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Is Dr. Kevorkian in the House ... and Senate?

My neighbor who just arrived from Mexico asked me to explain the phrase, "What goes around comes around." OK, I explained, take the doctor-assisted suicide bill that may soon become law in Hawaii. This would make it legal to put those near the end of their time out of their suffering.

The Legislature has been looking quite sickly lately, having difficulty doing simple, everyday things like passing laws that will stand up when contested in court, such as the photo van legislation. Legislators have been gasping for air and looking like they were on their last legs when anyone even has whispered the words "balanced budget."

The only humane thing to do is call in the doctor to put the Legislature out of its misery. And this time, let's not spread any ashes over Papakolea!

Smoky Guerrero

Traffic cam tickets handled properly

The traffic camera controversy has evoked criticism of the Honolulu District Court judges' handling of the citations. Some have intimated that requiring alleged violators to appear in court to contest tickets is somehow motivated by money, and that judges' rulings are based on public opinion.

In fact, the Judiciary does not receive any of the funds collected from fines or fees assessed on these citations. In addition to the fine, violators are assessed a $27 fee, $7 of which goes to the Driver's Education Special Fund and $20 to the state general fund.

One of the bulwarks of our judicial system is that it requires judges to make their rulings according to the law, and not public opinion. The judges handling these cases are fulfilling this mandate.

Michael W. Gibson
Hawaii State Bar Association


"A lot of people said we wouldn't last until May, then July, then October, then Jan. 1. I think it's a tribute to ... the dedication of our staff. They want to save this newspaper. They want to give two voices. They want to give readers a choice."

Don Kendall

Publisher of the Star-Bulletin, on the newspaper's first anniversary after going independent from the Gannett-owned Advertiser. Kendall, left, and Star-Bulletin/Midweek owner David Black cut the lei at the opening of the company's new offices at Restaurant Row a year ago.

"To say I was disappointed is a great understatement ... I could not believe a jury would find her guilty."

James Young

California resident and former husband of Maggie Young, who drowned their five children in their Aiea home in 1965. His wife's situation was similar to the Texas case of Andrea Yates, which ended this week with a guilty verdict.

Don't turn off those traffic cameras

Auwe to lawmakers who want to repeal the traffic camera program.

Too many drivers disregard speed limits on highways and in residential areas. Something has to be done now before things really get out of control.

Lawmakers should be looking out for the welfare of the law-abiding public rather than supporting those who get caught breaking the law. Even if the traffic camera program is repealed, it is still against the law to exceed speed limits. Increasing speed limits is not the solution. Many drivers will routinely exceed any speed limit.

The traffic camera program has merits and should be continued with modifications to address legitimate concerns. The program is reminding drivers that there are speed limits to be complied with and many are driving close to the established limits. This is a positive result of the program.

Further, if the violating driver cannot be identified, it is only right that the owner of the vehicle be held responsible for any violation, just like owners whose vehicles are cited for parking violations.

Rudolph Distajo

Be wary of promises of CarePlus proposal

Hawaii's first lady recently stated that CarePlus, the proposed long-term care tax, would provide money for home care while most private insurance does not. This is untrue. Nearly all reputable company policies combine nursing-home care with a 100 percent home health-care option.

The governor recently claimed a state plan is needed to protect seniors from the private companies that can "drop coverage at any time." The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 makes it a violation of federal law for companies to arbitrarily drop policy holders.

It's all about trust. I do not trust a plan when I see the organizers misleading those who are unaware of alternate solutions. CarePlus has more negatives than positives.

Dan Morin


Jones has forgotten why he came to Hawaii

As a fan of the University of Hawaii football program (Note: It's still the University of Hawaii, not June Jones University), as well as an admirer of coach Jones, I am disappointed in his recent behavior during salary negotiations.

For those of us who were impressed by Jones' earlier successes, who continued to support him during a disappointing second year and rallied behind the team last season, his demands for Big Ten-size compensation is unjustified.

When Jones first arrived in Hawaii, he said this was the place he wanted to retire from football. We believed that he really appreciated what the rest of us in Hawaii had learned to love and cherish, many to the point of accepting and expecting less in salaries and wealth we could easily earn elsewhere. This was the price of living in paradise.

But Jones apparently has forgotten that he is working for a financially strapped public university in an economically weakened state that is cutting public services.

The June Jones money-grabbing debacle demonstrates how far from our values and way of thinking we have strayed. As much as we love the coach, Hawaii should not be extorted and exploited by Jones and his agent.

Francis M. Nakamoto

Soon no opinions at all will be tolerated

The "Raising Cane" column by Rob Perez in last Sunday's Star-Bulletin, "Ties to Scouts stains group's teachings," concludes that "being tolerant of different beliefs and lifestyles is an important part of demonstrating sound character. On that front at least, the Scouts make lousy teachers."

