Letters to the Editor

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Kuhio trees add to Hawaii's beauty

Uprooting the newly planted, beautiful trees on Kuhio Avenue is a bad plan. The improvements on Kuhio have united that end of Waikiki with Kapiolani Park and both areas have benefited.

If there is a concern that the trees might cause a problem, why not wait to find out if it actually occurs before spending more money to remove them?

Abandoning the plan to increase bicycle trails also seems short-sighted. Encouraging commuters to use bicycles instead of cars is a low-cost way of reducing traffic.

Honolulu is a world-class city in a magnificent setting. Investing in beauty and livability is wise and the right thing to do.

Mary Becknell

UH must keep its goals attainable

Achieving tuition equivalence with other universities suggests the University of Hawaii-Manoa has a foolish dream about its self-worth; where it finds itself in a fiscal bubble incurred by its ambitious building programs in a state marked by precarious revenue growth. Federal pork dollars toward UH will soon dry up as our senior senator in Congress must eventually consider his retirement, adding to UH's financial dilemma. It won't be long before UH embarks on building a "superconductor/supercollider" to achieve preeminence with other universities like Stanford Lab and Fermi Lab, and the state shall become lost as to where the funding shall come from.

What UH and the Board of Regents don't seem to understand is that Hawaii does not enjoy an "economy of scale" like other states. Hawaii is locked into single industry (tourism) marred by low wages and salaries. Its taxpayers are beginning to see their disposable income erode with high gas prices and are burdened with ever-greater debt from mortgages and car loans.

UH-Manoa must cease and desist its foolish dreams and reflect on what our "economy of scale" can support and what we can burden our students with.

Stanton T. Gaza

Don't attack judges in Schiavo case

As president of the Hawaii State Bar Association, I believe it is crucial for Hawaii's citizens to understand the important role that judges have played in the Terri Schiavo case.

The lawyers and judges of Hawaii know that the people of Hawaii have very strong emotions about this case. Indeed, the lawyers and judges of Hawaii also carry strong personal beliefs about the tragic circumstances. However, regardless of how one feels about the specific facts of the situation, the role that judges play is clear and straightforward. The federal and state judges who were assigned this case were charged with weighing the facts of the case and the remedies set forth in the law.

While it is appropriate for legislators, commentators and the public to debate the challenges and dilemmas brought to light by Schiavo's case, there is no need for personal attacks on the judges involved. They are dedicated public servants called upon to serve as impartial arbiters in a very difficult case. They should not be criticized for applying existing law to the case; we should praise the judges for dispensing even-handed justice and upholding the independence of the judiciary even under the most difficult circumstances.

In politically charged situations such as the Schiavo case, judges are expressly entrusted to make decisions based on the laws of the land, not their personal views or what they would like the laws to be. Those in the legislative and executive branches can act otherwise, but the judicial branch must remain separate from that activism -- for the good of us all.

Richard Turbin
Hawaii State Bar Association

Lava views can also be quite dangerous

I would like to add another word of caution about viewing lava flows at Kilauea.

Helicopter tour companies advertise that they will give you "a once in a lifetime experience" viewing where "molten lava erupts into the Pacific Ocean."

I was trained to fly helicopters, and hold a commercial helicopter pilot certificate.

I witnessed a helicopter tour pilot who was begging to provide a "last in a lifetime experience."

He was in a downwind hover giving the passengers a perfect view of the lava hitting the ocean and the steam billowing away from them out to sea.

The problem is that in the event of a loss of power (or the more likely event of the failure of the little sideways rotor on the tail), the helicopter would need to go into autorotation, where a steep descent and sufficient forward speed can cause the main rotor to turn like a windmill, and this spinning disc can act as a "wing."

In this case, however, the helicopter had neither speed nor sufficient altitude and, if the pilot attempted to attain autorotation, the helicopter would have been blown by the tailwind into the spectacular lava event.

Thomas Sanders

We could all use more driver education

I think we are seriously lacking in public education programs to teach the general driving public how to act on our streets and roads.

There has been much talk about new pedestrian walkway laws lately. I think we have adequate existing laws. They simply need to be obeyed and enforced.

The other subject concerns four-way stops. So often, motorists at a four-way stop have no idea who has the right of way. They simply sit there and wait for someone else to do something. Others think it's perfectly fine to tailgate the car in front of them through the intersection. An associated problem is when a traffic light is out of order, and either everyone just sits there, or some simply continue straight through as if they have the right of way.

I am probably not a perfect driver, but I strive to give others the attention and respect that they should deserve.

Wayne Herlick

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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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