Saturday, February 10, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 10, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Governor’s threats won’t solve problems

The governor's most recent threats against the HSTA (no books, no computers, no contract) demonstrates the mean-spirited person he is and what is wrong with a system too centralized and out of touch with the front line.

The Department of Education has no policy regarding the timely return of textbooks assigned to students. A recent legislative audit revealed the staggering number of books that are not returned at the end of each school year. One would think a simple rule such as not allowing a student to register for the next school year, or not releasing transcripts to students who transfer or move without having paid for their books, would solve the problem.

The money collected from lost books goes to the "black hole" of the General Fund and never replaces in real dollars what is actually lost by individual school departments.

Computers? Who does the governor think is going to teach kids to use computers? It takes more than the ability to click and drag a mouse. Would a competent computer wiz really consider teaching as a career for $30,000 to start? What about providing technical support to maintain the computers at each school?

Want to make schools better one by one? Ask any teacher for realistic solutions to the problems at their individual schools. They can even provide insights to the Felix dilemma, which seem to elude the attorneys and powers that be.

There is a serious teacher shortage in this state that is sure to worsen under the current antagonistic climate by our "education governor." Mr. Cayetano, put your ego aside and put the kids first again. Please free schools from the tyranny of centralization and political despotism.

Mike Benson

UH faculty contribute to Hawaii’s economy

UH faculty perform a vast range of duties, bringing intellectual, artistic and technological expertise, business and industry into Hawaii’s economy. We do not work in an ivory tower.

I coordinate outreach to improve the Department of Health, Early Intervention Section, which serves children from birth to age 3 with, or at risk of, disability. My position is not funded by Hawaii tax dollars but through a federal grant, brought into Hawaii by a UH professor. Our project improves state expenditures to help children with disabilities achieve as best they can.

Nationally, Hawaii is in the 40th percentile and below for university faculty salaries.ÊWe are requesting a 14.9 percent increase. The state proposes raises only for those who "merit" them.Ê

Gov. Cayetano stated to The Advertiser, " · the days of giving raises for the sake of giving raises are over."ÊWhy is he proposing a 15 to 29 percent raise for all of his top executives?ÊThey already make more than most UH faculty.

It’s time for Cayetano to deal with the fact that Hawaii is among the lowest in education nationally, both in student achievement and educator salaries. How can we attract top businesses and professionals to work in Hawaii with this standing?ÊHow can we train and retain the best minds and leaders in Hawaii?

We all deserve a raise.

Taletha Derrington

Bill easing the law on dogs should be heard

I support a bill that would make it legal to walk dogs in public parks or on beaches if the dog is on a leash and the owner cleans up after it. But the bill by Sen. Fred Hemmings has been bottled up in committee despite the objections of Sen. Sam Slom.

A few years ago, I ran afoul of the existing law when I was peacefully sitting on Kailua Beach holding the leash for my wife’s tiny black cockapoo, Scruffy The Ho-Dog. A police officer gruffly accosted me, accused me of breaking the law and gave me a summons to appear in court. I was not given the option of simply paying a fine.

Apparently this annoyingly friendly little dog on a leash was considered a menace to society, even though no one near me, except for the police officer, seemed alarmed or even aware of the deadly threat Scruffy posed to their safety. So I wound up in court, surrounded by all these felons, pleading my case to a mild-mannered judge, who gave me probation and waived the fine.

While this bill might seem trivial to those who have not yet been hauled into court, it is important that we do not let government chip away at our freedoms needlessly. If people’s acts pose a menace to other people’s safety, then I agree with forcibly stopping them. But please don’t allow the state to use its coercive powers to stop us from doing things that pose no threat to others.

I urge the public to write to the chairs of the committees that kept this bill from advancing to a floor vote, Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Rod Tam, asking them to reconsider that decision.

Jim Henshaw

It’s the candy, stupid

My children have been protected at home from unhealthy eating habits, but they come home from school with an array of candy and crack seed — li hing mui, gummi bears, you name it. It's time we toss out the fluoride Band-Aid solution and get to the cavity of the problem, the terrible eating habits of Hawaii's children.

Rasa Fournier

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