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Training gave edge to Hawaiian warriors

I'm writing in response to concerns about military training in Makua Valley. I am an 8th-generation descendant of alii, and I believe that our cultural resources are precious. I lost an ancestor in a battle in which the quality of training of enemy troops was the deciding factor. This battle took place in Nuuanu in 1795. (Sound familiar?) My ancestor was killed by well-directed artillery from Kamehameha's British-trained artillerymen.

The key phrase is "well directed." If U.S. Marines and soldiers need to fire weapons under the controlled conditions of a live-fire range such as Makua Valley to maintain the accuracy and skills that may save their lives, then they may blow up my aina any day of the week. What matters in combat is saving as many lives as possible on your side. This is how war is won. We are at war now. It's time for my fellow Hawaiians and other Americans to realize this and stop contributing to help the enemy.

Our enemies don't worry about plants or cultural resources, just killing innocent people -- including any of us.

Brad Scott Kaai O'keawe I'kekahi Alii Okamoku Hayes

Legislature, governor have fought for years

Your March 16 editorial ("Democrats react shamefully to two-party system") ignores Hawaii's history since statehood. The debate about who should be able to do what has been part of the dialogue between Hawaii's executive and legislative branches for decades.

The debate may appear to be pretty heated right now, but that's only because it's easy to forget how hot similar debates were in the past. Appointments by past Democratic governors were rejected, too -- sometimes with harsh exchanges between the players. And what about the differences of opinion regarding the roles of the governor and executive departments?

Remember the debates about whether the governor's office should have a stand-alone planning function or an international relations office? There have been many budget battles, too.

The very Republicans who are complaining now fail to mention their years of carping about Democratic administrations.

Take the issue of an elected attorney general, for example. They pushed it ardently for years. But now that the current attorney general opposes the idea, we hear nothing but silence on the issue.

Just because we have an executive and legislative majority from different parties today does not mean the current debates are unusual. They may be more sharply focused -- and receive more news coverage -- because the situation is new, but the ebb and flow of debate about executive vs. legislative functions has gone on for years.

Rep. Scott K. Saiki
House majority leader

Petty politics tarnishes Democratic legislators

Your editorial "Democrats react shamefully to two-party system" was right on the money.

Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Pearl City-Waipahu) not only voted against Ted Hong's confirmation as a circuit judge but also had the audacity to question his "judicial temperament." While the floor debate seemed to revolve around the nebulous concept of judicial temperament, it was clear from the people who testified, both for and against him, that his ethical behavior is beyond reproach.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Kawamoto's ethics -- or his legislative temperament, for that matter. His vote against Hong merely confirms our suspicion that he is motivated more by petty politics than by a sincere desire to serve the people of this state.

Michael Sana

Children would benefit from stoplight cams

Having lived and traveled in countries with red-light cameras, I notice the difference here. On approaching an intersection, I had the green light and the car in front was already over -- an SUV passed between us. I braked and honked the horn; she smiled and waved her cell phone and continued.

A ticket for running the red light for that driver might make the difference in someone's future. In the back of the SUV were at least six young children in sporting outfits, and we know that kids learn fast.

The lesson she passed on to them was that it's OK to run a red light if you smile and wave your phone at the other driver. In my mind, she also taught these future drivers how to kill or be killed, and who knows to how many of your children will this helpful soccer mom teach the same lesson, before we do something to teach her.

Janis Thompson

Public health requires help for homeless

On a recent morning news broadcast, downtown Honolulu residents and business owners expressed their distaste toward the use of sidewalks and out-of-view walkways for restroom purposes by the homeless, the mentally ill and the senior alcoholics so often seen in the Chinatown area.

One woman stated that "they wouldn't do that in their own home." Obviously, she is missing the point: Homeless people don't have homes.

Historically, downtown rest-rooms have been used as places of prostitution, drug use, theft and graffiti.

The community's concerns are legitimate. However, some type of facility must be provided for the homeless. It is a matter of public health.

Michael Spiker

Waiawa Correctional Facility

Gas caps will drive prices even higher

Legislators told us time and again that capping gasoline prices would lower gas prices in Hawaii. The experts disagreed, saying prices would go higher. Now legislators are claiming that the price cap will supposedly limit local oil-industry profits.

Limiting profits is not the business of government in a free market society. Limiting private industry profits and imposing further regulations will only drive -- pardon the pun -- gas prices higher permanently. If the Legislature is serious about helping consumers, it should listen to the experts and lower state taxes on gasoline, which are some of the highest taxes in the country.

Rick Toledo Jr.
Hilo, Hawaii

BOE member berated for doing her job

Thank you for your exceptional editorial March 22 in support of Board of Education member Laura Thielen and her right to speak out for education reform. Thielen campaigned for her seat in 2002 advocating locally elected school boards, and she received more votes than any other BOE candidate. There are 109,337 voters who expect her to do exactly what she has been doing and to continue her efforts for reform.

