


1 percent surtax is only solution

Forget the fact that the state is in debt. Forget the fact that teachers and their families are going to suffer from the cuts in their checks.

Let's just stop and think for a moment what the duty of the state is.

That duty is to protect the citizens and the state so that all may move safely into the future in at least as good a position as we found it. That means protecting above all the welfare and potential of our children.

How can that be achieved if we eliminate 18 percent of their education? The U.S. already lags embarrassingly behind most “;western”; countries in test scores. So, Hawaii's answer is what? Well, let's just eliminate roughly one-fifth of the school calendar.

This is ridiculous! I don't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. We the people are failing in our primary responsibility: To care for our children and to assure that they prosper.

The economy will recover and the tourists will come back. We all know that. Let's stop this nonsense. Scream, yell, march, whatever is necessary — we the people have this obligation to our children and their future.

Everyone in this state should wake up and see that the only solution, if we are going to fulfill our obligation to our children and their future, is to add a 1 percent surtax to the general tax with a two-year limit and then send our teachers back to do their job. Then we can send our children back to school to do their job: Learn, study and play.

Robert “;Scott”; Wall

Executive assistant, United Self Help, Waikiki




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