to the Editor

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Sunday, May 6, 2001

Bank adopts use unfriendly practices

As a 30-plus year patron of Bank of Hawaii, I cannot wait to thank them for ending their profit-losing Far East services business to increase their profits at home. Too bad that also includes reducing and ending many of their services to small businesses (such as our law practice) and us as individuals. For example, their recent termination of their VISA cards and replacement with American Express means many of my clients cannot pay their bills to us with their BoH charge card anymore, since we don't accept the higher-costing American Express (and Bank of Hawaii did not notify or offer to provide us with replacement service); we and our business cannot complete many of charges which were preauthorized with VISA and with those other merchants who don't take American Express.

And Bankoh no longer has customer service personnel who will return calls to explain, much less apologize, for charging us for services we did not authorize, for taking four days to send an "instantaneous" money wire transfer requested by fax to our "personal banker," or for having mortgage and business lease and loan rates that are not competitive with the local competition. Maybe it's time to find someone who will say "Yes" to our needs.

Elbridge and Diane Smith

Arizona prisons endanger isle inmates

When Hawaii citizens are placed in the custody of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the state becomes responsible for their well-being ("DPS to look into inmate deaths at Arizona prison," Star-Bulletin, April 27). It's appalling that the state hasn't pulled all Hawaii inmates out of the Arizona prison that has become a death and torture chamber. Given the vulnerability of inmates, allowing them to be harmed and die untimely deaths is akin to criminal neglect of a dependent.

Why subject inmates to incarceration in the state whose disrespect for persons in custody was made infamous in Miranda vs. Arizona and other cases? Using taxpayer money to export Hawaii men and women to a world of horror is not an acceptable solution to prison over-crowding.

Governor Cayetano wants non-violent drug offenders out of the prisons wherever possible, and I urge DPS to use its discretion to follow up on the governor's idea. The Oahu Community Correctional Center already has a Daily Release Center; with more support for inmates transitioning into the strict requirements of the program, it could help decrease overcrowding. I hope the Legislature has provided funding so DPS' can utilize its early release and supervised release options to the maximum extent possible.

Harriet Ilima Morrison

Property offenders can be dangerous

There has been much talk lately about how property crime offenders need treatment, should not be locked up and are not a danger to the community. Maybe someone should ask the police officers who were shot on the H-2 what they think?

The news reported the suspects as people, led astray by drugs, who committed property crimes in the past. While I support treatment for drug addicts, this addiction to drugs causes people to behave abnormally and violent. Incarceration should not be ignored completely.

Michael Correa

Is Kahle campaigning against religion?

What is it with Mitch Kahle and the Christian religion? While he professes to be working to protect us from government sponsored religion, it appears more and more like he is bashing Christianity.

I recently read the article, "Group wants removal of 30-foot Kaneohe cross," and was taken aback by Kahle's comment that the cross was "a blight on the landscape."

In the past, Kahle and his organization, have worked tirelessly to have crosses taken down from Camp Smith and Schofield Barracks. He was successful in these endeavors, due to the fact that these crosses had been erected on public land.

However, the Kaneohe case is very different. No longer is Kahle satisfied with protecting public land from religious intrusion, but now he wants to dictate how a congregation can worship on private land.

In my opinion, Kahle's motivations go way beyond the separation of church and state and get very close to advocating for the suppression of religious freedoms.

Kathy Martin

Democrats may lose grip on Hawaii

The Democratic Party swept into power in our Legislature in 1954 largely with the support of labor unions. As a result, Hawaii's politicians routinely court the labor unions, and it has become almost axiomatic that one must be a Democrat to hold elective office in this state.

Recently, however, workers have increasingly felt betrayed by politicians who portray themselves as friends of working people, then act against their interests. Public workers have been forced to endure reductions in sick leave, for example, in the name of efficiency.

The party is losing its status as the champion of the little guy. Increasingly the refrain is that it might take ousting the current crop of Democratic office holders to make the party return to its traditional base.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii must decide whether it wants to be the champion of the majority of the people of these islands, or merely a parody of the opposition.

Wray Jose

Youth Symphony hit all the right notes

On April 20, I shared a wonderful experience with about 1,000 others at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall when the Hawaii Youth Symphony Association held its Spring Concert.

We listened to more than 250 musicians from grades five through 12 attending public and private schools on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Big Island perform in three different orchestras. They wowed the audience with the outstanding level of their play, which was obviously the result of months of preparation and years of excellent training. Congratulations to all of the musicians, conductors, teachers, parents and volunteers who made the concert possible.

