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From road rager to road mutterer

I got a kick out of Burl Burlingame's Editor's Scratchpad Sept. 18 on carpooling and the comments his rider used to make about other drivers.

I'm an inveterate commentator myself. I talk about other drivers and take appropriate umbrage at those who refuse to use their turn signals, etc. I mutter when I'm alone and with others in the car.

It was during a drive into work one day a couple of summers ago that my very own son got me. After I made some astute comment about another driver's abilities, my son calmly said, "Dad, do you ever think about what the other drivers may be saying about you?"

Batta-bing! He got me.

Have I reformed? Not really. I still mutter. Maybe not as loudly or as often, but I do try to drive well enough so others won't complain about me.

Joel Kennedy

Kahele is impeding strike settlement

Most of the public supported city bus drivers when they went on strike to guarantee their job security and benefits. But the drivers achieved this within the first week of the strike once the city and Oahu Transit Services offered a contract with a guarantee of no lay-offs and no cuts to existing benefits. If Teamsters' leader Mel Kahele and his union were negotiating in good faith, this strike would have been over weeks ago.

The bus drivers are victims of their union leadership, and I believe most would gladly go back to work with a contract guaranteeing the status quo. Only a small minority is willing to give up $168-plus a day in lost wages to secure a raise of 50 cents an hour just so Kahele's ego can be pampered.

It is time for the silent majority to speak up and give your union leadership a vote of no confidence. If you do not act soon, I'm afraid that Councilman Charles Djou has a lot of support from the public in his proposal to fire OTS and its striking employees for breach of contract. You may soon find that Kahele has negotiated you out of a job and you will have no one to blame but yourselves.

Eric Takamiya

Mayor's spending spree cost us plenty

Mayor Harris says the city has no money for bus driver raises. How about all the millions given to architectural and engineering firms on non-bid projects during the past five years. What about the more than $6 million lost on the Ewa Villages fraud. What about the hundreds, no thousands of change orders on the Hanauma Nature Center, Koko Head Regional Park, Central Oahu Regional Park that amount to millions of dollars in cost overruns.

If the mayor had a "vision" to be frugal and accountable, there would be millions available to pay for raises, to fix lousy city streets, lower our property taxes and be one of the better mayors in our history.

Instead Harris spent, spent and spent, hoping to pass on these expenses to the next mayor, because he expected to be sitting in the governor's chair at this time.

It's not too late for Harris to win back the confidence of the public. But he can't blame the City Council for his administration's shortfalls. The buck stops at his desk.

Tom Sugita
Pearl City

TheBus doesn't compete for tourists

I was amused by Darcianne Evans' skewed logic that TheBus is taking away tourist business from the private sector (Letters, Aug. 27). The article "Strike so far fails to hit key tourist attractions" -- printed in the Star-Bulletin the same day as her letter -- polled visitor attractions and showed that places like the Arizona Memorial are unaffected by the strike because most tourists visiting these places rent cars.

Obviously, TheBus is a needed service for our island ohana -- whether you ride it or whether it gets additional cars off the road and makes your commute easier.

Evan's company, Charley's Taxi & Tours, didn't participate in the city-sponsored jitney program to help bus riders get to and from work. A company official was quoted in the Star-Bulletin saying, "Who's going to run eight miles for $3?" and, "We can't set up a business in just a few days because somebody says to jump."

Evans refuses to recognize that a strike is an emergency situation where everyone needs to pitch in and do his or her part. The bottom line is not always about money.

Wes Philips

Median project is wasteful, not beautiful

I have many questions about the Lunalilo Home Road beautification project. Why it is so impossible -- for the mayor at least -- to stop it? How much of a demand for it was there? Who did the study for the project and how much thought went into it?

As I left for work on a recent morning, coming off of Kaumakani Street, these questions hung heavily on my mind. The visibility -- because of the construction setup -- blocked my view, making it difficult and dangerous to cross over to the townbound lanes. How will it be when the median is actually there?

The traffic in the right most lane -- not really an official lane -- was backed past Anapalau Street early again, making me wonder what will happen when the buses come back and other traffic situations (special events, etc.) occur with the narrowed lanes. The heavy rains starting to flow into people's driveways -- in part because of the blocks on the drains because of the construction debris -- made me think about the trees that need to be watered for the median and the debris they will produce.

It's sad that we are getting something expensive that we never asked for. Why were only the churches and businesses given the courtesy of being informed by the company in detail, rather than affected residents?

Not only is it a waste, it feels like there will be more of a negative impact than to "calm" traffic. Too bad the mayor feels there is no way to stop it.

Yves Sakai
Hawaii Kai

Ito shows leadership in Haiku Stairs dispute

Kudos to state Rep. Ken Ito (D, Heeia-Kaneohe) for holding a community meeting to discuss residents' concerns over neighborhood access to the Haiku Stairs.

Anyone can complain, but it takes a leader to act and bring both sides together in a forum to hash out their differences. That's not an easy task, considering that neighborhood residents and hikers alike have valid concerns, often fueled by strong emotions.

Unlike Governor Lingle's traveling show that seems geared toward advertising her administration, Ito's meeting aimed to do something constructive. I hope that he will continue to stay involved to help reach a reasonable and equitable solution to this dispute.

Sharon Ohata

U.S. military is still winning battles in Iraq

There is going to be a difficult day of reckoning soon for the Democratic Party presidential hopefuls, the Bush-bashers and their various allies in the media. Ground-breaking events like a constitutional convention leading to free elections are going to be taking place in Iraq in the upcoming months. This is exactly the kind of shake-up in Middle East politics needed to end state-sponsored support for international terrorism.

It's unfortunate that aside from the Internet one finds sparse information about the tremendous progress taking place on the ground in Iraq. The hospitals are all in operation, towns and cities are self-governing, police and security forces are in training and being deployed.

While American troops are hunting down Baath Party loyalists, they also are finding time to rebuild schools and damaged infrastructure and to help train Iraqis to govern their nation in freedom. This is a war we are winning.

Paul Mossman

9/11 suit could damage nation's economy

The story "Airlines loses bid to toss 9/11 suit" (Star-Bulletin, Sept. 9) says that U.S. District Judge Allen Hellerstein in Manhattan is allowing the plaintiffs to sue United Airlines, American Airlines, plus 14 other airlines, security firms, the Port Authority of New York, owners of the World Trade Center, and the leaseholder of the World Trade Center complex that were destroyed by the acts of suicidal terrorists.

This judge has made a very dangerous decision to allow such suits to proceed, exposing all commercial businesses, states, city and county governments that own buildings and various other properties, such as power plants, harbors, piers, airports, bridges and tunnels, to financial hardship or bankruptcy to pay for the intentional acts of terrorists who are bent on destroying our country.

By allowing such suits, insurance companies will refuse to provide both property and liability coverage stemming from the proximate cause of acts by terrorists.

In the future, there will be more acts -- germs, chemicals, explosives, missiles -- by terrorists and without the insurance to pay for the cost of defense and any monetary awards by the court judges or juries, businesses will close their doors, laying off their employees.

This will cause our country to incur a financial implosion sooner, especially with our country's current deficit and negative balance of payment.

Wilbert Wong


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