Letters to the Editor

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Democrats don't care about the taxpayers

Both of my parents were taught during the Hawaii plantation era that the Democrats are for the poor people and the Republicans are rich "haoles." It might have been true during their time, but it surely is a myth today.

Today Democrats are not taking care of their supposed supporters -- the poor people. Their definition of poor people is "the union."

It seems every time the Legislature meets, there is always a pay issue that needs to be settled. Any surplus, like we had this year, will go for these raises. No tax relief for the taxpayer. If there is no surplus, these Democrats will sting your wallet for more dollars to cover these raises in the form of tax increases.

Our hurricane insurance has gone up substantially; property tax has more than doubled; sewer fees will increase; once again another increase in our vehicle weight tax to 50 percent, thanks to our new mayor. Now the excise tax will be increased to 4.5 percent in 2007.

When the next general election comes around, I hope the wrath of Hawaii taxpayers will show at the polls by voting every Democrat out of office, including electing a new mayor.

Melvin Partido Sr.
Pearl City

At-risk children need Healthy Start

The only state child abuse and neglect prevention program, Healthy Start, faces the loss of $5.2 million per year. Services are provided by private providers through state contracts. A potential $3.2 million proposed by the Department of Human Services for Enhanced Healthy Start would not fund prevention services, but is earmarked for families already involved with child protective services.

As the debate has reached the media (Star-Bulletin, April 22), providers feel compelled to explain the issues.

Hawaii pioneered the Healthy Start model, now adopted across the country and internationally. Whereas most government services address child abuse and neglect after it has occurred, Healthy Start works with expectant parents and parents with young children who are identified as "at-risk" for child abuse and neglect. In spite of the presence of risk factors, 98 percent of families enrolled in the program for 12 months or longer did not have a confirmed report of child abuse and neglect.

Department of Health leaders are questioning the effectiveness of Healthy Start based on a study done by Johns Hopkins eight years ago. Since then improvements have been made to address the findings, but no further study has been done to document the results of changes. A study conducted by Kapiolani Medical Center for the same period found that there were 30 children hospitalized for child abuse among 1,469 families not receiving Healthy Start services, but there were only four such cases among 1,774 families served by Healthy Start.

We believe there is justification for retooling and improving Healthy Start. However, we believe that the DOH needs to talk with providers and proceed in a thoughtful manner, rather than start by decreasing funds.

Families are under more stress than ever, and are increasingly affected by substance abuse. The costs of providing Healthy Start services statewide is small compared to the costs related to treatment, the impact on society or the tragedy of harm to even one child.

Ruthann Quitiquit
Healthy Start Providers Network

UARC offer is honor for university

I think it is wonderful that the University of Hawaii has been offered the opportunity to work along side the U.S. Navy doing research as a University Affiliated Research Center. I for one support the endeavor, and consider it tax money well spent.

C.R. Howard
Kihei, Maui

Teachers should count their many blessings

I support teachers getting a raise (Star-Bulletin, April 29), but I don't think that they are grossly underpaid. Quite the contrary. If you add up all of their benefits and perks, they are probably among the most well-off in the state.

What other job in the state offers so many days off and long breaks? I would love to have a day off on a weekday without using vacation time. Teachers should feel blessed to have all of this time off and get paid at the same time.

Their starting pay is not bad at all. Compare their starting salaries to other starting pay in the mid-to-upper $20K for some business professions, such as in banking, retail, etc. Teachers again should feel blessed. And the benefits they receive are wonderful compared to the private sector. So I strongly feel that teachers shouldn't complain; they don't have it that bad at all.

Cheryl Yuen

Gas cap won't live up to legislators' promises

Reading recent reports on the gas cap, it certainly seems as if the Legislature has come up with still another hare-brained scheme. This law not only won't guarantee lower prices at the pump, it will probably wind up raising them.

The gas cap will affect only the wholesale price. Retailers can still charge whatever they want. We'd all like to believe that goodwill reigns supreme, but some retailers already have said they probably won't pass on any savings to consumers.

For years, they have had to live with low profits, so they'll probably pocket any savings. The law offers no incentive for them to pass savings on to motorists.

I urge everyone to give our legislators an incentive to repeal this faulty law. Let's write and tell them we'll remember whether they've helped or hurt us when we vote next year.

Jennifer Clipse

Harris' unsold books can still serve city

Regarding the May 6 story "'Renaissance' languishes in stores" about former Mayor Harris' unsold books:

Let's fill some of the huge potholes in Oahu's roads with the 3,700 unsold or ungifted Harris "Renaissance of Honolulu" coffee table books; case closed!

Douglas Young


Editorial on effort to reform method of
choosing UH regents missed mark

The Star-Bulletin's April 17 editorial, "Dems move on UH board a brazen power grab," misses the intent of the legislation. The UH Board of Regents has always been a political board, and as long as the members are appointees of the governor, it will remain a political board. The issue, for me, is about getting the best-qualified candidates for consideration as nominees.

We select judges based on a Judicial Selection Commission. Why not do the same for university regents? Even the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges supports "screening bodies to assist with the nomination process to identify outstanding citizens."

While many past and present regents have a love of the university, are hard working and willing to serve, this is no longer enough. The university is the state's largest and most complex system of higher education. The responsibilities of the regents require that they possess a high level of fiscal and administrative knowledge and abilities. As the regents are also ambassadors for the university, they must also be great communicators.

In 2000, the voters approved providing tremendous fiscal flexibility to the University of Hawaii. Because of this voter mandate, the quality and diversity of regent oversight are crucial.

Finally, it is ironic that your editorial would point to the firing of former President Dobelle as one of our "political concerns." In this case, the dismissal was indeed warranted. The effort to create a regent selection committee has nothing to do with my politics or the politics of the governor. In fact, as early as 2000, which was during the Cayetano administration, I first introduced a bill proposing the creation of a regent selection commission.

Our university system is too important. We need to ensure that the best people are selected as regents to lead our university into its next 100 years. Selecting our regents similar to how we select our judges is a great step forward.

Rep. K. Mark Takai
Vice Speaker
House of Representatives

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