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Boy Scouts have rights under the law

Columnist Rob Perez needs to take a course in civics before engaging in a tirade against the Boy Scouts of America ("Ties to Scouts stains group's teachings," Raising Cane, Star-Bulletin, March 10). Unfortunately, all of his complaints have become meaningless in the legal environment of the United States of America.

First, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the Boy Scouts decision not to admit homosexual leaders does not violate any prohibition against discrimination and ruled specifically that the Boy Scouts have the right, under the U.S. Constitution, to regulate themselves in that manner. The decision of the Supreme Court is exactly the same vehicle through which the right to an abortion was created. Perez has to accept both if he accepts one.

In addition to the Supreme Court action, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act to protect that right to an abortion. In February 2002, the president signed into law the education bill passed by Congress. That law includes protection for the Boy Scouts. Specifically, it protects the Scouts from governmental discrimination (including access to public schools) and provides that government offices (including public schools) that discriminate against the Boy Scouts run the risk of losing congressional funding.

Maybe Perez can write a news story to let the Hawaii Department of Education in on the risk to its precious federal funding if the Scouts are not permitted access to public schools.

Jim Hochberg

Leftists want to censor wholesome groups

Homosexual and atheist activists have called for the typical left-wing remedy to "inequality" by promoting censorship of the Boy Scouts of America and Learning for Life in Hawaii's public schools. Their words and sentiments should not be heeded; they do not represent a consensus.

These wholesome organizations have done wonders for generations of boys in Hawaii, and their presence on any school campus should be welcomed. We can only pity those so devoid of any moral compass for the hypocrisy they stand for, and then move on. The nurturing of young people is far more important than catering to the self-righteous has-beens of Hawaii's left.

Jeffrey Bingham Mead
Log Cabin Republicans of Hawaii

Selfish gays, atheists push their agendas

Can someone explain how teaching a program in our public schools, in this case "Learning for life" sponsored by The Boy Scouts of America, has anything whatsoever to do with the separation of church and state? The Boy Scouts of America is not a religion; they may teach some of the same principals as a religion, but so do some atheist and gay groups.

This whole situation stinks of atheist and gay advocates not winning their battle in court against the Boy Scouts, so they will attack their programs in the schools. They do this with their own selfish motives, and with no regard for the children of this state.

The sad part is that it looks like the Department of Education and some of the school superintendents are going to cave in to this vocal minority. It is time for the people of this state to stand up to these selfish people who want to change our society to further their own agendas.

Sharon McCarthy

Smoke ban won't keep customers away

Oahu restaurants should be smoke-free. This is a good policy for Hawaii's restaurants because smoking is a very serious health issue. I'm a non-smoker, and I don't want to damage my health and lungs by inhaling someone's smoke fumes while dining at a restaurant.

Glenn Tanoue, co-owner or Tropic's Diner at the Ward Farmer's Market, said the restaurant will lose 10 percent to 20 percent of its lunchtime customers if people aren't allowed to smoke. All restaurant owners should have consideration for their customers and more confidence in their food and service. If their food is good, people will patronize their restaurant anyway.

Chad Takabuki
Grade 8, Mid-Pacific Institute


"Do they send us a thank-you note?"

Ann Kobayashi

Honolulu city councilwoman, in a facetious response during a discussion of Mayor Harris's community "vision team" program. Kobayashi criticized the process used to select projects that has resulted in city money being used for improvement projects along state highways.

"It's all taxpayers' money. The public does not differentiate between state and city responsibility. This is one island."

Carol Costa

Spokeswoman for Mayor Harris, responding to Councilwoman Kobayashi's criticism.

Changes since Sept. 11 are disturbing

As Americans are increasingly becoming subjected to even more intrusive and undignified security measures at our airports, I've yet to read or hear of one report of catching a single terrorist. We have caught a lot of Americans trying to transport illegal drugs. Maybe our war on terror and war on drugs are really a war on Americans.

As our airports more and more resemble those of communist nations and Nazi Germany, our intelligence communities have detained and interrogated thousands of Americans, based on a racial profile.

Meanwhile, in this time of blind patriotism, no one seems to be appalled that President Bush is shaking the nuclear stick as America contemplates war with Iraq, at the same time our military is involved in the affairs of Bosnia, Colombia, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, the Philippines and Afghanistan. Someday our government's reaction to Sept. 11 could be recorded in history as more horrific than the Sept. 11 attacks themselves.

Mel McKeague

Term limits would solve many problems

In a recent column, Jules Witcover discussed the politics of Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in regards to the "never-ending" spending of money on the war against terrorism.

