Letters to the Editor

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Our parks are looking pretty shabby lately

Not everybody has a backyard of their own. For thousands of folks who live in condos, townhouses or zero-lot-line homes on urbanized Oahu, our city parks are our shared backyards, the green, inviting places where families and friends can share a picnic, toss a ball back and forth or catch 40 winks on a blanket in the shade. Our parks also are Honolulu's "outdoor health club," with no dues or membership required.

I'm noticing a disturbing trend lately. From Kapiolani to Ala Moana to Central Oahu Regional Park, here's what I see: Where there was healthy grass a year ago, now the weeds are creeping in. Lush and green? Noticeable bare spots seem to be growing. Promptly emptied rubbish bins? Now they overflow. It's not a crisis yet, but Honolulu's shared backyard seems to be getting awfully shabby.

Mr. Mayor, please put the focus back where it belongs. Those lucky enough to have their own backyards will tell you: Never let the weeds and the dust and the rubbish get ahead of you, because you can quickly end up with a backyard you're not so proud of.

Ron Pelletier

Parks need faster post-weekend cleanup

Why does it take so long to clean up our public parks after weekends, and after our long holiday weekends? All of the collected rubbish is amazing!

A common-sense and cost-savings item would be to have a large rubbish container stationed at the park so individuals would kokua and empty all of their rubbish in that container. The truck could merely hook up to the container early after the weekend holiday and haul it away. Everyone would benefit with this early removal of people's trash.

Al Streck Sr.
Foster Village

Look for the useful among the spam

I've always appreciated the skepticism toward marketing American culture fosters in its youth, but recent events have made me question whether our skepticism has gone too far. For instance, Thursday marked the last day to consolidate student federal loans and lock into a cushy interest rate below 2 percent. Many people I know failed to do so because they thought the phone calls about interest rates were from people trying to take advantage of them.

Two points seem apparent. First, the constant bombardment advertisers subject Americans to has detrimental effects on the population. Just like spam messages crowd an inbox and conceal real e-mail, a steady stream of "free credit card" mailings helps to discourage people from locking into their low interest rates. People simply threw the interest rate mail out with the credit card offers.

Second, only people can protect themselves from the damage incurred by these advertising campaigns. Instead of simply hanging up the phone when it's not someone you know, find out what the offer is. Is it about your interest rate? (Stay on the line.) Is it about car scratch remover? (Click.) By throwing the baby out with the bath water, we lose money and allow spammers and advertisers to get the best of us.

Kee Campbell

Lingle veto would be a conflict of interest

Public officials should avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Governor Lingle's family's ties to Hawaii's largest auto dealer group raise a cloud over her proposed veto of the mass transit tax.

Lingle's uncle is Nick Cutter, head of the Cutter Group, and members of her extended family receive millions from auto sales. The auto dealers would be hurt by mass transit and prefer that the state expand the roads instead. Google users also can quickly discover that Lingle's first public statement after her 2002 election was to say she was considering "double-decking" the H-1 freeway -- effectively increasing the island's auto capacity.

Lingle may indeed have principled "home rule" reasons for her contemplated veto, but the public will be left with doubts about her motives because of the apparent conflict of interest. She should allow the bill to become law without her signature.

Jim Bickerton

Case mimics Inouye about Guantanamo

Rep. Ed Case at Guantanamo was a Sen. Dan Inouye repeat ("Case defends U.S. prison," Star-Bulletin, June 27); possibly the former's motivation was to provide political cover for the latter, since Hawaii's senior senator's statement about the scrumptious kau kau plates served to the prisoners has been prominently featured on the Web site of the American Embassy in Tokyo. Case also interviewed Inouye at some length recently on publicly broadcast TV. Watergate was only one of the many triumphs they jointly explored. No doubt Inouye is Case's hero; besides, it isn't hurtful for the most Kennedy-esque member of Congress from Hawaii's 2nd District to position himself in that way as the octogenarian's successor. The conspirators made Inouye a national figure when they said his name was pronounced "no way" when looking for senators to support Dick Nixon.

Gitmo is as unpopular as blazes in Japan and everywhere across Asia. The only person with any credibility in the matter is West Point grad Jim Yee, who was confined in solitary for 70-odd days after serving the prisoners as chaplain.

Richard Thompson

'Clear Skies' bill will be bad for Hawaii

It is alarming to hear about the amount of mercury contaminating our oceans in Hawaii. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 930 miles that make up the coastline of the Hawaiian Islands chain have significant amounts of this potent toxin. If mercury is in our ocean, then it is also found in our fish, the staple diet for the majority of people here. Hawaii is one of 44 states that have been advised to limit or avoid eating fish from our ocean and waterways.

The EPA also has stated that one out of six women of childbearing age already have been exposed to amounts of mercury that will affect their children.

Tied to these perplexing facts of mercury present in our oceans is the bill that the Bush administration is trying to pass this summer. The "Clear Skies" bill will permit our oceans and public health to become even more polluted. If the Bush administration continues with its plans, it will allow power plants on Oahu to emit seven times more mercury than the Clean Air Act currently allows. The "Clear Skies" bill will lower the quality of life for residents and children in Hawaii.

We need to stress the urgency of this issue to Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, since this will affect the citizens of Oahu and our surrounding island environment. We should not allow the "Clear Skies" bill; it is clearly a dirty lie.

Alexis Ollar

NASA's Deep Impact was a big lie

The press today is nothing more than an expensive public relations firm for the American government. Just take a look at the reporting on the recent Deep Impact event. NASA spent $333 million on a fireworks display that had no scientific value and the press provided free cheerleading.

Objects dating back to the beginning of the solar system are available right here on Earth. A reliable source of these objects is the Antarctic ice sheet, where some of these objects can be retrieved from places where they are deposited in huge numbers by the movements of the ice. The NASA scientists are certainly aware of the studies that already have been done on this primitive universe material. Therefore, the excuse they gave for playing space cowboys with a comet is just pure lies.

So what value did Deep Impact actually have? Apparently the NASA guys needed the free PR. Next they will be planning another space shuttle launch. The reporting on Deep Impact shows that they can count on press coverage of the event without any serious discussion of the risks to human life or the damage that will be done to the Earth's ozone layer during the launch.

Patricia J. Longo

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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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