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Thoughts on dying with dignity

Sandy Beach initiative led to settlement

Thank you for the recent articles on Golf Course 5 and 6, which, of course, was the object of the Save Sandy Beach Initiative that culminated recently in the final settlement between the city and Kamehameha Schools.

Phil Estermann and I were co-founders of the Save Sandy Beach Coalition, but we were only the match that started the flame. The actual fire was nurtured by many others, whose knowledge, creativity and hard work made the final solution possible. They deserve most of the gratitude and heartfelt thanks.

David E. Matthews

Transportation head should be removed

I call for the governor to remove Brian Minaai as director of the Department of Transportation. Minaai signed a very bad 900-page contract with ACS, a contract binding on our state. And when legislators asked him questions, Minaai did not have the answers that he should have known. He appeared incompetent.

If the governor does not fire Minaai, the governor should bear a heavy burden of blame.

Mark Terry


"In education, not anger, resides our future. In education, not ignorance, resides our hope. In education, not fear, resides justice."

Gladys Brandt

Longtime Hawaiian educator, during a formal rededication of the University of Hawaii's Center for Hawaiian Studies, during which the center was renamed in her honor.

"The way out ought not to be cutting education services. Our education services are already at the bottom. Cut UH any more and it falls apart."

John Radcliffe

Executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, on the need to use all of the money in the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund to make up for the state budget shortfall.

Councils could run the state better

The governor should stop picking on the Department of Education -- our kids and our hard-working teachers -- and leave our hurricane funds alone. A better place for the governor to save on finance is to cut in half the number of state senators and representatives. Have you ever watched these people run their sessions? When the leader is running through important agenda items, some of the members are reading newspapers and also there are a lot of empty seats. Can the Star-Bulletin give us a roll call list daily so we can check on these absentee folks?

If the City Council can run Honolulu efficiently with only nine members, the state should be able to run our state with fewer people. Better yet, let all the state's county councils meet twice or three times a week and let them run the state matters.

James Miura

Is Jones stalemate about respect or cash?

Help me understand why the situation with University of Hawaii football coach June Jones hasn't been resolved. If it's not about the money, what is it about?

Ah, respect. Is Jones not respected as much as he should be? How could he be shown more respect? Bigger office, a title? Oh, he's not into titles or really interested in that kind of respect.

Let me see if I understand correctly. Disrespect is shown when other coaches with lesser credentials make more money than him. So while this standoff isn't really about money, a strong indicator of respect is money? And having an agent helps a person gain greater respect?

Oh, I see, the agent is an expert on the issue of respect and he has a certain image to maintain for his current and future clients. Does the coach's agent not feel totally respected either?

You know, suddenly I feel I understand the IRS better. All they're really after is a little more respect.

Coach is a good fit at UH. I hope he gets the respect he wants.

Russell Stephen Pang

Hurricane fund could help missing kids

In a recent news item, it was revealed that the state was planning to close the Missing Children's Center of Hawaii because of the lack of money. As a parent, I cannot believe that the state could be so shortsighted as to close such a valuable agency.

There are other areas money could be diverted to keep such a vital segment of state government open. There's talk that money is available from the hurricane relief fund. I'm sure others would agree with me that some of that money could be used. By taking away a positive portion of our government, and should a child be reported missing, it's going to be too late. It seems there are too many half-baked ideas being pushed through.

Jeff Kino

GOP will rescue state from tax hell

The people of Hawaii elected leaders to represent us in the House and Senate. Unfortunately, not much work is being accomplished, but there are some leaders who act with due diligence in wanting to help.

Look at the Legislature's dirty laundry: 1) adding taxes on rental cars; 2) balancing the budget with money from the Hurricane Relief Fund; 3) continuing to keep a general excise tax on food and medicine; 4) slapping more taxes on alcohol and tobacco, etc.

People are tired of living in the most taxed and biggest government environment in the nation. It seems like a trend since pre-statehood that the Democratic machine is at fault for our economic ills. It really seems like the Republicans will be our savior in this upcoming election, to save us from economic quagmire. I give the Democrats in F in taxation and the Republicans an A+ because it seems like they are the ones who are fiscally sane.

Ioane Laumoli Jr

Information office saves state money

The proposed state budget, in its current form, will kill the Office of Information Practices. We believe that the OIP is important in preserving the public's right to know, while protecting the constitutionally protected individual right of privacy. We believe that the OIP actually saves money for the state and for business.

The Honolulu Community-Media Council was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) and has supported the OIP since its creation.

The Media Council recognizes that two important but often conflicting values are at stake:

>> First, as we know from current events, especially the Enron case, is the importance of open government in a free and democratic society. Without an open government there can be no real freedom. We should all recall that many Hawaii citizens have fought with outstanding bravery and sacrificed much to preserve freedom. Openness in government requires both public access to public records and public decision-making, which should be hidden behind closed doors for only the most compelling of reasons.

>> Second is the vital importance of the right of privacy of the individual: The right not to have private information about an individual made public without a compelling state interest. This right of individual privacy is separately recognized in our own state Constitution. It is an essential element of human dignity.

The OIP has proved itself to be an important organ in sorting out the intricate issues involved in deciding under the UIPA when information should be made public and when, because of overriding privacy concerns, it should not.

Without the OIP it would be necessary in cases where an information seeker differs with the possessor of the information -- a government officer -- to bring suit to resolve the conflict. The costs of litigation and delay in such cases would likely outweigh by many times the cost to the public of the OIP. In consequence, we believe that the OIP is a money-saver, foreclosing a substantial amount of expensive litigation and helping to avoid delay in the transmission of important information.

We urge our fellow citizens to contact their state representatives and senators and ask them to vote for retention and strengthening of the OIP.

Richard S. Miller
Member, Board of Directors
For the Honolulu Community-Media Council

Why do police oppose cruelty bill?

Do two or more wrongs make a right? On Feb. 14 I went to the state Capitol to testify for a bill that would make animal cruelty a felony. Everyone there testified in favor of this bill. Every legislator was in favor.

Only later did I learn that someone is opposed: the police. I asked Maj. Darryl Perry why and he answered my question with a question: How can I justify making animal cruelty a Class C felony when terroristic threatening and assault are still misdemeanors?

I'm stumped. Anyone?

Barbara Ikeda

Valentines' program was success for vets

The Spark M. Matsunaga Veterans Affairs Medical and Regional Office Center, and especially our hospitalized veterans, appreciate all the individuals, and especially the staff and children from Kamehameha, Alvah A. Scott and Iliahi Elementary schools who participated in our "Valentines for Veterans" program.

The response was overwhelming as hundreds of hand-made valentines were distributed to the VA Center for Aging facility as well as our inpatient ward located in Tripler Army Hospital Center.

"Valentines for Veterans" is a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans during the week of Feb. 10-16. Hawaii's hospitalized veterans were treated to not only Valentines, but cookies and visits by numerous volunteers and visitors throughout the day.

People demonstrated the true aloha spirit by giving their time and compassion to making our hospitalized veterans feel important and remembered in this special way.

H. David Burge
Director Department of Veterans Affairs



Differing thoughts
on dying with dignity

Testimony for bill was one-sided

When a public hearing was held on the issue of assisted suicide or "death with dignity" last Saturday, only 14 of the 61 testimonies opposed it.

This cannot possibly reflect the views of our caring island community. Our ohana elders deserve better than to be put to death when they are old or suffering.

What kind of legacy are we leaving to the generations behind us, that life has no value when you become aged or ill?

Better call your legislators and let them know how much you care about your loved ones -- enough to keep them alive!

Karyn Herrmann

Foes misstate details in assisted-death bill

Two inaccuracies that came up during a recent hearing on HB2487, Relating to Death with Dignity. Although Kelly Rosati testified that the Death with Dignity Bill would be similar to the euthanasia law practiced in the Netherlands, this is not the case at all.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands is performed by lethal injection and sometimes on patients who are incompetent or in an unresponsive state. The bill we are backing only applies to competent and terminally ill adults who voluntarily request a self-administered prescription to hasten death and end their suffering. Under the proposed Hawaii law, euthanasia, or any other method to bring about death that was not under the control of the patient, would be a felony.

The choice to take the oral medication always remains with the patient. Should the patient become incompetent or lose awareness before self-administering the prescription, the conscious choice no longer exists, and no physician or other medical personnel can legally proceed in hastening that patient's death. To do so would be a felony under the proposed Hawaii law.

While I certainly respect the opposition's right to comment on this issue, I must question its use of inaccurate information to make its point.

As for the so-called "slippery slope" testimony, which opined that terminally ill patients may feel under pressure to take their own lives rather than be a burden on their families, four years experience with Oregon's Death with Dignity law reveals this simply did not happen there, and there is no reason to believe it would be different in Hawaii.

During the hearing several people cited the Hippocratic oath "Do Not Harm." To this I can only ask which is more harmful, compelling someone to wither and die a little each day while they watch their bodies decay, stripping them of all autonomy and control, pushing them to the line that borders on torture or a heavily sedated comatose state, or allowing them the chance to end their life in a dignified manner.

How would you want your children to remember your last days?

I urge you to support this bill.

Roland L. Halpern
First Unitarian Church
Chairman, Office of Social Justice Council

Debate on death bill should continue

Regarding your editorial on death with dignity and the political cartoon on Feb. 26:

I do not agree with the suggested remedy that the editorial writer proposed for the chairman to adopt.

There is a more direct method outlined in Senate Rule No. 51. After 20 days of introduction, and with one-third of the Senate in written request, a bill can be recalled from the committee.

I estimate that presently there are between nine and 20 state senators who may be willing to recall the death-with-dignity bills. But out of respect and hesitation on the part of some, this has not occurred.

Time is of the essence if the proponents are bent on getting these bills heard in a Senate committee.

I personally opposed these two bills, but fair play is fair play. I do not believe it is just, tolerant or understanding to stifle debate on this important matter.

Arvid Youngquist

Supporters of bill value families, too

I was disappointed by your Feb. 24 front page article "Suicide bill goes to full House." The generalizations misled the public about the testimony presented and may have biased readers against current death-with-dignity legislation.

First, the headline says that "pro-family" groups oppose the legislation. What is a pro-family group? Groups such as Pro-Family Hawaii and Hawaii Family Forum call themselves pro-family because they'd love for everyone to believe that they are the final word on family values. In reality, they are groups that advocate conservative positions on major social issues. There's nothing wrong with that, but they haven't cornered the market on the family.

The headline made it seem that anyone who supports families should be against death-with-dignity legislation. That's what conservative groups would love to have you believe, but it's just not so. Many people, out of a profound love for their family members, support death-with-dignity legislation.

Second, the claim that "religious" groups "strongly oppose" the legislation is another generalization that doesn't hold up. Though several people testified that they opposed the legislation on religious grounds, the only religious leader who spoke in the three hours of testimony I heard, was the Rev. Mike Young of First Unitarian Church. And he spoke in favor of the legislation.

Alex Hershey

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