Letters to the Editor

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Our 'Health State' should ban smoking

Since the birth of my daughter last year, I have been made acutely aware of how important a smoking ban is for Hawaii. As a professional doing business on three islands, I travel monthly. While breastfeeding, I traveled with my daughter.

It is reprehensible that smoking is allowed in areas where travelers have no choice but to pass flanked by smokers. We have to endure the "open air" walkways, inhaling secondhand smoke, any time we travel through the state airports. Those of us who are able-bodied and healthy can rush past these areas. Children, the elderly, the sickly and the disabled aren't as lucky, and are the most at risk.

Secondhand smoke affects everyone, but children are especially vulnerable. Secondhand smoke is responsible for as many as 300,000 lower respiratory-tract infections in infants and children under 18 months old, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year, and causes 1,900 to 2,700 sudden infant death syndrome deaths in the United States annually.

As a staffer for the Department of Health during the 1990s, I helped perpetuate the nationally known slogan "The Health State." It's time to live that message and implement a smoking ban.

Barbra Pleadwell
Tobacco-Free Hawaii

Drivers should move for emergency vehicles

The other evening I was walking on Kamehameha Avenue to the corner of Waianuenue in Hilo town. As I was about to push the traffic light button, several emergency vehicles with sirens blaring were heading toward that intersection from all sides, apparently heading for the Wainaku area. One fire engine was traveling along Waianuenue with plenty of time for the drivers to see and hear it, yet three vehicles made their left turn onto Waianuenue. One was a horse trailer, one large pickup and one car. There was also a pickup sitting in the left-turn lane (essentially, the middle of the road) who was about to pull over to the side when the three vehicles blocked his intention. He did the intelligent thing and just sat there to let the fire truck go around him on his right.

Had it not been for those three idiots, the fire engine would not have had to drive through an obstacle course.

I tried to stop the three vehicles from making that left turn by stepping down from the curb to signal them. However, I realized that by doing so I would have created a distraction and possibly made the situation worse for the firefighters. So I shouted at the three to stop, but to no avail.

I really wish I knew what was going on in the minds of those three drivers. These brave fire rescue people hurry to their own possible deaths in order to save someone's life.

Please, everyone out there, stop and think! If it were your wife, child or husband who was in distress and needed emergency care, would you want some jerk thinking that his business was more important?

Annette Stanger
Hilo, Hawaii

Young boomers should save for retirement

Here's a thought for those 40-ish workers concerned about their Social Security benefits. Instead of raising the age for receiving Social Security, why doesn't the government reduce the amount of time you can collect Social Security, to say 10-15 years? Then we we all have to start thinking about saving to supplement our retirement years, if we plan on living beyond 85. Remember, Social Security is an entitlement (which can be modified), not a pension.

Also, is it fair if you worked and paid into this system for, say, 40 years and died at age 68, and another person will have worked for the minimum 10 years and starts collecting Social Security at age 65, and collects until he dies at 100?

Rudy Samson
Ewa Beach

Classified research doesn't belong at UH

Public pressure to halt the establishment of a University Affiliated Research Center has been increasingly mounting since the proposal was made public late last year. It is unacceptable to many students, faculty and the community in general for the University of Hawaii to continue advocating for classified military research on any scale.

UH Chancellor Peter Englert has stated that the central question regarding the establishment of the research center is whether the opposition is a majority or not. Well, the UH Faculty Senate, the state House, and student and faculty petitions have all endorsed measures against the nature of a UARC. At two public forums organized by Englert on April 6 and 7, almost all in attendance opposed the proposal for a wide variety of reasons.

I would like to urge Englert and interim President David McClain to halt the proposal now.

Tony Castanha
Departments of Political Science and Ethnic Studies
University of Hawaii-Manoa

Mayor should step in on liquor commission

The Chinese have a saying, "He who rides a tiger can never get off." Since 2002, eight liquor commission investigators, including two supervisors, have been convicted of accepting bribes from liquor licensees. The situation at the Honolulu Liquor Commission is so bad that it led to U.S. District Judge David Ezra, who presided over the criminal cases, to issue the following rebuke: "They basically turned the liquor commission inspection office into a racketeering enterprise. We have to ask ourselves, where is management? Where is the oversight here? Who is looking out to make sure these people are doing their jobs?"

Yesterday the city released the report of auditor Les Tanaka that says that the administration of the commission has failed to effectively address operational issues, leading to poor staff morale and "concerns that the commission is unable to fulfill its responsibilities." Despite the evidence clearly indicating that Liquor Control Administrator Wally Weatherwax and Chief Investigator John Carroll have utterly failed in their responsibilities to supervise, they refuse to resign. One wonders why. Can it be that they realize that so long as they hold onto their positions of authority, people who might have knowledge concerning other criminal activities will be reluctant to step forward?

This would be a good opportunity for the new mayor to show his strength of character and leadership mettle by finally fixing this long-festering problem, something that his predecessor was unable to do.

Roy Yanagihara

'Point-of-sale return' would boost recycling

I think it's funny how nobody is in any hurry to require bottle returns at the point of sale. Why should they be -- the government is making a fortune off the people 5 cents at a time.

I saved my bottles for the first three months, then set out one Sunday to track down a redemption center. It was hard to find, then I had to wait in line before diving into my bag of sticky cans and bottles. I have since decided it's not worth my effort, and I now happily toss all my bottles in the trash. Hey, I'm supporting the state government ...

The "point-of-sale return" should have been the first project of the bottle bill. Customers should have been able to walk in, buy a pop, drink it and hand it back for the 5-cent refund. But that wouldn't make the government any money would it?

Travis Anderson

Two-party system keeps them in check

In the old days, when the Democrats controlled both the Legislature and the executive branch, a simple telephone call could initiate a tax review of an individual or a company. Thankfully, now with a Republican governor, Sen. Brian Kanno had to try to pass a resolution to ask the tax department to intervene against Norwegian Cruise Line ("Isle GOP questions senator's ethics," Star-Bulletin, April 12). Lucky we have a two-party system.

Paul Smith

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