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Country must unite until troops return

Let's not dwell on the validity of the invasion of Iraq. Instead, let's give our full attention to what is going on now and show support for our troops.

The U.S. government should concentrate on how to create a democratic form of government, a job complicated by the many different uncompromising religious factions. Let's give the Iraqi people an ultimatum to resolve their differences within a specified time and when the deadline arrives, leave the country. All U.S. and international troops should withdraw, except for a few advisers.

The investigation into the faulty intelligence reports that led to the invasion of Iraq and to locate the WMD should be delayed until our current military objective is attained.

Toshio Chinen
Pearl City

Secrecy of Lingle's trip was warranted

I believe your Feb. 12 editorial criticizing Governor Lingle for keeping secret her travel plans to Iraq was inappropriate.

Clearly, there was enough legitimate concern about the safety of the delegation to governors to insist that there be no advance announcement or any signal to those who would do them harm. This was a visit to a region where hostilities against Americans occur daily.

Obviously, the safety of elected officials -- six U.S. governors -- was a higher priority than the public's right to know.

Jeremy Harris
Mayor of Honolulu

Editor's note: The Star-Bulletin editorial did not criticize the governor for keeping her Iraq trip secret. The editorial said her credibility was tarnished when her press office issued false verbal and written reports about her schedule.

Danger of Lingle trip indicates Iraq mess

The criticism of Russell Pang, Governor Lingle's spokesperson, for "lying" about her whereabouts is misplaced. He was responding to legitimate security concerns in misleading the media -- not a great solution, but perfectly understandable under the circumstances.

The real story that seems entirely overlooked by the media is why the security situation in Iraq is so awful that U.S. officials must hide their travel there and must sleep in Kuwait or Jordan, as Governor Lingle did, because it is just too dangerous for them to spend the night anywhere in Iraq.

This situation is the direct result of the incredible arrogance, misjudgments and botched planning of the Bush administration. It got us into this war of choice, not necessity, and we are now stuck with the unpleasant choices of abandoning it as an unmanageable mess or taking responsibility for the added billions and cost in lives to continue the occupation.

Tom Sheeran

Lingle's Iraqi trip spells relief

How relieved we can all be that there is no question of the ruling party's honesty and altruistic motives.

Our governor's White House-sponsored, first-hand, in-depth study of the situation in Iraq should dispel any unpatriotic notions to the contrary. We all hope, as our governor states, that "this effort" will not be allowed to "degrade into politics."

Some un-American persons felt that our president declared war as a front man for the pack of jackals who intended to gain great profit from the takeover of Iraqi oil. Certainly these misguided left-wing radicals will now be shamed into silence.

John H. Cort
Pahoa, Hawaii

Witnesses must report speeders to the police

Kudos to the media for coverage of the accident on H-1 on Feb. 13.

I live less than a block away from that stretch of highway and had a clear view of the horrific catastrophe. It will be ingrained in my mind forever.

My hope is that freeway racers take heed of what they saw in the newspapers and on television and slow down and drive responsibly. They need to get their adrenaline rush on the race tracks instead.

Last night, I heard cars racing down H-1 again. The only answer to this problem is for responsible drivers to report speeding to police. I will call 911 and report license plates of speeders to save my life and yours.

David Fukuzawa
Pearl City

Speeders aren't victims; they're criminals

The latest so-called accident caused by racing was the final straw for me. That one -- and all those like it -- aren't accidents. They are crimes.

An accident is what happens when everybody is trying to do something, like driving, as safely as they can, but something bad happens anyway. When someone decides to race on a public street or highway, he is the perpetrator of a crime. If he gets killed in the process, he is an early death volunteer, not a victim.

The only victims are the people just doing their jobs or just driving as safely as they can. I am tired of the news media calling racers who are killed while speeding victims. They are really criminals.

Steven Marsh

Increase enforcement of speed limits

A couple of years ago, We the people put assumptive, arrogant "burro-crats" in their place, and rightfully so -- civil servants exist to serve the public, and not the other way around.

But today we have irresponsible teenagers killing innocent road workers, school teachers and others. These spoiled brats are racing unchecked over public roads with their souped-up deathtraps.

