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Dems late to support campaign reform

It takes chutzpa, which Democratic Party of Hawaii chairwoman Lorraine H. Akiba has, to recommend "legislation that erects a wall between government campaign contributions and government contract awards" (Price of Paradise, Star-Bulletin, Aug. 18). This is the exact bill killed by Democrats. Wow.

Five years ago, Republican legislators began supporting Campaign Spending Commission head Bob Watada's bill making it illegal to contribute to anyone able to give the contributor a contract. Watada's bill followed federal law and a majority of other states. For three years, Republicans fought for the bill against Democrat opposition.

This year reform legislation finally passed. When Governor Cayetano vetoed the bill, 23 legislators (22 Republicans and Ed Case) signed petitions to override the veto. But Democrats refused to go along, so campaign- spending reform died again.

Let the record show Republicans advocated -- and Democrats killed -- the very reform Akiba recommends.

Rep. Galen Fox

House Republican Leader

GOP head sidestepped public resources issue

In his response to accusations leveled against the Republicans' front-running guber- natorial candidate for alleged abuse of public resources, Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Micah Kane was given the opportunity to restore faith in government in his response (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 18).

Rather than choosing to defend Linda Lingle's actions while she served as Maui's mayor or condemn her for possible ethical and legal violations, he sidestepped the issue and tried to redirect the public with claims that what others have done is worse.

I hope that in the future Kane will have the courage to address issues as serious as the abuse of public resources head-on. Restoring faith in our government is certainly not a partisan issue and is the responsibility of all our political and governmental leaders.

Marion Poirier


More foreign flights would help tourism

The state's hotel occupancy hovers around 70 percent and international tourist numbers are down more than 12 percent. Our reliance on tourism, especially on international travelers, is a headache that could be turned into a blessing if we could entice more direct flights to Hawaii from Asia.

International tourism contributes greatly to our economy. More money would come with additional direct flights. Most Asian airlines bypass Hawaii and fly directly to the mainland. We need more of them to stop here and provide boost to tourism.

Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Dalton Tanonaka has said one of his first priorities would be to promote direct flights from Asia. Once more flights come here, more foreign guests will fill our hotels and spend their money at local stores and businesses. Tanonaka's cordial ties with Asian business and political leaders can open doors and bring more direct flights here.

Marilyn Y. Helfenbein

Wastewater proposal should be put on ballot

It's too bad Mayor Jeremy Harris isn't going to allow the City Council-approved charter amendment merging the city's water and wastewater functions to be placed on the ballot for action by the voters.

With the current state of city finances, we desperately need big changes in the way we operate our city. We need real solutions that generate efficiency and effectiveness. By rejecting this merger proposal, the mayor keeps control of wastewater functions and monies. Watch out for more shenanigans with our sewer fund.

Gary Okino

City Councilman

District 8

Fill Waikiki natatorium with sand for volleyball

Now that the Waikiki natatorium health issue is being reevaluated, perhaps it is time to consider alternatives. The natatorium would be a perfect venue for beach volleyball if it were filled with sand instead of water.

There are stands for spectators and snack bars that I'm sure would be popular and profitable. Beach volleyball popularity is on the rise, especially with it being an Olympic sport. On any given weekend, there are many nets set up at parks where young and old, good and not-so-good players participate. Hawaii could bid for tournaments that are often televised on major sports channels. With Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach in the background, it could be another public relations event similar to the Hawaiian Open, NFL Quarterback Challenge and the Kapalua PGA golf tournament.

The natatorium could become a world-class venue for beach volleyball if only the politicians would think "outside of the (water) box."

Greg Mau

Employees are losers in tourism decline

Like other union members, I am getting a little tired of the fact that every time there is a report in the news regarding the woes of the travel industry, management seems to rub these in our faces. Hows about someone reporting the woes of the average hotel employee?

A recent story reported that hotel occupancy was down 5 percent. Try this on for size: Hotel employee schedules were reduced by 65 percent from a year ago, and hotel employees are paying $200 more a month for families' health insurance while earning $900 a month less than a year ago. Where is the parity?

CEOs are receiving bonus incentives while front-line employees are trying to get their work hours restored to pre-Sept. 11 levels. Is it any wonder that such negotiations like those between Local 5 and the Sheraton and Hilton companies are the way they are? When you want to report percentages, remember there is more to every story than just the headline!

Maynard Higgins Jr.

Satchidananda shared his playful spirit

I want to share a short remembrance of Swami Satchidananda (Gurudev) who died Aug. 19 in India.

Three years ago, at a week-long advanced yoga retreat in Bali, Gurudev would meet with us after dinner to share his thoughts. One day he appeared late, leaning on a cane and walking apparently with great effort.

A murmur of concern passed through the room as he painstakingly mounted the three steps to the raised platform where he usually sat.

