Friday, January 12, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 12, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Let new coach decide on moving the fences

Regarding your Jan. 6 article "Rainbow Stadium fences move in for more offense": I agree that moving the fences 15 feet closer to home plate will produce more offense. It doesn’t mean the ’Bows will "out-homer" the visitors. On the contrary, they will "out-homer" us.

Let’s wait for the new coach and hear his strategy in recruiting and playing style before any realignments are made. Save the money for now. Changes can be made later.

George Mitsuyuki

Reward bus riders, don’t punish them

City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura’s normally good judgment was polluted when he proposed a bus fare increase ("Bus riders oppose raising pass price," Jan. 7). Bus riders are Honolulu’s kings and queens, and should be praised, not punished.

Bus riders use very little fuel, lighten our city’s traffic and reduce the need for dollar-draining, space-gobbling, multistory parking structures. If our 240,000 kings and queens of TheBus drove cars, we’d be in perpetual gridlock.

Yoshimura worries that rising diesel costs raise bus costs. The reason for the rise is the explosion in the number of cars, particularly fuel-gulping SUVs. America’s legendary gas consumption has gone off the charts, leaving us at the mercy of OPEC and the oil companies to charge whatever they want.

Funding TheBus is simple: Add a few pennies to the gasoline tax. Drivers create the problem and TheBus is the solution. Yoshimura needs to see that cars and oil are killing our quality of life as surely as cigarettes kill smokers. Bus riders keep Honolulu healthy. Let’s reward them.

Howard C. Wiig

Exempt teachers from the state’s income tax

If the Legislature were to enact a law making all public-school teachers exempt from paying state income taxes, the teachers would realize an immediate pay raise.

Doing so would be an attractive lure to keep our best and brightest in front of a classroom and out of an administrative job.

This law should be a benefit only to public-school teachers. It would not be applicable to school administrators, secretaries, janitors, counselors, principals, coaches, security guards or substitute teachers.

We need to do something innovative to turn around our school system’s bloated bureaucracy. Our future depends on it.

If it works for the teachers, maybe it will work for everybody in the Honolulu Police Department with the rank of sergeant or lower.

Jay O. Floan

Arbitration finding contradicts Cayetano

We are the negotiators for the HGEA/AFSCME Bargaining Unit 13 (professional and scientific employees). From August 1998 until September 1999, we bargained in good faith with the governor’s representatives, who consistently refused to negotiate any cost items.

Even immediately prior to the arbitration hearings when there were indications that the state economy might be recovering, we were told that the employer’s last and best offer was "0 percent increase."

This forced all seven HGEA/AFSCME bargaining units to the only option legally available to us: final and binding arbitration. As you know, the arbitration panel awarded us a 14.5 percent increase over four years, similar to what SHOPO earlier received.

Gov. Cayetano said he will fight against the pay increases awarded through arbitration because they take away needed funding for social services. We are offended by the governor’s suggestion that our pay raises must come at the expense of welfare recipients.

The arbitration panel found that the employer does have the ability to pay for the awarded increases. In fact, the panel ruled that management’s arguments against the pay raise were "confusing, contradictory at times and unconvincing." The governor, by his statements, demonstrates an unwillingness to pay, rather than an inability to pay. He has the discretion to use other sources of funding, if he chooses.

The governor has a responsibility to be fair with his own employees. Doing less than that sends a poor message to all of Hawaii’s workers.

Thomas Oi (Chairperson)
James Anderson
Irv Cohen
Emery Henderson
Keith Nagai
Peter Oshiro
Roger Thoren

Judge Foley’s ruling on paroles correct

Why are people on Dan Foley’s case? He (and two other judges) ruled that the Parole Board could not set the maximum sentence as the minimum sentence.

Excuse me, but the whole concept of parole is a carrot and stick. The carrot — release sooner than the maximum sentence — is to motivate the prisoner to effectively use the resources of the prison system to prepare for a law-abiding life upon release: drug rehab, GED, skills acquisition, etc. The stick? Return to prison to serve out the rest of the term if the prisoner does not successfully re-enter law-abiding status.

For a Parole Board to set the maximum sentence as the minimum sentence — that is, no parole — is, in effect, to say, "We don’t want to be a Parole Board." In which case, those people shouldn’t be on the Parole Board in the first place. They should run for the Legislature and change the law.

Rev. Mike Young
Minister, First Unitarian Church

Shooting exotic birds is not the best solution

As I type this, I have my pal, a green-cheek conure, sitting in the palm of my hand. I do indeed understand the concerns of farmers and those within earshot of these exotic birds. They can be loud. That I know from experience and, I suppose, if not controlled, they could be a problem to farmers.

But shooting these beautiful birds is not the answer. Birth control or netting is the only answer. Selling for profit, although repulsive to some, is better than shooting them. Or if that is not the answer, I’m sure there are many people who would be more than happy to give them a good home.

