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Democrats frustrated by perfect governor

As a former member of the Democratic Party, I am taken aback by the party's attitude today. What has Governor Lingle done to Hawaii? We have suffered through many Democratic governors. It seems that the Democrats have only one solution to Hawaii's problems: raise taxes. Is that the only thing this state needs?

Our governor has done an excellent job despite the backstabbing of the Democrats. Governor Lingle's agenda deserves another chance.

This woman is in command, and the Democrats "cannot handle," so they spread lies and innuendos about her. If the Democrats want to retake Hawaii they should find themselves a single businesswoman and run her for governor.

Wait, we already have such a governor. Why mess with perfection?

Curtis R. Rodrigues

Democrats can't trust people on education

Feb. 20, 2004 a date that will live in infamy. In the final minutes of the day, when rodents and cockroaches emerge from their hiding places, lurking House Democrats -- also escaping much attention -- these scurrilous defenders of a lucrative political status quo struck a blow against children.

They decided retaining control over a $2-billion-per-year Department of Education slush fund is more important than trusting the future of public school children to the voters.

By a vote of 30-20 House Democrats killed a proposal that would have put the future of the dysfunctional DOE into the hands of voters this November. As for children? They don't contribute a nickel to Democratic fund-raising efforts and they can't vote. To hell with them.

One hopes GOP Hawaii has the stomach for a no-holds-barred slugfest in this election year. Here are a few bumper stickers crying out for publication, distribution and display:

>> "If you favor child abuse, re-elect a Democrat."
>> "Democrats loathe democracy. Power is everything. Children are nothing."
>> "The people cannot be trusted by Democrats to decide the fate of school children."
>> "Attention parents: Reelect a Democrat and kiss the future of your child good-bye."

Thomas E. Stuart
Public school teacher
Kapaau, Hawaii

Local school boards won't help teachers

As a teacher, I do not see how local school boards will help me do my job.

I see nearly 140 intermediate school students each day. Many of them come to school ill-prepared. Some haven't had a decent meal, others don't have proper school supplies, and still others don't have the desire to be in school and let me know in no uncertain terms. Local school boards will not help me help these students. In fact, the extra layer of bureaucracy will make it harder to get the resources these students need to be successful.

So let's stop talking about creating more school boards and start talking about what needs to happen to really make schools better. For starters, my students need more textbooks, a safe place to learn, enough desks, smaller class sizes so they can connect with teachers, and support from the parents and community to instill in them the importance of education. I also think we should be paid a decent wage so that schools will all have a certified teacher in the classroom.

These things will help me do my job. These things will help my students succeed.

Scott Powell

Foes of reform can be defeated at polls

It's a sad day for the children of Hawaii when our Legislature refuses to change a public school system that has a long history of failing them. In their deliberations on the bill to provide at least seven local school boards, the House decided against our children.

Representatives chose to challenge legitimate studies and data that supported the bill. They chose to pick at the wording of the bill itself. They chose not to let the citizens of Hawaii make their own decision on this issue. They chose to stick with the current system, the one option with a proven record of failure.

One member of the House Committee on Education said she liked the idea, but that the current bill was too cumbersome. She preferred simpler wording with more flexibility in the final number of school districts. Why didn't she offer such a bill? Another committee member, recommending against the bill, cited his own 14 years on the Education Committee to establish his bona fides. It worked. We now know he's a bona fide part of the problem.

We have all of the components of a successful public school system. We have bright children, capable teachers, good principals, and plenty of money. What we don't have is efficient use of that money, or any sense of community connection or influence with their own school board.

Robert R. Kessler

Reform takes money, not school budget cuts

Controversy over education reform continues fast and furious, with claims that "small is better" on both sides of the isle. Just what must be made small seems to be the issue.

Let's do some math: That smaller classroom size contributes to student success doesn't seem to be in dispute. So if we wish to transform, say, two 30-pupil classrooms into three 20-pupil classrooms, we'll need to add not only the space, but salaries for one more teacher and possibly a classroom aide or two. To cut bulging classrooms in half would require twice the teachers and aides. If small is better, then what can't be small is the budget.

There's no avoiding that we will have to pay for results, or do without. But the governor plans only cuts for education.

