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Photo captured irony at deadly crash site

What a telling photograph by Dennis Oda on page 8 of the March 19 Star-Bulletin. It was taken at the Haleiwa crash site where five people were killed after a night of drinking at a birthday party. Oda's photo shows friends of the victims swigging beer in a toast to the dead.

Charles E. Frankel

Crash-site mourners showed poor judgment

After five young people die, the mother of two of them says they were drinking "but not drunk," and their friends sit around in a circle by the crash site to mourn and drink! I presume that when they left, they drove away. How alcoholically impaired were they? Did they fasten their seatbelts?

Guys and gals, you are not immortal. A beer or two will impair your judgment. I know, because one beer does it for me. At least put on your seatbelts to improve your chances of surviving the crash, because sooner or later you will crash.

Think of how your family and friends will feel if you die. They'll be crying just like you're crying now.

Janet M. Dalbec

Powerful message missed by mourners

Thank you to the Star-Bulletin for being so pointed about the unbelievable inconsistencies among mourners drinking at the site of a fatal accident in which speeding and alcohol were factors, according to police. The pictures and the text are superbly interposed. Personally, I doubt that many will "get the drift," though. How unbelievable to see friends and family members drinking, probably eventually to excess and then driving home, near the crash site of their loved ones who had ultimately been killed by excessive use of alcohol.

Good Grief! Drinking may be your right, but death can be the consequence. Get with it!

Kaea NiMarion
La Veta, Colo.
Formerly of Kailua

Schools need funding with no string attached

What do mainland public school boards of education have that Hawaii doesn't? They have tax money earmarked for the public schools with no strings attached.

In Hawaii, accountability is blurred and micromanagement encouraged because legislators appropriate public school money and the governor approves appropriations and their release.

Whether we have one or many boards of education does not really matter if none of them has a reliable source of funds and the freedom to use funds as they see fit.

Richard Y. Will

External problems affect school boards

While our educational system has had more than its share of problems, it cannot be deemed responsible for external factors such as poor parenting, family problems, peer pressure and inadequate funding on both the state and federal levels. Above all is the shortage of teachers, which is a nationwide crisis. Local school boards cannot solve these external problems.

The mainland chauvinists who advocate local school boards ignore the inequities inherent in such a system. Years ago, I worked for two local school systems in the Midwest. One school system was in a farming/factory town and one was in a major university town. The major university town's school system had a psychologist and social worker for each of 10 schools. The other town had one psychologist and three social workers for 16 schools.

Our current system provides for community involvement in the schools. It is our responsibility to get involved.

Mary Ann Barnard

Lawmaker needs push on animal cruelty bill

Senate Bill 1581 would elevate cockfighting to a felony, while also prohibiting possession of the gaffs and knives used in this blood sport.

The bill has passed the Senate, but it must get through the House Judiciary Committee, which has killed similar legislation in the past. It is crucial that those who abhor animal cruelty contact Rep. Eric Hamakawa and urge him to pass SB 1581 out of his committee for a floor vote. Please contact him by phone at 586-8480, fax 586-8484 or e-mail

Remind him that a vote for SB 1581 is a statement of opposition to flagrant criminal behavior and animal cruelty.

Laurelee Blanchard

Hawaii gets top grades for tax fairness

Those who still believe Hawaii is tax hell should see the February 2003 issue of Governing magazine, put out by the Congressional Quarterly. Of its 117 pages, 77 are devoted to state taxes.

Every state's tax system is evaluated for fairness, adequacy of taxes and management of systems. Of the 50 states, Hawaii is the only one with four stars on fairness to taxpayers. Mainly on its regressive excise taxes is Hawaii criticized for harm "disproportionately on the poor."

Along with most states, Hawaii received only three stars for adequacy of taxes and two stars for management of the system. Much faulted was a "multitude of tax exemptions and credits." Specifically mentioned was a $75 million tax break for an aquarium project.

Another criticism was: "Unfortunately, the state doesn't prepare a tax expenditure report showing the cost of tax exemptions and credits." That should include an examination of oversubsidized tourism and underfunded public schools.

Jerome Manis

Raising interisland air fares isn't the answer

Isn't there another solution to the airlines' problem other than raising prices for interisland tickets?

