Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

Letters to the Editor

State’s needs are more pressing than museum

As noble an idea as Vicky Cayetano’s Washington Place museum is, I have to wonder about the propriety of asking the Legislature for $1 million for a museum when we can’t afford to pay our teachers or properly educate our keiki.

Perhaps that money would be better spent on low-interest loans to small businesses to hire local workers or grants to help Downtown businesses relocate to Kapolei in an effort to jump-start the second city. Perhaps it would be well-spent on literacy programs for underpriviledged areas or drug treatment programs for prison inmates.

As much as I respect Mrs. Cayetano and admire her desire to honor the history of Washington Place, it seems to me we have a perfectly functional governor’s mansion and a state with much more pressing needs.

Ben M. Schorr
Ewa Beach

Utility bills compete with undergrounding

We at Hawaiian Electric couldn’t agree more with Laurie Baron on the need to keep Oahu beautiful (Letters, Jan. 3). We would like to point out that more than half of our power lines are already underground, and the reason more lines aren’t buried is the basic issue of who will pay for the extra cost to underground.

Every day we hear from customers who have a difficult time paying their electricity bills. Keeping costs for utility service down and undergrounding of utility lines pull in opposite directions. We need to strive for a balance, especially when considering the cost of living here.

The Kamoku-P¬kele line is planned as a balanced solution. It goes underground in the more populated city streets and overhead in the mountains, replacing existing poles on Waahila Ridge. By not making the investment in this line, we risk a major blackout that can result in monumental losses to many businesses, including our visitor industry, and major inconveniences to residents.

Because electricity is so vital to our lives today, HECO cannot wait for an emergency to happen; we have to be proactive and plan for it now.

Ken T. Morikami
Director of Project Management, Hawaiian Electric Co.

All tobacco products should also be banned

The governor’s proposal to ban all fireworks doesn’t go far enough. He should ban all tobacco products at the same time. Both are bad for everyone’s health and need to be controlled. The health of all our citizens is at stake.

Shouldn’t our legislators set the example and make our state Capitol a tobacco-free zone like our public schools? Our schoolchildren frequent the Capitol on a regular basis, and smokers are allowed to smoke around them. Our schools have regular smokers whom principals, the school superintendent and the Board of Education ignore.

Governor, please do your homework and go after the real killers of our society. Smoking goes on all year long and kills over 400,000 people every year. Please get your priorities in order.

Alvin Wong
Pearl City

Palolo fire tragedy speaks to our guilt

On the morning of Jan. 2, I stared at the front page of The Honolulu Advertiser with great sorrow, anger and disgust.

In the photograph, an inferno engulfs a home in Palolo and a mother burns and dies a horrible death. As neighbors watch helplessly in horror, illegal aerials lit by lawless, ignorant and uncaring people continue to burn in the surrounding night skies.

On the eve of the new year, in that burning house in Palolo, was every mother, every person we love, our very souls, our guilt, our fate.

Where is our conscience? Where is love? Who will save us from our hell-bent selves?

Cynthia A. Pratt

Put a $1,000 bounty on fireworks scofflaws

In response to the governor’s reported opposition to all fireworks on Oahu, I have a better idea: Let the governor put a $1,000 bounty on the heads of all rocket importers, sellers and users.

Let’s get the law-abiding community involved in straightening out the abuse and get on with a safe and sane tradition.

John Haddock

Tax hell’ myth cause of state money problems

The Jan. 7 story "Special-education costs ripple through schools" needs to look at related state policies. Since territorial days, public schools have been serously under-funded. In recent years, Hawaii has ranked at the very bottom of the 50 states in public-school financing.

Because special education has always been least supported, it is far behind in adequate funding. In addition, the 1998 slashing of income tax revenues by 10 percent led to even fewer state resources. The current proposal of reducing income taxes by another 10 percent will be an even greater barrier to improving public schools.

Hawaii’s "tax hell" myth has led to much of its money problems. In a state with very high cost-of-living expenses for middle- to low-income persons, our very low taxes on highest-income earners, corporate profits and expensive property will perpetuate inferior public education.

Jerome G. Manis

Success of TheBus benefits all of us

I’m sorry to hear that the city government is considering a 25 percent increase in bus fares, in direct contradiction of the acknowledged need to attract as many people as possible to using buses. Success for TheBus has three aspects: frequent, flexible and (almost) free.

Yes, TheBus must be paid for. Property taxes are a better way than fare increases, and property owners will be rewarded. Property values will rise with better traffic management and stronger commerce. And property taxes are deductible. Gasoline taxes could also be used to finance TheBus. Gasoline taxes do discourage some use of private vehicles.

Can the Harris administration convince the voters that good public transportation will benefit everyone: drivers, property owners and voters?