That is a confusing conclusion. Every teacher carries bias into the classroom. Most of it is Boy Scout mainstream lessons, such as "don't steal or lie, keep your promises, the Taliban are bad."

Other prejudices come from organizations that the teachers might belong to, such as the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church or the Mormon or Lutheran church.

No matter what measures are taken, those "intolerant" beliefs will enter the teaching process.

If Perez' conclusion is correct, Mitch Kahle, a walking, talking example of intolerance, certainly should be kept away from our kids along with the Mormons, Lutherans and Catholics, as well as the Democrats, who are definitely intolerant of Republicans.

Richard O. Rowland
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Council in the dark about Ewa Villages

In light of the recent report on the audit of the Ewa Villages, I am amused that several City Council members are now expressing surprise and frustration at its disappointing findings.

Where were they all these years when Ewa Villagers kept coming to City Hall to air publicly our grievances and tell the truth about the city scandal?

Only one Council member consistently gave us the time. Long before he ran for mayor, he even visited us in Ewa to talk story and gather input from the residents on how to clean up this mess. That man is Mufi Hannemann, and that's why we trust him to always do the right thing for the people.

Louis Maria

If Harris leaves race, Honolulu is stuck

Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna has ruled that Mayor Harris should have resigned as mayor before he filed organizational papers for his campaign for governor last May 15, just a few months after he took office for a four-year term as mayor.

I have written to Harris and have asked him to resign, return the mayoral salary he had taken to date and pay for a special election to be held immediately to replace him. Harris ignored it, of course. His paycheck is obviously of paramount importance to him so it's unlikely that he would ever voluntarily give it up.

Harris has certainly been less than effective as mayor for the past year as he has been campaigning for governor while on the city payroll, and is now frantically pushing a dubious plan to lock up agricultural lands, which he hopes will get him some good press for a change.

My concern is that in view of all the bad press Harris has been getting, which has hurt his chance of winning the race for governor when he thought he would be a shoo-in, Harris might decide not to resign and Honolulu would be stuck with paying his salary as mayor for another two years. Auwe!

We'll all be better off if Harris resigns and runs for governor so Honolulu can elect a real mayor. Hopefully, Harris will then lose the election for governor and disappear.

John Michael White

No aloha for woman in distress downtown

I could not believe my eyes when one recent morning at the intersection of Alakea and King at least six of our "finest" looking business people showed absolutely no regard for a woman (maybe in her sixth decade) who fell to her hands and knees in obvious distress in the middle of King Street.

Sitting in my car at the intersection, I was treated to a sight that displayed such obvious disregard for another person. At least three turned around and looked, and promptly returned to their conversation as they turned their backs and walked on. At least three others who were facing her stepped aside and continued their walk. The woman got up and with shaken stance and, with much dignity, walked on.

Let's hope that most of us would be the one to offer some kindness and assistance. Let's hope that we can be a kinder people, Honolulu.

Marti Hiraoka Stirling

CarePlus requires a lot of tax for little care

Your editorial on long-term care fails to fully inform your readers because it doesn't address the "fine print."

The CarePlus program's $70-a-day benefit would be available only to those who have paid the $10-a-month tax for 10 years. What happens if you have paid for only a year and your health fails to such an extent that you require long-term care services? Your benefit will then be one-tenth of the $70 or only $7 a day.

This mandatory tax (which means everybody over the age of 25 pays) is not going to remain at $10 a month. It will be increased every year. For example, by the year 2009, the tax will be $12.77 a month. This tax could be increased further if the "blue ribbon panel" that is going to run this program requests the Legislature to do so.

If a person is receiving the $70-a-day benefit, does he continue to pay this new tax? You bet he does? He is not excused from paying the tax until he dies or reaches age 98.

This $70-a-day benefit is payable only for a year. What happens if your long-term care requires services to be provided beyond one year? Sorry, that's all you will get. After one year, the poor patient will be on his own.

If this program is supposed to fully answer the problem of long-term care, then the benefit should be made payable for as long as the patient requires it. The benefit payment should be supported by actuarial principles.

Rijo Hori

Parents must battle DOE for their children

The fact that parents of special-needs students have no trust in the Department of Education is hardly a newsworthy item. The DOE has maintained and fostered an adversarial relationship.

The stated goal of the DOE has always been "what's best for the student." Yet the Felix consent decree proves that to be untrue.

Parents who receive services from the state Mental Health Division should be gravely concerned about bringing their children into the DOE. Having been on that battlefield 12 years as a parent of two children with learning disabilities I have nothing but contempt for the DOE's program. Fortunately, the teachers who deliver the services are excellent and deserve nothing short of my undying gratitude and praise.

To get services for their child, parents are required to take on the DOE like one chooses a fight. You have to pick your battles, continue beyond the point of exhaustion and, if necessary, seek legal relief.