Charles Laberge

Big Brother’ traffic cameras are offensive

I strongly protest the use of traffic cameras to photograph cars and people for the purpose of issuing citations.

When our government initially installed those cameras, we were told the purpose was to monitor "traffic flow" at busy intersections. The cameras were installed, and now government plans to expand their usage to violate our right to privacy: from monitoring "traffic flow" to citing red-light violators. What’s next and after that?

I, too, believe red-light runners should be cited and stopped; however, it should be performed by a police officer at the site. Perhaps the suspension of one’s driver’s license for a significant period would be highly effective as it is the primary mode of transportation for many.

Society does not need "Big Brother," and I strongly oppose it. Will we become like London, where cameras watch people, streets and buildings?

Maile Nicholas
i Kai

New driver law should provide exceptions

I have some issues with the new licensing law for teenage drivers that took effect Jan. 1 and which requires that a teenage applicant for a driver’s license must take a state driver’s education course.

I understand the good this law will do; however, it does have a downside. I am a 16-year-old who moved to Hawaii four months ago. Before I moved, my parents spent $200 on a driver’s education course for me. Now, in accordance with the new law, I have to take the course again.

In addition, because of involvement with athletics after school, I will have difficulty fitting driver’s education into my schedule. I believe there should be exceptions, as in my case, for instance, or in the case of a 17-year-old who moves to Hawaii with an out-of-state driver’s license. I believe a procedure for appeal for exception would only be fair.

Vinnie Pugliese

Military presence does not benefit us

The latest study revealing the hazardous waste disposed of in Makua Valley is but one more reason why some demand a phaseout or immediate withdrawal of the military from Hawaii.

The myth that the occupation has benefited the people here, particularly the sensationalism about putting food on our tables, is a cry of desperation against the inevitable.

There has never been a comprehensive study proving the U.S. military has ever economically benefited these Islands. It’s been all about "bringing home the pork" at taxpayer expense. The military around 1990 provided fewer than 5,500 local civilian jobs at Pearl Harbor out of Hawaii’s total workforce (Ferguson, Turnbull and Ali, 1991). With a phaseout, these jobs could be transferred to newly created or other markets.

In addition, the justifications of "national security" and "protection" of Hawaii’s citizens are exaggerated when you consider the events of, say, 1874, 1887, 1893, 1941 and 1991, and the bombings and destruction of Pearl Harbor, Kahoolawe, P¯hakuloa, M¯kapu and Makua.

Today, the military makes us a major nuclear target. When you add in the social, cultural and environmental impacts any comprehensive study must consider, the inevitable may just mean the inevitable.

Tony Castanha

Hawaii already has the strictest gun laws

Despite Charles Luther’s opinions (Letters, Jan. 8), Hawaii has enough gun laws, thank you, the strictest in the nation. Our legislators have far better things to do this session.

As for gun bans being constitutional, 42 of the 48 law review articles published on the Second Amendment between 1990 and 1999 endorse the individual right. Nonpartisan legal scholars like Professor Daniel Polsby conclude that " ... the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms, which is not dependent upon joining something like the National Guard."

What part of " ... shall not be infringed" does Luther not understand?

Maxwell Cooper
Vice President, Hawai
i Rifle Association

When will the insanity of fireworks here end?

It was only after returning from the Mainland in early January that I learned of the tragic death of Lillian Herring, the elderly woman who apparently was killed by an illegal aerial firework.

Although she was not a member of the Star of the Sea Church, Lillian was dearly loved by the church ohana. She was a kind Christian woman who cared about others. Her death and the manner in which it happened haunt many of us.

Lee Cataluna’s Jan. 7 column clearly summarized the way many of us feel. In regard to the New Year’s fireworks insanity that recently took place, she wrote, "It goes beyond religious, cultural or traditional celebrating. We (have) become a community aflame, a place without rules, a people with little regard for consequences."

Lee then goes on to ask what it will take to bring some sanity to all this. Members of our church wonder the same. We know that whatever it takes, it will not return Lillian to us.

What, then, can we do for her and for others who have been victims of callous disregard for human life? We can support our governor when he calls for a total ban of fireworks on Oahu and replace it with a centralized fireworks display. We can insist that he honor that call. We can pressure our legislators to strictly enforce such a ban and hold them responsible if, as in the past, they demonstrate an arrogant disregard for the lives of others. Letters, telephone calls, e-mails and even picketing might convince them to have a "change of heart."

The madness that afflicts our community every New Year’s Eve, a madness that is ludicrous to defend in the name of culture, tradition or religion, must cease. We are all victims of this madness.

Lillian Herring paid the ultimate price for it. Who will be next?

Brother Roy Madigan, S.M.
Star of the Sea Church, Kahala

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