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Tuesday, February 23, 1999


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Feary signaled his despair, but court wasn't watching

Is Hawaii's court system suffering from a perilous near-sightedness?

I followed Mackey Feary's plight via the Star-Bulletin's on-line edition from California. I read in disbelief in your Jan. 22 edition that Hawaii's justice system sealed Feary's fate with a ridiculous and capricious 10-year sentence. For three decades, Feary used his God-given talents to heal others. To deny him that ability for a decade was a mockery of life itself.

The news of this sentence prompted my wife to utter, "Oh God, I don't think he'll make it." How was a lay person able to foretell the danger based on the information provided by the Star-Bulletin? More importantly, how was a criminal justice system not able to foresee this danger with volumes of information provided by experts?

When someone is in the throes of self-destruction, the system's mission should be protection and not persecution, rehabilitation and not retribution. Clearly, there were warning signs that we read from 2,000 miles away. It's beyond sad that the court couldn't read those signs from 20 feet away.

Phil Abbott
Valencia, Calif.
(Via the Internet)

Prison isn't the answer for those addicted to drugs

Mackey Feary may have been caught up in the idea that fame and drugs rendered him omnipotent. When he got into trouble, he found that he was not.

The stress of his trial and the publicity it generated may have exacerbated his illness, leading to more drug use. He got into trouble again. Realizing that outpatient treatment did not work for him, he asked to be placed in residential treatment, a cry for help.

But because our judicial system still refuses to recognize that drug addiction is a disease to be treated, rather than a crime to be punished, he was sent to prison.

Yes, the drugs involved are illegal, but illnesses associated with them are treatable and those who fall into addiction are salvageable!

I do not blame the system for his suicide; it was his own misguided choice. I merely suggest that in the future, we look for alternatives to imprisonment for drug addicts. Locking them up with the very demons that drove them to drugs will not decrease drug abuse.

Yes, there is one less Mackey Feary on the planet, but there are millions like him, asking for help. It is time we stopped denying them that help.

Lisa Wiley
(Via the Internet)

Aloha spirit is lacking in young tourist workers

I lived in Hawaii for 15 years. Four of these were in the military. After retiring, I spent 11 years working in Hawaii. I watched as the unions, with the acceptance of corporations, raised the wages of agriculture workers to the point where it was no longer profitable to grow sugar and pineapple in Hawaii. These jobs were lost to Central America and Southeast Asia.

The military was either cut back due to the easing of the Cold War or moved to the Far East. This left tourism as the main way to generate external money.

Hawaii has tried to maintain its unique charm. Yet in recent years, I have helped take tour groups to visit your state but have come away disillusioned. The aloha spirit is lacking in the young greeters and workers who have daily contact with tourists.

They must be made to realize that their future depends on their actions as ambassadors of Hawaii. I hope that those who are involved in serving visitors can change back to the way their mothers and fathers looked at their jobs and as keepers of the culture.

Al Stathopulo
Dallas, Texas



bullet "It's not the individual help we need. We need the ability to plow money back into our businesses."
-- Beverly Harbin of the Small Business Economic Revival, a coalition of business-advocacy groups.

bullet "If we don't preserve this land that affects our shoreline, we essentially will kill the bay."
-- Eldon Franklin, retired chief of city environmental quality, on pollution runoff along Oahu's southern shore.

bullet "I would hope that Milosevic will wake up and smell the coffee."
-- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on whether Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will agree to a settlement with ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

bullet "They're destroying everything, those beasts -- wheat fields, fences, everything. It's a plague of pigs."
-- Jeannot Romana, a farmer in Provence, France, on wild boars.

Friends have always sought full restoration

Rick Bernstein's campaign of misinformation about the restoration of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium (Letters, Feb. 17) grows less factual with each letter. Now he alleges that "it was necessary to make the project appear to be a historical restoration to war veterans."

In reality, the Friends of the Natatorium have pursued full restoration of this war memorial for more than 13 years. As one who became involved, initially as a state senator and now as a board member of the Friends, let me set the record straight:

bullet The 1921 Legislature directed that a memorial be built with a swimming course to honor Hawaii's World War I veterans

bullet The entire structure -- wall, arch, pool, bleachers, etc. -- is on the state and federal Registers of Historic Sites. Because of its pool, the memorial is recognized as the first living war memorial in the U.S.

bullet In 1987, the Legislature appropriated $1.2 million for the plans and design for full restoration.

The engineering of the restored pool, scientific tests, proposed operating rules and monitoring program will make it at least as clean and probably cleaner than the adjoining beach where Bernstein frolics. The city has made it very clear that Rick's "sunset shows" are out of the question.

The true hidden agenda in this issue is Bernstein's self-serving obsession to stop the project and not share the area with those who would once again come to honor Hawaii's veterans and to enjoy this one-of-a-kind salt-water pool.

Mary-Jane McMurdo

'Portagee' spelling is considered demeaning

The spelling of "Portuguese" as "Portagee" in John Berger's Feb. 5 article, "Kapena keeps it coming," was insulting. Webster's Dictionary lists only the "por-chah-geez" pronunciation; your spelling, to many Portuguese like me, has a demeaning connotation.

Timothy M. Toner

'Total ban' doesn't mean no one can enjoy fireworks

Thank you for initiating an online fireworks poll! It's great that people had a place to voice their opinions. It is important, however, to clarify what a "total ban" means.

People Against Fireworks is working for a total ban of fireworks, with the important exceptions of allowing fireworks for public displays, by pyrotechnic professionals, or restricted by permit for religious, cultural or commercial events. So "total ban" doesn't mean never by anyone; it means controlled and by professionals.

A person who likes fireworks should not have the right to cause a smoky health hazard, noise distress, or physical and property endangerment by forcing their fireworks on folks who don't wish to participate.

This is a tough issue! Let's put our heads together to come up with an answer that will protect all of our rights.

Herlinda Lopez-Girrbach
(Via the Internet)

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