The school board members who denounced her activities with the CARE committee sound like a group of playground bullies, propping one another up but not willing to back up their accusations individually. They have accused her of telling lies and half-lies. I hope she holds their feet to the fire until they say exactly what the supposed lies are so she can refute their accusations.

Your editorial ended with "On with the debate." That would be great, but Thielen has asked Board Chairman Breene Harimoto to debate her on reform issues, and he has refused.

Shirley Hasenyager

Schools don't need more bureaucracy

I am a teacher and one of many who stand and applaud legislators like Rep. Robert Herkes, Rep. Eric Hamakawa, Rep. Mark Jernigan and Rep. Dwight Takamine, who voted against the dismantling of the school system. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue. This is about what is right for Hawaii's children -- our future.

It is clear why teachers and administrators lobbied legislators long and hard to defeat this action: It is the wrong way to go. Going from one centralized board to seven local school boards would cost taxpayers more money and would add yet another layer of bureaucracy.

We are on the front lines and know what is best for Hawaii's keiki. While our centralized school system isn't the best, it is far from the worst. And there are many legislative bills still alive that will change the system for the better.

Yes, there is room for improvement. We, the teachers, administrators, the Department of Education and the Board of Education are working on it. If you don't believe me, ask any public school teacher, and that teacher will tell you about the countless hours spent outside of the classroom and after school to move toward our goal of having every child succeed.

Kim Springer
Hilo, Hawaii

End rule allowing vetos by chairpeople

I am a Democrat, but I am ashamed and embarrassed by the actions of our legislative leaders because of the rule allowing conference committee chairpeople to veto bills.

When similar bills are passed by both houses, they are forwarded to a conference committee where representatives of both houses hammer out differences. It is here that a single vote from a chairperson can kill a bill.

Because of the veto rule, other committee members can't override this veto no matter how overwhelming their numbers. This is a travesty to our democratic principles of one vote-one person and majority rule. In previous years, good legislation supported by both houses has been scuttled by a single person.

I urge those who are unfamiliar with this issue to visit the Web site of the Hawaii Pro-Democracy Initiative ( This organization advocates good government practices. Please join us in persuading our legislators to stop this practice. Do not allow absolute power to corrupt a fundamental principle of democracy.

Jacqueline Parnell
Hawaii Kai

Hawaiian Air pilots have sacrificed enough

Thank you for the excellent March 21 article by Dave Segal on how the employees at Hawaiian Airlines remain deeply committed to keeping the company flying and to seeing it emerge from bankruptcy as soon as possible.

All employees -- including pilots -- already have made many sacrifices to keep Hawaiian Airlines going. Pilots gave up $8 million last year -- money and benefits that came directly out of our pockets. We're working longer hours with fewer benefits. Twenty-five percent of our pilots no longer have jobs. While all of us have been willing to help Hawaiian Airlines, there has to be a better way to run the company than at the continued expense of employees.

No one wants to see Hawaiian Airlines emerge from bank-ruptcy more than the pilots, but it must be done in a way that's fair to all employees.

As pilots, we love to fly, and we are proud to deliver our passengers safely and on time. We want Hawaiian Airlines to succeed so we can continue to provide this important service to the people of Hawaii.

Also, we want to collect the retirement pay that's been promised to us so we can work without having to worry about our and our families' future.

Chris Voss
Hawaiian Airlines pilot

Congress has no power to recognize Hawaiians

Your March 19 editorial "Racial bias probes should wait for Akaka bill passage" indicated how badly Hawaii is in need of a reality check. That one of our leading newspapers postulates that the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to "recognize" the "autonomy" of any ethnic group in the United States to say nothing of one of more than 400,000 persons resident in every state of our union is manifestly absurd.

Our governmental system is one of delegated powers. The Congress and the executive have only those powers delegated by the people of the United States in our Constitution. All legislative powers are delegated in Article I and all executive powers in Article II.

Nowhere therein is either branch granted the power to recognize the "autonomy" or "sovereignty" of any segment of our nation based on its racial or ethnic composition (Congress does recognize Indian tribes pursuant to the "Indian Commerce Clause" contained in Article I, Section 8 -- no rational claim can be made that persons of Hawaiian ancestry or any group thereof fit within accepted definitions of a tribe).

The reality we must face is that 50 years after the Supreme Court's decision in the Brown Case outlawed racial discrimination in school admissions, it is time for the citizens of Hawaii to deal with not just racial discrimination by the University of Hawaii but the entire universe of governmental and private racism, which unfortunately marks Hawaii as uniquely distinct from all other states.