Tom Ramsey

Get a life, Advertiser

I doubt if the Jan. 6 front-page photo is of the Pali Highway. But it does resemble the broad and well-lit road that goes down from the Heights of Arrogance through Carelessness and Inattention to dead-end at the readerless Valley of Newspaper Oblivion.

Eric A. Weiss

Electoral College has merits, but so what?

Regarding your Jan. 2 editorial on Electoral College flaws: I found it somewhat educational but not enough to merit continuance of what is an archaic system.

Granted the college has its merits. But, on balance, do they outweigh its deficiencies? Such as letting a candidate for president win the election although 337,000 more voters preferred his opponent?

And while I have the floor, what got into Lee (The Grinch) Cataluna that inspired her to tear apart the warm holiday message from Gov. Ben and wife Vicky? Could she have done half as well? Or maybe she had nothing better to do that day.

Emmett Cahill
Volcano, Big Island

The word kill’ was taken out of context

Regarding the Jan. 2 letter on the appropriateness of chaplains in the armed forces: In the Bible, there are many Hebrew words that are translated into our English word "kill."

God’s commandment to Moses in Exodus 20:13, "Thou shall not kill," uses the Hebrew word "ratsach," which refers to premeditated murder. The Hebrew word for the wholesale slaughter after battle, which God commanded in Numbers 31:7, is "harang." This killing is offensive to the civilized mind, but the Bible does not call it the premeditated murder that is prohibited in Exodus 20:13.

If "War is hell," as Gen. William Sherman of Civil War fame is often quoted as saying, then what greater need for religious people to be present than on the battlefield? Courageous and compassionate behavior needs to be supported in times of severe physical, emotional and moral testing. Who can do this better than a military chaplain?

I do remember growing up as an "Army brat" and seeing in the post chaplain’s office a painting of the sinking of an American troop transport ship, the Dorchester, during World War II. Four chaplains of different faiths were pictured giving up their own life vests to those soldiers who lost theirs and would surely drown. They gave their own lives so others could live. I think that is at the very heart of religion.

Rev. Dr. David S. Milotta
Pastor, Waialua United Church of Christ

Prisoners ignored during holiday season

It was heart-warming to note our efforts to care for one another during the holiday season. The homeless, sick, needy, elderly were pretty much attended to, and this was gratifying. Even the children of parents in prison received gifts, and much thanks go to all individuals and organizations that gave of their time, energies and resources publicly and anonymously to make this happen.

But there’s one forgotten segment of our population: those incarcerated individuals themselves. They were ignored at holiday time because most often the attitude is that "they deserve to be there."

There is a difference between "doing something bad" and "making a mistake." An extremely high percentage of our jail inmates are there for "making a mistake" (i.e., drug use). In most cases, drug users are individuals seeking a sense of well-being, ways out of pain and problems, something better. They need someone to show them the way, rather than to lock them up.

Some churches and musical groups did go in to entertain at one facility, which was commendable, but even they didn’t realize there were still other prisoners who could not be reached because they were locked up in the small confines of the "high facility," due to alleged drug use within the prison.

Those incarcerated for drugs need something different than to be thrown into prison and ignored.

Barbara Stokes

Kite-surfer sites are still public property

Regarding your Dec. 29 editorial "Self-regulation helps Kailua kite surfers": You stated that these kite surfers are showing "enlightened self-interest" because they have erected signs listing rules and designating launching sites on Kailua Beach. It’s important to realize they do not have permission from the community via public authority to erect signs on Kailua Beach designating a launching site for themselves.

They themselves decided this would be a good thing to do and called it self-regulation.

The public should not buy this. Their signs have the effect of restricting access by the public to their self-designated area, which, incidentally, is the prime spot on the prime beach of the Windward side.

I agree that the kite-surfing group is showing "enlightened self-interest." They’ve done a good job promoting their own self-interest with their self-declared self-regulation. What we need here is enlightened public interest. Kailua Beach and Kailua Bay are public properties, and their group has no legitimate claim to monopolize any public lands or waters.

Kite surfing in particular can be hazardous to others, both on land and in the water, and needs to be regulated by the state and city. They are looking at what to do about this problem.

Meanwhile, your editorials would be more helpful if they reflected the deeper issues and concerns involved in this situation. This is a complex matter, involving issues of use of the public domain, public safety, commercialization and the community.

Paula Loomis

Driver’s license renewal a nightmare

Wow, what a mess! Stay away from the city’s Motor Vehicle Division unless absolutely necessary. I tried three times this month on three different days to renew my license and the line was hours long.

Maybe the Motor Vehicle Division could assign those of us who need to get our driver’s licenses renewed a specific day and time frame so we could get in and out in a reasonable amount of time.

Please, somebody do something. There is a solution to this mess, I’m sure — one that doesn’t require three hours in line.

V. Kalvelage

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