I guess Byrd, "The King Of Pork," would like to save the money being spent on the war so that he can spend it in his state of West Virginia. How many roads, bridges and government buildings can he build in his state? He'll never be satisfied until he moves the Pentagon to West Virginia.

This is why I'm all for term limits. We need some fresh blood in Washington. Get these old has-beens out of office where they do more harm than good.

Fred Cavaiuolo

Alaska's native people want development

Regarding the commentary by Charles Burrows, "Oil development will ruin Alaskan arctic refuge" (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 25):

For more than 25 years, my family and I lived among the Inupiat in the communities of Barrow and Kaktovik, the only community in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We lived as they did. Through my teenage years, we didn't have a flush toilet; we had a bucket with a toilet seat. We boiled water before drinking it. We worried about dying from the cold, from a lack of access to basic medical services and from diseases like hepatitis. Inupiat control and choices changed all that.

The Inupiat chose self-sufficiency over welfare. They operate a home-rule government that regulates oil development and requires that it take a backseat to the needs of the animals, birds and fish. They invested time and energy into learning about drilling technology so they could make educated decisions about the impacts of oil development. Now, they have running water and health clinics in their communities, emergency medical evacuation and search and rescue capabilities in their region and homes heated with natural gas instead of driftwood. They have provided themselves with this without disturbing the ecological balance in the Arctic.

The Inupiat people live in a frozen land, but their hearts are warm and their minds are clear. ANWR is in their backyard, and they support limited development. Senator Akaka walked their land and talked with them. He voted with them, knowing it would bring the scorn of people like Charles Burrows. He made the right decision. He recognized them for the true environmentalists that they are -- each and every decision made with the environment in mind. As a proponent of self-determination, Senator Akaka knows that it means more than supporting the decisions you personally agree with or that are easy to support. It means supporting local people, relying on local expertise and deferring to local decisions.

I've met Burrows, and while I respect his passion for this issue, he hasn't stepped within 500 miles of ANWR. He is another well-intentioned person who speaks of a place he has never been, promotes policies about a place he will never live or depend on to survive, and in doing so, harms a people who made it their home since time began.

Jade Danner

State lawsuit against oil companies was politically motivated

Why are so many people surprised at the decision of the state to settle its billion-dollar lawsuit against the oil companies?

The lawsuit was filed three years ago by then-Attorney General Marjorie Bronster, just before the hotly contested gubernatorial elections. Many knowledgeable people saw it as a thinly veiled, popular political move to help Governor Cayetano get re-elected.

At no time prior to the suit being filed, even after years of investigation and millions of tax dollars being spent, was there ever any evidence presented of wrongdoing by any individual or oil company.

In 1998, seven months before the lawsuit was filed, the deputy attorney general investigating the oil companies appeared before a legislative committee.

He testified that after 10 years of investigating he found that not one illegal act had been committed. He went on to request hundreds of thousands more dollars to continue his investigation. The legislature turned him down, deeming it a waste of money.

Seven months later, without legislative approval or any additional evidence, the current lawsuit was filed. The same legislative committee asked Bronster to explain her actions.

Her response was to bring in the mainland attorneys she had hired on a contingency basis with charts purporting to show how the Hawaii consumer had been "cheated."

I testified at that hearing, not in defense of the oil companies but to offer a rational voice in the midst of all the hysteria. I stated that the suit was without merit.

Two to three years and millions of dollars in legal fees later, the matter would be settled. The foregone conclusion was that it is not illegal to make a profit, and the Hawaii market is so small that no marketer could gain any long-term advantage through discount pricing.

Hawaii historically has been a market of individual service-station owners who rely on their suppliers for market support. When our own state government harasses those suppliers, they obviously cannot give dealers (and ultimately consumers) the desperately needed attention, in particular during these tough economic times.

Further complicating matters is the media mantra of "buy cheap gasoline" (regardless of quality or source), bypassing neighborhood stations. This will result in more station abandonment by dealers and less community convenience.

When people use the power of the government to impose their own ideas on private business, bad things happen.

Bill Green
Kahala Shell Auto Care, Inc.

Electric companies never see the light

We have our own "axis of evil" right here in Hawaii -- island power companies HEI, HECO, MECO and HELCO. The latest demonstration of arrogance and public insensitivity is Hawaiian Electric Co.'s decision to continue to push for approval of the Waahila power-line project over the findings and recommendations of the independent, retired Judge E. John McConnell.

Haven't HECO managers learned that at some point even we, the stupid public, will rise up and say, "Hell no, you can't rape our islands any more." Haven't they learned anything after wasting more than $100 million on Keahole expansion that sometimes, in spite of the mass of money spent for both attorneys and influence peddling, they will lose?

