Tuesday, January 16, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Letters to the Editor

It's time to clean the air, literally and figuratively

Hawaii’s been left in the cold for too long.

It’s like a Cagle cartoon. While the bulk of America basks, Hawaii’s a shave ice en masse in malaise. Nothing works, except spam and da kine. All we’ve got are the come-and-go tourists. To the rest of the world, we’re a fly-over zone; that and welfare entitlements (thanks to Lord Inouye Sama).

Some would carp that a one-party rule has had nothing to do with this mess. I don’t think so. The ubiquitous one-party, one-industry, one-value mindset out here has had a whole lot to do with the state of malaise, a.k.a. the state of Hawaii.

What to do?

Here’s a long shot: Mr. Bush, don’t give up on Hawaii. There are thousands of people out here who’ve been kept in the margins too long, who’ve been kept from their place in the sun ... but who would rise up to be counted if they had reason to hope. And can you give that minority hope?

A minority yearns for better schools, for better values, for better neighbors, for better futures for their kids, for saner dawns to a new year.

You never hear this minority much. You couldn’t hear us at all this past New Year’s Eve, in the majority wilding. We were here, though, Mr. Bush, in our bunkers; we’re here now.

Can you help clear the air? Can you give us some hope?

Dave Baumgartner

Driver's ed approvals should be recognized

I am writing to express my concerns over the recent new law in Hawaii on minors obtaining their driver’s license. I have no problem with this new law because it ensures that new drivers obtain the proper instructional guidance. My only concern are the standards set for driver’s education programs.

I am a member of the military, and my son completed a driver’s education course in Texas, which exceeds the standards here in Hawaii. Unfortunately, it is not valid here.

All these courses are uniformly standardized by stringent state and federal guidelines. Why then does it not receive an exemption here? There should be a method in which driver’s educational certifications from other states be recognized.

Kevin I. Short

Japanese wedding article left reader mystified

It is hard to see how a paper we’ve always subscribed to could print such a malicious article — front page, worse — to malign the church and people of historic Kawaiahao Church.

We are proud of our new kahu, the Rev. Dr. James Fung, for taking on the paper, not the photographer (the pictures were tops), in a great sermon recently.

Your reporter, Yasmin Anwar, had a whole hour interview with Kahu Fung, yet printed nothing of what he said.

Further, she maligned our beloved Brother David Free, saying he was "ousted" from the board of trustees. Our beloved organist, Buddy Naluai, is one of the finest church organists anywhere — always leading in worship and accompanying our great choir. He is on the job day and night, yet he was maligned also.

I don’t know the source of these slanted stories of church and trustee meetings, but our church is a democratic church in which each member has a right to "speak the truth in love."

The aim of having Japanese weddings in our church, I remember well, begun by the Rev. Abraham Akaka so long ago, was to reach out, and in marriage counseling to bring Christ to these beautiful young couples who come from so far away to be married at Kawaiahao.

Please, no more reporting in this vicious nature nor cartoons by Dick Adair.

Mama Kahu Mary Louis Akaka

Auditor Higa correct on principals’ salaries

State Auditor Marion Higa is correct in pointing out that the responsibilities of a school principal merit increased pay over educational officers who have left the schools.

In the past, the news media sensationalized Higa, and she started making policy instead of reporting the facts. I have found her recommendations in other audits inappropriate. However, in this case, her interpretation of the audit facts reflects a real problem: Principals are not rewarded for doing an excellent job in the schools.

An even more important consideration not mentioned to the Legislature is the fact that, by supporting school-level principals, the Department of Education could have better leadership. This is especially true if administrators making decisions had to be responsible for an actual school.

Jim Wolfe

Phonics-based learning has proven its worth

I was pleased to see the Dec. 23 front-page article "New reading strategy bears fruit," about the "return" to phonics-based learning. Having left the field of education more than five years ago, I didn’t realize that conventional thinking had deemed the method "out."

For five years in the early ’90s, I tutored children of all ages at a small tutorial agency now called Phonics Plus. True to the name, phonics was the backbone of the curriculum. I learned through my experience with success there that phonics is a sound method for teaching reading to students of all ages (including adults) and levels.

I was certified by Ernellen Lui, an unsung hero of the history of education in Hawaii. She was the star pupil of Ramalda Spalding, who developed the unified phonics method known as the "Spalding Method." Lui assisted Spalding in bringing the strategy to Hawaii schools.

In spite of trends that excluded phonics as the core for teaching reading, Lui has consistently advocated phonics-based learning throughout her career. The name of her 20-year-old institution, Phonics Plus, speaks to her steadfast belief in the method. The success stories of educators who use phonics are testament to her belief.

