Letters to the Editor

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Students win with rockets, electric cars

Congratulations to the students, educators and supporters of Waialua High and Intermediate School on their recent triumph in the electric car race and success of their "Rocket Extravaganza." Kudos as well to the other participants as it must have taken many hours of planning, cooperation and effort to tackle such demanding projects.

With public education and educators under assault by what seem insurmountable challenges, it is encouraging and comforting to know that our youngsters are invested with those who nurture their intellect and talent, and provide that learning environment which yields such commendable academic accomplishments. There are many similar examples at other schools, proof positive of this commitment to hurdle those barriers to educational excellence.

To all who participated, congratulations again; you are assets to your schools, communities and this state.

Wallace K. Tirrell

Animal cruelty a sign of other problems

If the Manoa rapists are still at large, if the malicious fires at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library remain unsolved, and if the three guys who tortured and killed the cat at the UH dorm (described in the campus newspaper, Ka Leo, April 7) are still at large, then we might ask if there's a connection. In any case, I don't want these men in my neighborhood.

Because little bullies tend to grow into big bullies and worse, I hope everyone will report animal cruelties, even if they happened last week or last month.

Barbara Ikeda

Money for rail will leave state economy

The proposed rail tax is a bad idea. In March I heard Governor Lingle say that she supports this tax increase because it allows counties more "home rule." However, the law specifically allows Oahu to spend the tax increase only on fixed rail. It is not home rule -- it is the state manipulating Oahu to pay for and put in a railroad.

The "money circulating through the economy" argument is untrue. The feds can put in only $500 million of the $2.5 billion-plus construction cost. However, more than $1.5 billion will immediately leave Honolulu in purchase of rolling stock, rail, wire and all the things we don't make here, with more going out later. A local economic and construction recession will surely follow.

The tax will never expire. As Rep. Neil Abercrombie said in the state Senate hearing, the tax must run forever to cover operating/maintenance costs.

There are real traffic solutions and alternatives that have been swept under the carpet by previous Honolulu administrations. After the coming rail fiasco, there will be no money left to fix the traffic problems.

Larry Bartley

New airline might reunite old friends

Living as I do on a fixed income, I am very excited to hear that a low-cost inter-island airline is coming (Star-Bulletin, March 17). Lately fares have gotten so high I can't even consider visiting friends on the neighbor islands, and they can't afford to see me, either. If FlyHawaii Airlines can really sell tickets for $50, we will be able to see each other for the first time in years.

Lois Bunin

Kanno's actions proper for an elected official

The Star-Bulletin should stop criticizing state Sen. Brian Kanno (Editorial, April 13), who recently looked into whether Norwegian Cruise Line exercised proper business practices and due process in its firing of an employee. Because the issue involves the labor practices of a business operating in Hawaii, I can understand Kanno's interest in this matter. I call your attention to the Terri Schiavo case in which legislators in Florida, even those whose committees had nothing to do with health, human services, or consumer protection, used the legislative process to pass a bill on behalf of a single individual. May I remind you that the president of the United States himself took action, even attempting to usurp the judicial process, on behalf of a single individual.

People ask their elected officials for help all the time. Wouldn't you like to know that there are legislators who would listen and would be willing to help? Why hasn't the Star-Bulletin done more to investigate if the firing of Leon Rouse was proper? By the way, I always felt that cruise ships should pay hotel taxes.

Gary Saito


Safety concerns about Kuhio Avenue went unheeded

We feel compelled to set the record straight regarding the Hannemann administration's position on the so-called Kuhio Avenue beautification project in Waikiki.

Many of us had concerns about the changes that were proposed for Kuhio Avenue before they were implemented. But those concerns were largely ignored by the previous administration. Instead, the project was rushed to completion, despite a request by the newly elected mayor himself that it be held until the Hannemann administration could review the situation.

As a result, there are many flaws with the project, the most egregious of which hamper public safety. Paramedics cannot use their available technology to control traffic signals because tree branches block the path of the signal. Tree branches also obscure street signs for police and fire vehicles. Fire department ladder trucks would be unable to maneuver and park in certain areas should there be a high-rise fire. Buses have a difficult time negotiating turns.

Moreover, no one has yet taken the time to calculate what it will cost to maintain the trees that have been planted in the middle of Kuhio Avenue, or what the cost will be to maintain the streets and sidewalks that crack as the trees grow. Median curbing is placed around the electrical manholes when the standard practice would be to raise the manholes. There are sewer and other utility lines below the surface that could be compromised by invasive roots as well.

When Mayor Hannemann was elected, we felt it necessary to call to his attention these and other concerns. Fortunately for us, he is taking the time to listen. He even organized a walk-through of the area with us, so that he could see for himself how seriously we view the situation. And he agrees with us that the status quo is unacceptable.

Trees are a large part of the natural beauty of Hawaii, and we value our Honolulu trees. We are proposing the selective removal of some of the recently over-planted trees to reduce the crowded conditions that have led to these public safety concerns. The trees to remain will be determined keeping in mind the following: mitigation of safety concerns, consideration of their natural growth patterns, ongoing routine main- tenance and keeping the intent of the Kuhio Avenue beautification project. When feasible, removed trees will be saved and relocated to another site.

This is hardly a vendetta against the previous administration This is not about uprooting trees for the sake of uprooting trees. This is about legitimate concerns for public safety and taxpayer dollars. This is about a mayor who is willing to take into consideration the views of his department heads. For that, we are grateful. And we believe that, in the long run, taxpayers will benefit.

Attilio Leonardi
Chief, Honolulu Fire Department
Dr. Elizabeth Char
Director, Emergency Medical Services Department
Ed Hirata
Director, Department of Transportation Services
Lester Chang
Director, Department of Parks and Recreation
Laverne Higa
Director, Department of Facility Maintenance
Wayne Hashiro
Director, Department of Design and Construction
Tenari Ma'afala
President, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers

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