Tuesday, February 6, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Don’t pass new law on pick-up trucks

Hawaii is in pain over yet another tragic accident related to pick-up truck beds. However, I believe that attempting to legislate against the tendency of human beings to occasionally make horrible errors in judgment in common situations often leads to even more unacceptable results, no matter how well-founded in compassion such efforts might be.

Law has proven to be a poor venue for attempts at preventing such behavior, especially reactionary law drafted during the emotional response to a specific tragedy. I appeal to legislators to resist the temptation.

Laws against foolish risky behaviors that put innocent people in danger, or place outrageous demands on our public safety officials, are appropriate. Law currently exists to protect those who are probably too young to fully appreciate the extent of the risk associated with riding in the back of a pick-up. That is good, and that is enough. We are already hamstrung by too many "behavior" laws that presume to keep us safe from ourselves.

A "little freedom" such as riding in the back of a truck seems terribly trivial in proportion to even one precious life. Viewed in such logical isolation, only a fool without conscience would disagree. But how many of these little freedoms does it take to add up to "real freedom," the one we treasure as dearly as life itself? How many little freedoms are we willing to trade while legislating vainly against inevitable tragic human errors?

Rick Monteverde

Governor should explain UH position

Your Jan. 31 editorial is right: There is far too much "bluster" between the University of Hawaii faculty union and Gov. Ben Cayetano ("UH wage pact must not harm autonomy").

Bluster does little to encourage intelligent dialogue or sound public policy. A faculty strike can be averted, but only if the two sides engage each other more intelligently than they have heretofore.

I am a member of the faculty union. As such, I am no neutral party. However, I have the impression that UHPA has done a somewhat better job of explaining its positions to the public than has the Cayetano administration.

I would like to invite Cayetano to submit an essay to this newspaper describing and justifying his vision for the University of Hawaii. For all concerned — faculty, students and citizens — the sooner, the better.

This is one essential way in which our governor can lead on an issue of critical importance to the people of Hawaii.

David T. Johnson
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Hawai
i at Manoa

City shouldn’t spend $200 million on land

Absolutely ridiculous. Just when you thought the decisions of our politicians couldn’t get any more absurd and totally beyond reason, we find out that the city (the taxpayers) may have to pay $200 million to preserve a barren piece of land. This is to prevent a developer and Kamehameha Schools from building residential homes on this property.

Am I missing something here? John Henry Felix and company want to spend $200 million of taxpayer money that could be used for much-more-needed projects. They want to prevent the owner of this land from building homes that would lessen our housing shortage and provide much-needed construction jobs.

Dave Matthews of the "Save Sandy Beach Coalition" says, "To me, you can’t put a price on that land." Yes, you can. Make the smart and obvious choice and let the developer and landowner develop the land with their own money while creating housing, jobs and something nice to look at on the otherwise barren Sandy Beach.

Colin Kau

The lure of gambling isn’t worth the price

I read the Tuesday article with interest about this new "Hawaii Coalition for Economic Diversity," which so far does not want to divulge its membership or finances.

I belong to a different coalition, the "Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling" (HCALG), which proudly lists its members and finances. The HCALG stands against legalized gambling ("gaming," as some call it) because we know the damage that gambling does to families and to society as a whole.

The promises expressed by those who so fervently want gambling to be legalized in Hawaii (such as for funding for scholarships, better education, long-term health care) are used to cover up the truth: that a few persons and corporations would richly benefit from the losses of the hard-working poor.

That golden carrot that is dangled in front of us is the "poison apple" we remember from our childhood stories. Let’s not be fooled by fancy ads and the temptation to get something for nothing.

Rev. Barbara Grace Ripple
United Methodist Church

Books set him free in prison’s confines

Most inmates here at Oahu Community Correctional Center find it difficult to imagine themselves as "free."

I myself have been to the beach in Waikiki and the Honolulu Zoo. I’ve dined in the finest restaurants that Chicago and New York have to offer. I have also flown across the Atlantic aboard Pan Am’s first-class air ships. I have seen murder and the capture of the culprit.

The books here, although torn and mutilated, become my medium. As my eyes scan the pages, my mind is set free. Sometimes I will fill a cup with cool water, add some salt and off I go. The smell, the taste and my mind frees me to surf the waves off Waikiki. Wow, look at that chick in the red-and-white polka-dot bikini. I saw her. Did you?

Some of the inmates say I’m crazy. They say, "You’re in prison. You’re not free." My answer is always the same: "You can lock away my body, but you cannot lock away my mind. You can give me rice and hot dogs, and I will have filet mignon."

I cannot remember if it is the Confucian or the Taoist philosophy that I owe this attitude to — probably both. I do know that education in the key.

My gratitude goes out to Professor Wong and to all the other instructors at Honolulu Community College who have taught me. It is never too late for education. I hope to return to college after my release, and I pray to someday set myself free from my addiction. In the meantime, I’ll see you in the fox holes of Normandy, the skies over the Koolau and, yes, on the beach at Waikiki.

