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Thursday, May 3, 2001

Nuclear industry is out of power

It will never happen. Any ghoul-like re-emergence of the nuclear energy industry from its deep, dirty grave depends upon a complacency among citizens that no longer exists. Too bad for the nuke merchants, but there will never be licensed another of these inefficient, dangerous and outrageously expensive generation plants within the United States.

The biggest problem for avid nuke boosters like Vice President 'Cheneyobyl' is very simple -- the citizens in major population centers will not allow a nuclear reactor to be built anywhere near them.

As a veteran of the battle to stop nuclear power in California in the 1970s, I predict that the resistance to an attempted revival of this discredited technology will be swift, clear and definitive; it will make the protests in Seattle and Quebec look like school picnics as citizens mobilize to block new plants from proceeding.

On the positive side, the answers to our long ignored "energy crisis" have been obvious since the emergence of the greens at least 31 years ago: 1) conservation 2) alternative energy 3) lifestyle changes.

No nukes!

Jack Hobbs

Libraries are the best 'reading program'

I'm no fan of George W. Bush, but I disagree with your April 26 editorial criticizing his RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) budget cuts. You say he is undermining his own literacy pledge. The president claims his budget will cut only ineffective reading programs. Who is right?

Giving poor kids free books may be a factor in winning the war for a literate society, but what does the research say? RIF has been in operation 35 years. Has it been able to prove that getting a book as a gift will ensure that the child will read it, and that this reading will automatically provide the headstart needed at school?

Is getting a free book more effective than hearing the book read aloud? Is a gift book more apt to be read than one borrowed from a library?

I do not mean this letter as an attack on RIF. This is a plea for more commitment to reading promotion. Unfortunately, lack of real support is noticeable at both the federal and the local level.

I have put my faith in public and school libraries as a place to learn reading enjoyment. As a working program these libraries rank second and third, right after a home environment where everybody reads!

Here is the kind of "help" library service to children gets in Hawaii: Our governor wants to weaken civil service with "take-aways," an7d all public library staff that serve children/youth are in the civil service sector.

Sylvia C. Mitchell


"They should not tempt me."
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
Philippine president, hinting that she will declare marital law if street protests in support of former President Joseph Estrada resume. Thousands have marched and several people have died in clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting Estrada's ouster and jailing on corruption charges.

"People have to work for a living. And people can't work for a living if there's no work to be done."
Rep. Mark Moses,
Republican from Kapolei, objecting to the passage of a bill increasing the minimum wage that he says will keep businesses from expanding and creating new jobs.

After the strike, it's time to heal

I have admiration for the teachers who walked the picket line as well as for those who crossed it. Both groups had their reasons and both stood by their principles and did what they felt was best for themselves and their families.

For some pickets to become vindictive towards those who crossed the line, seems to me, contrary to what they are supposed to be about.

Teaching extends outside the classroom. What kind of message are they sending to their students if they show it is OK to be vengeful toward someone who has a different opinion? Are they saying it's OK to treat someone unkindly just because they don't agree with your point of view?

If teachers who were ostracized decide to leave teaching, doesn't that also work against one of the stated reasons for the strike, which was to recruit and retain qualified teachers? All the money in the state won't keep teachers who are mistreated by their peers.

I earnestly hope the majority will reason with the hot-headed and vocal minority and let them know that this kind of behavior detracts from the respect and admiration teachers deserve. We need all the good and qualified teachers we can get. They shouldn't be punished just because they put their family first.

Jim Fromm

Felix benefits bureaucracy, too

Felix Consent Decree special master Jeff Portnoy, in your April 23 story says, "The strike has critically wounded the Felix kids."

So let's see. The federal court, mainland consultants, attorneys and bureaucrats get seven years and a cool $1 billion to fix special education. Teachers strike for 20 days. Felix is a mess. So how can we deny culpability? OK boys, here's the game plan. On Monday, we lambaste the Legislature. On Tuesday, we target teachers...

Teachers worked for years under extraordinary conditions, hoping for the court to fix special education. Blaming teachers now is a slap in the face. The court's interjection limited efforts to improve teachers' standing. Since the capacity to recruit and retain quality teachers is crucial to improving special education, this is a shame.

It's reality check time. Felix never focused on positive outcomes. Instead, mainland consultants used it to broker programs. Health and education bureaucrats used it to cash blank checks at the Legislature.

Just as another example, after the teachers strike for 20 days, our education superintendent needs six more months and $31 million more to reach compliance with Felix. Translated that means, if the teachers get $111 million, my department gets a 30 percent slice of the pie.

Steve Bowen
Parent of special needs child

Smoking ban would be good for business

I attended the 2001 Hawaii Tobacco Control Conference April 17 in Honolulu. As a 30-year emergency physician, I am all too familiar with the agonizing health effects of tobacco use.

I wanted to highlight one area addressed at this meeting: the experience of states and communities with smoke-free restaurant ordinances. There were prior claims made that ordinances requiring smoke-free restaurants would adversely affect tourism.

One of the authors of a scientific study of this issue, Anne Marie Charlesworth, presented the study's findings at the meeting. The results showed that in California, Utah and Vermont and in Boulder, Colo.; Flagstaff and Mesa, Ariz.; and New York City there was no change or, in some cases, an increase in tourist business.

In some instances, 30 percent increases in revenues occurred in individual establishments. This included international and domestic tourism.

It's time Hawaii seriously considers smoke-free restaurant ordinances for the protection and comfort of patrons and employees. It will also be good for business.

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

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