The history of incompetent management bubbles up from Hawaii Electric Light Co.'s Keahole fiasco through Maui Electric Co. and HECO, all the way up to the hallowed halls of Hawaiian Electric Industries officialdom. What the public knows is staggering; what we don't know certainly must be considerably more.

Brad Houser
Waikoloa, Hawaii

Public funding is best way to repair politics

Your March 19 editorial gave only a partial explanation of the problems with campaign donations. The truth is that campaigns, especially for mayor and governor, are getting more expensive. Who is going to pay?

The candidate gets only a small amount from individuals who support him. The big money must come from business and/or labor. Call it a business investment that hopefully will pay off with a contract, or tax break, or relaxation of regulatory oversight. The business expense of the large donations is passed on to the taxpayer. This is the cycle that will continue unless reforms are taken.

Change is unlikely to occur by politicians until pushed by the public. A glaring example of this is the refusal of politicians to ban donations by businesses having contracts with the city and state. This is prohibited at the federal level. Doing this would take the largest contributions out of the equation.

What we really need is to see that candidates have enough money to run for office by providing funds that are not tied to any special interest. But public funding of campaigns is opposed not only by candidates who are afraid they won't get enough money, but by the public, who still doesn't understand the financial need candidates have for these special interests. They don't understand that we pay for those campaigns by the added tax costs of whatever break that contributors received.

Partial public funding would require half the money to come from the public and business, which is then matched by public funds. This encourages bundling by business -- more people with the small amounts that are allowed and keeps the ties in place.

I would rather pay all of it up front and elect candidates without ties to special interests. This will not only give us more viable candidates but give those communities without challengers a choice. It might even boost the hopes of an apathetic public who doesn't seem to find any reason to vote at all.

Grace Furukawa
Vice President, Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition

Harris has expertise for governor's office

I have observed Jeremy Harris as a candidate and officeholder since his first campaign and have always been impressed with his openness and honesty. He was elected mayor because he was the most competent candidate in a city that must have capable leaders. We need his experience, expertise and capability as governor to help us with the challenges we continue to face as a state.

Months ago, when I was trying to get campaign information, I inadvertently called someone at City Hall. This person refused to discuss it at all. I was told, "The mayor's policy is that we at City Hall do not talk about his political campaign. Sorry."

The most important thing for Hawaii right now is for us to get back on our feet financially and to do so without cutting necessary programs. That will be difficult. But Mayor Harris, with his new ideas, is our best hope for the future. He has withstood so many obstacles to his candidacy. Now he should be supported and encouraged to stay in the race for governor.

Barbara Coons

Harris has misused office of mayor

Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna ruled against Mayor Harris, finding that he should have resigned as mayor before filing organizational papers May 15, 2001, for his campaign for governor a few months after beginning his four-year term as mayor. Before that filing I supported Harris.

On April 13, 2001, after hearing the newly elected mayor so brazenly announce his campaign to run for governor, I wrote a letter asking him to immediately resign, return his mayoral salary to the city, and personally pay for a special election to replace him. That request, published in the press and echoed by many, was ignored by Harris.

Harris has been a less-than-effective mayor while running his campaign for governor and still on city payroll. Now Harris is frantic, pushing dubious plans desperately seeking some good press to offset all of his bad press. If Harris gets cold feet, and decides not to resign and run for governor, Honolulu will pay his mayoral salary another two years. Auwe!

Harris has appealed the judge's decision, based on a legal loophole. But isn't this really a moral issue as much as a legal one? How can what he's done be morally right? We will all be better off if Harris resigns and runs for governor, and we should encourage him to do it so Honolulu can can elect a real mayor now. Some great candidates have lined up to run. My vote in the election will be for anybody but Harris.

John Michael White

Happy Birthday to 'new' Star-Bulletin

We are so glad that the Star-Bulletin has survived its first year under new, independent ownership despite the competition's mean tricks. It has not only survived but thrived and keeps getting better.

With so much terrible world news it is a pleasure to turn to two of your newer local items: The column by the Hawaiian Historical Society compiled by Nannette Napoleon Purcell is always interesting and Charlotte Wong's Crossword of the Pacific is good fun.

Keep up the good work.

Dorothy Turnbull

Community owes a debt to David Black

Congratulations on your successful first anniversary operating the Star-Bulletin with new owner David Black.

I appreciate all those who helped to save this newspaper. We especially owe a great deal to Black, who saw the potential of our newspaper.

We are also gratified that he owns MidWeek, which has been rather underestimated. Both papers are a credit to all who work there.

I started reading the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in Seattle in 1957, a year before I made a decision to come here to live. It is still my favorite.

Hazel Yamada

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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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

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