Michael Spiker
Inmate, OCCC

Attack on Cayetano over art unjustified

Bob Dye’s conclusion in his Jan. 21 commentary that Gov. Cayetano’s proposal to operate an art gallery out of the old Armed Services YMCA is a "hoity-toity ... notion for a local guy from lower Kalihi" reflects an elitist attitude toward local people who live or have lived in lower Kalihi.

Dye’s belief that lower Kalihi people have no appreciation for art or do not even create art or know how to market it or what to do with it is itself "hoity-toity."

Local artists who want to live their art — who do it full time, embrace it totally, but have to get other jobs that stifle their creativity because there is no place to hang their work for sale — would welcome another venue to show their work. The governor’s idea, whether it’s his own or not, is great. It would create one more venue: a large one where local art could be displayed.

People who work in the Downtown area and tourists alike would frequent such a gallery and pay for art to hang in their homes.

Dye misses the point by spending his words summing up the "Art in Public Places" program. The YMCA idea is totally different and is not contrary or opposed to what presently exists. Get with it, Bob. Let’s go forward.

Dana Ishibashi

First Amendment discussion wonderful

On Jan. 27, the ACLU of Hawaii treated Honolulu to a truly magnificent event: two first-rate intellects addressing a number of constitutional issues. The occasion was the Davis-Levin First Amendment Conference, and the discussants were U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Professor Nadine Strossen of New York Law School and national ACLU president.

It was billed as a "conversation" on the First Amendment, and that’s just what it was: not a debate, although the two certainly differed on a number of matters. But irrespective of what side one took, it was a real treat just to watch and listen to two brilliant people take questions and positions apart in a good-humored, civil fashion.

To our good fortune also was the fact that each is blessed with a tremendous sense of humor, so it was funny as well as enlightening.

Many Anne Raywid

Philippines president has broad voter backing

We would like to cite a recent Associated Press report from Manila ("Philippine leadership still fragile)," stating that in 1998, President Macapagal-Arroyo, who was "elected separately as vice president, did even better with 12,667,252 votes" over the 10,722,295 votes of her predecessor as president.

Even if our new president’s votes were not for the presidency, as pointed out in your Jan. 21 editorial " People power’ again rescues Philippines," nevertheless they put into question that editorial’s observation that she "is not a popularly elected figure."

Rolando S. Gregorio
Consul General, Consulate General of the Philippines

House Republicans now have some power

G. Harris’ assessment of the power the House Republicans have is rather low (Letters, Jan. 28). The Hawaii Constitution gives House Republicans with their numbers this year the kind of considerable power it hasn’t had since 1954.

What is this power? The ability to take an important bill, such as the repeal of the general excise tax on food and medicine, out of committee and onto the floor of the House for debate and vote. Not just a generic voice vote, but a roll-call vote that would put the position of every legislator on the record.

And how many Democratic votes would Republicans have to get in order to perform this function? Zero. The 19 Republicans alone have that power. That means that Democrats will not be able to hide behind voice votes on the very important issues facing this state.

Mr. Harris, Republicans do have some power. Not just the power to speak, but the power to keep important bills alive and bring them to the floor for a debate and a roll-call vote. House Republicans haven’t had that in 47 years.

Roosevelt Freeman

Problem would fly away

Last year, I fed many birds. When I quit feeding them, they flew away. One way to help get rid of the unwanted pigeons in our parks is to start enforcing the "no feeding" laws. Anyone ever think of that?

Larry Mackey

Kakaako neighborhood is part of vision process

As a small-business owner in Kakaako, I reacted negatively to some of the changes in our neighborhood after they were made. We didn’t see the changes coming, and we resented being surprised.

But now we are part of the early vision for Kakaako. A community-based planning group called "Eye on Makai" is focused on the makai area of Kakaako as our last great waterfront on Oahu’s south shore. This group is made up of members of the building industry, environmentalist groups, businesses, construction unions, planners, engineers, our association, the Kakaako Neighborhood Board, local residents and others. As the coordinator, I have attempted on my own to reach all who should have input into our Kakaako Makai area.

With such diversity, one would expect conflicting visions, but that has not been the case. We agreed that we must maintain access to the ocean and parks for all users. We need an integrated plan that unifies the makai area with the overall vision for Kakaako.

With standards requiring extensive open space, landscaping, setbacks and height controls to produce a campus-like setting, Eye on Makai supports proposals before the Legislature for construction of a Science and Technology Museum, Ocean Science Center and new UH Medical School. We further envision commercial activities along Kewalo Basin.

We also see a museum walkway presenting our various histories in Kakaako as an added opportunity for education for residents and visitors. With the marine and science centers, we will be creating a new education future for our students from grade school through the university level.

It takes money to generate money. We encourage our Legislature and the administration to spend the money it will take. We have a splendid rough diamond on our hands. It has to be cut and polished expertly and boldly if it is to become the new symbol for the Hawaii of a new millennium.

Bev Harbin
President, Kaka
ako Improvement Association

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