Letters to the Editor

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Trees' value higher than their cost to city

I hope the city stops before it begins ripping out the trees that are making our island a better place for residents and visitors. If they're creating a true safety hazard, OK. If they're planted too closely together, thin out a few.

But if they're coming down because people like things the way they were before, or because cars can't go as fast as before -- forget about it.

Just don't say it's because we can't afford them. Each tree is worth more to the quality of life in Honolulu than it could ever cost to maintain them.

Kim Hillebrand

DOE is obligated to pay substitutes

The Department of Education is claiming that it can't afford to give substitute teachers the money it owes us.

The issue is not whether the state and DOE can "afford" the retroactive provision, but whether they will honor the legal commitment to pay substitutes what was promised in 1996. The DOE has not paid substitute teachers its statutory per diem rate for nine years. This is not about affordability; this is about enforcing a legal obligation.

In the middle of a contract year, 2004-'05, the DOE decided to deduct $7 per day from our pay. Please put yourself in our shoes. What if you were suddenly and arbitrarily given a pay cut? Is that fair?

What if the state did not pay what state lawmakers are supposed to be paid by statute? Is that justifiable if the state cannot "afford" to? It is the law that must be followed. The DOE must be honest brokers.

Lynne Halevi
Substitute teacher

Bills will raise cost of housing even more

Isn't it curious when our elected officials talk about "affordable housing" since one of the largest barriers to affordable housing is the government? Our legislators pass laws that require developers and home builders to wait years for permits to build homes. Every month's delay raises the cost of the home.

The developer is required to pay impact fees to build schools and parks in the project's neighborhood. This adds to the cost of the home. Never mind that many times, those impact fees collected by government are never used for the intended purpose. The developers are often required to offer up to 20 percent of their project as "affordable housing." This requirement raises the prices for the remaining units.

Now the Legislature wants to raise prices even more. Senate Bill 1897 increases the conveyance tax on a sliding scale. SB 1814 assesses additional impact fees. SB1870 imposes general excise taxes on owner- builders. House Bill 1243 changes the conveyance tax rate to an unspecified rate. All of these increases add to the cost of housing.

The most egregious proposals are HB 0923 and SB 1366. SB 1366 increases the general excise tax to 5 percent and HB 0923 allows each county to impose its own general excise tax.

With legislators continually raising our taxes and fees, housing prices go up and disposable income goes down. Affordable housing? Who is really responsible? Call your representatives and encourage them to oppose the above bills.

Walt Harvey
Realtor, East Oahu Realty

Husband's rights trump parents' wishes

In your April 2 edition, letter writer Paul D'Argent asked, "What absurd system of government and judicial law allows for a man five years into a marriage to override the parental right over their offspring?" Which parental right is he talking about? The right to choose children's clothes, whom they see, what work they choose, what bank they use, who inherits the wealth that they accrue?

Why stop at five years? Perhaps parents should maintain rights to their children according to copyright law -- that is, for the length of each parent's life plus 70 years, dependent upon whether or not the child was born after 1978?

Or does D'Argent believe that Biblical law itself is absurd and that a father should only "loan" his daughter to her husband, that husband and wife should not cleave to each other, or that becoming one flesh should be calculated on a five-year amortization schedule?

D'Argent's suggestion is absurd. The courts in the Schiavo case did what they should have done: followed the law and upheld the legal bond that husband and wife sign onto to keep busybodies like Rep. Tom DeLay, Sen. Bill Frist and the Brothers Bush out of their lives.

Steve Wagenseller

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