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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Governor's strike is hurting economy

It is an embarrassment to the State of Hawai'i (taxpayers) that the public school teachers and professors have had to strike in order to obtain adequate respect for their profession.

This supports my view that the governor has never supported our educational institutions and continues to hurt our fragile economy. In addition to contributing to leading research in numerous fields, much of our work as students, educators and researchers benefits economic development and technology transfer. Hurting our educators and students harms Hawai'i's economic prosperity.

The strike has interfered with our education and our ability to serve businesses and the community in countless ways. The inequitable benefits to state educators also provide a negative signal to prospective intellectual capital and the venture capitalists we seek to attract.

Consequently, an outflux of our financial resources, and our best and brightest, will result in a dumbing down of our state and have a negative spiraling effect on our economy.

Lotus Kam

Teachers deserve to be paid better

My office window overlooks Washington Middle School, and for the second straight day, I am witness to the sad state of affairs in our state's education system.

A couple of teachers are pushing baby strollers. If they are anything like me, they have a mortgage to pay, children to feed and bills that won't go away.

I once sat in on a sixth-grade class at Washington Middle School. I saw firsthand how challenging it was to be a teacher and how deeply committed this one particular teacher was to her students. Teachers deserve better compensation.

In 1994, I attended a debate where Gov. Ben Cayetano stated his No. 1 priority would be to improve public education. He promised bold initiatives designed to change Hawai'i's image from a vacation destination to a place of industry and higher learning.

It's time to be bold, Ben, and give our teachers what they deserve. Put your money where your mouth is. Settle now.

Laurie Okawa Moore

Cayetano talks the talk, but he's no governor

What page of The Advertiser do you read?

To quote the lead editorial of April 6, reflecting the governor's view: "The issue isn't how much we value our teachers; it is how much we can afford to pay them."

To quote the University of Hawai'i's next president, Evan Dobelle, as reported in the Sports section: "The only way you can tangibly give respect to people is not telling them you respect them; you have to pay them. Otherwise, it's just a lot of rhetoric."

Do you think we could get Dobelle to run for governor?

Victor Meyers

Faculty shouting at students wrong

I sat in amazement as I watched the news coverage of the strike after its first day. What amazed me so much was how some of the University of Hawai'i staff were acting toward students trying to get onto campus.

I realize this is a highly emotional time and I support our teachers and professors 100 percent, but I think it is wrong to shout at students who are trying to get an education. Not to mention the fact that these students have already spent money this semester on tuition, books, fees, etc.

I'm sure the decision these students made to cross the picket lines were difficult on them also. They're stuck between a rock and a hard place and should be able to make the decision to go to class without being made to feel as if they are doing something wrong.

T. Vasquez

Let's give the public straight answers

Say what? Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris has said he opposes an increase in fares for TheBus, but won't veto the fare hike.

Harris is obviously well-suited to follow in the shoes of Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, who vowed to make education his top priority, but doesn't want to pay for it.

Auwe! When will our elected officials say what they mean — or mean what they say?

Ken Armstrong

Riding bicycle face-on to traffic is dangerous

A response is needed to David Lipton's very dangerous March 24 letter extolling the "virtues" of contra-traffic bicycle riding lest someone reading it follow his advice.

Bicycles are vehicles (no, bicyclists are not pedestrians, despite what some think) and, as such, do not have any more business going against traffic than do cars.

There is nothing "common sense" about riding any vehicle into oncoming traffic. In a wrong-way-cycling scenario:

  • The chances of a head-on collision with a car greatly increases.
  • Traffic lights and signs work for the cyclist as well as cars.
  • People in cars — at least in this country — generally are not looking for a vehicle moving 15 to 35 mph going against traffic.

"Common sense" dictates that people learn the rules of responsible riding before mounting up and going the wrong way. State involvement in the issue should be concentrated on making more bike lanes or enforcing bicycle laws.

Dean Hayashida

Safety gets a boost from wave standards

Kudos to the agencies that have finally decided to tackle the wave-height issue.

Growing up, I learned the ways of the sea from legendary big-wave rider John Kelly. Origin of swells, timing of sets and wave heights were all part of this process.

Wave heights, I learned, can be measured scientifically, based on the depth of the water in which the waves are breaking. But, since water depth at any given point is not a readily available statistic for the average surfer, eyewitness observations become necessary, albeit arbitrary.

If a surfer is 6 feet tall and the wave-face is head-high, shouldn't this be a 6-foot wave? Not according to the "local surfer scale," which measures waves from the back; this would only be a 3-foot wave, boosting the ego of the surfer who has down-played the wave's height.

