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Saturday, October 21, 2000

Back and forth on Ala Wai

Health Department has made bad decisions

Thanks for last Saturday's Insight article and your Oct. 17 editorial on the Hawaii State Hospital. The authors admirably highlighted the Department of Health's "abdicating its responsibility" to care for the adults in its charge.

Recently the DOH announced the closing of adult services at its Diamond Head facility, only to be challenged by a solid wall of consumers and advocacy organizations. It was finally overruled by Governor Cayetano.

The programs, thankfully, will remain at least for now. In this and other clashes with the public, the DOH has made unfortunate decisions behind closed doors and has characteristically failed to consult beforehand with the communities it is mandated to serve.

Similarly, the failure of the DOH -- this time along with the Department of Education -- to provide adequate services to special-needs children in the schools led federal judge David Ezra to find the state in contempt of the Felix consent decree. That was the state's promise in 1994 to obey the law and provide services for these children.

If the DOH had been a private corporation, heads would have rolled by now. Must we wait for another governor to give us capable public servants?

Larry Geller

WikiWiki ferry service must be continued

The WikiWiki ferry service between Iroquois Point and Aloha Tower Marketplace is the best thing to ever happen to the Ewa/Ewa Beach area. It gives us a healthy, refreshing alternative transportation to town.

It takes only one ferry ride to know it's the only way to commute. Schedules have been adjusted. The ride is a delight -- the best way to start and end the work day.

This demonstration project will end soon. Now every effort is needed to keep the commuter ferry running. We must not go back to old alternatives. If anyone can help, please do.

Pat Monroe
Ewa Beach


"She mentions she talked to people across the state, cafeteria managers, cooks and teachers -- the only person she didn't talk to was me."

Governor Cayetano
Commenting on Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono's opinion that the Legislature could grant pay raises to members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, a position that differs with Cayetano's

"It's not that they don't have it; it's that they chose not to make it available to us."

David H. Black
Explaining that the main unsolved issue in the purchase is Gannett Co.'s unwillingness to sell him the Star-Bulletin's allocation of newsprint. Gannett publishes the rival Advertiser and prints the Star-Bulletin under a joint operating agreement.

Student loan defaults have been reduced

Your Oct. 5 article, "It's payback time for student loans," did not adequately describe the success that Hawaii educational and financial institutions have achieved in reducing student loan defaults in the state.

Working together, colleges, lenders and USA Funds, the state's designated guarantor of federal student loans, have cut the state's student loan default rate by more than half since 1991.

Hawaii's colleges, universities and proprietary institutions provide valuable counseling to students about their responsibilities for repaying their college loans. Lenders offer flexible repayment options, including the opportunity for former students facing economic difficulty to request a temporary suspension or reduction of their loan payments.

As the state's student loan guarantor, USA Funds works with student loan borrowers who are having difficulty making their payments. It successfully averts default on more than 90 percent of seriously past-due student loan accounts and continues to pursue repayment of student loan obligations from borrowers who default.

Lorraine M. Teniya
USA Funds Hawaii Education Loan Program

Immersion schools don't discriminate

I am greatly offended by recent radio ads being aired by U.S. Senate candidate John Carroll, particularly the one in which he insinuates that a student must be of Hawaiian ancestry to attend Hawaiian immersion schools. This is completely untrue.

He states, "If a Filipino child wants to attend a Hawaiian immersion school and is denied entry because he's Filipino, that's unconstitutional, period." For his information, Hawaiian immersion schools run under the auspices of the state Department of Education and do not refuse students based on race. Neither does the Punana Leo Hawaiian language preschool program, which is run by a private, nonprofit entity using a mixture of private and federal funding.

My own daughter attended the Punana Leo preschools program, and is currently in the fourth grade at the Hawaiian immersion program at Keaukaha School. She is of mostly Filipino and Irish ancestry, and has no Hawaiian blood. There are many like her in the program. In her nearly seven years in these immersion programs, her ancestry has never been an issue.

Carroll should check his facts before making such inflammatory and divisive statements.

Keola Donaghy
Hilo, Hawaii

Legislator or law student? Can't do both

As a voter in the 51st House District, Waimanalo-Keolu-Lanikai, I wonder how candidate Kenny Goodenow can be a full-time, first-year law student at the University of Hawaii for the 2000-2001 school year, and be an effective legislator at the same time if he is elected.

My first year in law school was the most demanding, challenging and time-consuming to that point in my life. I could not have been an effective legislator and, at the same time, done justice to my law studies.

Goodenow may not know yet which he will favor. He can't do both well, as it takes a great deal of time and effort to do either. Perhaps he just plans to show up at the Legislature to vote the way his party tells him.

Gary G. Grimmer

Ewa Beach candidates running as teams

It's good to see that, in Ewa Beach, Sen. Brian Kanno and Rep. Willie Espero are running as one team and their challengers, Dr. Hank Makini and Pam Lee Smith, are another team. The people in our district need to decide who will make the best team.

