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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Hawaiian became 'foreign' language

Regarding Richard A. McLean's March 23 letter: I would like to speak on behalf of my 'ohana, Ku'ulei Afoa-Kalamau and many other Hawaiians in Hawai'i today.

My great-grandmother's first 'olelo (language) was Hawaiian. I had the privilege of having her in my life for five years. When I reached adulthood, curious about my culture, I asked my mother why my nana had not brought us up speaking Hawaiian. Her reply was, "Nana said that when she went to school with missionary teachers, they were disciplined and physically punished if the Hawaiian language was spoken at school, and she didn't want any of us to suffer the same."

There were also many working fathers who came home and told their families that they could no longer speak Hawaiian, and if caught, they would lose their jobs. The end result: The 'olelo died.

Don't tell me that one cannot be deprived of his own language. This is the pilikia (trouble) that started the erosion of the Hawaiian culture as a whole. These are facts, and I suggest McLean do some research before writing such a negative, flippant letter.

Yes, it is the 21st century, and we cannot change what has happened. We Hawaiians have suffered greatly and need to recognize our past in order to rebuild.

Some food for thought, Richard: Don't you find it odd that at the University of Hawai'i, Hawaiian, as recently as 1992, was classified as a foreign language?

Brandee K. Lee

Educator's nightmare: the deserted campus

I was so tired last night when I left my office at the University of Hawai'i. A surreal feeling came over me that public education in Hawai'i had been destroyed.

I could see the Hamilton Library across the way. There were rows and rows of empty bookshelves. How bizarre to see no books. The calm, quiet atmosphere was haunting; there wasn't a soul on campus.

Of course, I know about the transfer of the books to the new wing of the library, and that everyone was on spring break. Was it my worst nightmare or was it real?

After waking up at 4 a.m. to a horrible dream about the stalemate, I was afraid to sleep. Or was I afraid to wake up?

I will be afraid to wake up Thursday. But perhaps that won't be necessary, since I am no longer able to sleep because of the looming strike.

Paul Michael Chandler

State shouldn't mess with retirement period

Why has the governor singled out the University of Hawai'i faculty to be the recipients of a reduced annual retirement accumulation period from 12 months to nine months?

This proposed contract negotiation inclusion can only be described as mean-spirited and vindictive, not to mention catastrophic for future recruitment and retention of faculty in the university system.

This condition has never been imposed (and should never be) on the HSTA membership's 10-month contracts.

If the governor is really trying to right a managerial wrong, why doesn't he address the fact that legislators are credited with 12 months of retirement for working only four months out of the year at more than double the retirement rate of all other state employees?

Manny Cabral
Professor of Mathematics, Leeward Community College

Shut down the schools, stop teacher blackmail

Teachers are blackmailing the state for more money, more benefits, fewer hours, smaller classes, 12 months pay for 10 months work, paychecks while on strike. When does it end?

Gov. Cayetano is trying to deal with irresponsible, outlandish demands. Where are our state representatives? Reviewing their union donations and hiding behind the teacher strike banners?

Pass all the students. Close the schools for the rest of the year. Use the savings to pay for the contract in September. Let's stop the blackmail.

James Kurtz
Pearl City

Cayetano's comments need a grain of salt

Regarding Lee Gray's March 20 letter: Teachers go through many years of schooling. Anyone who would like to earn $29,000 is welcome to attend college and sacrifice like the rest of us.

Don't be fooled by the average $40,000. Do you believe everything the governor says? Go read Newsweek, Oct. 2, 2000.

This is my eighth year as a school counselor, and I have yet to see $40,000. I am not the exception. I am at the highest pay class; I cannot earn more through professional development. The last move I made, I paid over $1,500 for my classes and got a $2,000 raise.

Summer break? What's that? School staff will tell you we can often be found working, giving our own time. I've been called for help by students and parents at home, during holidays and at all hours. Teachers would love to be compensated for the countless hours we've given.

We give because we care. If you lose even one great teacher, think of all the lives that will never be inspired, goals that may never be reached. A teacher touches thousands of lives with no thought of reward.

It's time we're treated as the professionals we are. It's not about "holding out," it's being paid what we're worth.

Jon Fia

Governor's legacy is education infamy

Gov. Cayetano is a small-minded tyrant who is so obsessively determined to leave some kind of legacy that he runs roughshod over everyone and everything in his way, even when he is wrong.

He will leave a legacy, all right, that of the first and only governor in the United States to force all of our public-school teachers and university faculty into a strike at the same time. What a fitting legacy.

Sook Han Lau
Former Elementary School Teacher

Reporting erratic driving was correct

Your March 26 editorial is so off the mark it is laughable. I applaud the individual who reported the driver who was driving erratically, weaving and almost cut her off.

The officer who stopped the driver and arrested that person for DUI should be commended. The driver made two significant mistakes:

• Driving while legally under the influence.

• Not taking responsibility for that mistake and for claiming an illegal stop was made.

