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Please keep praying at Council meetings

I agree with City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi when she says, regarding prayers at Council meetings, "We need all the help we can get, from whatever source."

It does not matter who gives the interpretation, as have so many courts in this land. We should not interpret. What should matter is the face value of the words that were written more than 225 years ago.

I don't see how holding prayer before, during or after any government meeting or in any government office violates laws against establishment of a religion or assuring freedom of religion. I believe praying is exercising our freedom of speech.

Lloyd P. Ignacio

Founding Fathers endorsed prayers

In challenging the City Council's right to open meetings with prayer, Mitchell Kahle said overt Christian proselytizing is unconstitutional. He also said, "All invocations -- whether in the form of prayers, sermons, speeches, poems, songs or any other -- must be generic and nonsectarian as ruled by the United States Supreme Court in Marsh vs. Chambers."

While the case of Rubin vs. City of Burbank backs up his first claim, nowhere in the majority or dissenting opinions in the second case are generic and nonsectarian mentioned.

In fact, the following is provided from the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Berger in that case. In discussing the objections of two founding fathers to the opening of the Continental Congress in prayer, Berger said, "This interchange emphasizes that the delegates did not consider opening prayers as a proselytizing activity or as symbolically placing the government's 'official seal of approval on one religious view.' Rather, the founding fathers looked at invocations as 'conduct whose ... effect ... harmonize(d) with the tenets of some or all religions."

Berger went on: "In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. To invoke divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, an 'establishment' of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country."

James Roller

Let Lingle consider boater fee increases

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources and Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation have mounted an 11th-hour attempt to implement the controversial boaters fee increases before Governor Cayetano's term expires.

Despite the fact that the last state Legislature rejected several bills generated by DBOR to increase boaters' fees by 35 percent, and that this was overwhelmingly opposed at state public hearings on Oct. 5, it was resubmitted at Friday's BLNR meeting on Maui with only one of its many increased fees reduced.

What makes this bad situation even worse is that the adoption of the boater fee increases amendment now would fly in the face of Gov.-elect Linda Lingle's disapproval of the proposed boater fee increases, as stated in a Nov. 7 article in the Star-Bulletin. Because of the continuing strong public opposition to the increases, we requested that the board postpone action until the new administration can study the proposal more closely.

To do otherwise would give the appearance of the outgoing administration flipping the new administration as it walked out the door. This would not serve the public interest of a smooth gubernatorial transition.

William E. Mossman

A two-way solution to tunnel debate

Why all the fuss over naming the H-3 tunnels? There are two of them, right? Name the windward-bound tunnel for Tets Harano. Name the Pearl Harbor-bound tunnel for John Burns.

Rick Scudder

Ko Olina has provided lovely family area

Those who are critical of the Ko Olina folks regarding access to their lagoons are forgetting something: These lagoons are not public beaches. They are on private property.

Before we moved to the Big Island a couple of years ago, we lived in Makakilo and visited the lagoons often. In from the oceanfront, which in that area is not beach but pure coral, the lagoons took a great deal of design, effort, time and expense to create. They are beautiful, flawlessly maintained and secure. They are perfect for families. The sand in the lagoons is small-grained and pleasant to walk on. The water, sheltered from the ocean waves, is smooth and easy to swim in.

The owners provide bathrooms, showers, a walking/jogging pathway and even beach furniture at lagoon No. 1. Free parking also is available.

The owners have provided a facility to the public far better in quality than that found on the ocean fronts of the high-priced resorts here on the Kona coast.

So don't confuse these private facilities with the beach fronts that belong to all of us and cannot be restricted by developers. This is a luxurious, highly engineered and beautiful series of landscaped lagoons generously provided to the general public, and should be appreciated rather than criticized.

Robert W. Donigan
Kamuela, Hawaii

No one has exclusive right to beach

This is in response to the Nov. 13 letter, "Ko Olina residents shouldn't be punished."