Instead of discouraging interisland travel, Aloha and Hawaiian airlines could increase volume by lowering prices to stimulate travel. Not only would they make more money, but this also would have a ripple effect by increasing hotel occupancy and boosting the economy throughout the state.

The new fare structure shows that there are hardly any $67 flights available. It looks good on paper, but to us kamaaina frequent travelers this is misleading advertising.

The airlines should reconsider their new fare structure and develop a system where passengers and the airlines can both win.

Roger Murai

No more excuses for nixing 3-strikes law

It is beyond belief that our legislators, who so recently spoke to us about being tougher on crime, are now saying that the "three strikes" legislation cannot be passed here because of limited prison space. Career criminals can be exported to states where prison space is available. Why must we continue to be subjected to the terror these miscreants cause?

Win Bennett

Automatic permitting must be repealed

Do proponents of automatic permit approval really believe that communities or the environment should suffer if an agency deadline simply passes ("Groups face off over automatic permit-approval process," Star-Bulletin, March 14)?

Automatic permit approval is bad policy. By forcing outcomes based on a timeline, not on the permits' merits, problems abound: liquor permits granted at Sea Life Park and Waimanalo over citizens' wishes; a house in Lanikea permitted over community members' objections; hearings hastily conducted on the wrong island because of a deadline; and conditions attached to permits because further refining or deliberation would trigger automatic approval.

If developers are serious about expediting permitting, they should examine the root cause of what they perceive as delays. Perhaps the agency is understaffed, or the application is incomplete, or the public is particularly concerned about a proposal. Instead of dealing with these legitimate issues, they simply want the permit -- regardless of its impact.

Fortunately, Governor Lingle recognizes the absurdity of automatically granting permits based on deadlines and is supporting efforts to repeal the law. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last month, her administration wrote: "Automatic permit approval can, in fact, harm our communities by allowing projects to go forward where the permit would have been denied for important reasons. No community should suffer because the government fails to perform."

The measure to repeal automatic approval (HB 1029) awaits a final hearing in the Senate before the joint committees headed by Sens. Cal Kawamoto (586-6970) and Brian Taniguchi (586-6460).

Jeff Mikulina
Sierra Club, Hawaii chapter

Long-term care bills are worth every penny

My father needed long-term care for at least five years before he passed away. Unfortunately, the family could not afford nursing home care so my mother took the brunt of caring for him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This took such a toll on my mother's health that she became ill and ended up in a state nursing home through Medicaid.

A long-term care program would have made a big difference in my parents' final years. I am willing to pay a $10-a-month premium, as proposed by SB 1088 and HB 1616, to improve the quality of life for the elderly.

Fred Lee

U.S. support of Israel contradictory

In his column "Battle against tyranny in Iraq is a just cause" ("In My View," Star-Bulletin, March 17), Rep. Galen Fox presented a compelling and comprehensive analysis of why we should support Israel and attack Iraq. His conclusions are not supported by the facts evident to much of the world outside of the United States.

When Israel is unjust, a struggle against injustice cannot be anti-Semitic. Defense of "our constitutional values" cannot be linked to support of Israel, a country without a constitution in which rights and rules change for convenience and whose Supreme Court can be overruled for military expedience.

No American aware of the inequalities in Israel could seriously describe it as a democracy. The United States made the creation of modern Israel possible and our $3 billion in annual support sanctions whatever steps to squash dissent and expand borders that its government deems necessary.

To claim righteousness while perpetuating injustice gains us nothing but enmity, and enemies who are willing to perform atrocities in the name of God.

Larry Jones

Honesty not enough for foreign policy

As an Eisenhower, Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon supporter, I voted Democrat for the first time in 1976 and helped elect Jimmy Carter president. It was partly in disgust over then-President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, but mostly to ensure that honesty was restored to the White House. Four years later, I voted with the vast majority who voted for honesty and a strong foreign policy back into office, with the election of President Ronald Reagan.

Granted, we're extremely fortunate to live in the land of free speech, but after his recent remarks about President Bush's foreign policy, it's obvious Carter has forgotten why he was voted out of office.