Joan Gumm
Ewa Beach

Unions are losing grip on government

Government unions all backed the mayor's opponent, yet the mayor won the election. Isn't it amazing? "Real" people with "real" jobs turned out to vote. This was a backlash against the unions.

A reminder to the mayor: The unions are your enemy, while the "real" people are your allies. When the unions come to you with their hands out, cut them off.

Donald Allen

Back and forth on Ala Wai

Parks are already crowded on weekends

I've often driven by the Ala Wai Golf Course and admired the open space and green grass on the edge of the concrete jungle that is Waikiki. I don't golf, so I've never had the opportunity to enjoy that part of town.

That's why I support the proposal by Governor Cayetano to turn the area into a park that everyone can enjoy -- not just golfers.

Ala Moana Park, Kapiolani Park and even Kakaako Waterfront Park are always crowded on the weekends. It's so difficult to find space to picnic with friends or to exercise, much less find somewhere to park.

Yuen Ha Tcheou

Ala Wai is much-needed barrier from neon

I am concerned by the governor's attempt to grab the Ala Wai Golf Course, and want to particularly comment on two items that appeared in your Oct. 2 issue.

Bullet On page one was a Corky's Hawaii cartoon showing fast-food and convenience stores with a tourist saying, "You're kidding? There used to be a golf course here?" Point made.

I am not a golfer but I treasure the Ala Wai because it acts as a barrier to keep Waikiki right where it is. With the Ala Moana Center on one end, Kapiolani Park on the other, and the ocean on the third side, only the Ala Wai keeps a commercial neon giant in its place. Please don't touch the Ala Wai Golf Course, just clean the water in the canal.

Bullet In an article on page A-4, I note that McKinley High School was promised a new track and Olympic-sized swimming pool five years ago. No money? Heck, the governor should take the money he was going to use to steal (improve?) the Ala Wai Golf Course, and use it to build a pool at McKinley. Now that will help the residents of Hawaii, and get us some Olympic swimmers for 2004.

Gerry DeBenedetti

Tourists like to play golf at the Ala Wai, too

The Ala Wai should remain a golf course. It is the most played course in the nation. It serves the golfing needs of the entire urban population on Oahu, as well as many of our visitors. On any given day, there are many tourists golfing there. It provides a large open space without a large volume of traffic, both automobile and human.

The governor should upgrade and improve the Ala Wai instead of turning it into a "meaningful park." What's wrong with turning Kapiolani Park or Ala Moana Park into a "meaningful park"? They are both within close proximity to Waikiki.

Miles Suzuki

Local Central Park would be great addition to Waikiki

Central Park, N.Y., a weekend afternoon: Runners, rollerbladers and bikers "doin' the loop." New York keiki on scooters, tricycles and first "big kid" bikes with training wheels, spending quality time with Mom and Dad "in the backyard."

Sunbathers relish the outdoors reading a book or chatting with pals. Couples holding hands stroll through tenderly cultivated flower gardens, a jazz quartet provides the musical score for the afternoon. Visitors riding in horse-drawn carriages savor the exuberance of life in the big city.

I am a transplanted Hawaiian living in Manhattan, and this is my backyard!

Why not convert the Ala Wai Golf Course into a beautiful city oasis available to everyone? The number of golfers displaced by the change will be far outweighed by the vast number of residents and visitors who would benefit from such a lovely green space.

Granted, Kapiolani Park is in close proximity, but its current state isn't conducive to any of the activities described above. This is "Manhattanization" at its finest.

Erin Pauahi Auerbach
New York

Governor doesn't care about little people

Ben, we read you loud and clear. The will of the people be damned. Just don't forget to scrape all us little guys off your feet before you go to sleep at night, OK? Heil, Cayetano!

W. Song

Park at Ala Wai is great idea, but way too late

Converting the Ala Wai Golf Course to a park everyone can enjoy is a great idea, but why did we wait this long to do it? The Hawaii Convention Center could have been built on a portion of this golf course, which could have then saved taxpayers $170 million and two prime Waikiki properties.

This exorbitant price was paid to developer Sukamto Sia, who paid a little more than $30 million for the very same property a few years earlier.

Colin Kau

Course acts as buffer from Waikiki

If the Ala Wai Golf Course is to be redeveloped as a "significant park," citizens of Moiliili, Manoa and McCully should ask that such redevelopment never be used as an excuse for more bridges across the Ala Wai Canal.

For decades, the golf course has protected these neighborhoods from the cultural pollution of Waikiki. Parks have roads through them, unlike golf courses.

If the land is to be a park, it should carry covenants to protect Moiliili, McCully and Manoa.

Scott Allen

Can Ben Cayetano count to 176,000?

Only the dumbest governor in all 50 states would mess with 176,000 annual rounds of golf. Did he flunk math?

Kurt Gronau

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