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Thursday, March 2, 2000


Work breaks must be required by law

If there is any doubt about your newspaper's anti-worker slant, consider your Feb. 21 headline, "Senate rejects bill forcing half-hour worker breaks." The headline should have read, "Senate rejects bill prohibiting forced labor."

SB 2250, the meal break bill, simply proposes to extend a right of workers below the age of 16 (under Hawaii's child labor law) to all workers. The right -- not to be forced to work six, seven or even eight hours straight without a meal or rest break.

Of course the vast majority of employers already allow meal breaks for their workers. It is good, common sense. But some do not.

Since this bill would exempt workers covered under collective bargaining, most of our members are not affected. However, we believe that some protections are basic to workers' health, good faith and human dignity. They must be guaranteed as a right.

The business community has lobbied hard against this measure, citing flexibility reasons. A minimum wage, OSHA and Hawaii's Prepaid Health Care Act all impinge on a business' flexibility, but we as a society must recognize that a company's bottom line is not necessarily the community's bottom line.

In your article, Sen. Avery Chumbley asserted, "If there are individual employees who agree that they are not getting a lunch break after working five hours, they can go to the Department of Labor right now. The department has remedies to solve employee concerns."

I would like to know what these remedies are. In fact, if people were to call the Department of Labor enforcement number (586-8777), they'd get a long recording telling them in no uncertain terms that meal and rest breaks for adult workers are not required by law.

Thaddeus Tomei
Hawaii State AFL-CIO

Legislature is gutless about minimum wage

A recent survey of the cost of living in Hawaii as compared to the mainland shows a 27 percent difference. The people who suffer the most because of this gap are the minimum-wage earners, who scrape by on $5.25 an hour.

Not all are students. Some are adults who, for various reasons, don't have much schooling or skills. Some are recent immigrants. They would need a minimum wage of $6.67 an hour just to have equal purchasing power with minimum wage workers on the mainland.

Yet this Democrat-controlled state seems satisfied with this inequity, and appears to be in no mood to remedy it. Some states that have a lower cost of living than Hawaii, such as Washington and Oregon, have a higher minimum wage.

The small-business owners here who cry foul are aware that the raising of the minimum wage would not be unfair to them, since all businesses, big and small, would have to pay it. They would simply pass it on to customers.

The key difference between states where the legislatures have raised the minimum wage and our state is that those places have political leaders who have the guts to insist on fairness for their lowest paid workers. Our legislators do not.

Joseph O'Brien

Restore original names at Barbers Point

State Rep. Mark Moses would have you believe that the only history worthy of respect on Kalaeloa is military. Wrong! Barbers Point Naval Air Station existed for a mere 57 years on these lands, representing just a short moment in time.

Hawaiians lived there for hundreds of years prior to that, as documented in archaeological reports. We are seeking to restore the original names of the area, also documented, which the Navy changed to suit its needs.

The 14 streets being turned over to the city and/or state should be given Hawaiian names to reflect the history and culture of the land, not because an ordinance or law states that it must. It is simply the right thing to do.

Moses doesn't mention that nine of these street names exist on other Oahu installations, as well as at various locations throughout the United States. How many streets need to carry the same name to satisfy him and his followers?

Valerie M. Kane

Don't rename streets at Barbers Point

Hawaiian street names make great sense for new streets. However, changing existing streets at Barbers Point or elsewhere from their non-Hawaiian names is nonsensical.

What about non-Hawaiian streets such as Nimitz, Thurston, Hausten, School, Middle, Beach Walk and so many others? They are not Hawaiian names, either.

If legislators approve the proposed name changes for Barbers Point, they should change every street in Hawaii so that all comply with the ludicrous name change requirement.

It neither makes good sense nor is it prudent, efficient use of funds or energy.

Jon von Kessel

Legislators seem to have gambling fever

State Rep. Jerry Chang was pushing a bill to allow shipboard gambling in Hawaii -- again. The thought of $60 million in tax revenues must have made him go mad.

I know this money can help fund important government programs -- such as Sen. Rod Tam's naps and snacks -- but are we ready for more unaccountability?

We would all be more open-minded about legalized gambling if Chang and the rest of his legislative colleagues would guarantee taxpayers a major tax cut. Can they? I didn't think so.

Michael K. Griffith

DARE doesn't work; should be terminated

Your Feb. 24 article on the failure of the highly acclaimed, government-funded DARE program hardly qualifies as news. Ever since the first professional evaluation of DARE six years ago, numerous education districts across the nation have discontinued it.

Subsequent studies, as well as Hawaii students, have confirmed that DARE is ineffective in preventing drug use among teens. Like the war on drugs, on whose principles DARE is based, it is a failure.

Why has DARE survived for so long? One obvious answer is government subsidies. Another is the fear of challenging authority.

Having armed, uniformed police officers teaching about drugs in elementary school classrooms is no more appropriate than having them teach about sex education, nutrition or personal hygiene.

Honest and effective drug prevention education is desperately needed if we hope to prevent dangerous, sometimes disastrous experiences with drugs among our youth.

DARE just doesn't cut it. We must consider programs with better track records.

