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Monday, December 25, 2000


Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay UH fine

Too bad the University of Hawaii owes $1.7 million in fines after mishandling hazardous waste (Star-Bulletin, Dec. 19). And to think, it had been complaining that the state doesn't give it enough money and that faculty salaries aren't high enough.

Well, guess what, fellow taxpayers? Who is going to pay this fine? Not UH! It's you and me. After all, UH is a state university.

Since this problem was created by UH, the penalty should be paid by those who permitted the offense to happen. Therefore, I suggest that their salaries be reduced until the fine is paid.

Mark Trexler

Transit study trip to Brazil was invaluable

In his Dec. 18 letter to the editor, Chris Decker criticizes the recent trip to Curitiba, Brazil, taken by several city and state representatives to attend a Federal Transit Administration-sponsored Bus Rapid Transit Conference.

While 18 of us from Hawaii (50 from across the United States) attended the conference and fact-finding trip, as the only one singled out by Decker, I must correct his mistaken assumptions.

The City Council members who attended -- myself included --paid for the trip out of our own pockets. And while Decker believes it would have made more sense to fly a transportation expert from Brazil to Hawaii to deliver a presentation on that city's bus system, this in no way would have compared to the invaluable experience of witnessing the system in action.

We also got to speak with those personally responsible for one of the world's most revered transit systems.

To make monumental decisions about our transportation future without completely evaluating all issues first-hand would be as irresponsible as accusing someone of wrongdoing without knowing the facts.

Duke Bainum
Chairman Committee on Transportation
Honolulu City Council



"My life is one dream coming true after another."
Venus Williams
On signing a $40-million endorsement deal with Reebok

"What you have is very open competition and that's what it's supposed to be about. It's much better than the hypocrisy of shutting down the Star-Bulletin so Gannett can make more money."
Richard McCord
Commenting on the plans of both Honolulu dailies to produce morning, afternoon and Sunday editions

It's better to build schools than prisons

In terms of drug policy, Gov. Ben Cayetano is one of a handful of enlightened politicians willing to speak out against the misguided drug war.

The Land of the Free recently earned the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world, in large part due to the draconian sentences handed down to non-violent drug offenders. Hawaii is fortunate that Cayetano recognizes that building schools is a better investment than building prisons.

Putting Americans with drug problems behind bars with hardened criminals is a dangerous proposition. Roughly one-fourth of those initially imprisoned for non-violent crimes are sentenced for a second time for committing a violent offense. This pattern highlights the possibility that prison serves to transmit violent habits and values rather than to reduce them.

Criminalizing illicit substance abuse is a mistake with severe repercussions. Imagine if every alcoholic were denied treatment due to lack of funding. Now take that one step further. Imagine if every alcoholic were thrown in jail and given a permanent criminal record.

How many lives would be destroyed? How many families torn apart and career aspirations shattered? How many tax dollars would be wasted turning potentially productive members of society into violent criminals?

It's time to rethink the failed drug war and start treating all substance abuse -- legal or not-- as the public health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe
Program Officer
The Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation
Washington, D.C.

Cemeteries aren't so bad to have next door

I have been reading with interest all of the letters to the editor opposing a cemetery in Hawaii Kai. It appears to me the real issue is "not in my backyard."

A cemetery is a dignified and peaceful use of our beautiful island. Just look at Punchbowl, right in the middle of our city, set aside to honor our veterans.

It seems to me that a few people in Hawaii Kai who oppose the cemetery just don't want to bury their relatives in their own district -- they want to bury them in yours and mine.

Some have also claimed their property values are going to go down but they are wrong. The cemetery will beautify their environment.

Give me a break. Does anyone think property values went down in Kahala because of Diamond Head Cemetery? Now, if they were going to build a prison or a waste disposal plant in their community, then I might be sympathetic to their concerns.

Lorin Tanouye

Other side of fluoridate debate must be told

Tina Dean, president of the Hawaii Dental Hygienists' Association, says that the HDHA supports fluoridating Hawaii's water and that it will benefit our children (Letters, Dec. 11). Dean is simply parroting what fluoridation promoters say.

During some 55 years, these promoters still have not provided creditable evidence to support their claims concerning safety and effectiveness of fluoridated water. The overwhelming weight of professional research does not support fluoridation when professional research revealing its negative aspects is included.

Dean characterizes the efforts of opponents to fluoridation such as myself as efforts to polarize the debate. In reality, we are trying to educate the public, our legislators and others of the ineffectiveness and hazards of fluoridation.

In other words, we're telling the other side of the story. Stand up for the health of all of Hawaii's citizens by opposing fluoridation.

Robert G. Briggs

Dangers of gambling have been documented

We don't have to imagine what lotteries would do to Hawaii. They raise less than 3 percent of state revenue, according to the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) report authorized by Congress. Studies of spending in education and senior citizens programs suggest no increase due to lotteries, as reported by the NGISC study.

Lottery revenue is a form of regressive tax. NGISC reported that lottery expenditures "represent a much higher burden on the household budget for those with low incomes than for those with high incomes." The report found that players with annual incomes below $10,000 spend more in lotteries than any other income group, an estimated $500 per capita.

We would be deceiving ourselves by believing that a state-sponsored lottery would solve our fiscal problems. What we really need is to address our fundamental problems of government priorities, reform and efficiency. Keep legalized gambling out of Hawaii.

P.M. Tchou

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