I take issue with the writer's underlying assertion that the beach at Ko Olina is cleaner and safer because of security and restricted access. Is he implying that the public is comprised of ruffians who need to be subjected to security so that his community's beach will be clean and safe? I hope not.

My premise is much simpler and less inflammatory. Beaches are a limited resource open to all; any developer moving to Hawaii should know this and accommodate the community accordingly.

If not, that developer could always build a strip mall in California instead.

Jean Soji
Kahului, Maui

Car in every driveway; rooster in every yard

Regarding the Honolulu City Council's failure to ban roosters from suburban neighborhoods:

Evidently Council members have a difficult time differentiating between farm animals and pets. Why don't they just zone all of Oahu as agricultural? That way, Old MacDonald and his wife can live in Waipahu, Wahiawa, Waimanalo, Waialae-Kahala or a condo in Waikiki and bring their pets with them.

Think of the tax break that the 501 properties -- out of 502 -- in our development in Hawaii Kai would realize by re-zoning from residential to agricultural. Our property taxes would be substantially reduced -- from thousands of dollars a year to hundreds.

Just think, we can designate certain areas as "open range" and allow hunting for escaped fowl and unbranded livestock. We won't need leash laws any more. Fertilizer will be inexpensive and readily available -- right outside your front door. As an added benefit, the police wouldn't have to respond to animal complaints any more.

One last point, weddings would be allowed on agricultural property. At least we'll get one vote.

Tom Gabrielli

New City Council can cut its expenses

The incoming City Council should organize with only one staffer per Council member; the current five is too many.

The recent cases of staff abuse by former Council members Andy Mirikitani and Rene Mansho are clear proof that five staff members are unproductive and wasteful.

The city should be run as a business, with the mayor as chief executive and the Council as the board of directors. It was never intended that each Council member function as a satellite mayor.

The annual Council budget of $3.5 million can be shaved to $900,000 -- a reduction of a whopping $2.6 million. The city can surely use the savings for important services like police or the new city auditor.

The research arm of the Council is more than adequate to provide the Council with intelligence and ideas.

Each new Council member must face up to correcting this gross waste and honestly organize the Council.

A blast of fresh air is certainly timely and welcomed.

Yoshiro Nakamura
Former City Councilman

Using ice damages brain permanently

Your Nov. 14 article "Windward crime wave alarms residents" accurately pointed out the shortage of police officers here as well as the sad but true criminal effects of the "ice" epidemic upon Windward Oahu. As a health-care provider, may I add that this drug has similarly affected the mental health-care community as well.

There are financial and resource costs to ice use, beyond the most obvious costs of crime and the effects upon the families of people using ice. Ice induces biochemical changes in the brain that mimic mental illness, and eventually these changes are permanent. The mental-health community has seen a major onslaught of people in psychiatric crises induced by ice use.

The Honolulu Police Department needs the fiscal resources to recruit good police officers to handle the crime problem caused by ice use. Our mental-health resources also need the proper attention and resources to deal with this ever-growing problem.

Michelle Allen

Election 2002

9/11 hastened demise of Democratic reign

The accelerated downturn in Hawaii's economy caused by 9/11 highlighted the inability of the entrenched, fully empowered Cayetano administration to do anything but bicker and wring its collective hands over our economy.

Without this terrible acceleration in the demise of our economy, people may have continued to blindly follow suspect leadership. I believe Gov.-elect Linda Lingle is mindful of the role the economy played in the Republican win. If she can make progress in four years, then she'll get four more.

Steve Lenzi

Box score could track 'old boys' obstruction

Congratulations to Gov.-elect Linda Lingle on her magnificent win in breaking up a 40-year reign of Democratic governors.

Unfortunately, the old-boy Democrat network still exists in the state Legislature. In fact, due to a few losses in the House, Republicans can no longer "force out" bills from committee for House debate. This is indeed a concern for Lingle because the governor needs the cooperation and non-partisanship of a full state Legislature.

