Monday, February 12, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Which kind of Hawaii do you want to be in?

Multicultural aloha for all vs. ethnic nationalism. Unity vs. racial separatism.

Equality under the law vs. race-based laws for voting and property.

Government help for the neediest people based on need alone vs. government help for all people of one race (even wealthy ones) before helping others.

Taking pride in one’s culture vs. competing to be portrayed as the worst victim.

Working hard to produce useful goods and services vs. working hard to squeeze more benefits from government by merchandizing grievance and playing politics.

Hawaii’s future decided by all its citizens vs. Hawaii’s future decided only by one minority group intimidated by radicals.

Rational discussion of issues vs. demagoguery and politics of personal destruction.

Which kind of Hawaii do you want? Please make your voices heard.

Ken Conklin

Cayetano’s proposal for UH pay is flawed

The flaw in Gov. Cayetano’s proposal (that only those UH faculty members who are "above average" should be eligible for raises) is that it confuses "below average" with mediocre or lacking in value. Only about half of any group can be above average.

Yet all may be competent and hard-working, and each may make a vital contribution. The vast majority of UH professors are dedicated individuals whose hard work enriches Hawaii in many ways.

There are award-winning teachers on all the UH campuses and in a wide range of fields. These individuals, like other faculty members, typically spend only a minority of their working hours in the classroom, but the effectiveness of those hours depends on many other hours of effort.

On top of their teaching and their research, many UH faculty participate in the governance of the university. For instance, they may serve on various curriculum committees or in the Faculty Senate, helping to shape the academic policies of the university.

Others participate in a wide range of community outreach programs, working toward the improvement of social, economic and environmental conditions in the state.

That UH has carried on its multifaceted mission as well as it has in spite of the severe budget cuts of the past decade is evidence of the dedication and talent of its faculty. Mediocrity is not the issue here. And budget shortfalls are no longer the issue either.

UH President Ken Mortimer has identified faculty salaries as the university’s greatest need. It is time for our self-proclaimed "education governor" to meet that need.

Catherine Sophian, professor, UH-Manoa

Leased-fee conversions grossly overvalued

As a long-time critic of the former trustees of Kamehameha Schools, I read with interest the Feb. 3 letter by Jamie Neely criticizing The Advertiser for not reporting on the economic drain of fee conversions.

Unfortunately, Neely only addressed one side of the equation: the money diverted from the economy when mortgage payments began. The money from those mortgages went to Kamehameha Schools and was invested. The proceeds are now being used by the new trustees to build and staff schools. The impact on the economy is a wash.

The real issue is that Neely and his neighbors were intimidated by the former trustees into grossly overpaying for the leased-fee conversions. If they had invested their $95,000, it would have grown to $157,000 to date. Recent estate land appraisals have been averaging 60 percent of original leased-fee prices ($95,000 x .6 = $57,000). The shame is that Neely and neighbors have each taken a financial hit of $100,000 before taxes, and the estate has reaped a windfall of a similar amount tax-free.

Current leaseholders are waiting for leased-fee conversion offers from the estate approximating current appraisal values. When that happens, the leased-fee conversion issue will wither, as it well should.

Beau Bouthillier
i Kai

Japan offers better deal for our teachers

I am a teacher in the public school system. My daughter graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa last May. Before she even graduated, she had an offer to teach in Japan. Uncertain of her future in Hawaii, but with the certainty of a job in Japan and the prospect of adventure, she committed to a contract in March.

Later, she would realize that 40 schools would have offered her job interviews. But she still is not disappointed because she is being paid the equivalent of $33,000, was given moving expenses, had a furnished apartment ready for her, was given a paid month to get acclimated to her surroundings before working, has a $300 monthly housing allowance and is paid for her daily trips to and from school. She also enjoys giving private lessons in which she earns $50 to $80 an hour.

She is having a wonderful time with the children in Japan and takes short trips to explore the country. Still, her goal is to return to our children of Hawaii.

My wish is for the public (governor, legislators, parents, community) to see that if teachers are not given the respect, whether in salary, conditions or attitude, yes, they may be forced to go elsewhere, even if their hearts are here.

Debbie Frasco

Tax-cut proposal is same old same old

It has been suggested that in order to appeal to Hawaii’s voters, the Republican Party here has moderated its political agenda from its Mainland counterparts.

The Hawaii GOP's current campaign to eliminate the general excise tax on food and medical services may at first glance look like such a moderation, but as can be seen in Rep. Charles Djou’s Feb. 5 commentary, what it really is is a Trojan horse hiding privatization and slashes to government services from within.

At least Djou is honest enough to admit the massive reductions in revenues such a cut would create. So, what are his rationalizations? Why, the same supply-side economics ("Empirical evidence shows that cutting taxes stimulates economic growth ... ") that the GOP brought the nation in the 1980s, and which brought massive deficits until the Clinton administration’s tax increases on upper incomes.

