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Monday, November 12, 2001

House stimulus bill pays off the wealthy

The economic stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House is an outrage and Americans need to know about it. This bill gives billions to the richest Americans and the most profitable corporations and almost nothing to those who need it most. It's Robin Hood in reverse -- steal from the poor to give to the wealthy.

More than 40 percent of the tax stimulus goes to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers while only 7 percent goes to the bottom 60 percent. This tax bill gives huge benefits to energy and mining companies based in or near Texas.

I can't believe the House took advantage of this crisis to pass a law that so clearly benefits only their corporate supporters, just when the we need to pull together as a nation.

Richard Barton

Give back hurricane relief money

Governor Cayetano has characterized the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund as "state funds" one too many times for me to keep quiet any longer. When this atrocious bill was signed into law it forced property owners to pay 400 to 500 percent more for coverage. To add insult to injury the coverage under the fund was far less than that offered by commercial property insurance companies.

Now, Cayetano characterizes the monies remaining in the fund as "state funds" and proposes various schemes to spend them. However, these funds were extracted under the color of law for the specific purpose of providing hurricane coverage -- at greatly inflated prices-- for Hawaii property owners. Once the fund was dismantled, those monies clearly remained the property of the property owners who were forced to pay those premiums. Similarly any interest accrued is the property of those premium payers, not the state.

I urge Cayetano to apologize to property owners and immediately return all premiums and interest to those who were forced to pay these ridiculous premiums. Should these funds be expended for other than insurance premiums they would become de facto taxes and those who paid that money would be due, at least, a tax credit for the conversion of these premiums to taxes.

Keith King
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii


"The more people (who) run, the odds go down on a loss and come up on a win."

Frank Fasi

Perennial mayoral candidate, saying he believes his chances of regaining the mayor's office increased when Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono entered the race this week

"It's important to go, especially in light of everything that's happening -- to go support and show our patriotism."

Jenna Kanaya

17-year-old flute player, on the Pearl City High School band's trip to New York City, site of the World Trade Center disaster, to play in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

Legislators should act against oil companies

I believe public outrage was peaked again by Rob Perez's Nov. 4 "Raising Cane" column on the extraordinarily high price of gasoline in Hawaii.

In 1997 and 1998, as chairwoman of the House Committee on Energy and the Environment, I held a series of public hearings on Hawaii's gas prices. I don't believe we ever got any good answers. But late in 1998 the state filed an antitrust lawsuit against the oil companies operating in Hawaii, charging them with conspiring to keep the price of gasoline unreasonably high.

Still, the prices won't come down. According to Perez's report, this difference is more than it has ever been.

After being part of our recent special legislative session in which Hawaii's economy was our primary focus, I am shocked that the gasoline companies can continue to funnel so much money out of Hawaii.

Hawaii drivers consume about a million gallons of gasoline a day. If you multiply 60 cents by one million, you'll find that Hawaii consumers are paying an extra $600,000 a day to the oil companies for gasoline.

In a year, that would be $219 million. If our people had $219 million more a year to spend, the economic effect of these hard times would be lessened.

I hope to introduce legislation next session that will propose some solutions that could bring down the price of gas to our people. I hope my colleagues will give it their close consideration.

Rep. Terry Nui Yoshinaga
D-McCully, Moiliili, Pawaaa

Restaurants ought to be smoke-free

What seems to be the problem with banning smoking in restaurants? Doing so will not damage business. When a law is uniformly effective, the affect is positive. People will not stop coming to Hawaii because of a smoking ordinance; they will continue to go out and dine as they have before, and the health of all will be improved.

When our City Council fails to take positive action on such an issue, I wonder whose pockets are being lined. Let's get past half-measures and go the full length. I don't think one redeeming value can be accorded to smoking.

Let's cease wasting time and tax dollars on a decision that is long overdue. Cigarette butts, cigarette packages, fast-food containers and other trash pervade our environment. Give us a break and get the smoke out of public gathering places.

Robert Zimmer

Hawaii fails to perform like first-class area

If Wal-mart was downtown, we'd have more jobs. If the federal government stopped handing out green cards, we'd have more jobs. If the Bush administration was more concerned about jobs instead of political favors, we'd hear nothing about allowing millions of Mexicans to become job-stealing citizens and more about sending those who don't belong here home.

If Hawaii businesses didn't hire illegal immigrants or those without work permits, we'd have more jobs. We'd have more jobs if Hawaii got rid of the oppressing tax burden and had better-paying jobs, thus stimulating the economy. We'd have more jobs if public employees, such as Parks and Recreation crews, didn't spend half their time talking story.

Those saved taxpayer dollars could pay to hire folks to clean up the trash on Oahu. Ever been in those stinkin' bathroom facilities along the beach? The tourists have.

Ever try to figure out where the buses go? The tourist haven't. Why don't we put bus numbers on bus signs and construct route maps at major bus stops? Ever paid outrageous amounts of money for some service or product in Hawaii? The tourists have.

If we have a first-class resort we can charge first-class prices and exclude people who don't have wads of cash. Or can we? Not if we want more jobs. Ever visited the wonderful beaches of Mexico? The tourist will.

Chuck Hardman

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