to the Editor

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Friday, July 20, 2001

Special-ed boondoggle needs monitoring

Legislators, scrutinizing the Felix consent decree, represent constituents aptly. Sen. Colleen Hanabusa quenches the public's thirst for long-awaited leadership. After this seven-year, consultant-orchestrated federal boondoggle, the legislative investigation is both welcomed and refreshing.

Consent-decree cohorts now resist legislative attempts to question the head of the Felix monitoring project and no doubt will block this effort, citing federal supremacy over the state Legislature. Where are those states' rights arguments when you need them?

When community members sought nonprofit documents and tax records, as required by federal tax law, rather than complying, the monitor first sought a federal court response and illegally delayed providing those documents.

Parents now report that the Department of Education is shredding and modifying records, violating yet another federal law. Even so, no federal action is taken. It doesn't take a great imagination to perceive a cover-up.

After seven years, Felix is now reduced to rolling in its own federally smitten slime, with feeble receiver threats, consent-decree players bemoaning media humiliation and attorneys portraying state senators and community leaders as crybaby know-nothings.

Thank you, Hawaii state legislature, for a beginning to an end to this travesty.

Steve Bowen
Parent of a 10-year-old with autism

Ka Iwi acquisition a step forward

The Ka Iwi shoreline has long been recognized as the last easily accessible natural open space available on Oahu.

When it comes to public lands, it's always a challenge for government officials to balance the variety of community needs and special interest needs. Therefore, we were fortunate to have had the input of individual citizens, community groups, agencies and lawmakers in creation of a master plan. This plan covers the area of William Reese Liggett's concern ("Gathering Place," July 12) from the Wawamalu ranch wall to Makapuu Point.

Up until now, only a small group of folks from the community have been able to enjoy the Ka Iwi shoreline. The state's acquisition of this land allows us to implement this phase of the master plan. The acquisition fulfills the state's commitment to preserve the area and also allows more residents and families the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness coast.

The Ka Iwi shoreline land acquisition allows us to take an important step toward preservation of this open space. Given limited financial resources, an entire master plan as Liggett calls for cannot possibly be implemented overnight. However, we are assured that we have the support of the community and we can look to its continued input in preservation of the area.

Janet E. Kawelo
Deputy Director
State Department of Land and Natural Resources


"I want it to be in Technicolor. I want it to be hot."

Evan Dobelle,
New University of Hawaii president, describing the type of "campus environment" that he would like to see evolve, with coffee shops, art galleries and a schedule of guest speakers and performers that would encourage students to live in dormitories or stay on campus after class.

"I've been camping here all my life. If they close here, where are we going?"

Isaac Texeira,
Maui resident, expressing his desire that authorities allow camping at Papalaua Wayside Park. Mayor James "Kimo" Apana was to present a plan to the Maui County Council this morning that would permit camping at three island sites.

Military conjures foes to justify training

The move to permanently halt U.S. training on the island of Vieques was the morally correct decision and an indirect reaction to increasing public distrust of military affairs. This distrust is not lost on Makua Valley. The inadequate environmental assessment conducted there, in lieu of a comprehensive environmental impact statement that is needed, has failed to convince many that the military would be "stewards" of the environment.

Brig. Gen. Eikenberry writes the bottom-line for use of Makua is for the Army to be "trained and ready to fight and to win." This, he says, is "a matter of life or death." So who might be the U.S. enemy now? Let's not forget that Iraq became the enemy almost overnight after being an American ally for eight long years in its war with Iran. Let's not forget that in the Vietnam War, the enemy was a war of tremendous negative consequences. All signs now indicate that China is to be the next enemy. Well, you don't fight a war with China unless you want 10 Vietnam's on your hands.

Eikenberry's rhetoric about safety and combat readiness is truly "a matter of life or death" for the many who will die in the name of the next manufactured enemy.

Tony Castanha

Japanese judges will be fair to American

Your July 10 editorial, "Japanese must be fair to accused U.S. soldier" is based upon an insufficient understanding of Japan's legal system.

The editorial contends: "In Japan, the defendant is considered neither innocent nor guilty, with the burden of proof resting equally on the prosecutor and the defense. In practice, the defendant is guilty until proven innocent, which is reflected in the 95 percent conviction rate."

However, Japanese law sets out as its fundamental principle that, unless the facts have not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a defendant will not be deemed guilty, and this is backed by a provision requiring due process of law under the constitution of Japan. Thus, the Japanese court strictly observes the principle of presumption of innocence throughout its procedures.