I suggest the new state administration take out a weekly paid ad in both major newspapers in the form of a "Weekly Box Score" of the state Legislature's activities of receiving new bills, sending bills to appropriate committees, reading bills, bills never coming out of committee (killing of bills) and especially the names of the senators and representatives involved. The names of the committee chairmen also are quite important.

This will allow citizens of Hawaii to finally identify who the "old boy network" consists of and will indeed influence their vote the next time around.

Robert M. Lowe

Democrats are on notice to cooperate

If the state's Democratic leaders really don't know where the 27,723 votes went ... I can enlighten them about one. I have never voted for a state Republican before, but I did on Nov. 5. And if these "leaders" don't understand why I and 27,722 other people voted this way, then no explanation will help them.

I expect our Democratic state legislators to continue doing their jobs to insure a balanced, comprehensive direction is maintained in our government. However, if I or the rest of the majority of voters perceive obstructionist, partisan undermining of our new governor's attempts to get Hawaii back on track, they will succumb to a similar earthquake of discontent in 2004.

Bruce Ekings
Keaau, Hawaii

There's little of Hawaii left in Waikiki

Waikiki needs to stop trying to be everything to everybody. We are not Japan. We are not New York City. We are not Rodeo Drive. We are not Las Vegas.

The reasons people have wanted to come to Hawaii are the beautiful beaches, the purity and serenity of the ocean waves, the mountain vistas and the swaying palm trees.

Now when a first-time visitor sets foot in Waikiki, what do they see? Not much. Most of the greenery is in the money it costs to visit or stay in Waikiki. Almost all of the views are blocked by "Berlin Wall"-designed buildings that show nothing of Hawaii's culture. This includes the Sheraton Waikiki, which manages to just about block the view for everyone. The much-ballyhooed Hilton Hawaiian Village towers are the same.

The only development in Waikiki that seems to reflect the true meaning of the Hawaii spirit is the military's careful design and use of Fort DeRussy and the Hale Koa Hotel. By carefully positioning the hotels, and maximizing the use of landscaping, Waikiki has its only green area, unblemished by concrete walls and buildings that have been overbuilt.

Most of our hotel developers will not be happy until we have a solid concrete wall from McCully to Kapahulu.

Then where will the tourist go?

Norman Sullivan

Biotech benefits both man and environment

It's troubling when anti-technology, anti-people activists cry wolf, but it's even more so when they are reported in the media ("Gene tests on isle plants are risky, advocate says," Oct. 27).

Like many activists, Claire Cummings is drama-, not solution-, oriented.

Virtually every scientific body in the world supports the use of biotechnology, including scientists in Zimbabwe, where politicians recently decided to let their citizens starve rather than allow them to eat the same biotech corn that we eat.

Nearly 20 Nobel Prize winners, including Dr. Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution of the 1970s, have signed a declaration with more than 3,000 other scientists supporting the use of modern biotechnology in food production. Also supporting modern biotechnology are many environmentalists.

In contrast to the "potential" harm claimed by Cummings, a new study by the Conservation Technology Information Center, based at Purdue University, shows how modern biotechnology is already producing real environmental benefits. The study indicates that farmers growing biotech crops are more likely than other farmers to use beneficial "no till" conservation tillage.

Among other benefits, no-till farming: reduces erosion by 90 percent or more; has already saved 1 billion tons of soil runoff into waterways and will reduce water treatment, dredging and other costs by an estimated $3.5 billion in 2002; promotes populations of earthworms, beneficial insects, birds and other wildlife; reduces greenhouse gases when plants decay in the soil; and saves on fossil fuels, an estimated 306 million gallons in 2002.

Modern biotechnology, including for food production, is safe and well regulated in our country and elsewhere. It offers what Cummings and others like her want to take away from each of us: a future with adequate supplies of food for everyone in the world.

Rick Klemm
Executive director
HARTS Hawaii

Editor's note: HARTS is an industry trade group whose members include companies engaged in agricultural bio-technology in Hawaii.

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