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Wednesday, May 17, 2000


Groups are intolerant of right to free speech

With respect to the efforts of the African-American Association of Hawaii and the Japanese American Citizens League to remove Riley Wallace as head coach of the University of Hawaii men's basketball team: The day that a special interest group can influence whether a private citizen loses a job over a stated opinion is the day the United States becomes a dictatorship.

Wallace was simply stating an opinion on the NCAA's involvement in the Confederate flag situation in South Carolina -- no more, no less. To call for his resignation or firing merely demonstrates how intolerable special interest groups have become to anyone who disagrees with them.

My support is with the coach. I pray that UH backs him to the hilt.

James Roller

At least Harris doesn't raise taxes

In response to Leighton Ito's May 9 letter, the construction problems he mentions extend to Waikiki as well. We have near constant gridlock, thanks not only to the roadwork but also to the extension of Kuhio Beach, installation of new street lights, tree trimming, sidewalk work, etc. Waikiki literally looks like Beirut.

But Ito may want to reconsider his decision not to vote for Mayor Harris because of this. Harris may complain about reduced tax revenues, but if he can find the resources for all of this work -- and buy radio ads touting his managerial genius -- then certainly we will never have to worry about another tax increase by the city.

In fact, maybe we should get a refund for past years when the mayor had more money yet did less.

Robert R. Kessler



"I had to do what I had to do to make a point."

Byran Uyesugi
What he reportedly told a police negotiator as HPD officers attempted to get him to surrender on Nov. 2, 1999, near the Hawaii Nature Center

"I don't know what these guys were thinking...I am disappointed in the bill, which was not well thought out, and part of that reason is because Gary Rodrigues became part of the conference committee."

Governor Cayetano

Legislators are only listening to unions

Marcus Oshiro's View Point column last Friday, "Civil service reform can't be rushed," reflects where the majority of our elected officials stand and underscores the way the system has operated for years.

Oshiro was concerned that legislators not "thoughtlessly pander to the immediate demands of a loud, clamorous faction of the citizenry." Unfortunately, this faction is the majority of Hawaii residents, who are not members of public employee unions.

Doug Thomas

Unions hold their members accountable

Toshio Chinen made a remarkable statement in his May 11 letter when he sarcastically thanked the unions for Hawaii's "higher paid executives" on their excessive retirement and fringe benefits.

One good thing about unions is that job descriptions and disciplinary actions are virtually cast in stone through collective bargaining agreements. You mess up, you're out, and there's nothing you can do about it because you agreed to the ratified contract.

Maybe we should unionize our entire executive branch of government and see if it can meet and complete standards it agreed to when its members took the oath of office, instead of just hearing rhetoric and empty promises.

Craig Watanabe

Mandatory seat-belt laws save lives

I have been an emergency physician on the Big Island for 28 years and a longtime proponent of seat-belt use. Seat belts definitely save lives and prevent serious injuries. They save society money and are one of the best examples of how a good law can change behavior. I would include, of course, keiki car seats in this discussion.

I was in the Hilo emergency room at 12:30 a.m. on the day our mandatory seat-belt law took effect. Two young men were brought in after a high-speed vehicle crash. Both used seat belts; both had minor injuries, walked out and went home after treatment.

Both of these men said they had never used seat belts until that night, but did so because "it's the law." Since then, I've interviewed hundreds of survivors of major crashes who were saved by seat belts; the vast majority said they had used their seat belts because not to do so was illegal.

Fred C. Holschuh, M.D.
Honokaa, Hawaii

Is aloha spirit dead at Ewa school?

Some 35 years ago, fresh out of college, I wondered where my first teaching assignment would be. You can imagine my excitement when I was assigned to Ewa Beach Elementary School. I spent two years there and have a lifetime of cherished memories.

Recently I visited Hawaii with my husband. I promised to show him where I taught and the special places I remembered -- Hau Bush, Tanaka Store, Ewa Catholic Church and the canefields.

The drive from Waikiki to Ewa Beach showed a lot had changed, mainly the new four-lane highway that leads into Ewa Beach, and the many new housing developments.

At Ewa Beach Elementary, we went to the administration building and explained to the person behind the counter who I was and why I was there. I asked to spend a few minutes on campus and perhaps take a picture or two of my old classroom.

The clerk's response stunned me: "No, you may not visit because the principal is not here, and her permission is needed." Our ride back to Waikiki was a somber one.

The day before we were to return to the mainland, we drove back to Ewa Beach. I thumbed through the phone book for the names of any of the teachers I had once worked with. How elated I was when I spotted a familiar one.

I called her and she remembered me. She invited us to her home, just five minutes away. What a splendid reunion! We reminisced and she promised to call other teachers for a get-together the next time I was in town.

I feel better because of the time with my friend. But I hope no one has to experience the disappointment I felt when I tried to visit my old school. Is the aloha spirit dead in Ewa Beach? I know it was alive when I left 35 years ago.

J. Oakshot
Fresno, Calif.

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