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Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Criticism won't change facts about cross

This letter is in response to recent letters criticizing me for bringing complaints to remove illegal cross displays on Oahu. Let it be known that no amount of criticism will change the facts in this case.

The City and County continues to practice religious discrimination in the enforcement of uniform building codes which limit signs to 24 square-feet in residential areas.

The city's claim that "crosses are not signs" is blatantly unconstitutional. Chapter 21, Article 7 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu defines a "sign" as "any structure...display...or insignia used to...attract or promote the interests of any person when it is placed on any property, building or structure in view of the general public."

The city's discriminatory policy of allowing Christian churches -- and none other --to construct and maintain large displays which violate zoning codes contravenes both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church will not tolerate such overt religious bias by government officials. In spite of the misguided and ill-informed criticism of our action, U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence supports our position absolutely.

Mitchell Kahle
Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church

Lingle should lighten up at the helm

The 2000 election and this past legislative session have been encouraging for the political process in Hawaii. Finally, it looks like the Republican Party has made enough gains in the House to become a dissenting voice, which will certainly strengthen the democratic process.

Although it's good to have the Republican Party beginning to flex its muscles, I have reservations about the current party leadership. Linda Lingle has often been called the 20th member of the Republican Caucus in the House. There have even been allusions to the fact that she calls the shots for many of the current Republican legislators and that they can't think for themselves.

Lingle has also been very vocal in her attempt to tap certain people for a run for Congress in 2002. Although as chairwoman she's supposed to remain neutral, it's obvious she's pushing for Mayor Maryanne Kusaka of Kauai to run against Patsy Mink, thus slapping Rep. Bob McDermott in the face.

It's time for Lingle to realize that The Linda Lingle Party (oops, the Republican Party) will function better in the long run without her autocratic and heavy-handed leadership.

Todd Bishop


"I always say people of Hawaii can be confident when they or their loved ones get arrested and enter the criminal-justice system."
Steve Alm,
U.S. Attorney and life-long prosecutor, saying Hawaii has a very good public defender system that provides experienced legal counsel to those who can't afford to hire private attorneys. Alm was sworn in yesterday as a circuit judge.

"I'm most thankful that my family's OK. I think it's brought us all closer together. I guess that's what Mother's Day is all about."
Kathie Napoleon,
Single mother whose Wahiawa rental home caught fire on Mother's Day, destroying the second floor, but sparing her and her three children. She was outside in the yard at the time, and her children were not home.

Suicide can be a matter of practicality

I read with great interest Helen Altonn's article on suicide in the May 11 Star-Bulletin.

In one sentence she states, "Caucasian males over age 65 make up the top group for all suicides in the nation." The article then proceeds to various mental-health issues that might prevent suicide.

I am almost 65, Caucasian, and have had many thoughts of suicide but none that have anything to do with mental health. My thoughts are more practical. If I become so debilitated that the cost of my care would threaten the financial health of my family, or my quality of life is so bad as to make the fear of living greater than that of dying, I will pull the plug.

I think most males in my group feel the same way.

Fred R. Boll

Teachers' strike left key issues unresolved

The teacher's strike, although settled, has been damaging to the teachers, the school system and the state. Unfortunately, the divisive issues that were raised remain unanswered and demand consideration by our Legislature if we are to prevent such a repetition in the future.

This strike once again demonstrated that the entire school system needs revamping: decentralization, eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy and layering, and switching the emphasis from pay for seniority to pay for merit.

By so doing we would have a far more efficient system accountable to the public. With the increased cost-effectiveness we could free up funds to not only allow adequate teacher remuneration but to provide a financially equitable approach to the other expenses also necessary to education in Hawaii.

Will it happen? It hasn't thus far and if it doesn't we are condemned to more of the same -- antiquated buildings, lack of appropriate educational supplies and underpaid teachers. A lose-lose situation for all in Hawaii.

Jack H. Scaff

Why does state set towing fees?

The Star-Bulletin's March 31 story, "Legislature approves hikes in towing fees" reports that the Legislature has approved across the board towing fees at specific amounts. It quotes Sen. Cal Kawamoto as justifying an increase in fees because towing companies are a valuable service.

Why is the state regulating towing fees? What's the purpose? There is plenty of competition to set prices at the proper level. Why would the state wish to restrict innovation and competition by setting fees?

Taking Kawamoto's remark one step further, why doesn't the state specify supermarket food prices, home sale prices, gasoline prices, and those of all other valuable services?

The answer, I suspect, is that tow company operators want monopoly pricing and state protection so they can prosper with less effort and less focus on good service. And the state has gone along with it. Shame, shame on all involved. Another case of the state shafting the consumer and helping an industry while pretending to "protect" us from ourselves.

Richard O. Rowland

Don't turn your back on man's best friend

They are always the last ones adopted, if ever, and among the first to be euthanized. They provide years of loyalty and devotion only to be left behind as used furniture. Imagine their confusion as they are dumped at a shelter after dedicating their lives to a family simply because they have become an inconvenience.

Sometimes they are left behind because their owner dies and there is no one left to care for them or because the family moves away.

Please consider adopting or fostering an older dog. They may require a bit more care than younger dogs, but then again, they probably know a few more tricks, too! Every dog has a right to live it's life to the fullest. They have earned it!

Michael Teehan

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The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point on issues of public interest. The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed, must include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.

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