Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crosswalks offer little protection

Your recent articles on pedestrian and crosswalk fatalities made me ponder how our Department of Transportation maintains its head so deeply in the sand. Many of these deaths are directly attributable to faulty thinking regarding the proper application of crosswalks. Here's a reality check for our traffic officials:

These pedestrian crosswalks spanning multiple lanes of busy roads or highways provide a false sense of security that a thin white line painted on the road will protect them. Elsewhere, such pedestrian crossings are accomplished with a tunnel, elevated walkway or traffic light.

The fatal scenario that repeats itself time and again with the first style of pedestrian crossing: A pedestrian stands by the side of the road to cross, and a driver in the right-most lane stops. The pedestrian then starts across. If he's lucky, the car in the next lane and so on sees him and also stops. If they are not all hyper-alert, they don't even realize why the others have stopped and don't slow down.

The blame for this goes to our traffic officials.

Ron Kienitz






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It's not the rain, it's the faulty roof

We love a good metaphor as much as the next person, but let's make sure the metaphor fits before we wear it. Describing our school problem as “;rainy day”;—solvable by use of the “;rainy day fund”;—is off the mark. We don't have a rainy day problem. We have a flooded basement, broken window, leaky roof problem and it is not appropriate to use the RDF under these circumstances.

The Friday furloughs were originally seen as the solution to the growing budget deficit caused by the size of the demand placed on our dwindling supply of funds. Now the furloughs are seen as the problem. A reduction in instructional days for our students is neither the problem nor the solution. It is a symptom of a dysfunctional system and a dysfunctional approach.

Using the RDF (robbing Peter to pay Paul) does nothing to solve the problems of poor decision-making, a bloated budget, misplaced priorities, a poor flow of information and a refusal to involve more people in the discussion. This latest response on the part of officials is another example of the same operating procedure. Like the furloughs themselves, it is short-sighted rather than long-term, reactive rather than proactive, and riddled with unforeseen consequences.

We know it will rain again. Let's fix the roof.

Wendy and Jim Hoglen



Be thankful for your vegetables

Last week, a failed vice-presidential candidate claimed that animals belong right next to the mashed potatoes. This week, our president is pardoning two turkeys. It's food for thought.

Each of us has the presidential power to pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving. It shows our compassion for an innocent animal, as well as our concern for our family's and our planet's health.

The 270 million turkeys abused and slaughtered in the U.S. each year have nothing to give thanks for. They breathe toxic fumes in crowded sheds. Their beaks and toes are severed.

Consumers, too, pay a heavy price. Turkey flesh is laced with cholesterol and saturated fats that elevate the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

This Thanksgiving, I won't be calling the Poultry Hot Line or staying awake wondering how that turkey lived and died. I will be joining millions of other Americans in observing this joyful family holiday with nonviolent healthful products of the earth's bounty: vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Derrick Rodgers



Bigeye tuna story left out key facts

The Associated Press story, “;First bigeye tuna farm approved off Big Island”; (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 25), omitted a couple key points, and merits careful scrutiny by citizens and decision-makers alike.

At a recent state Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting, there was much testimony on the application to approve a conservation district use permit for a proposed project to raise 6,000 tons of ahi in 12 huge submerged cages off the Big Island's Kohala Coast.

The concerns raised were numerous: Hawaiian cultural rights violations; untested technology for untethered, self-navigating 165 feet by 165 feet Oceanspheres; lack of management plans for sharks and marine mammals; poor community outreach during the environmental review process; and inherent unsustainability of importing 100 percent of fish feed and exporting 90 percent of the final product, mainly to sushi markets in Japan and the mainland.

Though many asked BLNR members to deny the proposal, the application passed 4-1. However, a contested case was filed by Kanaka Council, a Big Island group, over cultural and resource impact interests. This important point was missing from the AP story.

Dramatically plunging populations of wild fish in our oceans, due to fishery mismanagement and long-line and factory fishing methods, are deeply troubling. But we should not compromise our ocean ecosystems with an industrial-sized ocean feedlot, and its inherent potential for pollution, pathogens and disease.

We must support efforts to feed ourselves here in Hawaii first, before attempting to cash in on feeding the rest of the world.

Rob Parsons