I came away from the system knowing if my husband and I had not fought for our children the system would have cheerfully failed them.

To the parents of other children I can only say look at the actions of the DOE, not the rhetoric. Their actions are what caused the Felix consent decree.

Sandy Brown

Sheriff's office is at fault for work backlog

It was very disappointing for me to read the other day that our courts have a backlog of 10,000 court orders that await service. The reason given for this backlog is the fact that there is a shortage of sheriff's deputies to seek out these people.

Perhaps if our over-staffed sheriff's office would stop trying to be a state police force or enforcement agency it could do the job it was originally by law formed to do -- the business of the courts.

Instead, one sees them running around in marked emergency vehicles, training dogs, being policemen at the airport (including issuing traffic tickets there), maintaining a weapons arsenal and Lord knows what other police paraphernalia.

Let the county police departments do their job and let the state sheriff's office do its job at the courts' will. I bet the backlog of court service orders would fast disappear.

John A. Gomes

Only mom takes greater care

Sooner or later we all learn that good health is the most precious thing one can have.

When I recently found out that I had to undergo open-heart surgery I had very mixed feelings about going to the hospital. We all take the skill and knowledge of our doctors for granted, but what surprised me most was the quality of the care and attention given to me by the nurses of the intensive care unit and during the recovery.

They always came when one needed them, day and night. They always had a kind and encouraging word. Their knowledge, help and support has been so very important in the healing and recovery phase. There was a quality of care that you would only expect from your mother.

Having had this wonderful experience I would like to thank the nurses at Kaiser Hospital at Moanalua in the intensive care unit and the cardiology section for their wonderful care and helpfulness.

I am sure that patients know about the good care they got, and doctors know it, but I feel that the general public should also be made aware of the role that good nurses play in our recovery.

Klaus Wyrtk

Tapping hurricane fund is Band-Aid fix

First it's raiding the federal government highway fund. Second, it's the state employees' retirement fund, which has gone into the general fund. My husband worked for more than 33 years for that retirement money so that there would be something for him in the future.

Now, the latest state fund to be tapped is our money in the hurricane fund.

Instead of a few legislators dipping into public funds to provide Band-Aid fixes, let the people vote on whether their money should be used to balance the budget. The threat is that if they don't use our money then services will be cut. Who are these guys kidding? Thank you, Ed Case and the other few who are against this travesty.

No wonder there is voter apathy. We don't have a choice in anything that concerns the people of this island. Only the powerful who are concerned with the status quo and their own well-being count, and they have to work only 10 years to receive the same, if not more, retirement than my husband.

I don't want my hurricane fund money or my husband's retirement money messed with. Will these legislators and the governor pay our insurance when a hurricane hits Oahu? I think not.

Adrienne L. Wilson-Yamasaki



Mayor's plan offers best chance
to preserve Oahu agricultural land

Contrary to the view expressed in your March 7 editorial ("Plan won't protect agricultural land"), Mayor Harris' bill is the best realistic opportunity to protect and preserve prime agricultural land to come from the city or state government during the last 20 years.

The intent of this bill is to preserve and protect our valuable agricultural lands for future generations as part of a sustainable island community. This is an important stand that our community must make to define urban growth and keep our remaining country country.

Much agricultural land is being priced out of reach of legitimate agriculture operations because of speculation or land banking. Land developers know that they can buy agricultural land at lower costs, and then get it rezoned for urban development. As a result, the price of the agricultural land goes up higher than a farmer can afford to pay.

The only way to protect ag land for small, medium and large farmers is to state as public policy that they are to be preserved in perpetuity. This will make it more difficult for that policy to be overturned by requiring a super majority vote of the City Council to remove the land from agricultural protection.

The mayor's plan was not hastily conceived, as the editorial states. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1978, Mayor Harris co-authored a constitutional amendment to protect our prime ag lands. That amendment was adopted by the voters of Hawaii and states that important ag lands shall not be redesignated or rezoned without a two-thirds majority vote. It leaves the implementation of this agriculture protection law up to the state.

After 24 years, the state still has not acted to implement the 1978 constitutional provision. Therefore, four years ago the mayor directed city planners to establish urban growth boundaries and agricultural protection zones to specifically implement the state constitutional provision that has been languishing for 24 years. Since 1995, the city has been revising its long-range regional plans, with each one identifying important agricultural lands under a community-based planning process. This current bill is the next logical step to this process, moving from policy planning to actual implementation. It puts the same lands identified in those sustainable communities plans into agriculture protection zones.

This law carries out this mandate for Oahu and deserves the support of this community if we want to see our green space protected and agriculture as part of our future economy. It is also the appropriate time for release because it coincides with the processing of the Central Oahu Sustainable Communities Plan. This is the last long-range regional plan for Oahu to be adopted that has a significant agricultural component.

Randall Fujiki
Department of Planning and Permitting
City and County of Honolulu

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