Monday, January 22, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, January 22, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Ban on cruise ships opening casinos stupid

Far too late do legislators recognize the errors of their ways, if ever. I refer to that useless, lose-lose law preventing cruise ships from opening their casinos while sailing from island to island in Hawaii.

This ridiculous legislation was once fostered by California’s ex-attorney general, Dan Lungren. Cruise ships simply avoided American ports such as San Diego and Catalina Island, whose populations threatened to lynch Lungren should he ever visit those ports. Their economies suffered at the loss of thousands of visitors weekly. Years later, Lungren succeeded in having cruise ships return to their normal operations after considerable pressure.

Californians realized, as I hope Hawaii residents will, that restricting ship casino operations is not legalese but legal sleaze.

In our last election, Lungren was trounced by the little-known Gray Davis for governor. Is this a message for Hawaii to wake up?

Ian Bulloch
Moraga, Calif.

Columbia Inn was a remarkable place

Thanks for the terrific coverage Jan. 6 on the passing of a beloved community institution, the Columbia Inn, with a Bob Krauss article, photo essay, editorial and cartoon.

That issue wonderfully illustrated what a remarkable place this unpretentious restaurant was for locals. Krauss was right with his assessment: " ... it was a comfortable pair of shoes. The old friend you could count on. The cozy kitchen table with an empty chair."

The photos were dead-on, too, capturing the many characters who graced the Columbia Inn. The center photo of the sole diner reading the newspaper, comfortably attired in aloha shirt and an old khaki Navy cap, captured two realities of this unique establishment. Diners were always permitted a leisure reading of the paper without the hustling typical of other eateries more interested in "turning tables." The photo also conveys the Columbia Inn sole-diner experience — one of respect where management seated the sole diner with the same urgency as larger parties — so he or she never felt marginalized but always welcomed into a dining room of extended family.

I was a Sunday morning regular — drawn to their fluffy banana pancakes and easy location for meeting with friends. The attraction also included the kindness of the wait staff, such as Betty, Jan, Jamie and Jeanne, as well as the friendly characters seated on the right or left who never failed to share their take on the day’s headlines.

On my last breakfast there, New Year’s morning, two older gentlemen at the next table lamented the closing with, "What does this say about a business community urging us to be more sophisticated by closing a joint like this that is packed every day, so as to make way for yet another luxury-car showplace?"

J.A. Conway

It was life or death; everyone came through

On Jan. 1, while on board an Air Canada flight from Victoria, British Columbia, to Hawaii, my wife and I were very happily looking forward to our Hawaiian holiday.

Because of a severe cold, I was using a cough suppressant that adversely interacted with blood pressure medication I was taking. The result was a complete collapse of my blood pressure, which could have been fatal. But very quick action by two Canadian doctors and a Canadian Coast Guard friend, using medical equipment on board, resulted in a happy ending to the flight.

We wish to extend our most grateful thanks to the airline and the entire flight crew, the paramedics who boarded the plane at Honolulu and Straub Waikiki — and especially Dr. Julian Hancock of Terrace, B.C., Dr. William Shahariw of Victoria, B.C., and Auxiliary Coast Guardsman Donald Hall of Ladysmith, B.C.

We also thank the passengers on board, who waited so patiently while we were taken off the plane.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you again.

William and Rubie Cogswell
Ladysmith, B.C., Canada

Ala Moana killing: Stop the violence

When I wake up in the morning and I see headlines in the newspaper say that a woman has been shot by an angry boyfriend, I cry and get angry. I live in a state some people call paradise. I no longer feel Hawaii is paradise or a safe place.

It has been several days since the Ala Moana shooting and I am still very angry. I need someone to explain to me how this could happen. I want someone to tell me that my daughter will be safe when she is older and she will never be in the arms of an angry, abusive man.

I want to do something to end domestic violence. Where do I begin? I want to scream at the top of my lungs: "Stop the violence." I can only wonder what Cherry Ann Domingo was thinking right before she was killed. I can only imagine what visions she had in her mind right before he pulled the trigger.

Patricia Marie Hertz

There’s no such title as postmistress’

I would like to respond to the Jan. 12 article by staff writer Walter Wright headlined "Postmistress’ trial on gaming charges starts." Having been an employee of USPS for over 33 years and retiring as a postmaster on the Mainland, I’m not sure where Wright came up with the title of "postmistress."

The title of postmaster is given to a person no matter which gender he or she is. Being a female does not make a woman a postmistress.

Lyle Puppe
Cottage Grove, Minn.

Hawaii seems to be ruining environment

I have been reading The Honolulu Advertiser for over 40 years. I have a great interest especially in stories dealing with Hawaii culture and Hawaii’s environment.

This past week I was absolutely disgusted to read of the remnants of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides that are found in stream beds and aquatic life. You can be certain these long-lasting deadly chemicals are found elsewhere — in the soil and most likely in the air and offshore waters.