How many more days do we have to endure irresponsible drivers who speed, drive under the influence, are aggressive behind the wheel and injure or kill others before we as citizens take an active part in enforcement of our laws?

You should not cite this case as one that could lead to a police state. Why not commend the individual who cared enough about the safety of the road to report the irresponsible actions of another?

Frank Henrion

Vote, so we can get them out of office

Having the legislators in this state vote on campaign finance reform is a farce. It's analogous to allowing pimps to vote on prostitution legislation.

Passing this bill would be like cutting their own throats, but it once again proves they have no interest in doing anything to level the playing field in the campaign process or doing anything that might benefit the citizens of Hawai'i.

Every election, the people who are disillusioned with our lack of quality choices and our government in general don't bother to vote. Many of the people who do vote have a vested interest in making sure these less-than-ethical candidates continue to be elected.

Wake up. If everyone voted, we could make a difference, not only in the way this state is run, but also in cleaning house of government officials who only promote their own interests.

Nick Jury

Opera House success is due to competition

The reason the Sydney Opera House is such a successful "icon" is that it is an international architectural design competition winner.

"A world-class concept for Kaka'ako" would not be locally produced and politically driven.

The Sydney Opera House actually just makes it financially, and it has a city of 4.5 million people to keep it afloat. Its original funding, now part of consolidated revenue, was by lottery.

I cannot see in the plan shown in the paper any provision for outdoor events and activities.

Please, Hawai'i, open up the dialogue and design process so we don't end up with another Convention Center.

Michael Krijnen
Architect/Interior Design Lecturer, Chaminade University

Lesson from 'Iniki: underground lines

Sally Amantiad's March 23 letter favors overhead power lines because she says they cost less. Well, Sally, do you know who is still paying the many millions of dollars to replace the lines and poles damaged in Hurricane 'Iniki eight years ago? We are.

The electric company stockholders conveniently passed that bill on to us customers. If we pay up front to put utilities underground, we avoid much more costly bills when the next storm hits.

After 'Iniki, subdivisions that had underground utilities had power and phone service restored many weeks earlier than the rest of us, who had to depend on imported Mainland work crews to replace miles and miles of wires and poles.

My house was without power for nine weeks. I think Honolulu people have no idea what it would be like without electricity for that long.

The environmentalists are right on this one. Put those lines underground.

Sally Jo Manea
Kapa'a, Kaua'i

Enough, already, on tragedy coverage

After reading the April 1 front-page article "Quick decisions, enduring pain," and having followed the local coverage of the Ehime Maru sinking since Day One, I feel it is time to let it go.

It was a great tragedy; however, it is time to stop biting one of the hands that feed us.

Jack Dameron

Waipahu gang project working

Members of the Hawai'i Gang Project at the University of Hawai'i read your recent series on the problem of youth gangs with great interest.

We have long known that Waipahu has had a serious problem with gang members. In fact, one of the police officers we spoke with told us that "in Waipahu, you are either a gang member or a victim."

In addition, our recent report on gangs analyzed data collected by the Honolulu Police Department on suspected gang members, and these data indicated that Waipahu had the highest number of gang members of all communities on O'ahu, followed closely by two neighborhoods in Kalihi.

Having said this, it is important to keep in perspective that Hawai'i's juvenile crime problem, as measured by arrests, has gotten better, not worse, in the last decade despite a bad economy. Our juvenile arrest rates fell by 20 percent in the last decade, in contrast to an 11 percent increase nationally.

The data suggest that Hawai'i might be doing something right in the area of juvenile crime prevention and intervention, and indeed the picture is considerably brighter here than one might imagine.

As just one example, Waipahu was selected by our U.S. attorney to be the second site for the federally funded "Weed and Seed" program that was so successful in the Chinatown area. Our preliminary research on that program shows remarkable collaboration between a wide range of agencies in Waipahu, and particularly at Waipahu High School.

In addition, the Hawai'i Youth Gang Response System, which funded the Honolulu Police Department's new gang-tracking system, has also been extremely active in the Waipahu community. HPD has administered the anti-gang curriculum developed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at Waipahu Intermediate School, where our research, as well as the research of others, suggests that gang problems begin.

HPD's Juvenile Services Division intervened at Waipahu High School when a gang fight broke out this past September. Along with school administrators, teachers and various youth service provider representatives, the division interacted with youth gang members and their parents to address the animosity between the rival gang members. After the mediation was completed at the school level, youth gang members participated in the ROPES course. ROPES is a highly interactive obstacle course that requires participants to work cohesively and function as a team.

Finally, recognizing that long-term solutions to youth problems lies in the creation of other, positive choices for youth, the state Office of Youth Services recently secured Title V funds to allow the Leeward Branch of the YMCA to establish the Teen Employment Training Program. This program aims to develop basic job, occupation and academic skills for Waipahu youth through community service, internships and jobs.

Meda Chesney Lind
Principal Investigator for Youth Gang Project, University of Hawai'i at Manoa