Louis Vuitton Hawaii should also be congratulated for its support of this concert as part of their celebration of their 20th anniversary in the aloha state.

David Matsumoto


"(They are) the mechanical equivalent of clogged arteries."
Donna Mercado Kim,
State senator, on the last day of the 2001 legislative session, drawing attention to needed repairs at the state Capitol, especially the notoriously slow elevators.

"It's the only ex-offender police unit in the country."
Lorraine Robinson,
Director of Matlock Hale, a furlough and treatment program for women criminal offenders, on the public service activities of the residents, which include adopting two nearby parks, picking up litter and patrolling the neighborhood.

Who's looking out for displaced businesses?

Pity the plight of the defenseless small businesses across Kapiolani Boulevard from the Hawaii Convention Center. Many of them went broke trying to do business during the years it took to build the center.

Pity more those who survived the din, disarray and dust of construction only to face the threat of eviction because they do not fit the mayor's personal vision of what he calls "the gateway of Waikiki." Pity even more Da Hui, a surf shop which just moved in at great expense and is threatened with the same condemnation.

To my knowledge, Small Business Hawaii and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii have not rallied to the defense of these legitimate businesses. This gives an eerie edge to the title of the recently chamber-sponsored forum, "Small Business on the Move."

These businesses battle on alone against the arbitrariness and heavy-handedness of big government. Surf on, Da Hui! Rock on, Rock-Za!

Richard Y. Will

City needs to take care of smaller jobs, too

Mayor Harris' plan for a park across from the Hawaii Convention Center has merit in greening up a rather grim neighborhood. However, like many ideas, bringing it to fruition will take money and time.

Time, rather than money, appears to be a factor in the inability of the city to bring about completion of the renovation of the McCully Gym.

I participate in an evening program at the McCully Gym as do a number of young people. The women are most uncomfortable having to exit the gym, go downstairs and outside to the only functioning restroom because the main floor restrooms have been closed for half a year. Although the area is well-lighted, it is also a hang-out site for local youth, whose presence can be intimidating to a lone female.

How can it take six months to renovate a restroom if construction plans were approved at the outset? I'm sure there must be other P&R projects that are stalled somewhere in the system for one reason or another. Let's complete projects that are under way before new initiatives overshadow them. A renovated restroom is not as glamorous as a new park, but it has its essential qualities.

Richard A. Criley

Hawaii has no 'major' power plants

In several stories and letters it has been noted that California has not built a "major" power plant in 10 years. Using the same definition of "major," Hawaii has never built a "major" power plant (240 MW or larger). Hawaii's largest power-generating facilities are Kahe 5 and Kahe 6 (142 MW each).

In an era when smallness is becoming commonplace (personal computers, cell phones, fuel cells, solar panels), the issue that matters is whether the utility is encouraging or hindering the deployment of small power generators.

Henry Curtis
Executive Director
Life of the Land

Lawmakers' reunion was unfairly criticized

I write as the Clerk of the Hawaii House to respond to comments made by (April 19) letter writer Garry P. Smith criticizing the proceedings in the Hawaii House Chambers honoring men and women who have served in this body. We received many positive comments on the bipartisan nature of the proceedings.

Former Congresswoman Patricia Saiki and former U.S. Sen. Hiram Fong, both Republicans, were seated on the speaker's dais along side former Lt. Govs. Jean King and Tom Gill, both Democrats.

After opening remarks by House Speaker Calvin Say commending these men and women for their service to Hawaii, House majority leader, Marcus Oshiro, and House minority leader, Galen Fox moved for the adoption of the commemorative resolution and stood in strong support of "some of Hawaii's greatest sons and daughters."

House majority floor leader, Marilyn Lee, and House minority floor leader, David Pendleton, introduced, in tandem, each former House member present. Party affiliation was intentionally omitted. Close to 100 former House members were in attendance.

It was one of those busy days that support staff went home with a good feeling, proud to be able to be able to have worked with, and to be working, with such a dynamic and extraordinary group of individuals.

Patricia Mau-Shimizu
House Clerk

Late Sakae Takahashi left legacy of service

On April 16, Hawaii lost one of its great leaders. Sakae Takahashi was a decorated World War II veteran, retired attorney, former territorial treasurer and state senator and an original founder of Central Pacific Bank.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government ordered the closing of all Japanese banks in Hawaii. After the war, the deposits were returned to customers but the banks never reopened. With no bank to serve the Japanese community, local Japanese businessmen and families had difficulty securing loans or obtaining mortgages.