Donald M. Topping
Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

Pay-at-the-pump faces bumpy road

I recently attended a community meeting in Kapolei regarding pay-at-the-pump auto insurance. It's obvious that Sen. Brian Kanno and Hawaii State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Metcalf weren't prepared for the feedback, and didn't want to hear public reaction.

Most of those in attendance were outraged by pay-at-the-pump. Presenters were unable to justify why it could work, and told us they couldn't answer our questions because an actuary was unavailable.

This proposal is a bad idea. Aside from the fact that those who drive the most will bear the financial burden of this proposal, it would add another layer of bureaucracy.

Why don't we just let the insurance companies take care of our auto insurance, and let government focus on the things NOT running nearly as smoothly as our cars?

Leila L. Ioane



"Well, I don't know how
he's going to remove me from
my chair, unless he
sends the police in."

Mililani Trask

Promising civil disobedience at airports and harbors
if the governor goes ahead with plans
to appoint new trustees


"We need to start calling the crime
what it is. It's a homicide, manslaughter...
an epidemic in a lot of states."

Dewey Kim

After the Attorney General's Office won a manslaughter
conviction against Raquel Bermisa, a licensed operator
of a Pearl City care home, for failing to provide proper
medical care for her elderly patient, who later
died from large body sores

Civil disobedience is not the way to go

I am tired of hearing that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Rice vs. Cayetano should lead to "creating a bloodbath" or "civil disobedience," as some trustees have relayed. These calls to violence are not a part of our culture. Are their statements meant to protect our rights for self-determination or their personal rights as trustees?

There are many wonderful minds working on the issue of self-determination for our people. I am honored to be a delegate to the Native Hawaiian Convention, and also know of many hard-working people in other groups.

As a kanaka maoli, I have great faith we can show the world that we are not the alamihi crabs, as so many say, climbing on each other to get to the top. I don't know if you've ever seen crabs holding hands, but I think it is about time!

Lani Bowman
Hawi, Hawaii

Dysfunction runs deep in isle politics

It's not a good idea for Gov. Ben Cayetano to remove all but one trustee from the OHA board. All of the trustees should be left in place.

How ironic for Cayetano to say that they should be removed from office because the board has been "dysfunctional at times." That could be said of many elected politicians.

Heidi Lennstrom

Hawaiians can't have it both ways

I am not Hawaiian and have no desire to participate in the OHA elections. But I wonder what the response of the Hawaiian people would be if they were not allowed to vote in our primary and general elections.

Pat Mahaulu

Suggested definition of accountability

There is a lot of discussion about the topic of accountability in our public schools without anyone saying exactly what accountability is.

For the purpose of moving the discussion forward, may I suggest the following definition: "Accountability in organizations consists of a complex set of reciprocal responsibilities mutually agreed upon between all of the stakeholders involved."

Accountability in the schools requires that each of the stakeholders involved -- such as the administration, teachers, students, parents, legislators, the legal system, business community and others -- agree upon the mutual reciprocal responsibilities they are willing to commit to in order to achieve the desired educational outcomes.

Accountability is more than a system of rewards, assistance and sanctions. It is a two-way street that requires reciprocal responsibility commitments from all involved.

Sheldon S. Varney

Administration persecutes Asians

The members of the Democratic Party should elect delegates to their convention who promise to vote for former Sen. Bill Bradley for president instead of Vice President Albert Gore.

The current Clinton-Gore administration, through its CIA department, is investigating and accusing U.S. citizens of Chinese and Taiwanese ancestry who hold government secret clearance with alleged violations of security rules.

These actions are similar to the actions of President Roosevelt's administration, which unjustly interned many U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry.

For us to have a better government, citizens have the responsibility to elect a president who will see that citizens of all races are treated fairly and with equality.

Wilbert W.W. Wong

Columnist owes McCain an apology

I have written numerous letters saying that syndicated columnist Emil Guillermo is a racist. However, since the Star-Bulletin continues to carry his commentary, I eventually quit complaining and capitulated.

But his Feb. 24 diatribe against Republicans in general and Sen. John McCain in particular hit the trip wire. Guillermo asserts that "McCain just pulls out his POW card and gets out of jail free."

Mr. Guillermo, according to our Constitution (specifically the First Amendment), you are afforded the right to free speech. But it does not guarantee you any credibility about the contents of that speech.

I spent more than 20 years in uniform defending your freedom of speech, and thank God I did not have to carry the "POW card." But even then, I think I have more credibility than you to say not only that you are bigoted, but that you owe an apology to an American patriot.

R.D. Greenamyer

Organ donation can't be mandatory

Thank you for recent Star-Bulletin stories on the critical shortage of organs available for transplantation in Hawaii and the proposed mandatory donation legislation.

While our hope is that everyone in Hawaii will view organ donation as a fundamental human responsibility, we respect the right of individuals to make the best choice on behalf of their loved ones.

However, if organ donation does not increase, one person a month -- our friends, neighbors and colleagues -- will die without desperately needed transplants. Transplantation cannot succeed without the support of Hawaii's people.

Fortunately, support for organ donation flourished last year. Minority donations have also increased. In addition, this upward trend in donation has continued into 2000.

Clearly, the more people who know about the need for organ donation, the more they will choose to donate.

Bill Burson
Hawaii Organ Donation Coalition

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