Wednesday, January 17, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Shooting at Ala Moana points to wider problem

The headline-grabbing article about the young woman who was shot in her white Mercedes SUV at Ala Moana Center, a seemingly shocking, rare occurrence, belies the larger problem of domestic violence in our community.

All too often we think domestic violence is something that happens to "other people." We are saddened by the reminder that domestic violence touches families of all ethnic and economic backgrounds, and all of us in the greater community.

The prevalence of domestic violence is a family and community issue — far more than simply a women’s or legal matter — that requires our collective wisdom, energy and vigilence to address.

Melissa Pavlicek
President, Hawai
i Women Lawyers

Strike by UH faculty would hurt students

After five long years at UH-Manoa, I will be graduating this May. Like most of the graduating class, I already have plans after graduation. Obviously these plans require me to graduate. If the UH faculty cannot resolve their salary issues, they say they will strike any time after Jan. 29; the proposed 9 percent raise is too low to consider.

Well, faculty of UH, think of all the students you will be negatively affecting. Yeah, most underclassmen want the strike so they can have a vacation. But what about us seniors who are planning to graduate this spring? What about those of us who have signed contracts that require us to graduate? If the strike lasts throughout the semester, what is to happen to us?

Think about why you got into teaching in the first place. Was it for the immense riches teaching can offer? Please do not strike, for your students’ sake.

Tom Park

Kalanianaole project should be done at night

The state Department of Transportation says the Kalanianaole Highway project will take two years and cost the same whether the work is done during the day or night. The cost may be the same, but how could the length be the same when workers would be working three extra hours at night?

The water mains need to be upgraded — there is no debate about that. Although I do not reside along the direct path of the project zone, I will be directly affected by the traffic delays in having to adjust the times I must leave home to be at any scheduled appointments (doctors appointments, meetings, picking up my kids, etc.), not to mention the potential of additional finances, such as having to pay for afterschool child care to avoid the traffic delays and the added cost of gas and wear and tear on my vehicles because of excessive idling time.

There should be input from all residents affected by the highway work. The bottom line is the work must be done, but will it be done at the expense of a smaller percentage of residents, who don’t want the work done at night, versus the majority of East Honolulu residents, who would much appreciate it being done at night to eliminate the excessive traffic delays.

Tiffany K. Sentani

Military bolsters state education, economy

The Jan. 12 letter by Tony Castanha really tears it with me. To contend that the only thing the military in Hawaii brings to this state is a target for nuclear missiles is not only ludicrous but smacks of a total lack of economic and political understanding.

The U.S. Defense Department continues to be the largest single employer in the state. Were it not for the military’s insistence for quality education for military children, the state educational system would not only be rated as "poor" by the repeated evaluations of U.S. state educational systems, it would drop off the scales.

If this person doesn’t understand the economic benefit to all people in Hawaii that the U.S. military brings to the state, he should consider what would happen if the military forces were to leave. As an example, Wahiawa would become a ghost town; Pearl Harbor would become a polluted water hole filled with plate-lunch boxes; and Honolulu Airport would probably drop to a second-class airport facility.

I came to Hawaii in 1971 after duty in Vietnam. When I retired 12 years later, my family and I elected to remain in Hawaii because of its climate, its people and its opportunities to live a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. If Castanha’s attitude were representative of the majority of Hawaii residents, I certainly would have looked elsewhere for a home for my family.

Charles Clark

Elton John performance courageous, phenomenal

Elton John’s Saturday performance was the most courageous one by an artist I have ever witnessed. We all know his voice gave out the night before. He humbly apologized for what might be his vocal limitations during the show. Like we cared! We all sang the words anyway.

But he still gave more than 100 percent, much more than I could possibly have expected. It was a brave and honest and very touching gift from Elton and his band. His hurdle didn’t stop him, and he gave and gave. The band was fantastic, and Elton was phenomenal. An experience I will always treasure. Bring him back soon.

Vern Matsukawa

Fireworks endanger asthmatic children

Although your Jan. 15 editorial states that our air quality has improved, it should be pointed out that those with asthma, emphysema and other lung diseases tolerate exposure to fireworks poorly.

The December issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology describes two patients who were treated at Temple University Children’s Medical Center for severe respiratory distress after exposure to fireworks; one died in spite of optimal treatment.

It is suggested that parents of asthmatic children be especially careful about exposing them to fireworks.

Alex Roth

Fireworks editorial didn’t capture reality

Your Jan. 12 editorial "Air quality proves that fireworks laws do work" is misleading at best. Those of us who witnessed firsthand this past New Year’s Eve celebration know that your sources are flawed.

