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Friday, October 20, 2000


Criticism of water rights essay was unwarranted

In a Sept. 23 Other Views column, George M. Hudes took me to task for failing to address the public trust basis for our state Supreme Court's recent water rights decision. He is certainly accurate in suggesting that the concept is difficult to explain briefly.

However, it is neither mysterious nor beyond my understanding, having studied and written about the public trust doctrine several times over the past six years. The dissenting opinion of the Hawaii Supreme Court states the law far more accurately than the majority.

The public trust doctrine is a use doctrine, not a preservation or conservation doctrine. Its roots are in Roman law, which make a clear distinction between public and private use.

The whole point of a water code and water commission is to make the proper allocation between or among competing users. The public trust doctrine has virtually nothing to do with preserving public trust resources as a matter of conservation and cultural or environmental protection, laudable as these goals are.

The commission correctly used a water use standard to allocate water between the Leeward and Windward side. That's the way the Legislature designed the process to work.

The court's decision usurps the legislative prerogative, needlessly elevating an expansive formulation of the public trust doctrine over a statutory framework -- the water code -- and process it took the state Legislature years to construct.

Hudes also objects both to the practical result of deciding water resource allocations based on our county and state plans, and suggests that I have a hidden agenda in criticizing the court for failure to address these plans. Wrong on both counts:

Bullet The state water code requires water plan conformance to state and local zoning and planning, not the other way around. I gather that Hudes is not pleased with that statutory mandate and, yes, it appears that the water commission ignored it as well. What any of us think of that consistency requirement is irrelevant to the controversy over the allocation of water. That's the law as our Legislature wrote it. Therefore, either the statutes or the state and county plans need to be changed if the commission chooses to reverse itself and elevate prospective Windward water usage over present Leeward water needs.

Bullet My views on the critical importance of plans, planning and the need for consistency between land use decisions and plans have not altered in the 30 years I've been teaching property and land use courses (23 years in Hawaii). During this period, I represented federal, state and local government interests as often as those in the private sector. To suggest those views are tainted because they may correspond in this instance to a perceived agenda of the land development community is specious, disingenuous and silly.

David Callies


Not everybody is unhappy with estate

I disagree with assessments of the lease-to-fee conversion and Bishop Estate's part in it by letter writers Robin Smith (Oct. 3) and Miriam Rosenthal (Sept. 29).

Back in 1986, my family owned a house in Waialae Nui, which we bought in 1962 for $27,000. Bishop Estate offered to sell our leased property to us for a fee-simple price of $50,000. This was for a 10,000-square-foot lot.

Back then, we felt that was a great deal of money, because marina lots of the same size in Hawaii Kai were going for about $24,000. We decided to accept the offer, even though some of my friends told me we were stupid to buy at that outrageous price.

Well, the Japanese bubble began to expand and we had an incredible windfall of over $500,000. I say, "Thank you, Bishop Estate."

Craig Watanabe

Vote down UH autonomy amendment

Hawaii citizens should vote "no" on the constitutional amendment granting autonomy to the University of Hawaii.

Embedded in the legal terminology of this amendment is wording that grants UH "sovereign immunity" from lawsuits brought against it. The university administration has studiously pursued a strategy of not discussing the details of this amendment.

The concept of sovereign immunity derives from old English law that "the king can do no wrong." In this context, it results in the university having to give permission to students, parents, faculty and others to bring suit against it.

The concept of sovereign immunity is repugnant to basic American belief systems and should not be granted to autonomous university administrators. The "king" can and does do wrong.

Sheldon S. Varney

Democratic Party embraces 'victims'

In his Oct. 10 letter, John Geng wrote, "The United States is the greatest, most powerful nation. Unfortunately, it is host to a multitude of so many victims of every size and shape. And isn't it strange that most of these victims champion the Democratic Party?"

It's not strange at all. When people of color in the South were oppressed, what did the Republican Party do? When Japanese veterans came back from World War II and tried to join their party, what did the Republicans do?

Perhaps "victims" like these found that only the Democrats would listen to their cries for help.

Peter Nelson
Keaau, Hawaii

No 'soldiers' died on the USS Cole

The media coverage of the tragic attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Aden Harbor, Yemen, has been fairly good with one glaring exception that may reflect a larger problem. Both print and television media have referred to the death of "Navy soldiers." Navy soldiers?

The Department of the Navy does have soldiers and they are called Marines -- and Marines do not like being called soldiers. But no Marines died aboard the Cole. Navy personnel are generally referred to as sailors, while Army personnel are soldiers.

I have heard complaints over the years that the media don't understand military matters. This charge may be true.

Brian Durham



"Wouldn't it be fantastic?
If I (win), Tony will get
a new Rolex."

Jim Thorpe
Promising that his caddy, Tony Shepherd,
will get an expensive new watch if Thorpe wins the
$1.1 million EMC Kaanapali Classic
starting today on Maui


"UHPA has played hardball with us
on the payroll lag. Frankly, I wonder
whether these people can see the forest."

Governor Cayetano
Critical of the University of Hawaii faculty union's
opposition to a payroll lag and threatening that, if its leadership
doesn't knock it off, there'll be no contract negotiating

Waimea shouldn't become like a Disneyland

I read your Oct. 11 article, "Many residents favor keeping Waimea pristine and natural," and agree that, if the city buys Waimea Valley, it should be kept natural and cultural instead of being made into an amusement park.

More visitors would enjoy the lush beauty of our island than a theme park. The majority of tourists come to Hawaii because it's what they consider paradise. They expect to see not just scenic beaches, but also the natural beauty of our land.

Oahu, compared to the other islands, has so few of these gorgeous spots. Shouldn't we be working to preserve these places?

Daylyn Kawamata
Pearl City

Hawaii resident deserves queenly treatment

When Angela Baraquio competed in the Miss Hawaii pageant this past summer, I was a second-grader at the time. I was given the honor of asking her a question on television: "If I had a bad day at school, what would you do to cheer me up?"

She responded, "Well, I would ask why you are so sad, then you and I would sit on the couch, and I would try very hard to cheer you up by treating you like a queen."

Now, all of America's people will be treating her like a queen. I am very proud of her.

Kailey Kaneshiro
Grade 3
Sacred Hearts Academy

Baraquio shows confident class on winning crown

What a precious moment. Flashback to Saturday night, with only two finalists remaining for the Miss America title.

What a contrast. One was understandably tense and stressed. The other, unbelievably smiling. Yes, smiling -- not a forced smile but a genuine one flowing from a heart of peace. She was fully enjoying the moment.

With the perseverance of Miss America Carolyn Sapp, another former Miss Hawaii; with the wit and lip of Brooke Lee, who became Miss Hawaii USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe; Miss Hawaii Angela Baraquio waited with grace and composure.

Then came the announcement of the winner, and "The Smile" that would be seen around the world.

Russell Stephen Pang

Sunset Grill's steak was cut above review

I had occasion to eat dinner with my son recently at Sunset Grill. I remember reading in Nadine Kam's Sept. 21 "Weekly Eater" column about the steak there not being what it was advertised to be portion-wise.

Because of that review, I was a little hesitant about ordering it. But my son convinced me to try it and he ordered it, too.

To my surprise and delight, it was an excellent top quality cut of beef and the portion size was much more than I expected. We dine out quite often and the steak I had at Sunset Grill was as good if not better than those served at Hawaii's leading steak houses.

Steven Rosen

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