to the Editor

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Thursday, August 23, 2001

Federal election scrutiny is necessary

The Star-Bulletin's Tuesday editorial ( August 21, "Keep elections free of federal mandates") contained facts that should make us all concerned with the equity and fairness of U.S. elections, but I do not agree with your conclusions. I understand that the administration of elections is a states' rights issue, but I am concerned when inequality and bias enter into one state's election practices to the extent that it affects the outcome of a national election. Then it becomes a matter for national concern.

Recent and continuing reports of Florida's election practices are a good example. The New York Times reported on the duplicity of standards used in counting absentee votes versus the votes of counties with concentrations of the poor and of people of color. I think this should be a matter of alarm for all of us.

Our representatives are advancing the cause of national election standards to assure a fair and equitable electoral process for all Americans in all states. We need to support them in this effort.

Bruce Behnke
Pearl City

States have history of unfair voting

Tuesday's editorial criticizing proposed federal regulation of electoral processes is severely misplaced in its analysis of the Constitution and the popular will of the people. President Bush lost the popular vote by some 540,000 votes. Scores of commissions and scholars, as well as the House Democrats you denigrate have wisely concluded national electoral reform is critical.

Your editorial all but concedes this. You call the Florida count a "circus" resulting in "arbitrary and disparate treatment of voters."

Further, you do not dispute the report of the House Judiciary Committee that "as many as 2 percent of the ballots cast in the presidential race nationwide were discarded because of machine errors and voter errors."

The 2 percent of the votes discarded represent 2.1 million votes. Yet you nonetheless insist no effective federal reform is necessary in the vote for the highest office in the land.

You are correct on one point: States have historically used "their own means of conducting elections." African Americans, women, 18-year-olds, poor males, those who could not pay poll taxes and slaves, of course, were all denied the right to vote under your precious states' rights.

Your constitutional assertions are plainly wrong. The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly struck down "states' rights" to erect barriers to the right to vote. Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1964 stated: "The right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government."

It is far past time for the federal government to end, by federal law or constitutional amendment, the historical violation of our citizens their equal and fair right to vote for president under the equal protection amendment, a right for which countless Americans have given their lives.

Al Lynde


"We are left with an empty seat at our table and holes in our hearts."
Wendy Latchum,
Wife of Army pilot John Latchum, speaking of her family, including two young children, at the sentencing hearing of a man convicted of killing her husband. John Latchum was shot while standing on the porch of a vacation cabin at the Waianae Army Recreation Center.

"It's OK because when I die my soul will return to this island and reunite with my family and then I will have everlasting freedom."

Robert Miguel,
Age 20, who was sentenced to a life term and two 10-year sentences for the murder of John Latchum and firearms violations. Bryson Jose, 23, and Keala Leong, 21, also face sentences for participating in Latchum's murder.

Art shows are meant to stimulate, provoke

In his criticism of the recent Artists of Hawaii exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Fifth Biennial of Hawaii Artists at the Contemporary Museum (Letters, July 28), Michael Van Dorn stated that these displays were "bad and a waste of time," and that "intelligent people are resigning their memberships to these two museums."

The first statement is an expression of the authors' opinion, to which he is surely entitled. Divergent points of view and diversity of expression are precisely what art is about, and what makes contemporary art so vital, fascinating, and, yes, often controversial.

The Contemporary Museum was founded to develop a public appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in all of its diversity of expression and points of view. Our mission is to present new ways of seeing and to open minds by exhibiting art that is not safe, but to do so in a "safe" setting with the support of interpretive educational materials and programs as well as access to the artists themselves. Such exhibitions stimulate the most provocative and passionate dialogue about the meaning and power of the visual image and about the nature of art itself.

Van Dorn's second statement is simply not true. Aside from the fact that memberships at both the art institutions are growing rather than shrinking, I have found the members of these two world-class museums in our own backyard to be an ever-thoughtful, intelligent and perceptive group.

Georgianna M. Lagoria
The Contemporary Museum

Hawaii should rally to rescue education

Thank you for your editorial Aug. 17 "HSTA-state combat moves to new ground." If the issue was "tourism" you can bet that businesses, hotels, the mayor, the governor, the Legislature and other interests would mobilize to meet the challenge. We have seen this happen in past years with tourism. Agencies would be restructured and funding appropriated.

There does not seem to be much movement from any of these sources to support and maintain a quality school system. When it comes to a quality educational system the plantation syndrome is still alive. The community continues to tolerate a system that is in need of financial support for teachers and vital major repairs -- facts known for years.

Hawaii's economy is the beneficiary of an educated work force. If the HSTA-state dispute is not settled quickly and equitably there will be no winners -- only losers, with students being hurt most of all. Does anybody care?

Anthony Locascio

Oil companies aren't suffering in Hawaii

As the price of gasoline all across the mainland has dropped dramatically in the past few months (in some places to as low as 80 cents per gallon), it is fortunate for the oil companies here to be not only able to hold their prices steady, but occasionally even raise them.

Paul Guncheon

Letter guidelines

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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