Of course, trickle-down economics isn’t the only gift of tax-cut proponents. There’s always the feel-good folly of "civil service reform." Such policies are always supported by those few who benefit from tax cuts. But the reductions in government services and efficiency they create results in negative impact for all who depend on public services (and who doesn’t?).

In fact, progressive forces in Hawaii have long supported reducing or eliminating these regressive taxes, but they always have balanced the impact with equal raises in taxes on income and corporate profits. Will our legislators consider this reasonable alternative?

Richard Weigel

Charter schools give parents quality choice

Your Feb. 5 editorial concerning charter schools was right on the mark.

I am a teacher at Connections Public Charter School on the Big Island. Charter schools were created to expand parental choice in our educational system. We believe that parents should have a choice in how their children are educated.

Traditionally, parents have a choice to either enroll their children in our neighborhood public schools or to pay for an alternative education (private school). For those with the means, the option is personal. But, for those parents without the ability to pay for a private education, options are limited.

Charter schools throughout the nation were (and are being) created to extend choice to families that may not be able to afford the option of a private school. Quality education, without extra cost, should be an option in Hawaii, just as it is in the 35 other states in our nation with charter school laws.

John Thatcher II
Connections Public Charter School

Baywatch Hawaii’ deserved to go under

The Jan. 8 headline screamed: "Low ratings, high costs sink Baywatch Hawaii.’ " As someone who worked for 22 years in Hollywood, I think I am qualified to say that "Baywatch Hawaii’ " stank.

The mere fact that it has been canceled should come more as a relief to Hawaii ... and not something to worry about.

Did anyone with more than an elementary grade school level of intelligence really consider "Baywatch" to be worthwhile entertainment in the first place?

From the very beginning, the producers of this program took Hawaii and its citizens for a ride. I remember reading in The Advertiser how Hawaii was asked to put up millions of dollars (which it did) to bring it to our Islands. This is not the way it is in the "real" world, and I simply could not believe that our Islands could be so easily fooled by a lot of fast talk, promises and hype ... especially from those who would profit the most as a result of our local stupidity, special interest greed and visions of "global exposure."

I hope that our Island "leaders" and citizens can learn a lesson from all of this. Goodbye and good riddance.

James L. Tumblin

Don’t blame everyone who attends a rave

The Hilo police are to be commended for their campaign against stores that sell alcohol to minors. But the number of Big Island drunk drivers who are under 21 years old was less than 15 percent even before the campaign.

Four hundred thousand dollars is a reasonable amount to discourage juvenile delinquency; still, the article about the 1996 auto accident that left four dead near Kolekole Beach Park after a large, rowdy gathering established only that the police were in pursuit, not that the driver had been drinking.

I recently attended a rave from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m., held at a venue with a boxing ring. There were underage people in attendance, and several were under the influence of a drug called Ecstasy, but there were many more drinking bottled water than there were drinking alcoholic beverages. There were two fights, both of which were stopped quickly by security. I was particularly impressed with the way in which the venue was cleaned up immediately after the rave.

Richard Thompson

Age of consent: Target the adults

We teach our teens that adolescent sex is, at best, risky and unwise behavior. The reasons are many, and we talk about them. But the bottom line is that there is a small but real risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease in every act of intercourse, even with the best contraception and prophylaxis.

The accompanying life-disrupting decisions are something we'd rather our teens didn't have to face.

At what age do young people have the right to choose to take those risks? Only partly tongue in cheek, I tell them, "When you have your own place, are paying your own bills and are prepared for an 18-year and nine-month commitment."

However wise and moral that might be, it would hardly fly as public policy. And, it's public policy that is at issue. Bills will be before the state Legislature this session seeking to raise the age at which a youngster can consent to sex.

Currently, the age of consent is 14. Below that age, they cannot legally consent, however willing teenagers may say they are or were. It will be argued that the age of consent must be raised because the community must not appear to condone and approve of sex that young. I've just said I don't so approve, so why am I raising this? Because there is a large can of worms hidden behind it.

Present case law on teenage access to the full range of family-planning services is based on the concept that, if one can consent to sex, one must be able to consent to related medical procedures. These include contraception, STDs, abortion, rape counseling and treatment, etc. This is the consent that is actually under attack.

If the age of consent is raised, to where would it be raised? Any age under 18 is as problematic as any other, and arguably as arbitrary. How many otherwise sexually active 14- to 18-year-olds will defer sexual activity if the age of consent is raised? How many sexually active 14- to 18-year-olds going without sexually related medical attention for fear of parents does it take to justify keeping this availability? Two hundred? Twenty? Two?

Raising the age will stop no rapist, sexual abuser or predatory adult; but it will stop some (how many?) of their victims from being able to get help with confidentiality.

Those are the actual incalculable consequences of the community not appearing to approve of underage sexual behavior. If we want to stop predatory adults from preying on teenagers, target the adults, not the teenagers.

Rev. Mike Young
Minister, First Unitarian Church

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