It's simple math. Taking away money doesn't provide smaller classes for the children. Instead of cutting both budgets and the school's support system, I'd like to hear what new resources the governor will make available to Hawaii's schools.

Larry Geller

Unions on a march of destruction

Just when you thought that union leaders couldn't act any more idiotic, up steps the infamous Mel Kahele.

You remember him: the union leader who led the bus drivers on their disastrous strike. Now he is shutting down the entire construction industry by striking the concrete companies.

Just when Hawaii was digging itself out from a depression, Mel has crushed what looked like booming times.

When will the unions stop shooting themselves in the foot?

You would think that with so many jobs going overseas the unions would wise up. The unions are the reasons the United States is losing jobs.

With union leaders having the mentality of a wet mop, why even expect them to change?

Donald Allen

Marriage issue should remain with states

Do we really want an amendment stating that only a man and a woman can marry to become part of the Constitution? This is a state issue; the federal government should play no role.

It also brings to mind that as recently as 1967, before the Loving vs. Virginia case, interracial marriage was illegal in many parts of this country. Polls at the time showed that most people believed that it should stay that way.

My wife's parents were refused a marriage license in Maryland because of this fact. My wife's father, of Chinese descent, was born in Wahiawa. Her mother was born in Alabama and is white. When they first applied for a marriage license they were denied because at that time Hawaiians were considered black. Because her father was born in Hawaii and was not white, he was assumed to be Hawaiian and therefore black. Incredible as it sounds today, especially in Hawaii, this is a true story.

This issue is not about morality or defending marriage; it is about altering the most sacred document in this country to deny 7 percent to 10 percent of the population the same rights the rest of us "normal" people have.

Bruce Beinert

Keep ag land around Kauai missile range

It is not often that the people of Hawaii can help our country in its war on terrorism and thus contribute to the security of our nation. We have that opportunity now. We can all support the Navy's request to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to keep the the Mana plain -- lands around the Pacific Missile Range facility -- in agricultural.

The Navy's goal is clearly in line with the state's and Kauai's efforts to keep appropriately sized parcels of land throughout the state available for agriculture. Retaining these lands for agricultural use will help to reserve PMRF's capabilities, which is essential for the long-term interests of our country.

PMRF also will help Kauai's job market and it can lead to a growing economic and educational opportunity for all of Hawaii now and in the future.

Bob Hampton

Highway patrol would help HPD

Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donahue cites what he feels would be a "duplication of services" in highway traffic enforcement were the state to take over these responsibilities ("Bills would do police more harm than good," Gathering Place, Star-Bulletin, Feb. 24).

Actually, a highway patrol unit would free police officers for more traditional responsibilities -- 911 calls, complaints, pro-active patrol and other duties. This would decrease response time for these calls and save the counties money. The cost would be no additional burden, as the funds now diverted to the police department for highway traffic enforcement are actually intended, by federal regulation, for state use. The county's opposition to these measures stems more from issues of retaining control than from altruistic concerns about the state's financial position.

As to creating a statewide training facility for law enforcement officers, HPD's training academy was originally intended as such. This central academy model results in a standardization and consistency of training. I agree the academy's resources are taxed, but with contributions from all counties and the state, improvements could be made so that it would rival any academy in the nation.

County police chiefs have already gone on the record stating that their agencies are over-tasked and under-manned. State contributions can only improve this situation. Forty-nine states already have some sort of a highway patrol. Do the taxpayers of Hawaii deserve less?

John Chiavelli

Statehood was a proud achievement for isles

In February 1954, a petition with 120,000 signatures left Hawaii for Washington, D.C. "We, the undersigned people of Hawaii, hereby petition the Congress of the United States to act favorably on Statehood for Hawaii now."

A roll of newsprint longer than a mile had signatures from people lining both sides of Bishop Street. Pages were circulated throughout the islands.

One photo of an elderly man signing the petition has the caption: "Jack Paoakalani Heleluke, 74, retired member of the Royal Hawaiian Band who was born under the reign of King Kalakaua. Under his name he wrote '100 per cent Hawaiian.'"

The 250-pound petition was taken to the steps of Iolani Palace for a ceremonial send-off that included Hawaiian civic clubs presenting chants, songs, hula, kahili and torch bearers.

In Washington the petition was delivered to the Senate, and then to its permanent place in the National Archives.