The editorial uses extremely limited data from state Department of Health monitoring sites, which found only one location with higher smoke values this year.

Historically, Kalihi has been a major source of the effluents of the celebration, yet the Department of Health and The Advertiser seemingly have not focused any attention or fact-finding on this truth. There were no fewer than 3,000 full-fledged, professional-level skyrockets launched from at least 50 base locations in Kalihi. Several launch pads were close neighbors to Mayor Harris’ home and fireworks observatory.

Neighbors up and down the streets in Kalihi witnessed some homes that set off 100,000 or more firecrackers, but many set off with far fewer than in previous years. At the same time, my observation point was covered with visible smoke most of the last three hours of the celebration. It is sad, too, because my neighbor with emphysema was barricaded inside his house attached to oxygen and with extra air filters on.

William E. Woods

Prison minimum-term decision was wrong

Contrary to the Jan. 9 editorial, the recent Intermediate Court of Appeals opinion on the setting of a minimum term by the Hawaii Paroling Authority is not logical; worse, it raises serious concerns.

That the authority may never set a minimum term equal to the maximum sentence is logical if, but only if, no set of circumstances can ever justify such a term. No one, however, will disagree that, in the proper case, justice requires that a convict serve the maximum term (even at the expense of losing parole possibilities) and that the authority be able to impose it.

As the editorial correctly notes, in most cases the authority sets a minimum term some years shorter than the maximum, and by implication the authority agrees with the editorial’s point that convicts need incentives to get out of jail early.

The editorial fails to explain why a convict’s incentive to qualify for early parole always and necessarily trumps even the admittedly few cases where justice demands the maximum term. Moreover, by narrowing the authority’s options, Justice Foley’s opinion limits the system’s flexibility that the editorial otherwise asserts is necessary.

The editorial further points out that after a convict has served a minimum term and has sought parole, the authority may deny parole. In short, the editorial’s preferred scheme would have the authority impose a shorter minimum term than otherwise, falsely encourage a convict to seek parole, and then deny the application.

The common sense in this approach fails to take honesty and a credible administration of justice into account; in the proper case, it is better to tell an inmate at the beginning that his conduct merits the maximum term.

Ultimately, the appellate ruling raises serious issues. The duty of an appellate court is to correct errors made below. Since the editorial admits there is nothing in the law that specifically directs the authority to set a minimum that is different from the maximum, the authority made no error, and Justice Dan Foley, however much he may dislike the authority’s decision, had no reason to overturn it.

His opinion imposes personal views in the guise of judicial authority, but the judiciary has no business legislating a personal vision of utopia so long as the Legislature in a non-constitutional matter such as this does not first change the law.

Richard H. Lachmann

Balanced energy approach is critical

California, the technology capital of the world, is in the middle of a crisis, without enough power to supply the needs of its people. Having enough power is especially critical for island electrical power companies.

HECO, MECO and HELCO know that unlike the Mainland, each island is on its own. We can depend on no one else in the event of a shortage.

We use a combination of oil, coal, renewable energy and energy conservation to meet our Islands’ daily energy needs. It’s a balanced approach, which recognizes that while there are cost and reliability issues with some renewable-energy technologies, it’s important to support their development to reduce Hawaii’s consumption of oil.

Our approach is flexible, changing over time to utilize new technologies as they develop. We do not accept the status quo. However, we are careful because your lights and livelihoods are on the line.

Jeff Mikulina’s Jan. 3 letter suggests we are behind the times. To the contrary, we are at the front of the nation in the use of renewable energy and energy conservation. No one can touch us in the use of solar water heating. Of the total solar systems installed nationwide under the president’s "Million Solar Roofs Initiative," HECO, MECO and HELCO have installed over 80 percent. Here are a few more examples:

Renewable energy provides 28 percent of the electrical energy on the Big Island.

We continue to get electricity from H-power on Oahu, which burns waste to provide power.

We’ve signed a contract for a new wind project on the Big Island and agreed to payment terms for a new wind project on Maui.

We have large energy-conservation programs where we provide financial incentives to businesses and government departments for over 1,150 energy-efficiency projects across the state.

These programs have and will continue to have significant benefits. Between now and 2020, new energy-efficiency projects are expected to reduce the growth in Oahu’s peak electrical demand over 27 percent.

Will we do more? Definitely, using a practical and progressive approach. The solution is not in extremes, but balance. And that is what we are working to achieve.

Brenner Munger
Manager, Planning & Engineering, Hawaiian Electric Company

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