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Legislature fails test to reform itself

The cynicism and disaffection of the voting public is only solidified when the Legislature fails to reform itself. When only one or two legislators can kill or dilute good bills, reform of the rules of the Legislature need substantive review.

The real campaign reform bill -- public funding of campaigns -- was the only reform that would have cut out just about all private funding of campaigns. It was killed for the fourth time by Sen. Cal Kawamoto early in this last session. Because this reform would be voluntarily financed by taxpayers (you check off a box on tax forms) and voluntarily chosen by candidates for office, the other reforms, which were effectively killed in the flawed reform bill, are still necessary for those who continue to chose private funding of their campaigns.

The Campaign Spending Commission is not "out to get" anybody. It is there to ensure that candidates follow the law. We in the public should be thankful it is fulfilling that role so well.

Kudos to Bob Watada, the Campaign Spending Commission, Governor Lingle, Sens. Les Ihara, Bob Hogue, Ron Menor and Colleen Hanabusa, the House of Representatives, the Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition, Pro-Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters and other nonprofits that fought valiantly for all the necessary reforms that unfortunately failed this session.

Grace Furukawa
President, Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition

Long-term care bill won't fill the need

In response to the May 7 letter to the editor by T.J. Davies Jr., the truth is that the "Hawaii Long-Term Care Financing Program: A Report of the Temporary Board of Trustees" is politically biased. In spite of the bias of the report, I stand by my remarks.

The report validates exactly what I said earlier on the floor of the Senate during debate: Senior citizens won't get the care they deserve if this law passes because it takes 10 years to vest for only one year of partial care. That is barely a fraction of what is necessary to provide long-term care for our seniors.

The legislation provides false hope for people who think they will be fully covered under this program. It is for those reasons that I stated that this proposal is a cruel hoax.

Let's provide incentives like tax credits for choice in the health-care marketplace. It's called, once again, free enterprise. Common sense will prevail.

Sen. Fred Hemmings
R, Kailua--Hawaii Kai

Legislators have never left the plantation

While the long-term care, $10-a-month insurance plan seems good on the surface, dig deeper and see what it really means. It's just another socialistic, plantation-mentality program. It's government saying to citizens, "Don't worry, we will take care of you."

At what point will someone in government say, "You do have to worry and you do have to take care of yourself"?

Perhaps if this bill is passed into law, those who do provide for their own future care should be able to deduct all of their insurance cost except $10 from their taxes, since they will not be a burden to the state.

Ann Ruby

Give to charities that don't test on animals

I want to thank the people who headed up the protest of the March of Dimes at Kapiolani Park on April 26. This is the most difficult kind of protest to do because the people who are doing the walk-a-thon are nice, loving people who want to do good in the world. Unfortunately, the March of Dimes still needlessly uses animal tests.

Animal testing is a lucrative business, and even though modern technology has made such tests superfluous, those who make money from animal suffering continue to hide the horrors of what they are doing from good-hearted people who end up giving them their time and money.

I encourage readers to donate to charities that do not use animal testing.

Helen Wells

A kanikau for palace curator

Your report of Jim Bartel's death caused sadness and anxiety (Star-Bulletin, April 22.) He was our champion for Iolani Palace and Washington Place; his work is not pau. Who will carry on? Jim called a kanikau (Hawaiian chant of lamentation) that appears in a newspaper "newspaper kanikau" and he respected the tradition. Here is my "newspaper kanikau" for Jim.

Aue, aue noho'i e, aue!
Aia i hea ka wai lana malie?
Aiwale pu'e wai kupiki'o!
Pehea, no ke aha la, i aha'iala?
Ua make 'o Jim Bartels, ua hala akula
Aue, ua 'eha au me ke kaumaha loa i loko o'u, aue
Pa'i a uma na mamakakaua
Ua hele aku 'o Jim, ua hele ia i ke ala ho'i 'ole mai
'O kona mau hoa ka pono a me ka pololei
Goodbye, aloha 'oe e ku'u kaina, ku'u hoaloha maika'i
'O 'oe no he keonimana hapa Hawai'i he kanaka u'i, na'auao, he lokomaika'i
Goodbye, aloha e ke keiki hanau o ka'aina, aloha!

Oh my, oh gosh, oh no!
Where are the quiet waters?
Only stormy, turbulent waters!
What happened, how come, why?
Jim Bartels died, he passed away
Oh how I ache with sad feelings inside of me, sad
The mamakakaua slap their chests in grief*
Jim has gone away, he has gone on the road of no return
Integrity and goodness are his companions
Goodbye, farewell to you, beloved brother, good friend
You were indeed an elegant, learned and gracious part-Hawaiian gentleman
Goodbye, aloha o beloved native son of Hawaii, aloha!

*Jim was a distinguished member of 'Ahahui Mamakakaua, Daughters and Sons of Hawaiian Warriors.

Ka'upena Wong

Mayor's new budget squeezes taxpayers

Mayor Harris is back with another budget proposal that still includes property tax increases but now charges everyone for rubbish pickup. His attitude seems to be that if it's too hard to push through a fee for a second pickup, then let's just charge everyone.

A property tax increase would be more palatable if the mayor would admit that he made errors in judgment about spending all that money on self-promotion in the last few years.

He and his mouthpieces would rather blame the increase in the budget on raises and health benefits for city employees. Those may affect our budget, but if he had not been spending money building world-class white elephants, those funds could be sitting in our coffers or, at a minimum, we wouldn't have the debt service.

The mayor also could help make the pill less bitter by getting rid of his Sunset on the Beach events. It irks me to have a tax increase while he is unwilling to quit spending money on this event. In the big picture it's a small amount of money, but it's symbolic of what's wrong with this administration.

Bill Nelson

More grumbling about rumbling

Lowering the rumble strips in the residential area of the Pali Highway is a bad move. Complaints came from drivers who exceed the speed limit. Getting such drivers to observe the speed limit is the very reason for the rumble strips.

I have driven Honolulu streets for close to three decades. I have noticed that almost nobody observes the residential-area speed limit on the Pali Highway. That is a real shame because lives are at stake. Too many drivers forget common courtesy and human decency when they get behind the steering wheel.

Not only should the rumble strips have been kept as they were, but the Honolulu Police Department should crack down on flagrant speed-limit infractions in the Pali area. If abusers are ticketed, they will serve as an example to the public.

Stuart N. Taba

Bush-bashing is becoming predictable

Cynthia Tucker's May 9 column on the president landing on the USS Abe Lincoln and his duty in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, seems like sour grapes. Tucker failed to say that her favored president, Bill Clinton, not only avoided the draft by going to Oxford; but he also took a detour to Russia. I guess he wanted to see how the communists live.

Tucker and New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman have become Bush-bashers 24/7. To their thinking, Bush hasn't done anything right since he became president. As far as I'm concerned, they've lost all credibility when they write about Bush. They're going to have to retire when Bush leaves office because it's going to be hard for them to bash Condi Rice when she becomes president in 2008.

Fred Cavaiuolo

Boat harbor project will respect culture

Recent articles in the press have placed Kealakehe Ahupuaa 20/20 on the list of developers interested in the privatization and expansion of Honokohau Boat Harbor ("State revives Kealakehe plan," Star-Bulletin, April 25).

More accurately, Kealakehe Ahupuaa 20/20 is a nonprofit organization inspired by the ancient practices of ahupuaa management and the traditions of the people of this place. Its mission is to promote the concept of home-rule within the evolving development of the ahupuaa of Kealakehe and to ensure a stable economic and social environment evolved from the cultural practices native to this island and, in particular, Kealakehe.

KA 20/20's guiding focus is to enlighten rather than possess, to reintroduce cultural methods that ensure development compatible with the wishes of the people who live here.

KA 20/20 does in fact hope to work with various builders to achieve results wherein success is measured in terms of process as well as product.

As a nonprofit, KA 20/20 qualifies for substantial federal aid programs and corporate grants, which will provide much of the volume of monies needed to develop an effective and lasting economic engine for our community. More important, KA 20/20 aims to achieve community -- and the foundation for a sovereign future.

For this to occur, the Kona coast must have a port of entry -- a true harbor.

Kelly Greenwell
David Marquez
Executive director
Kealakehe 20/20

Suicide jumpers caused untold stress

As I read the excellent letter from Catherine Bruning in the May 3 edition of the Star-Bulletin, her words describing the actions of the "arrogant, egocentric ... self-serving, irresponsible" woman who terrorized a cruise ship full of passengers reminded me of several other recent acts of terrorism in Hawaii that have not been adequately recognized for the self-centered acts that they were. I refer to the recent spate of suicides: distraught individuals jumping from high-rise buildings and freeway overpasses onto innocent people below.

In our society, we are taught to feel sadness for those who die, and to pity the unfortunates who are driven to self-destruction. But I reconsider these feelings of compassion when I ponder the life-shattering effects these self-inflicted deaths have had on those people, innocent of any wrong, who were forced to observe the suicides first-hand.

In the case of the Waikiki high-rise jumper who landed on a car driven by an innocent woman, the lives of that sad lady and her entire family were destroyed as her body was crushed by the suicidal missile that hurtled from above.

And how can we comfort the unsuspecting motorist, driving in the traffic lane, whose windshield -- and memories -- were shattered by the body falling from the overpass.

It is time for this egocentric, suicidal terrorism to cease. Think of someone other than yourself, Ms. or Mr. Suicide. If you must jump, choose the Pali, not the Pali Highway.

Dennis R. Meyer

Meaning of tattoo more than skin deep

Gary Chun's review of the PBS documentary "Skin Stories" was insightful and well-informed ("Skin as Canvas," Star-Bulletin, May 4). Tattoo is truly a powerful way to reclaim and rekindle cultural heritage and awareness.

As one of the people interviewed for the "tagged-on segment with the three American subjects" near the end of the film, I do feel compelled to write about my sense of connectedness to the film's subject.

Polynesian tattoo has had a dramatic influence on the art and practice of tattoo all around the world, and certainly here in California. There is also a growing body of evidence (no pun intended) that many ancient peoples practiced tattoo, including the ancient Egyptians, Thracians, insular Celts, Scythians and Picts, to name a few. These practices often were suppressed by dominating forces and are only now becoming more acceptable topics of research and publication.

What may well be more common to the human family than previously understood is the urge to express what is deeper than words through the medium of tattoo. We owe a great debt of appreciation to the many peoples of Polynesia for the courage to reclaim this profound art form and the inspiration to keep it a living one. Tattoo isn't just skin deep!

Mary Lynn Price
San Diego, Calif.

It takes a village to improve prisons

Last month's two prison escapes made me wonder how safe we are in Hawaii.

I understand that the prison system is lacking money to pay guards and maintain its facilities; and our prisons are overcrowded and morale is low among the guards. I know that they are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

But now is the time for government officials, guards and members of the community to come together to make Hawaii a safer place.

We should not point fingers at each other; but find ways to change the system to make it better, to make sure that no more prisoners escape ... to make Hawaii safer for everyone.

Alan Kim


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