John Goemans
Pacific Civil Rights Foundation

Gay marriage should be a secular issue

In regard to President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage: This is a moral issue and true moral change cannot be legislated by secular law.

Even more important, this transferring of authority from the church to the state is fraught with danger. Let us hope it doesn't happen.

Howard Loewen

Assisted suicide devalues those lives

"Death with Dignity" isn't about choice. It is about the devaluation of life by saying that some lives are of poor quality, so we should make it legal to let those people end their lives.

Is this the direction we as a society want to pursue, to be able to decide which lives are worth saving and supporting and which lives aren't? Shouldn't we support all life as valuable and worthy of existence?

Shouldn't we be trying to find ways to improve the quality of that life so that it is no longer a life we want to end?

We pat ourselves on the back for being an enlightened and progressive society. I would hope that progress and enlightenment means that we value all life equally and that we have the courage to recognize our responsibility to assist those with disabilities to improve their quality of life. Let's not take the easy way out.

Holly Toguchi

Hawaii residents' aloha spirit
reflected in generosity toward
cyclone-ravaged Samoa

The aloha spirit of Hawaii reached all the way to another island group, Samoa, when three containers of cyclone relief help from Hawaii were handed over to the Samoan government. The containers of foodstuff, clothes, home implements and linens were the result of a special appeal launched earlier in January, after Cyclone Heta hit the Samoan islands causing wide-spread damage.

"I want to thank the people of Hawaii for their generosity, and to assure them their help will be put to very good use," Prime Minister Tuilaepa S. Malielegaoi told the national media when he officially accepted the consignment.

"Our National Disaster Committee has worked already on a plan of distribution to ensure the stuff will go out to those with the greatest need," he said. This includes the aged, schools and institutions for the handicapped and boarding schools.

The organizer of the appeal, Talking Chief Afimutasi Gus Hannemann of Hawaii expressed great relief at finally getting the assistance to Samoa.

"The response of the people of Hawaii to the appeal was absolutely wonderful. I want them to know that their donations are greatly appreciated and are now in good hands"

Hannemann said donations came mostly from the general public and business commun- ity of Hawaii and from the non-Samoan community. The Samoans themselves were sending help directly to their own relatives and families, he said.

Hannemann has organized cyclone appeals in the past for the two Samoas. This time, he said he was prompted by many of his non-Samoan friends wanting to know how they could help when they heard about the cyclone.

Hannemann said the response of the people of Hawaii to the appeal had been a revelation for him. Individuals have been very generous as has been the business community. Hawaiian Village Pagoda hotels and United Laundry donated linens, while employers with Samoan workers had wanted especially to do something for their staff. PM&O Lines shipped containers here to Apia at no cost, while Weyerhauser gave the boxes. The Honolulu Fire Department offered the fire stations to use as drop-off points for donations. Aloha, Hawaiian and Polynesian Airlines had helped with air transport. Unity House donated a warehouse for storage and packing. Sprint Telephone Co. provided cell phones. Island Movers transported the donated items.

"This was really aloha spirit on show," said Hannemann. "So many times, people rang up and said they wanted to help because they knew so and so who was a Samoan or because they themselves had been in Samoa. Often employers wanted to donate out of appreciation for the contribution to businesses by their Samoan staff."

The actor Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson donated $10,000 when told about the cyclone. Hannemann said the Rock happened to be in Hawaii at the time, and wanted to help. Although he grew up in Hawaii, Johnson's maternal grandparents came from Lalomanu and Falealili in Samoa.

Fa'afetai Tele and Mahalo Hawaii.

Afamasaga Toleafoa
Former Samoan ambassador to Brussels, member of parliament and newspaper editor



Administration wants better
schools, not a political fight

In his March 21 column, "Kickin' around education reform again," Richard Borreca did an admirable job of summarizing Hawaii's struggle to improve public education during the past two decades. The section about Charles Toguchi, former superintendent of schools, and his valiant efforts to decentralize the Department of Education bureaucracy was especially illuminating.

The only aspect of the column I question is the closing paragraph in which Borreca wrote that the Democrats and Governor Lingle "are firing at each other instead of the DOE problems."

The governor and I were not looking for a political fight when we made education reform our top priority. In all of our speeches about education, we emphasize that this is not about politics or claiming credit. The bottom line is: This is about the kids.

Everyone wants our children to enjoy bright futures and Hawaii to prosper, meaning we must dramatically improve our public schools. Unfortunately, the Democratic majority in the Legislature and the Lingle-Aiona administration differ sharply on how best to reform education, which has led to heated debate.

For our part, we're working hard to pass a comprehensive education reform plan that includes creating local school boards (which Democrats supported in previous years) and giving principals control of 90 percent of education funding.

We don't want to fight. We just want to see our schools improve.

James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr.
Lieutenant governor


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