Stephen N. Bischoff

Bush relies too much on Christianity

There is no question that Saddam Hussein, with his basket of psychosis and weapons of mass destruction, is a threat to humanity and Middle East stability. President Bush seems particularly driven to regime change as well as disarming Iraq while "bringing democracy to the region" in a "just war." This seems to align with his evangelical labels such as "evil-doers" and "axis of evil."

The following quotes concern me that the inherent "vision thing" of this administration has to do more with "doing God's work" as he defines it than humanities and "doing no harm."

From Newsweek's March 10 issue:

>> Bush: "The United States was called to bring God's gift of liberty to every human being in the world."

>> David Frum, former Bush speech writer: "There is a fatalistic element. You do your best, then accept that everything is in God's hands."

>> Bush: "Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world of justice."

I don't doubt Bush's sincerity, but rather his conviction that he is doing "God's work." Bringing Christianity and democracy to the kingdoms of the Middle East sure sounds like a modern day Crusade. And how does one know that God always supports his decisions?

Perhaps the real role of patriotic Americans is to ask: "President Bush, what happens if you are wrong?"

David Miho

Conflicts can be solved without bloodshed

President Bush has thrust us into a war that I think the better majority of people did NOT want to happen, one that didn't HAVE to happen. He has forsaken humanity and its plea for peace -- which, by the way, has now become what we HAD -- and has begun the wholesale destruction of a people's way of life. People like us, with hopes and dreams.

While Saddam Hussein may indeed be a "bad" man, I think the people of Iraq hold the same responsibility for his reign as we do for Bush's. The people of the planet do not deserve this.

Herein lies the reason for my choice to wage peace.

I come from a generation that saw Vietnam when we were small children, wondering why folks couldn't get along, but at some point becoming desensitized to the horror of war. "That's the way the world is" became a catch phrase.

I refuse to believe that. It's only one way things can be.

I do believe that by simply keeping peace in your heart, always, every day, especially for your enemies, that this thought resonance will one day become the norm to small children, and their children, and theirs. Conflict can be worked out without the loss of life. This is my dream, and my mission right now.

Love and peace to you, and may God bless planet Earth.

Dino Segovis
Maui Peace Action

French-bashers should turn in their passports

Are our super-patriotic bashers of France turning in their U.S. passports? The language therein is half French, as well as English.

Vive la belle France!

Diane A. Scoville-Kingsley

Iraq can be just one of many liberations

Let's not forget the very good reasons to invade Iraq:

>> To prevent Iraq from aiding terrorists who might cause great damage in America.

>> To prevent Saddam Hussein from invading other countries and disrupting our oil supply.

>> To free the people of Iraq from a butcher who murders and tortures his people.

On to Pyongyang. Free the people!

Mark Terry

Federal government lies to Americans

Lacking a threat against the United States, President Bush in his address to the nation on Monday alluded to a link between al-Qaida and Iraq. It was an attempt to manipulate our 9/11 pain and prompt the instinct to indiscriminately strike back. Bush offered Iraq as the target.

The truth is that despite the vast intelligence resources of the CIA, the FBI, our defense intelligence agencies and foreign intelligence sources, there has been no information to establish a connection with al-Qaida. We have been served up misinformation.

First we were told that Iraqis yanked premature Kuwaiti babies out of incubators. It was then reported that an Iraqi official met with an al-Qaida operative in Europe. Both reports were widely circulated by the administration and were later proven false. The administration then called an "orange alert" based on "reliable" information that an al-Qaida attack was probable. We weren't told that the "reliable" information came from a prisoner who had been held incommunicado at Guantanamo Bay for the better part of a year, and that he had failed a lie detector test.

We use to laugh at those Russians who believed the disinformation circulated by their communist leaders. Are Americans now properly the subject of the object of such ridicule?

Joseph M. Gedan

Hawaii could host strongmen in exile

Hawaii did OK hosting Ferdinand Marcos when he had to "retire" as dictator of the Philippines. Maybe we could offer asylum in exile to Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush, too -- on separate islands, of course. Each would probably have enough ill-gotten wealth to stimulate the economy of his chosen island a little bit.

And maybe we could find a third island for North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il. The whole world be grateful, and we could leave it to them to find a place for Osama bin Laden.

John Swindle


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