Letters to the Editor

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Royal band has not reached potential

In response to Victor Rittenband and Nancy Gustafsson Rittenband's Dec. 31 letter supporting Royal Hawaiian Band conductor Aaron Mahi: It is obvious that the Gustafssons have not kept up with the evolution of bands in America and throughout the world. The Royal Hawaiian Band has become, during the years of Mahi's tenure, an ensemble that has yet to perform at its maximum potential.

The musicians in the band are top notch in the state, but Mahi has barely scratched the surface in tapping their tremendous talent. Mahi's conducting is obscure and unexpressive while he is hunched over at the podium.

It is fine to continue performances in the old traditions of the band, but the band also should be a resource to the people, students and children of our state by performing works from the ever-growing plethora of band literature. The instrumentation of the ensemble should be filled out to be more symphonic and orchestra-like in nature.

And the band should look to greater heights with performances at the prestigious Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic, American Bandmasters Association Convention or look to release reference recordings of great band literature. A performance at Carnegie Hall? Didn't one of our high school bands just do that?

P. Max Dubois

Bandmaster should not be replaced

Mayor-elect Mufi Hannemann is starting off on the wrong foot, and he hasn't even been sworn in yet ("Band director to be replaced next year," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 31). Under the direction of Aaron Mahi, the Royal Hawaiian Band has carried on the legacy left by its founder, King Kamehameha III, and its well-known bandmaster, Henry Berger, in an outstanding manner.

Aaron is as much an ambassador of aloha for Hawaii as Duke Kahanamoku was in his day, and through his charismatic warm and kind spirit, and passion for Hawaiian music, has brought national and international recognition to the Royal Hawaiian Band and to Hawaii as a tourism destination. Aaron has done as much for Hawaii tourism as the Hawaii Visitors Bureau or the governor.

If Hannemann is allowed to prevail in replacing him as bandmaster, it will be a dark day for Hawaii, the beginning of the end of the Royal Hawaiian Band as we know and love it today, as one of the last living links to Hawaii's monarchy, an inspiration to young and old and a magnet for tourism.

Appointments to public office must be based solely on merit, not on political favoritism. I thought Hannemann would be a good mayor, but I'm not so sure anymore. He still has a chance to redeem himself and do what is right and just for Hawaii's future. Don't wait too long!

Ed Wagner

Wooden structures need sprinklers

Fourteen fatalities in structure fires in 2004 ought to be a signal to the Honolulu City Council that it is time to require wooden residences to have sprinklers. In addition to the lives lost in fires on Oahu that could be saved, the property damage in these and all wooden structure fires on Oahu not only affect those who live in these wooden structures, but also affects the insurance rates that all property owners must pay.

The City Council is looking to require high-rise structures to install sprinklers at huge costs to owners. High-rise fires, especially in residential buildings, are rare, and the property losses are miniscule in comparison to what is happening in wooden structures because these high-rise buildings have one- or two-hour-rated concrete firewalls between units.

Instead of requiring sprinklers in high-rise concrete buildings, our City Council needs to review its priorities and do something about requiring sprinklers in wooden residential structures.

Richard Port

Outgoing mayor leaves a bumpy legacy

As Mayor Harris' tenure comes to a close and the mayor seeks a lasting legacy, I'm considering a campaign to rename the main street in my community from Makakilo Drive to Mayor Harris Boulevard. I'm sure many residents will support the effort, especially when I explain that every time their car is nearly shaken to pieces by the gazillion potholes that crater the surface of Mayor Harris Boulevard, the street signs will serve as a reminder of who was responsible for the extreme deterioration of the road they have to use every day.

The only flaw to this idea is that other communities around the island, equally afflicted by rotten, neglected pavement, would likely seek to rename their streets after the mayor as well. Think of the confusion for visitors when two thirds of the roads on Oahu become Harris Avenue, Harris Street, Harris Loop, and so on. Perhaps not such a good idea after all.

David Wang

Family restaurants are fading away

My mother, Doris, worked as a waitress at three landmark Honolulu restaurants of the 1950s and '60s: the friendly Hale Nanea in Kaimuki, the venerable Columbia Inn and the cozy Wisteria Restaurant. The closure of Wisteria signals the end of a bygone era of beloved family-owned eateries with colorful histories. Only Dot's in Wahiawa remains to carry the torch.

I'll have to stop by there on my next visit to the islands to partake of its delectable shrimp tempura -- perhaps for the last time.

Ersten Imaoka
Concord, Calif.
Former Hawaii resident

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