While I strongly dislike the idea of a nanny state, a handful of hormonally imbalanced teenies and twentysomethings are putting everyone else at risk, and we the people ought to do something about it.

Perhaps those camera vans aren't such a bad idea after all, as well as some permanent radar camera speed traps throughout H-1, H-2 and H-3.

And how about giving traffic court judges the power to bar high-speed violators from operating any vehicles with more than 75 horsepower, under threat of immediate confiscation.

And regarding those pesky "burro-crats" over at the Department of Transportation: Their photo traffic enforcement program looks pretty darn visionary these days.

Gary Rush-Nelson

Lawmakers must stop insanity on highways

How insane it is that four more people are dead because some idiots wanted to show off. When are the people of Hawaii going to get mad about letting a few young punks kill innocent people? How many more people have to lose their lives before we can drive safely on our roads?

When are the members of the Legislature going to get enough backbone to pass laws strong enough to put a stop to this carnage?

For God's sake, please do something meaningful to protect law-abiding citizens.

John Stewart

Senate Democrats maintain bad process

Despite months of hearings and adoption of a final report on Senate Resolution 147 concerning revision of Senate Rules that give too much power to Senate Committee Conference Committee chairpersons, the Senate plans to continue this screwy practice.

The will of the majority in the committee and the will of the majority in the public should be honored when bills and resolutions get a hearing through the normal testimony process. They should not be killed at the whim of a single person in the Senate conference committee.

Some people want to retain this special power for the Senate conference committee chairpersons because not only do they have the power to kill good bills and resolutions, but they have the power to do likewise to bad bills and resolutions. But this practice short- changes members of the public who spend an inordinate amount of time as grass roots advocates at the Capitol.

Arvid Youngquist

Greed fuels trend toward vulgar TV

I am saddened that the only letters to the editor I have seen so far concerning the "accident" at the halftime show of the Super Bowl have been in a joking manner.

In reality, this incident is a culmination of years of the entertainment industry's attempts to make money by forcing more and more indecent and vulgar shows and songs upon our society. It is ironic that it took the viewing of the Super Bowl to get the attention of the FCC, the sponsors and the public. The one event that best symbolizes America's materialistic and corporate greed, provides the impetus for a call to morality.

Even Pepsi said it was thinking about pulling its ads from the Super Bowl, not because it is disgusted at the low-quality entertainment, but because everyone was talking about the halftime show and not Pepsi commercials! It is all about the money.

James Roller

Hemp not sustainable or worth risk of harm

Contrary to your Feb. 11 editorial ("DEA should drop ban on hemp cultivation"), hemp production or any other low value agricultural crop has no economic sustainability in Hawaii any longer, given labor and real estate prices. Any support for hemp production in Hawaii is laced with ulterior motives.

There is no way that anyone can monitor or regulate the level of THC in hemp production. Beliefs that marijuana use is not harmful is misguided. It's inducement of panic and anxiety disorder and other emotional problems is a proven fact.

Hawaii is blessed with many other indigenous assets that with some focus and hard work will yield a much more favorable impact to its economy. Let's not venture into areas that could have negative implications. Why take the chance?

Paul Yonamine

Fictional president better than real one

Some of us are taking the time this week to watch the "West Wing" marathon on Bravo. Why? Because we appreciate the portrayal of a president whose education is superior, who is well read on current issues, whose tip of the tongue knowledge of both ancient and modern history as well as the Bible gives substance to the passion he shows for upholding the Constitution and telling America the truth about his decisions.

Some of us wish Alan Sorkin's "West Wing" president was the real one elected to run this country today. We are tired of disinformation, misinformation and refusals to supply any information at all.

Some of us may choose to leave blank the two boxes on the ballot for president and vice president because we don't see a choice believable enough to trust to run America's affairs soundly and regain the world's respect for the United States.

Some of us will use our vote to concentrate instead on expressing our stand on education and other important local issues that affect each of us and our families every day, and about which we believe we truly do have a say.

Those of us who are "West Wing" devotees will do what we can to make a difference in our communities, while hoping that some year in our lifetimes we will be able to experience in the real White House an intellectually astute president and his West Wing crew as portrayed in this superb TV series. The prospect is dim this year.

Marjorie Scott

Oversold Hawaii is losing its mystique

In the Travel Section of the Feb. 8 Los Angeles Times, a consortium of tourist industry interests purchased a two-page spread featuring two promotional articles. The second article was titled "Chasing Island Waterfalls," recommending that tourists visit certain waterfalls on each of the islands. Unfortunately, a few of these locations are already overrun, when not long ago they were favorite spots used primarily by locals.

We've sold out our beaches, coral reefs, trails, indigenous species, culture and island lifestyle. Now it's time to sell out the places locals go to escape the areas that are already sold out.

In an attempt to gain an edge on tourist market share, we are quickly creating a destination retreat that is a caricature of what it used to be. Eventually, the mystique of Hawaii will wane when tourists discover the beaches are crowded, the fish have almost disappeared and there are no more "secret places" left to "discover." We are approaching eco-destination bankruptcy.

With every new generation of tourist comes an increasing interest in the environment of the islands, along with a progressive degradation of what the islands have to offer environmentally. Finally, the tourist industry and our elected officials are singing an environmental tune because of the obvious link with tourist dollars. Now if we can only get them to dance to the music.

James Miner
Haiku, Maui

Privacy is secondary to saving babies

My reaction to your Feb. 14 editorial ("Ashcroft's demand for abortion records a violation of privacy") was a strong urge to cancel my subscription to the Star-Bulletin.

I suggest you worry less about an individual's right to privacy and more about the barbarous practice of murdering children who are about to be born.

John D. Ramsey


Now is the best time
for education reform

I have been pleased with the extensive coverage education reform has received during the past few months because I believe it is the most important issue facing our state.

My administration has proposed a comprehensive reform plan that I believe will raise student achievement after decades of failed attempts at putting Band-Aids on a mortally wounded system.

The plan includes: letting the public decide on whether we should replace the existing statewide Department of Education with seven local school boards, moving at least 90 percent of state operating education funds to the school level, fully funding and removing the cap on charter schools, empowering principals and holding them accountable for student achievement, and giving teachers the tools they need to restore discipline in the classroom.

I agree with your Feb. 19 editorial ("Debate on school boards misses the target") that focuses on local school boards, but not for the reasons you mention.

Your editorial focused on whether there have been 37 national studies that say local school boards lead to higher student achievement or one study of 37 states that reached the same conclusion.

The point is that Hawaii is the only state in the nation that has a statewide board of education, and it doesn't work. That's why no other state follows this model. It is also a fact that our students consistently score at or near the bottom of the nation.

In addition, the studies that really matter most are those done right here at home. For more than 30 years, those studies have all pointed to the need to place control over money and decision-making at the school level, and for local school boards to be based in the community they serve and be accountable to the public.

During more than 20 years in public office as a county council member, Maui mayor and governor, I have never experienced the intensity of desire to protect a system that obviously is failing its citizens. Our current statewide school system just doesn't work. It didn't work last year, five years ago or 10 years ago. And, most importantly, it won't work next year either.

Now is the time for change. Our proposal addresses a long-standing problem with a comprehensive, community-based approach that will produce better results than our current system as evidenced by our bottom-of-the-nation ranking on national tests.

For now, we are asking the Legislature to put the issue of local school boards on the ballot. That is the first -- but most important -- step on our journey of reform and higher student achievement.

The people of Hawaii have long recognized the need to change our public education system. We have been on the brink of school reform before, but our leaders lacked the courage to move forward.

It would be sad indeed to watch this opportunity for change pass us by again. Now is the time for action. Let's just do it.

Linda Lingle

Editor's note: The Feb. 19 editorial's only reference to national studies stated that in testimony to the Legislature, Governor Lingle cited "studies of 37 states plus the District of Columbia" concluding that there is "direct connection between smaller school districts and higher student achievement." When asked by Star-Bulletin education reporter Susan Essoyan about those studies, Lingle said she was referring to one study of 37 states.


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