to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor

Attempted suicide isn't a laughing matter

Last Friday a young man tried to kill himself. He wanted to jump from the Kaonohi overpass. Traffic was stopped dead in both direction for hours.

Deejays from an FM station thought it was all pretty funny. I sat in my car worried sick that I wouldn't be able to pick up my 5-year-old son in town. But never for a second did I think it was amusing that a young man wanted to die.

The deejays apparently thought it made good radio. People phoned in laughing and the deejays laughed with them. "Hey brah, we placing bets ... what kine man on the bridge?" The deejays answered, "Filipino dude in his 20s." The callers cheered.

The deejays went on to read song titles that listeners requested -- songs with the word "jump" or "leap" or "die" in the title. I was appalled at the utter absence of sensitivity.

Marcia Mager

Give principals power to improve schools

Education reform proposals by Governor Lingle and Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto have elements of obtuseness that they apparently can't see. They need to gain "real world" insights.

Both of them want to put principals on performance contracts. The main reason that schools are ineffective is that principals lack authority. This situation would get worse as badly performing teachers would think, "Why should I do as the principal requires? In three years, he'll be gone and I'll still be here!"

Putting both principals and teachers on contracts would be defeated by the unions who do what unions do -- protect jobs. Unions aren't to blame. The blame belongs to government and the courts that created and nurtured the "me first" monster of collective bargaining.

Alan T. Matsuda

Reforms won't occur without local boards

As a newcomer to Hawaii, I arrived with no preconceived notions about Hawaii's education system. However, having spent decades as a teacher, principal and associate superintendent for the Arizona Department of Education, I am following the debate regarding local school boards with great interest.

The ineffectiveness of Hawaii's system is clearly not due to the lack of funding. Although the student population has not increased, the state education budget has tripled since 1987, and student achievement remains extremely low. Hawaii ranks last in the nation on SAT and consistently finds itself in the bottom quarter in other national rankings.

Nor is this poor performance due to a lack of dedicated and qualified teachers. I have talked with teachers and principals who work long hours but feel frustrated in a bureaucratic state system where they lack authority to make important decisions regarding their own schools and students.

Recently I have read and heard comments blaming students and parents for low achievement in Hawaii's public schools. Please do not blame our children and their parents for the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of a state system that no longer meets the needs of our schools and communities.

The system must change. Teachers and principals must be empowered so they can determine what works best for their students in their schools. This will only happen when there are local school boards.

I hope the Legislature will let the people of Hawaii decide the future of public education by putting the question of local school boards on the ballot.

Billie J. Orr

Hamamoto's speech was purely political

The superintendent of the Department of Education spoke to a joint session of the Legislature last Wednesday. This honor is traditionally given only to the heads of the co-equal branches of state government -- the governor and chief justice.

The Legislature regularly receives input from the superintendent both in writing and through almost daily attendance at numerous committee hearings. Additionally, many highly paid DOE officials spend countless hours lobbying the Legislature each year.

The DOE has access to all legislators to convey its message. Therefore, the speech was not needed for the purpose of communicating with the Legislature.

Why, then, have this ceremonial speech? I believe it was purely partisan and political. Some have other views. In any case, it was a waste of precious time in our short legislative session. I read the speech, but did not waste time attending this exhibition.

Rep. Chris Halford
R-11th District (Makena-Kihei)

Feds lost cost-free airport maintenance

Why is it that no one mentions that Midway Phoenix Corp. was operating the Midway Atoll airport, infrastructure and visitation at no cost to the government, but was forced to leave the islands because the rules of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service kept piling up more and more, making it impossible to make a profit?

Why is it there has not been much made over the massive oil leak on Midway, of more than 80,000 gallons of fuel oil over one weekend? That is more than a thousand gallons an hour, which is, to me, not a leak but a geyser. How did it go undetected for so long? Is Fish and Wildlife really up to the task of handling such a great responsibility? It doesn't look like it.

W. M. Sims
Raleigh, N.C.

Police should take car theft seriously

Kudos to Maui for showing Oahu how to stop auto theft ("Woman shot dead by police on Maui," Star-Bulletin, Jan 24)! Perhaps if car thieves knew they would be shot if caught in a stolen vehicle, our auto theft rates would decrease. I say give this officer a raise and bring him to Honolulu! Auto thefts are still on the rise and it's about time they are treated like serious crime.The general public should never be put in a position where their safety is jeopardized; this was definitely the case on Maui.

Lane Woodall




Can you design a quarter that represents Hawaii??

Some states have issued collectible quarters that commemorate their entry into the union. The front of the coin looks the same but the eagle on the back has been replaced by something that represents that state. For example, Georgia's quarter has a peach on it. If you could design Hawaii's quarter, what would it look like?

Send your ideas and solutions by Feb. 17 to:

Or mail them to:
c/o Nancy Christenson
500 Ala Moana
7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

c/o Nancy Christenson


How to write us

The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.

Letter form: Online form, click here
Fax: (808) 529-4750
Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

E-mail to Editorial Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --