Letters to the Editor

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We need to know more about rail transit

Rail transit is a great idea if people use it. Before spending all that money, it needs to be asked if we will give up our cars and jump on the rail. Before people can give an honest answer, we need to know several important details of this plan:

» Where are the starting, stopping and ending points?
» How much it will cost to ride?
» What are the time intervals of departures from each stop?

Most people agree that rail transit is good. The flaw is everyone wants everyone else to use the rail so they can continue to use their cars in less traffic. Think of the inconvenience of using the rail. People need to drop off their kids at school or the babysitters'. People need to stop off for groceries or drop their kids off at soccer practice on their way home from work.

When you do get off the rail how far will you be from your actual destination? A block, a mile? Do you now have to catch a bus? Do you have to walk in the rain?

Still think rail transit is a great idea? "I'm not giving up my car," said everyone.

Clark Himeda

Compassion is what leads us toward peace

Many Americans are struggling with the dilemma of wanting to support our troops in Iraq while strongly disagreeing with the war. Most of these people probably support the concept of a "just" war, such as World War II, but cannot accept the reasoning of the Bush administration that justifies the war in Iraq.

I would take it a step further and claim that all war is wrong; maybe necessary as a last resort in an act of self-defense but still immoral and wrong. We need to resist efforts that give violence a moral spin. If we are sincere in our desire to break the cycle of violence around the world, we must learn how to act in nonviolent ways. Violence creates more violence while nonviolence opens the doorway to peace.

To counter the assertion that defeating evil with war brings peace, I offer this oft-quoted thought: "Peace is not just the absence of war but the presence of (compassion and) understanding." I don't think this is a mere lofty, impossible ideal. Rather, if it becomes the operating principle within the minds and lives of more people, we will be surprised by the results.

John Heidel

Hawaii must spend more to fight tobacco

How many more deaths must occur and how many more children must become addicted to cigarettes before we say enough? We have the ability to ensure that our children will not be victims of tobacco. All that is needed is the political will.

A study published in the Jan. 25 issue of the American Journal of Public Health shows that if states would spend the minimum amount of tobacco programs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they could lower youth smoking rates by 3 to 14 percent. That translates into lives and dollars saved.

Fortunately, Hawaii is among the few states that have funded programs at CDC levels. But we still have a lot of work to do. Tobacco-funding decisions today will have a great impact tomorrow.

The American Lung Association of Hawaii calls on Governor Lingle and our state legislators to fund strong, effective tobacco control policies adequately to prevent future tobacco use and help current smokers end their deadly habit.

Malcom Koga
American Lung Association of Hawaii

Prosecutor was too easy on his assistant

I've always heard that our city prosecutor, Peter Carlisle, was one tough hombre; someone willing to crack the whip, especially with public servants who go astray.

Sure enough, on page 5 of the Feb. 4 Star-Bulletin, I read that his office prosecuted a city supervisor for using a city truck and the overtime work of two assistants to install a water sprinkler system at his mother's house.

The supervisor was indicted and tried on felony theft and bribery charges for the theft of overtime payments and parts in excess of $100. He awaits sentencing. Good going, Peter.

But just a minute! In the same paper, on page 3, I read that a city employee, over a period of seven years, directed $343,000 in city contracts to relatives and to reward political volunteers. That employee was not indicted or tried. Instead, she got a two-week suspension without pay. Is it just possible the lady got off easy because she was Carlisle's executive assistant, or because the lucky volunteers worked on Carlisle's campaigns?

Debbie Bagwell

Don't force young riders to wear helmets

I was the only person in the entire state to testify against Senate Bill 48 when it came before the Senate Transportation and Government Operations committees recently. This bill would make helmets mandatory for moped riders and bicyclists under the age of 18. The bill is based on misinformation and emotionalism. My testimony debunked this bill line by line but unfortunately mine was only one voice and the committee passed the bill.

SB 48 will go through other committees before coming before the full Legislature for a vote. Unless there is a public outcry against this blatant paternalism, all you "under 18s" better get used to wearing helmets, and all you parents better get used to the government parenting for you.

Incidentally, those who think mandatory helmets are a good idea can start wearing them now, and all the time. The major causes of TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) are car crashes, violence and falls. Shouldn't everyone wear helmets, then? And if just one life was saved wouldn't it be worth it?

Warren Woodward
Kihei, Maui

African Americans had role in royal band

February is Black History Month, a time designated to honor the great heritage of African Americans. This month is a great opportunity to reflect on the tremendous contributions made by African Americans to the history of Hawaii.

Consider the role African Americans played in forming the Royal Hawaiian Band. When King Kamehameha III started his royal band in 1835, he hired two African Americans to lead it. They were America Shattuck and David Curtis. Indeed there were a number of talented African American musicians in Hawaii in the early 1800s. In 1845 King Kamehameha III's band was lead by African-American musicians George W. Wyatt and Charles Johnson.

Miles Jackson, a retired University of Hawaii librarian, found old newspaper articles and other trusted sources detailing the early history of the king's original band. The 200-plus-year history of African Americans in Hawaii and in the Royal Hawaiian Band can be found in his two books, "And They Came" and "They Followed The Trade Winds." The band clearly had some "soul."

There are the historical references to African-American musicians with contributions to the Royal Hawaiian Band from 1835, when King Kamehameha III sanctioned its commission. Let's give them their deserved recognition.

Matthew Harrell

Sprinklers would help firefighters save lives

In response to Marijane Carlos' comment regarding Mayor Hannemann's call for the City Council to draft legislation requiring all high-rise condominiums to have sprinklers (Letters, Feb. 11): Hannemann is not trying to make the firefighters' job easier. He stated that "Public health and safety is the No. 1 concern" (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 5).

Building owners should put their renters' lives first, instead of high costs that would incur on them to install these fire sprinklers.

Furthermore, the fire station may be right up the road, but firefighters respond to all calls. They respond to car accidents, people having heart attacks, fires, false alarms, etc. What might seem like forever might be only 3-5 minutes. With fires that is a long time, but have you seen Hawaii drivers move for firefighters, police and ambulances? Let me tell you, they don't. I have witnessed it many of times on the freeways and side roads.

Maybe Carlos should move herself and her children, if she has any, into one of these old high-rises and go through an experience to see how desperately sprinklers are needed.

Jeanine Lacos

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