The article also points out the allegedly high rate of convictions in Japan. Under Japanese Criminal Procedure Code, prosecutors should preliminarily scrutinize whether there is sufficient evidence, and they are not allowed to indict a suspect at their discretion without considering various factors related to the offense and the suspect. We believe that innocent suspects should be relieved at an early stage in the process. The apparently high rate of convictions in Japanese criminal procedures is, therefore, the outcome of such early scrutiny and has nothing to do with unfairness.

Japanese judges are of very high quality and are selected from a pool of talented and experienced practitioners. They are highly trained legal professionals whose impartiality is beyond question. The autonomy of judges is, of course, constitutionally guaranteed. I have no doubt that the judges in charge of the case in question will make a fair judgment.

Minoru Shibuya
Consul General of Japan

Honolulu needs higher class Council members

How much lower can we sink when politicians like Andy Mirikitani, who has been convicted by a jury of his peers on multiple counts of stealing from his "employers," will continue to draw income while (awaiting sentencing)? Then there are the full benefits he will enjoy upon his release.

We may well be seeing the setting of a new record for limbo. Limbo, for those not familiar, is a dance where people try to slide underneath a bar that is continuously lowered until it is knocked off. The winner is the one who can sink the lowest without getting caught.

Hawaii's politicians seem bent on setting a record that bests even that set when John Curley successfully retained his position as the incumbent mayor of Boston while serving a jail term for extorting city funds. Instead of raising the standards of integrity the people of Hawaii can hope for from their trusted servants, it seems we can hope only to continue to scrape the bottom of the integrity barrel.

Irv Rubin

Driving in Hawaii provides many thrills

I absolutely adore driving on the roads of Hawaii. The novelty of optional road safety laws is so invigorating. For instance, if one is to approach a yellow light with caution, then a red light becomes a real challenge. The philosophy seems to be "Gang way, coming through!"

Stop signs perhaps should be renamed slow signs. A complete stop? Why bother.

Other places: At intersections, drivers going straight or turning right always and forevermore have the right of way. Not so here. Those left-turners can really get the adrenaline pumping.

Regarding the right of way, guardian angels must be on overtime watching out for pedestrians. They are true thrill seekers. Turn signals are totally optional. Either folks don't see a need to let other drivers know what to expect - people like surprises - or each is extremely optimistic that everyone else on the road is adept at mind reading. Unfortunately, it is a mindless act and therefore mind reading does not apply.

Elsewhere "right on red after coming to a full stop" is optional. However, when stopped at a red light and signaling a right turn, the folks behind me seem to have a sixth sense about it and let me know by honking and gesticulating that it's OK to pull out in front of an oncoming truck. There simply is no way they can see what I'm seeing, and, sometimes, I can't see. Mandatory "right on red?" Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather wait. Those funny little signs that in other states indicate a right turn only, although decorative, are virtually useless. Perhaps mauka or makai would work better?

Finally, as a means of helping the state's economy, do away with speed limit signs. No one seems to understand their purpose. Apparently the number represents more of a benchmark, a jumping-off place, as it were, and the sky's the limit.

Driving in paradise is a thrill a minute for the bored and suicidal.

C. Lowe

Aiea plan is excellent transit solution

Your June 28 article, "City scraps Aiea transit hub..." to which Gerrit Pang reacted in his July 3 letter to the editor, had too little information. Judging by that reaction, a more complete explanation of the new proposal for transit in our community is in order.

The new plan is an excellent solution to the problem of providing optimum transit service to Aiea and Pearl City. The initial plan for a transit hub at the old Kamehameha Drive-In site raised a cry of protest from the community, since all local circulator buses from Pearl City to Foster Village were to converge on this site. In addition, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which would enter and exit the freeway via a new ramp to the Kaonohi Street, and all regional buses would also meet here. And to top it all, the site was also proposed as park-and-ride.

The new plan offers improved community service while optimizing access to the BRT. A high-speed transportation corridor along Kamehameha Highway with three transit hubs was conceptualized. These hubs will be at the Hale Mohalu site in Pearl City, a site across from Pearl Ridge Shopping Center, and at the Aloha Stadium auxiliary parking lot. The stadium site will also be a park-and-ride. These three hubs will allow circulator buses to more effectively serve Pearl City-Pacific Palisades, Newtown-Waimalu-Pearl Ridge and Aiea-Halawa-Foster Village.

The transit corridor enables BRT vehicles, which begin their run in Pearl City, to efficiently pick up or drop off local bus riders at the three hubs, and then quickly access the freeway zipper lanes near the stadium, providing our residents with rapid transit to downtown Honolulu.

Gary H. Okino

City Councilman, District 8

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