Letters to the Editor

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Hawaii should vote a day before mainland

If our votes are going to count for something, we have got to change the date of the General Election for Hawaii voters from Nov. 2 to Nov. 1. Then the spotlight of such an important day would be on the 50th state, where our votes would begin to be meaningful.

It's downright disheartening, knowing that most of the votes in the upper 49 states have either been counted or the outcome is already a foregone conclusion. I have often wondered if our votes made a difference in the final analysis, other than to inflate the numbers of the candidates who have already won or lost, even as we are preparing for bed.

In fairness to Hawaii voters, a revision and consideration to such a monumental event has got to be looked at closely, without delay, extended studies and ineffective panels. Anyone for an overhaul?

McWarren J. Mehau
Mountain View, Hawaii

Education reform may come at ballot box

The people of Hawaii have expressed themselves intelligently in hundreds of letters to the editor about public education in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, conflicts in the political system and in the bureaucracy have produced gridlock that stands in the way of the progressive reform that the public demands.

As a result, we have to step away from what is a real battlefield and analyze what must be done to a system that has become incapable of serving the public good.

The process must start in each principal's office and in each teacher's classroom. The principal must have the power to govern and the teacher must have the authority and tools necessary to teach properly, including an orderly classroom, current textbooks and appropriate computer capability.

This may seem to be an oversimplification. But if we can agree that the Department of Education, working with the Legislature, must determine which school functions are the responsibility of the principal as a matter of law, we give ourselves a better opportunity to improve the performance of public education.

The pay scale for principals must be commensurate with the management functions for which they are responsible.

Teacher salaries must be increased so that our best teachers are not forced to accept mainland opportunities or leave the teaching ranks to become part of the bureaucracy.

Forty years of failed promises have caused the current educational crisis. If the new promises that must be made to parents, teachers, principals and students are not kept, our elected government must be replaced.

Cec Heftel
Former member of Congress
Phil Mayer
Former member, state Board of Education

Public school success deserves coverage, too

I recently attended the award luncheon for Hawaii's National Distinguished Principal Award. Eileen Hirota, principal of Ewa Beach Elementary, won the award and was honored along with nominees from each school district in the state. Each honoree has done outstanding things to improve his or her school.

How dismaying, then, that there was no news coverage of this event. The positive aspects of our public school system are so easily overlooked, but local media always provide excessive coverage of the negative aspects of the system. Our schools cannot be expected to grow and excel when this is the point of view taken.

Maile E. Chow

It's smart to increase school requirements

Like Kimberly Shigeoka (Student Union, April 22), I, too, graduated from a public high school -- in my case, Waianae High School. Unlike her, though, I applaud the Board of Education's plan to add two courses to graduation requirements.

I graduated from Waianae in 1993 with 25 credits and a 3.7 grade point average. There weren't enough periods in the school day to take all the classes I needed for college, so I also took summer school courses.

Unlike Aiea, Waianae High School offered a grand total of zero advance placement courses, so I took Saturday classes at Leeward Community College to obtain college credits while in high school.

The end result of all of my high school planning? I earned my bachelor's degree in studio art from the University of Redlands in California within four years, before I was 21 years old.

Four years of math, four of English, four of science, two of foreign language, AP courses, and so on. It is unfair that a Hawaii public high school student has to take summer school and Saturday classes to obtain the basics for college. I hope the Board of Education plan will be one step in the right direction toward fixing this wrong.

Angela Rigor

North Hollywood, Calif.
Former Waianae resident

What's the real story on campaign donors?

The Star-Bulletin's April 25 article about mayoral candidate Duke Bainum's campaign contributions missed the point. The story said Bainum accepted contributions from people and companies that later were fined for illegally contributing to other campaigns, and that Bainum did not and will not accept donations from people known to have been convicted for making illegal contributions.

What about the candidates who received those illegal contributions? Isn't that the real story?

Sat Freedman

Car wrecks don't seem to change driver habits

We have such short memories. You would think that after all the recent vehicular fatalities, drivers would naturally be more careful -- and smarter. Unfortunately, we continue to experience meaningless deaths on our roads, meaningless because their deaths do not and will not curtail the reckless driving habits of motorists. History has proven this.

The response we have to these crashes is similar to attitudes when a bank is robbed: "Let them have the money. At least they didn't take your life."

In vehicular deaths, we don't seem to care as long as it doesn't involve those we love.

We don't care because when the media attention wanes, so will our memories.

Dean S. Miyamoto

Efficiency, not secrecy will improve center

So the Honolulu Convention Center needs to make arbitrary rules to stay competitive (Star-Bulletin, April 20). It wants to operate in secrecy for 10 days after a convention is completed.

I wonder if the responsible authorities at the convention center have thought of more efficiency in operating the center, providing better service and benefits to the center users.

I have attended a few events at the center and have found the sound system unsatisfactory. Unless you are seated in the center of the hall in front of the stage, you cannot hear the speeches completely. This is one area that needs upgrading; another is the quality of the meals served.

So before making arbitrary rules in operating a publicly supported facility, improvements in operation, management and service should be considered and implemented -- these are the vital considerations of any successfully operated organization.

Howard S. Okada

Contrary to belief, fewer are homeless

Nearly every year there are stories about how homelessness is becoming an ever more pressing problem. A recent report by the Heritage Foundation questions the veracity of these reports and leads to the conclusion homeless in not a burgeoning problem.

Using the Conference of Mayors report on homeless, which claims substantial increases of both homelessness and emergency food use, the Heritage report reveals such claims are not supported by census figures. Census data from 1995 to 2001 show no increase in the use of food pantries and soup kitchens in central cities or the nation as a whole. This casts doubt on the mayors' report's claim of a 150 percent increase for the same period.

Detailed surveys conducted by Second Harvest, a major supplier to food banks, contradicts the mayors' report, which claimed emergency food use increased by 100 percent between 1997 and 2001. Second Harvest reports it increased only 9 percent for the same period.

The idea that homelessness is drastically on the increase is used as justification to increase taxes and expand social programs and the size of government in general, apparently the intent of the mayors' report.

Disillusionment with government can be the only result from such a cynical manipulation of facts. People know from their own experience that homelessness isn't increasing dramatically, so they discount the reports. Nothing can be gained by distorting the real picture in order to gain political advantage. When will our misguided politicians learn?

Don Newman
Senior policy analyst
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Bush's foreign policy is a success

In the two years since 9/11, George W. Bush has freed two countries, smashed the Taliban, crushed al-Qaida, put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran and North Korea without firing a weapon and captured Saddam Hussein, a man who murdered 300,000 of his own people. If you look at previous wars fought by the United States, you will find that in each war many thousands of U.S. soldiers were killed. Having done all these things, the U.S. has lost 700 soldiers in Iraq and has not experienced another terrorist attack on our country.

The American people have gotten soft and somehow think that a war can be won without casualties. While I don't mean to debase each U.S. soldier's death, I consider President Bush's cause in Iraq to be a just one. He is doing an excellent job in this difficult time. I just have one question: Will Americans always fight for liberty?

Matthew Meinken

Bush should explain his own vision thing

It makes me want to laugh, but it makes me cry instead.

Did President Bush's campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, really say, when speaking of Senator Kerry, "I think ultimately what people want to see on the war on terror is, what is your vision for dealing with it and what is your record'? (Star-Bulletin, April 25).

Whoa! What happened to all the information former terrorism czar Richard Clarke and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice admitted to having before 9/11? At the hearings, when asked whether acting on all that information might have prevented the 9/11 tragedies, both answered "No." How can they be so sure when they also admitted that "all that information" was not acted upon? Not only not acted upon but not even disseminated to all the proper authorities!

Have we not been asking our president, "What is your vision for dealing with terror and what is your record?" And when asked whether he had made any past mistakes, our president looked incredulous and could not cite one mistake!

Stop pointing fingers, Mr. President. Is it so difficult to admit you've made mistakes and then get on with your job -- and stop making the mistakes you can't even recall making?

Yoshie Ishiguro Tanabe

Surfing photo showed everyone's talent

Surely I'm not the only one so totally blown away by your front-page photograph by F.L. Morris, of a surfing trio at Ala Moana Bowls ("Three guys in a barrel," Star-Bulletin, April 27).

What composition! What art! What an affirmation of the beauty of life -- and its challenges.

Howard Driver

Thanks, but no thanks to reciprocal benefits

Mary Papish's remark (Letters, April 5) that gays and lesbians should seek nothing more than a liberalized reciprocal-beneficiaries statute is akin to saying that they should be satisfied with merely gain more room to sit in the back of the bus. Even a superficial comparison of marriage vs. reciprocal beneficiaries shows that these are two distinctly unequal arrangements.

For one thing, unlike marriages, reciprocal-beneficiary relationships are not transportable from one state to another, and there are many federal marital benefits and rights which would not be available to reciprocal beneficiaries because exclusionary federal law trumps state law.

The fact that convicted heterosexual murderers, rapists and child molesters may marry even while they are behind bars illustrates how heavily the legal deck is stacked in favor of heterosexual privilege.

In disparaging the gay and lesbian effort to reduce this imbalance, Papish overlooks the difference between marriage and a limited set of benefits and simultaneously expressing opposition to granting gays and lesbians the equal protection of the laws. Whatever happened to liberty and justice for all?

Kent Hirata


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