The misleading machismo involved in underestimating a wave's height has reached the danger point, and it is refreshing to know that those responsible for water safety are taking appropriate steps to bring surfers back to reality.

Besides, as John Kelly used to put it: "If you're measuring from the back of the wave, you missed it!"

Blair Thorndike

Don't burden the rest of us over power line

I live in 'Aiea Heights and do not want to be burdened with higher electricity costs due to very vocal groups from the Palolo, Manoa and university area who do not want the high-voltage lines over Wa'ahila Ridge. I'm not willing to pay for another area's undergrounding. We don't have it in my neighborhood.

This high-tech world is making more demands for more electricity. We need for Hawaiian Electric to go ahead with plans to complete the Kamolu-Pukele line serving Palolo, Manoa, the university, Waikiki and the Windward side.

Can you imagine what the tourists would do or say if they all got stranded in their rooms? I sure don't want to "be in the dark," do you?

Annette Kau Summerlin

Cheerleading should get better coverage

No pain, no gain. No, we are not talking about football; we're talking about cheerleading. Cheerleading has been a competitive sport for many years, and our media coverage of this sport sucks.

It is not fair to these kids and coaches, who devote many, many hours to practice, including weekends, to be the best.

I have not seen a high school cheerleading team that won the championship on the front page of the sports section, nor a TV reporter interviewing the winning team. The spotlight for cheerleading is way overdue.

Cheerleading is not just a "pretty sport." You deal with a lot of pain, broken bones and other serious injuries, just like the other sports you read about every day. Let's give this sport the recognition it deserves.

Shirley Smith
Proud parent of a cheerleader

Street performers present a danger

Recently in Waikiki, my son and his wife and their 5-year-son were on their way from the beach to their car when they came across a street performer — one of those who stand still and don't move.

My grandson, being curious, walked up to the performer and was looking at him when suddenly this idiot lifted up his arm, banged on a drum and sent my frightened grandson into the street, as well as my daughter-in-law, who ran out to get him. Luckily the traffic light was in their favor, or else my son could have lost a part of his family.

Street performers should be banned from using sidewalks. While they may not be selling anything, they certainly accept tips. They cheapen the sidewalks of Waikiki.

I was raised in Waikiki and loved it. Not any more. It is just a cheap town and not worth the visit.

Barbara Kahanamoku Robello

China's jet fighter wasn't outmaneuvered

China says the United States owes it an apology for the loss of its fighter pilot.

Hmm, let's see if I understand the situation: Our big turboprop P3 aircraft outmaneuvered their sleek jet fighter, causing extensive damage to our plane and the loss of theirs. Duh, I don't think so!

Neal Ikeda

Funding plan isn't 'tactical error'

The April 6 editorial that accuses the Senate of a tactical mistake that could extend the strike by the university faculty and public school teachers is a classic case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't."

The day after the HSTA's strike vote, your editorial sang a different tune. You correctly predicted that the teachers would walk unless the state did more to satisfy their demands. Three weeks later, Hawai'i became the first state in the country to experience a shutdown of its entire public school system.

While all of this is going on, the Legislature is facing a series of deadlines for bills, the most crucial of all being the budget. Decisions on all other requests for funding hinge on this most important bill.

The Legislature has tried to abide by the governor's request to stay out of the negotiation process. This we have done in spite of public pressure to help avoid a strike.

Our legal responsibility is to approve or disapprove the negotiated amount of any settlement offer. Our development of the Senate's financial plan sought to accommodate anticipated pay raises for the teachers and university professors. It was a demonstration of our commitment to education and our hope that the strike would be settled within the current legislative timetable.

Had we failed to "make room" for pay raises, the budget would have been unrealistic and subject to significant changes in the aftermath of a settlement.

You claim the issue is not how much we value our teachers, but rather how much we can afford to pay them. We contend that how much we pay them is an indication of how much we value them. We have "put our money where our mouth is" in the Senate. We choose not to play politics with the numbers.

We are simply trying to do our job by developing a realistic budget based on the obvious fact that there will need to be money included in the bill for the teachers.

Three weeks ago, you claimed it was unfair to blame our current fiscal problems on the teachers. We agree with that statement, and we feel we must prioritize our needs. Education is at the top of our list, and our budget is a reflection of this priority.

The fact that our budget plan contains any money for the teachers can no more be seen as a "tactical error" than can the governor's original budget proposal that contained no money at all. The actual amount of the pay raises still depends on an agreement between the governor and the HSTA.

For everyone's sake, we hope it's soon.

Sen. Robert Bunda, Senate President
Sen. Brian Taniguchi, Ways and Means Chairman