Saturday, February 3, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 3, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Casinos mean jobs — in your dreams

The man on the tube says a gambling casino would bring at least 5,000 new jobs (all filled by Mainlanders, I suppose, but never mind). That means two casinos would bring 10,000.

They could stick the second one in all that cement they plan to pour over the Ala Wai Golf Course. And why leave out the Windward Side? Or the North Shore? Or Hawaii Kai? Fifteen thousand more jobs.

One casino in each hotel on Lanai, one to kick-start the Molokai economy, one on each side of the Big Island, a couple on Maui, one on Kauai. Gosh, that’s a lot of scholarships. Or is that the word I want? Well, it starts with the same letter.

Jim Becker

Fee conversions take money from economy

Every article I have read regarding the economy here fails to factor in the effect of the Kamehameha Schools lease-to-fee conversions.

I live in a 68-unit townhouse complex in Kaneohe. We purchased our fee in 1994 for about $95,0000 each. In refinancing existing mortgage loans, payments increased about $650 per month. That works out to a little over $500,000 a year that this small community does not spend at Longs, Safeway, on school tuition or at locally owned businesses. It goes directly to Mainland mortgage companies.

Unlike new construction, there was no local return of any of this money, excluding the fees paid to lawyers. Multiply this times the thousands of people who purchase their fee, and it amounts to an incredible hemorrhage of cash that will continue to leave our economy.

Unlike the well-thought-out topics covered in your paper that are really only speculation and opinion, the money lost through lease-to-fee conversions can be calculated and the economic impact specifically determined.

Jamie Neely

Teacher salaries have been frozen

Since Gov. Cayetano has shown the inclination to "negotiate" teacher salary increases through the media, I would hope the media would report on teachers’ salaries with enough detail that public opinion would not be unfairly swayed.

The media are reporting that teacher salaries range from $29,000 to $58,000. This may be misleading because, since the early 1990s when step increases were "frozen," most teachers cannot move beyond the top few tiers of salary levels.

Cayetano has suggested that new teachers should be paid about $36,000. My husband has been teaching since 1992. In this time he has accrued 45 credit hours of graduate work at a personal expense of more than $10,000. He is presently being paid $36,136 with a masters degree in his field. The most my husband can make under the present contract, regardless of his years of experience or the professional development he acquires, is $39,837 (Class VI).

Several of my husband’s colleagues have left Hawaii and found employment with school districts where yearly salary step increases are automatic, and professional development is paid for by the school district. My husband and I have stayed in Hawaii because we have found great satisfaction in our work (I am a part-time teacher for the DOE). But, we wonder how long we can get by on an income that does not allow us to put aside money for our children’s education, buy a home or save for retirement.

Colleen Spring

Law firm underwrote First Amendment talk

Claire Griffin’s Feb. 1 letter makes excellent points in recognizing the many participants who made a success of the Davis-Levin First Amendment Conference, sponsored by the ACLU and featuring Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

It is important to recognize this annual conference on the First Amendment was founded several years ago and is underwritten by a successful Hawaii law firm, Davis Levin Livingston Grande, which is giving back to our community in this unique way. Mahalo to Davis Levin Livingston Grande.

Eileen Mortenson

Army is protecting Makua’s environment

I support the military’s return to training at the Makua Military Reservation.

I have toured Makua Valley and understand that controlled training will not significantly affect the environment, given the findings in the Army’s environmental assessment. The Army has taken a proactive stance in protecting Makua Valley, as shown in 1998 when it voluntarily suspended training there.

In addition to taking environmental precautions, I believe the Army is protecting cultural sites. As stated by Laurie Lucking (Advertiser, Jan. 21), the Army places buffer zones around archeological sites and plans to have soldiers use maps to ensure that live-fire training will not be directed at those sites.

The Army has spent in excess of $10 million in preservation efforts at Makua Valley and makes every effort to reduce impact to the environment and cultural artifacts.

Sen. Norman Sakamoto
D-16th (Moanalua, Salt Lake)

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