Then I read that the state and federal governments and EarthJustice are arguing over how best to save Hawaii’s endangered birds and their habitats.

Then came the clincher: Agricultural workers are sickened by a noxious pesticide cloud from where chlorinated hydrocarbons are currently being used in nearby fields in Waialua. I am sure that no endangered honeycreepers live in Waialua.

I am often outraged and disgusted by the human race. Man’s folly is extensive and unremitting.

Greg Owen

Renewable energy is ready for prime time

In his Jan. 10 letter, former HECO executive Dick O’Connell claims that renewable energies are not ready for Hawaii. This is an interesting perspective, given that our utilities have always used renewables — originally, they distributed biomass and hydropower-generated electricity.

As recently as 1964, 18 percent of our Islands’ electricity needs were met by renewables, but today only about 8 percent are. Oil has become a convenient, cheap fuel. We are losing touch with our renewable roots, and our addiction to oil is a key issue in the new millennium.

Petro consultants C.J. Campbell and J.J. Zagar in "The Coming Oil Crisis" estimate that about half of the world’s oil supply has been exhausted and warn the era of cheap oil is about to end. Do we want to bet our future on OPEC?

Lucky we live Hawaii — we have all the resources we need to sustain our future: the wind, the sun, our biomass, geothermal (though controversial) and water (in our streams and in the ocean). What we lack is the will power to wean ourselves of our addiction to oil. We need to start increasing our use of wind power and other renewables now.

Periodically, I am asked why the Kahuku wind turbines aren’t running. The answer is: (1) They were prototypes; (2) they had mechanical problems, and (3) mistakes were made in siting the turbines. Similar problems and mistakes occurred in California during the 1980s.

Since then, the wind industry has overcome the problems and mistakes. Today, the wind industry is a worldwide, multibillion-dollar business with an installed capacity of 15,000 megawatts, including 2,500 megawatts in the United States.

In Hawaii, Enron Wind Corp. has proposed two new wind farms that would provide power from state-of-the-art wind turbines on the Big Island and Maui at a cost below the current utility wholesale costs. Here and throughout the world, wind power is ready for prime time.

Perhaps O’Connell can explain why HEI didn’t replace the original Westinghouse turbines with new, state-of-the-art units.

Warren Bollmeier
President, Hawai
i Renewable Energy Alliance

Excise tax cut for food isn’t likely

The late Hawaii governor John A. Burns once observed that while many people often define important issues in simple terms of black and white, responsible public officials have to grapple with complex details, which he characterized as "shades of gray."

In that vein, certain questions posed by The Honolulu Advertiser’s recently published 2001 survey of state legislators were overly simple and undefined by any parameters, placing elected officials in the awkward position of having to provide vague "support/oppose" responses to some rather intricate policy issues. While the survey may have been well "intended as a snapshot of legislators’ views," it remains unclear as to whether any public conclusions drawn from this "snapshot" are reasonable, practical and, most importantly, truly in their best interest.

As an example, The Advertiser’s Jan. 14 headline "End of food tax favored" implied that the repeal of the 4 percent general excise tax on food is imminent because most legislators, myself included, answered the question "Do you support or oppose eliminating the excise tax on food and rent?" in the affirmative. However, that response was predetermined because this question, as worded, neatly sidestepped what Gov. Burns called those "shades of gray."

First, most citizens are probably unaware that the GET is the biggest single source of tax revenue to the state’s General Fund. About $230 million comes from the GET on food, a sum greater than the combined general fund appropriations to nine state government departments, the Hawaii State Library System, Hawaii community hospitals, and the lieutenant governor’s and governor’s offices in their entirety.

Further, because tourists and other visitors provide about one-third of the total GET tax revenue, any such repeal of the GET on food would also provide nonresidents as well with an annual $70 million tax cut.

In its analysis on similar legislation offered in 1999, the Tax Foundation of Hawaii stated that such a tax cut "would seriously erode the excise tax base, resulting in a substantial loss of tax revenues, and severs accountability for raising revenues from this tax source. If the exemption is enacted, will the lost revenues be made up by increasing tax rates of other taxes, will the rate on other taxable purchases be increased or will government spending be reduced?"

If we are sincere about relieving some of the tax burden currently borne by Hawaii residents, there are other means by which we might do so. However, promising to repeal the GET on food before duly considering any potential adverse impact would be abrogating our responsibility as legislators.

The House Democratic majority is committed to furthering public understanding of the issues spelled out in The Advertiser survey, as well as others that may arise in the future. For our part, we will make all pertinent information readily available in a timely manner to the media and the public. In turn, we ask that The Advertiser and other Hawaii media remind citizens of the validity of two time-honored axioms: There are no easy answers, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro
House Majority Leader

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