Sunday, January 21, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 21, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Aloha 243 story retold to prevent reccurrence

The Aloha Airlines Flight 243 was a tragedy of epic proportions. The driving force of my analysis (of the in-flight accident) was foremost to identify a subtle design flaw in the Boeing design with the intent of having it corrected.

The evidence for the Boeing 737 failure mode is factual but unfortunately gruesome. First, I wish to apologize to the Aloha Airlines Ohana and the family of C. B. Lansing for reopening heartfelt wounds that will never heal. Only if this engineering story is told can corrections be made such as this event will never be repeated.

Secondly, I fly interisland at least two or three times a month and almost exclusively on Aloha Airlines. As an engineer, I know the probability of me being on a plane during a recurrence of the Flight 243 event is less than that of me winning a jackpot lottery. Not that I would wish it on any pilot, but if I were to be on a crippled plane, I would want cool-handed professionals such as Capt. Robert Schornstheimer or Capt. Madeline Tompkins to be at the controls.

I personally believe Aloha Airlines and no person there carries any responsibility for the Flight 243 event. The seeds were sown in the aircraft design during the 1960s. Aloha Airlines just unfortunately got caught because of the short flight times and the high flight cycles unique to servicing the Hawaiian Islands.

With public support, regulations can be changed and air travel made safer for all.

MATT AUSTIN
President
Hawaiian Steam Engineering Co.

Multimember districts just don’t make sense

Jerry Burris’ rosy view of multimember districts ("Legislative remapping should spur innovations," Jan. 14) needs to be challenged.

I was a member of the 1981 Reapportionment Commission when the federal court ordered the proposed Hawaii legislative reapportionment plan be redrawn using single-member districts only. No federally ordered plans can utilize multimember districts. Not because multimember districts are unconstitutional per se, but they are considered "constitutionally suspect."

Why? Because challenged plans in other jurisdictions used multi-member districts as a "sophisticated form" of gerrymandering. Statistically, multimember districts lead to "sweeps," i.e., when all the seats in a multimember district go to a single majority group, whether political, racial or ethnic.

In Hawaii, prior to 1981, the Legislature was made up of multi-member districts. The Republicans tended to sweep all four Senate seats in the East Honolulu district and all three seats in the Windward district. The Democrats swept all the other districts on Oahu. Burris’ contention that multimember districts "boost opportunities for the major opposition" is not borne out by the facts, including numerous studies conducted in other states.

How does this "sophisticated form" of gerrymandering work? In several Southern states, those who drew up the legislative plans would combine one area with a large African-American bloc of voters with two similarly sized areas dominated by Caucasian voters. If they had been single-member districts, the odds would favor the election of one black and two whites. With the carefully drawn three-member districts, the results produced three white legislators and no blacks.

The Supreme Court recognized this as "submerging" a minority bloc of voters and denying their vote to be equal in value to other votes in the larger districts.

Burris is correct in writing that nothing in the state or federal Constitution bars the use of multi-member districts in the 2001 Hawaii reapportionment plan. He is wrong, however, when he suggests that the use of single-member districts represents "narrow political self-interest." Single-member districts, in the opinion of the federal courts, reduces the opportunities for any "sophisticated form" of gerrymandering.

James V. Hall

Age-cohort analysis was useful interpretation

John Griffin’s use of William Strauss and Neil Howe’s generational (age-cohort) analysis in his commentary on George W. Bush (Jan. 14, p. B3) was very helpful indeed. Even though Bush is a baby boomer, Griffin noted that his mindset, actions, and appointments are those of the Silent Generation that tiny, conflicted cohort squashed between the mighty GI Generation on one hand and the overwhelming numbers of Boomers on the other.

Griffin identified the age-cohort of several other U.S. and Hawaii political figures. He might well also have noted that the U.S. Supreme Court is composed of two from the GI Generation (Chief Justice Rehnquist and Stevens), and six from Griffin’s (and my) infinitesimal Silent Generation. There is only one baby boomer on the court, Clarence Thomas, a person as uncharacteristic of that generation as is Dubya.

No wonder most Americans are puzzled by the court’s decisions.

A second excellent point Griffin made was about the Millennial Generation,the first of whom will soon be emerging from high school.

Forget Gen X (which is almost as few in number as the Silents) and focus on the Millennials, as a cohort, among the most competent and hardworking America has ever known, and relatively numerous. Because of them, the future looks bright indeed.

Jim Dator

Despite immaturity,’ Clinton ranks with best

The article by David Broder of The Washington Post titled "Clinton years: a squandered presidency" (Focus, Jan. 14) is surely a squandered half-page of our local newspaper. Mr. Broder starts by assuring us that Clinton "leaves the nation stronger than he found it in 1993 its finances, its crime rates, its environment and its economy all improved." He goes on to praise Clinton’s l993 and l997 budgets as "landmarks on the road to fiscal sanity." In addition, Clinton gets an A for his handling of Mexico, Canada, China, the Balkans, the Middle East and Northern Ireland.

But he is guilty of "immaturity" and is "dissolute." To prove it, Mr Broder passes on Newt Gingrich’s "thoughtful" judgment on our two-term president, which, not surprisingly, isn’t the most favorable imaginable.

One is inclined to look back to the days when unhappy Republicans rumored that Franklin Roosevelt was in actuality not merely paralyzed, but a little bit deficient in the head, and that his wife was probably a Communist.

Clinton had, and has, his faults, and it takes none of the maturity of Mr. Broder to tell us this. But in his broad conception of his job as well as in the execution of it, he ranks with some of our strongest and most effective presidents.

Travis Summersgill

Boycott all products made in Myanmar

Robert Borosage’s article, "Suspend Myanmar’s exports" (Jan. 17), clearly demonstrates why we need to stop importing goods from Myanmar: We should never buy products manufactured under circumstances that not only violate every notion of human rights but which, if they existed in the United States, would warrant criminal prosecution. The article also describes the bipartisan efforts now underway to ban these imports.

Until those efforts succeed, there’s something can do to help stop the exploitation of child labor in Myanmar: don’t buy products made there, especially apparel. Before you buy that cute top, look at the tag on the inside. If it says "Made in Myanmar," don’t buy it. If the price seems too good to be true, it is. It’s cheap because girls like you or your daughter were paid next to nothing to make it. If you buy it, know that the profit made from your purchase will be used to keep them out of school and in a condition of virtual slavery.

Exercise your power as a consumer to buy only those products made under conditions in which you would work yourself.

Ted Baker

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