He sat for quite a few minutes, as if gathering his thoughts or preparing a momentous announcement, and then nodded to an assistant in the back of the room. Suddenly the animated sounds of a popular folk dance blared through loudspeakers. With a mischievous smile, he jumped off the platform and shouted, "Let's dance." As we formed a circle to join hands in a joyous dance, he was laughing like a small boy who had played a trick on a group of adults.

Swami-ji was a tireless advocate of freedom and tolerance. His wisdom will live on long past his physical presence, but Many of will cherish his joy of life and innocent mischievousness, as well. And I'll always keep in mind that things are not always what they seem.

Neal Pinckney

Humble teacher was larger than life

Whenever Swami Satchidananda spoke, there were mobs of people listening.

They would humble themselves before him and he would usually out-humble them, always with respect and love. Yet he was bigger than life.

"Be peaceful, useful and joyful" was always his message. He was as close to God in human form that I can ever imagine.

He was always a kick to be around and in his presence at every gathering, other people were swept into his love, joy and respect.

He was full of humor and surprises. Once at a luncheon in India, when dessert was served, he chanted "ice cream nemah." "Nemah" is a sanskrit word that means "I surrender to you."

I will miss his twinkle and his human example.

Betsy Chitra Staller

Blame development for loss of coral reefs

Having grown up on the coral reefs of Moanalua Bay I and many others can link the loss of those reefs to simple urban development. The opening up of the Kaupo Fishponds and turning them into Hawaii Kai Marina, the concreting of Kuliouou Stream and the implementation of storm drains instead of allowing natural percolation is what has killed these reefs and many others around the islands.

The constant inundation of silt and urban runoff has been a major contributor to the loss of the near-shore habitat, which no one seems to want to address. So while reading the recent article on the loss of coral reefs it seems so easy to lay the blame on overfishing, which targets a small portion of the population: fishermen. While fishermen are certainly not without blame, even ending all fishing will not restore the reefs here.

Until we can address the larger problems we have locally instead of focusing on those located far away, things probably will not get much better. After all, when is the last time you heard of someone using dynamite fishing in Hawaii?

Steve Kaiser

Legalize marijuana to improve society

With our Hawaiian economy ailing because of decades of tourist industry reliance, our leaders -- within reason -- must be willing to take some revolutionary action. If the alternative -- dedication to the status quo -- is chosen, a pivotal turning point shall be forsaken. The time has come for the legalization of marijuana.

I believe that all people in Hawaii are themselves present or former pot smokers, or have relatives or friends, or relatives of friends, who responsibly get high. Americans realize that the prohibition of alcohol did not work; it just made gangsters rich and otherwise law-abiding citizens criminal. So, too, with the prohibition of pakalolo.

Marijuana is not a stepping stone to dangerous drugs like ice; people who end up addicted to crystal meth would have ended up that way regardless of marijuana use. If marijuana were treated similarly to alcohol, our society would be better off.

Stuart N. Taba

Was the aloha spirit paid for by the hour?

Last Wednesday morning I went down to Honolulu Harbor for the arrival of the Italian sailing ship, the Amerigo Vespucci. I was overjoyed with the lei greeting and abundant spirit of aloha shown by the distinguished local officials, lovely hula dancers, and uniformed U.S. Navy personnel.

However, I was quite disappointed by the thoughtlessness of the Royal Hawaiian Band. At the completion of their session, while the arrival ceremony was still underway, band members proceeded to pack up their instruments, bang their metal chairs and load up their huge truck. The officials welcoming the arriving ship and the Italian captain thanking Hawaii for its generous greeting had to speak over the noise and disruption of the band rushing to get out of there as fast as possible.

Had they remained in their seats, the band members would have had to wait only about 10 minutes for the ceremony to be completed.

The speeches were short and tasteful, but the Royal Hawaiian Band just came up short.

Megan Donahue

Contraceptive pill ad should be withdrawn

I am absolutely appalled that the state Department of Health is allowed to run adds on local radio stations advertising the use of the emergency contraceptive pill. I am not a right-wing activist who denies the a woman's right to choice and I am well aware of the pregnancy rates of Hawaii's teens. However, I believe the Department of Health is not taking responsibility for their message to teens.

Instead of spending state funds to reduce teen pregnancies by teaching kids about their responsibility to choose a healthy lifestyle, make good choices and handle the consequences, we are handing them a panacea for unwanted pregnancy.

This inexcusable radio ad markets to teenage girls a pill that can have harmful side effects and serious health consequences but promises to solve their problem from having sex without protection, saying that as long as they take this pill within three days they have an 89 percent chance of avoiding a pregnancy. This pill is meant only for emergency situations.

Instead of the Department of Health wasting its money on a futile attempt at reducing teen pregnancy on unintelligent, worthless, irresponsible advertisements, it should focus on dealing with the real issue of teen pregnancy through tested methods rather than a quick fix that could potentially do more harm than good.

This radio advertisement should be pulled and the person responsible for this program should be ashamed and forced to do better research on their promotions to the public. The public should be outraged.

Kari Kobayakawa

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