Fifty years later, does Governor Lingle have the political courage to organize a celebration of the Statehood Day (Admission Day) holiday?

The Great Statehood Petition of 1954 was a proud chapter in Hawaii's 110-year struggle to achieve statehood, from 1849 until 1959.

Kenneth R. Conklin

Truth is easily found if you look for it

It's amazing how pronouncements from the Bush administration appear in the media without even minimal journalistic effort to assess the veracity of the claims and with little effort at putting them into larger political and historical context.

Every time Bush and administration officials open their mouths, the press runs with it.

As Cynthia Oi ("Get ready for a season of evasion and trickery," Star-Bulletin, Feb. 25), points out, the spin, which at its core is both deceptive, does not require deep investigative reporting to uncover. In fact, the truth is easily found for those who care to look.

The Bush administration has gotten more and more brazen with the lies the closer we get to the election. The presidency is almost 100 percent focused on re-election. This selfishness is to the detriment of the long-term health of our nation.

Everything that comes out should be scrutinized to separate the wheat from chaff.

Emi Chiharu

Older workers still possess good skills

Barbara Jessee of Ewa Beach hit squarely on the mark with her letter ("Elderly workers are a forgotten resource," Feb. 12).

Since I retired at age 70 in 1999, I have submitted several applications for part-time employment and have only succeeded in getting one interview, even though I have many years of good experience in several fields, am in better health now than during my working years and have continued to keep my skills updated.

Of course, there is volunteer work and I have done lots of it, but now that I need to supplement my Social Security and IRA withdrawals, no jobs are to be found because I am "elderly".

More than 50 years ago, as an engineering student at Vanderbilt University and sorely needing part-time work, I offered to work in a survey party for an afternoon, stating to the party chief that if I could not do everything he expected and more, he would owe me nothing except a ride back to town.

I was hired immediately, had a job for the next four years and a lifetime of good references.

My offer still stands, and has broadened to include multiple skills, but there are no takers.

Donald H. Burger

Don't let pets loose on besieged landlords

It is absolute insolence to force landlords by law to allow pets in rental property. There is a real reason why many landlords don't allow pets: their experience with terrible property damage after renting to pet owners.

The consequence of this law would be that after a few tenants with pets have lived in it over time, all rental units in Hawaii will stink badly and be run down.

Often the smell from urine and poop soaks into the structure and stinks for many years, being almost impossible to eliminate. People in Hawaii will not be able to find a clean rental at all.

Let people who own their place mess it up as they please, but please keep sanity and don't force everybody to suffer from this lifestyle.

Volker Hildebrandt

Bush administration twists scientific facts to fit ideology

This week the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonpartisan scientific monitoring agency, released a report called "Scientific Integrity in Policymaking." More than 20 Nobel laureates contributed to this report, and it is a thorough and chilling documentation of what happens to public health when ideology is imposed on medical and scientific research.

The report covers a range of issues, but contains an entire section on the administration's subversion of reproductive rights that focuses on abstinence-only education, HIV/AIDS and the false link made by anti-choice hardliners between breast cancer and abortion.

A striking example is the analysis of abstinence-only sexuality education, which has seen funding dramatically increase to about $150 million annually. The administration has required the Center for Disease Control to switch from science-based performance measures (which would require proof that teens in abstinence-only programs actually behaved differently) to tracking only "attendance and attitudes."

The American Academy of Pediatrics, among other respected medical organizations, supports compre-hensive sex education programs, because they work. The Bush administration, however, is willing to distort the evidence to pretend otherwise, pressuring scientific institutions to alter objective data in pursuit of ideological aims.

Scientific integrity is exactly what the Bush administration is lacking, and this approach to science, medicine and public health has grim repercussions for every citizen. When ideology is considered more important than objective science it is not only women, but all of us, who suffer the consequences.

Barry Raff
Chief executive officer
Planned Parenthood of Hawaii




Does Honolulu need a city museum,
and what should be in it?

Does history matter? If so, whose history? Bishop Museum is one of the leading cultural museums in the United States, but it is not a history center. Honolulu seems to be the only state capital city without a municipal museum. Does Honolulu need a city museum? What should be in it? Where should it be? Should such a museum be a collection of artifacts or a learning center? Would such a museum be geared for Hawaii education or for entertaining tourists?

Send your ideas by March 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.

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