Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Education pleas fall on deaf ears

The Department of Education is a runaway train which will wreck our children's future. Why will officials not accept responsibility and put a halt to this tragedy? May I suggest the following:

» Freeze all nonteaching positions. There are 51 positions on the department's Web site.
» With a staff of 23,000 and only 13,000 teachers, streamline the management system. Nonteaching positions have increased, but the total number of students remained the same.
» Audit the DOE. It has been 30 years since the last audit.
» Make the superintendent a Cabinet position and consider a replacement if necessary.
» Establish the minimum number of school days.

This will probably not happen because of a lack of courage in the Legislature. Proposing an audit and reducing staff will draw the furor of the unions, which have a stranglehold on our state. Since our elected officials cater to the unions, they will probably do nothing except point fingers and pass along blame.

Richard M. Smylie

Hawaii Kai

Natatorium panel included 7 veterans

Fred Ballard was a member of the Natatorium Task Force (”;Do we really want to destroy memorial?”; Star-Bulletin, Letters, Dec. 4). At its several meetings, it had been discussed at length that the condition of the natatorium was beyond repair and that the pool deck and sea wall would have to be demolished prior to any reconstruction at a price tag exceeding $43 million. It was also well discussed that the continuing operation and maintenance of a saltwater pool would burden future generations, if it could ever meet state Department of Health regulations.

A compromise to reconstruct the arches was discussed and agreed to by the majority of task force members. It must be noted that seven of the 17 task force members were veterans.

Collins Lam

Deputy director, city Department of Design and Construction

HSTA should help put kids back in class

The Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state Department of Education should never have crafted a contract that cut 10 percent of instruction time in our public schools, and Gov. Linda Lingle should never have accepted such a contract. But Lingle did, she admitted she made a mistake, and has now offered $50 million to help end Furlough Fridays. She has asked HSTA to compromise by converting 15 planning days to instruction days to fully restore instruction starting from Jan. 1. HSTA, however, does not seem to be willing to compromise, stating that schools cannot operate with a skeletal staff and touting the importance of planning days in a new ad campaign. Planning and professional development days are important, but in this economy, the choice seems to be keep schools closed on Fridays or convert planning days to instruction days. I think most people will agree that instruction takes precedence. Why aren't HSTA and the DOE leaders willing to ask the teachers if they want to convert planning days to instruction days next year? I believe that most teachers are willing to do the right thing for our kids and get them back in the classrooms as soon as possible. As for operating with a skeletal staff: I think schools can operate one day of the week without a principal, vice principal, office staff and janitors. What HSTA should be doing is negotiating a contract that will bring back planning days with a pay raise for teachers as soon as the economy gets better, maybe 2011-12.

Richard Wainscoat


Rail good for growth and employment

The city is poised to start groundbreaking on a project that will help shape our island for years to come. The rail project will help direct growth and allow residents an alternative to traveling by car. It also will connect Kapolei to downtown Honolulu, which will be our two major employment centers. More important, rail will create thousands of new jobs. With our state's unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, the highest it's been in three decades, people need these jobs to survive.

It is important that our governor accept the rail environmental impact statement to allow this project to move forward. Time is of the essence and I hope Gov. Linda Lingle is listening.

Tim Braunschweig


State retiree is facing 'medical plan chaos'

Auwe! Hawaii Medical Service Association, my state retiree medical plan, has informed me that in the new year, I need to meet a Hawaii Government Employees Association deductible before receiving any HMSA medical plan help. I need to primarily rely on Medicare, my primary medical plan as a senior citizen retiree, and Medicare has a deductible, too.

My wife works part-time with no medical plan. So, from a medical plan coverage status, we are facing 2010 teetering on the brink of medical plan chaos.

I cry for help and feel as helpless as a homeless person for 2010 as I am being covered by HMSA for medical costs only after its imposed “;deductible”; restriction.

Frankie Kam






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