Takahashi was the driving force behind a group of nisei veterans, such as Daniel K. Inouye, and businessmen who were determined to make Hawaii a better place. To provide capital to Hawaii's large Japanese-American community, this group, with Takahashi leading the fund-raising effort on his home island of Kauai, raised $1 million to establish Central Pacific Bank. The bank opened on the corner of Smith and King Streets in 1954.

Takahashi served on CPB's original board of directors and continued to play a key role for 47 years, including board chairman of the bank (1970-1988) and CPB Inc., the bank's holding company (1982-1990).

Sakae Takahashi leaves a distinguished legacy of service to CPB, but more importantly to a greater Hawaii. He will be dearly missed.

Joichi Saito


Unions, judge hamper school improvement

The way that the Hawaii State Teachers Association strike ended is excellent proof that our public school system, while it may be woefully dysfunctional, could be even worse. The worst case scenario is having our schools controlled by a dictatorial federal judge beholden, not to students, their parents and our local community, but to his understanding of what some law may demand. And boy, we have many laws that are cockamamie.

The Department of Education will never improve unless it is controlled by parents and local communities and not by education providers -- the unions who, despite their good intentions, continue to bully principals, students and parents. The DOE must evolve and become more customer driven. How? Break up our monolithic and monopolistic statewide school system and give control and authority to parents and principals. Take authority away from power-freaky unions.

Alan T. Matsuda

Public workers should retain right to strike

I was shocked and dismayed by the April 26 letter by Duane W. Compton who argued (in agreement with your editorial) that there are forces to be "blamed" for the public education strike -- and that it is the people of Hawaii who deserve blame for creating a system in which public educators are allowed to strike.

While I disagree most vociferously with his thinking, I celebrate the right of Compton to speak his mind. You see, in free and democratic societies the public has come together to assure that basic rights and freedoms are provided -- and the right of free speech is one of those. But one of those rights is the right of free association, through which working people -- be they public or private sector employees are provided the right to organize themselves to bargain with management for proper exchange for the value of their labor.

Compton's point that U.S. federal employees are not provided the right to strike or organize all workers is not an indication that Hawaii should join them, but rather that the United States must strive to bring itself into compliance with agreements on human rights that all free nations arrive at in consensus. The only states that prevent public employees from striking are outlaw states, like Communist China or Capitalist Texas.

RAI Weigel

Education improved under Cayetano

How can people say that Governor Cayetano doesn't care about education? When he took office, our children were studying in school bathrooms. So he went to work and built new schools.

Teachers never before got the kind of 16-17 percent pay raises they've been getting under Governor Cayetano. He's done more for education than any other governor.

I also praise him for the new style of collective bargaining that extracted concessions from public employees in exchange for pay raises. Despite all of the animosity, his leadership to reform the culture of civil service will merit our unions' interest and benefit the state for many years to come.

Genaro Q. Bimbo

Scars left by strike will be slow to heal

Strikes will always leave their scars, and the recent teachers' strike is no exception. But there was something very different about this strike compared to the one I participated in back in 1973.

In this strike, teachers felt betrayed by the very governor they worked so hard to elect. Given the closeness of the last election, Ben Cayetano would not be governor today without the overwhelming support he received from Hawaii's public school teachers. How ironic.

One of my co-workers at Maui High School had this quote above her desk: "Students may someday forget what they were taught, but they will never forget how they were treated." In this regard, teachers are no different.

The time has come to move forward, but I doubt if many teachers will ever be able to forget the lack of respect Governor Cayetano has shown for us, our honorable profession and especially the children of Hawaii.

History will not treat the governor kindly. Schools are back in session, but today those classrooms are filled with thousands of teachers and students who understand quite clearly the blow he has dealt to public education in Hawaii. For decades to come, we will never forget how he treated us.

Dale Crabtree
Retired teacher
Kihei, Maui

Strike robs seniors of class trip

As senior class president at Roosevelt High School, my council and I had a hard time planning our senior class field trip to fit everyone's busy schedules. When the strike hit, we postponed this event. Now we have heard that we can't even host it because we have missed too many days of school.

This is an event where seniors get a day off from school to have a little fun and a chance to bond a bit more before graduation. The field trip has been a senior privilege forever at RHS. This event is a "senior thing," and I would hate to cancel it because we had an unplanned vacation provided by our governor and his administration.

Is it our fault that we have been stripped of our education for the past few weeks? I think not. I'm very proud of my teachers for sticking up for their profession, but does our event have to be taken away?

We have worked very hard to continue this Roosevelt tradition for the past year. It's something very special to all seniors. I'm begging for advice or help from anyone who can help us save our senior class event.

Casey Shoji
RHS Senior Class President

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