Letters to the Editor

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Clearing weeds not answer to brush fires

This is in response to Douglas Schott's suggestion ("Whack those weeds to prevent brush fires," Letters, May 25) for preventing brush fires.

Oh, that poor teenager who (allegedly) felt motivated to set fire to weeds and grass that the community had negligently failed to cut. Maybe he should be rewarded for eliminating the ground cover that saved the cost of mowing.

But that's not the way a civilized society thinks. Putting the teenager in jail for a while might be the best fire-prevention message and the best lesson of his life. If that's "baggage our community will make him carry," we need more of it.

Gene Leupp

Hawaii should put cap on medical lawsuits

I dread the day that Kahuku Hospital has to shut down because of the increasing cost of medical malpractice insurance. The nearest hospital -- in Wahiawa -- is more than 23 miles and 40 minutes away. In an emergency this could mean 40 minutes and 23 miles too late. The cost of lawsuits is literally killing us!

Despite the appropriation of $1 million by the Legislature this year for Kahuku Hospital, it will not be enough to cover the cost of increased medical malpractice insurance that has gone up from $70,000 to $456,000 during the last five years.

Several bills died this session that could have put a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in a medical tort lawsuit. Next session this legislation must be reconsidered so that insurance costs are reduced and doctors can afford to practice in Hawaii.

Tort reform, like those adopted in other states, is urgently needed. More than 28 years ago California passed the Medical Injury and Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) and since then California has saved more than $1 billion each year in medical liability premiums. California has seen an increase in insurance premiums of only 182 percent since 1976 while the rest of the country has experienced an increase of 569 percent. In the last two years alone, Hawaii has seen its malpractice insurance premiums go up from 40 percent to 200 percent.

It is time for Hawaii to follow in California's footsteps with legislation similar to MICRA. Doctors and hospitals have always been there for us, in the business of saving lives. Now its time to get to business and save them.

Rep. Colleen Rose Meyer
R, Haiku-Kahaluu-Laie

HPD should reimburse child's $50 fine

May I say how astonished -- and horrified -- I am to read about youngsters, even at the tender age of 11 years, are fined $50 for riding their bikes on the sidewalk! I am referring to young James Quidilla, who was recently fined and whose letter you published on May 22. Shame on the city and the Honolulu Police Department, who should reimburse the youngster. Children should come first, especially in the land of aloha.

As one in the travel business, I know Hawaii well. I, too, have had several narrow escapes trying to cross the streets while obeying the traffic signals. Please take better care of your children!

Gilda Del Signore
Tour guide
Washington, D.C.

Female soldiers know what they're doing

Regarding the Bonnie Erbe's syndicated column "Military women don't need this protection" (May 24), I can't believe that dinosaurs continue to walk the Earth, but instead of the magnificent creatures now fossilized in stone, they take the form of less-than-magnificent congressmen like John McHugh of New York who wants to ban military women from their duties to "protect our mothers and daughters from the ravages of war."

To date, 35 servicewomen have died in Iraq, while more than 1,400 servicemen sacrificed their lives, but the lives of our fathers and sons don't seem to be as important. Instead of dreaming up new ways to discriminate women from true equality, Congress should instead adequately equip the military in Iraq with proper armament and supplies.

Women who sign up for today's volunteer military know exactly what they're signing up for. Laws that ban women from the same duties required of their male counterparts suggests that women are incapable of making decisions for them selves. This type of pseudo-chivalry/archaic arrogance should have gone the way of the magnificent dinosaur.

Gerald Nakata

Don't give Bush ideas to democratize China

Recently on ABC's "Nightline," Ted Koppel beautifully presented how much progress China has achieved in 30 years and how much it turned into a progressively thinking modern society with happy people. At the end he victoriously remarked, "And what you have seen is not democracy, it is capitalism."

I reflected on CNN's summary on the same day in which President Bush's request for additional billions of dollars was presented. He is asking for another $1.3 billion for improving the economy in Iraq in addition to the $900 billion we have already spent there on trying to bring democracy to this country of 22 million people. I implore my fellow Americans not to give any ideas to our president to try to bring democracy to China, the home of 1.3 billion people, because it surely will bankrupt us. Let's do some math at least, if common sense has already departed us.

János Samu
Kalaheo, Kauai

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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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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

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