Educators from all over the world invite Lui to speak on the topic of phonics. Since Hawaii has "returned" to phonics, let’s not forget we have an expert in our midst.

Barbra Pleadwell

Kudos to soccer team for first-ever victory

The Kapolei High School boys soccer team should be proud of themselves and pat themselves on the back. They earned their first-ever victory as a high school team by defeating Waipahu 2-1 last week. I am sure the people who write the sports history in this state need to chisel this into their stone tablet for the record.

I would just like to congratulate the coaches and all the freshmen on their efforts. I truly believe that with hard work and experience, they will accomplish much more in the years to come.

"Fall down seven times ... stand up eight" — Japanese proverb.

Kevin Dusendschon

Better to file complaint than to just complain

We certainly recognize that excessive barking can be annoying, as Greg Marshall expressed (Letters, Jan. 8). In the past, when Marshall filed complaints with the Humane Society, we responded and issued warnings and citations as allowed by law.

We did not receive any complaints from him regarding barking dogs during all of 2000.

It would have been better for Marshall to have called the Humane Society immediately when problems started again. I contacted Marshall, and based on the information he gave us about current barking-dog problems, we have initiated a new investigation.

Linda A. Haller
Director of Shelter Operations, Hawaiian Humane Society

State will continue to supply Data Book

We appreciate your comments regarding the State of Hawaii Data Book, 1999 (Jan. 7). Your help in informing the public of this valuable document is welcomed. We believe that the Data Book is an important source of information on Hawaii, and we plan to continue supplying it to an ever-larger audience.

A search feature for the Data Book will be available as soon as the technical challenges it presents are solved. The current table of contents follows the organization and format of its counterpart, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the largest publication of its kind in the world.

We welcome your recognition of Robert Schmitt, the retired state statistician and the "father" of the State of Hawaii Data Book. Bob still volunteers time helping with the expanding statistical measures and census-related data on Hawaii. In recognition of his dedication and contributions, Gov. Ben Cayetano proclaimed Dec. 15, 2000, as "Robert C. Schmitt Day."

Since the public finds it so useful, we will continue placing the Data Book on the Internet and in print every other year. We are committed to making the Hawaii Data Book the most thorough, useful and easily accessible resource available.

Seiji F. Naya
Director, Hawai'i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism

Liquor Commission story disputed

I write on behalf of the Honolulu Liquor Commission regarding the Dec. 28 article "Chapel decision skips board." The article purportedly describes the commission’s Dec. 14 approval of a dispenser license to applicant World of Aloha Inc. for its wedding chapel in Kahaluu.

The article, sub-headlined "Liquor license gets final OK" and authored by Eloise Aguiar, states the following in the first paragraph: "The Honolulu Liquor Commission has granted final approval of a liquor license to the owner of a Kahaluu wedding chapel without taking any input from the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board."

For the record, it is totally and unequivocally inaccurate to "report" that this commission made its decision without any input from the board. I would prefer to use stronger language — that it is an irresponsible lie, an intentional falsehood, a fabrication — but I am not sure whether the reporter has a personal agenda of some kind, is merely inexperienced and uninformed, or has just failed to live up to journalistic standards of accurate reporting.

This commission prides itself in strictly complying with the requirements of the law, and fairly and efficiently administering Hawaii’s liquor laws — as it must, or be overturned by the Hawaii Circuit Court.

The Kahaluu Neighborhood Board was not "skipped" or denied "input." The commission’s Rule 57-4 mandates that the applicant notify the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board. World of Aloha did this. Linda Wong, the corporation’s president, attended the board meetings. The board was aware of the application as of October 2000.

The commission held a preliminary hearing on Oct. 5, which the board did not attend to comment, as is its right. In other words, it provided no input. At Wong’s request, the matter was continued until Oct. 19. On that date, again, after published notice of our agenda in accordance with state law, the commission held a preliminary hearing, at which the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board again provided the same lack of input.

Following the preliminary hearing, World of Aloha was required to mail a certified letter to the chairman of the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board and noncertified letters to residents within 500 feet of the applicant licensee advising that a license application was pending and that the hearing date was set for Dec. 14. Therefore, the board had nearly two months in which to perform its advisory function and provide input to the Liquor Commission, but declined to do so.

As Aguiar’s article reports, the board scheduled a meeting for Dec. 13 but could not take action due to a lack of quorum. The applicant, represented by Wong, was again present, but the board members apparently did not feel sufficiently concerned to have a quorum to take action. This lack of action is input to the Liquor Commission.

As Aguiar’s article points out, the chairman of the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board, Dan Bender, appeared at the Dec. 14 public hearing before the Liquor Commission. He spoke in favor of the application as a private individual.

John P. Spierling
Chairman, Honolulu Liquor Commission

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