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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 24, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Article an attempt to 'manufacture' news

I have reviewed the articles regarding alleged sexual misconduct between inmates and staff and the alleged "drug haven" at our Oklahoma prison.

In my opinion, writing a story as if it were happening now, using information or allegations that are outdated, given by former staff and former inmates, borders on the unprofessional.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections mandates and tracks all private and state prison drug tests. Our facility has been shown to be one of the best in the state as far as the absence of positive drug tests. We have 230 women in long-term intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs who attempting to return home substance-free. Our four education classrooms and our two vocational training programs are full every day — proof that more than 500 of our 639 women are working hard on improving themselves so they can make positive contributions to society.

The 30 or so operational issues and sexual allegations were made by former staff and inmates and were investigated well over a year ago by the facility, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the FBI, none of which could conclude poor operating procedures or resulted in prosecution of any staff.

An Oklahoma lawsuit that was filed alleging many of the same issues was ruled in favor of the facility. The Hawai'i lawsuit stems from this same period and makes similar allegations, which surely will be decided in favor of the facility.

I have been in this business for 30 years and know that prisons, because of the nature of the clientele, will provide plenty of truthful "negative" news for you to report on. You don't have to manufacture material.

Larry Fields
President, Dominion Correctional Services Inc., Edmond, Okla.

Dobelle must put UH back on ranking

The first priority of the new University of Hawaii president must be to reverse UH's catastrophic free-fall in national ranking. Two years ago, UH dropped from a second-tier university to a third-tier one in the US News & World Reports annual ranking of colleges and universities — it fell from 98th to 152nd place out of the 228 institutions ranked.

The reason that it ranks below most other universities is obvious. In reaction to budget cuts, the Kenneth Mortimer administration starved the arts and sciences, the core of the undergraduate program. It diverted funds to bells-and-whistle programs, such as sports teams and mice-cloning labs, without seeming to care about other areas.

Mortimer's real legacy is a nice facade built on a crumbling foundation. Although it is tempting to blame him for this catastrophe, he did exactly what he was hired to do. The blame should fall on the UH Board of Regents and the person who appointed them: Ben Cayeta-no. Perhaps in a few years a more enlightened governor will appoint a Board of Regents actually made up of educators.

Doesn't it make more sense for Evan Dobelle, as his first priority, to fund a core liberal arts curriculum that is ranked among the best in the nation? Local families then could send their children to the institution their taxes help support, instead of paying for their children to attend Mainland universities.

The new UH president, the next Board of Regents and the next governor will need to cut programs, positions and expansion plans the UH and the state doesn't need and can't afford: the medical school, the law school, the obscenely bloated sports program, at least half of the numerous institutes and centers, the top-heavy bureaucracy, and plans for yet more third-rate campuses in 'Ewa and on the Big Island.

Jan Becket

City cannot afford purchase at this time

I am concerned with an Aug. 16 article that mentioned initial talks by the city to acquire the Bayview Golf Course in Kane'ohe.

Both the city administration and City Council should forego plans for new or unbudgeted land acquisitions and continue fiscal belt-tightening, knowing the city faces potentially tens of millions of dollars in damages for the downzoning of golf courses across from Sandy Beach.

The city may not have the money to pay for damages if found liable by the courts and as a result will be forced to raise property taxes. This council is not ready to consider such action since the public is strongly opposed to further tax hikes.

The financially prudent thing to do is to hold off on new land acquisitions and wait until the aforementioned golf-course matter is resolved. At this point, every cost-saving measure will help. We can revisit land acquisitions at a later date.

Romy Cachola
Councilmember, District VII

Drug treatment for youth more important, needed

Earth to the Department of Health, come in please...

While our children are dying from the lack of drug-treatment facilities, the state government wants to spend 5 million tobacco settlement dollars on fluoridation.

In an Advertiser article on Jan. 7, the Health Department was quoted as saying, "As many as 16,000 children in Hawai'i meet the criteria for needing drug treatment. The Department of Health provides treatment to a mere 1,400 now."

How can the mostly unwanted fluoridation rank higher than essential drug treatment for 14,600 young people?

Betsy Connors, R.N.

Political process reeks of gerrymandering

Call a spade a spade. Call "gerrymandering" by the established political structure what it is.

If you're looking for a reason why young locals are leaving the state, you've just found one very important one: The good ol' boy network that takes care of its own and punishes others.

As WHO Radio legislative reporter in Des Moines, I had a chance to watch Iowa's reapportionment process this past session.

The non-partisan Iowa legislative fiscal bureau is required by law not to factor in where incumbents live when drawing up new districts. Lawmakers then are required to vote up or down any plan with no changes. Only if a third plan is required are lawmakers allowed to offer amendments.

Iowa's reapportionment process isn't perfect. It's possible to charge partisanship even in this process — lawmakers rejected the first plan and accepted the second.

As a former Hawai'i resident, I felt nothing but embarrassment and disappointment at The Advertiser's report of bald-faced, brazen gerrymandering in Hawai'i's reapportionment process.

It was a poignant reminder of one of the reasons I left Hawai'i in the first place.

Richard Lee

No reference to fixed pay differential

As I looked over the Hawaii State Teachers Association contract that I ratified last spring, I noticed something intriguing. There is absolutely no reference to a fixed amount of funding for the 3 percent pay differential for teachers with advanced degrees.

The only thing that is spelled out is that, "Teachers who hold professional certificates based on a master's degree or a professional diploma shall receive a 3 percent differential calculated on their current salary each year."

Isn't it strange that the governor would persist in asserting that the agreement was only for a fixed amount of $6 million and that both negotiating teams understood that it was funded for only one year?

Wouldn't a competent negotiator make sure that this important wording was included in the contract?

Won't it be sad when even fewer young people choose a teaching career and Mr. Yogi is appointed to a position with even greater responsibility?

Scot Drown

Money could come from state general fund

After the teachers' union took the contract dispute about the differential pay to the Hawai'i Labor Relations Board, the governor was quoted as saying, "The likelihood is that we will appeal because I don't know where the money is going to come from."

The governor recently denied a Department of Education request to carry over $8.7 million in unexpended funds. Instead, he forced the DOE to return the money to the state general fund. Gov. Cayetano, if you are concerned about paying for educating our children, please let us know why.

The superintendent of education has said unofficially that the DOE has enough money to pay for both years of the differential without cutting programs.

The teachers deserve a permanent professional track. Most Mainland teachers have some form of professional track built into their contracts.

Nandarani Evans

Either keep island's name or restore ancient one

In a recent letter to the editor, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission provided information that answers the need for public awareness of its efforts to restore the island in keeping with the vision set by the first protesters. However, the letter contained references to Kanaloa and the ancient name of the island that conflict with the teachings of Lono.

From our teachings, Kanaloa is the god of the sun, whose mo'olelo — "e Tanaroa e Tanaroa lau wili e ta ohu" — speaks of the source of light and heat that evaporates the ocean and forms the clouds swirling in the atmosphere. When you spread the he'e on a boulder as a representation of Kanaloa, its tentacles fan out like the rays of the sun. If the commission truly believes Kanaloa to be the god of the ocean, why would an island be a physical manifestation of the ocean, especially when the ocean surrounds us?

For members of the Temple of Lono, knowledge of the four gods that form the foundation of traditional Hawaiian spirituality is central to our beliefs and practices. We must speak out now that much has been misinterpreted or lost since the destruction of the temples and the disappearance of the kahuna.

From our knowledge, the ancient name for the island may prove difficult to accept today. It was known as kohe malamalama o Pele. Kaho'olawe should remain the name of the island unless the true ancient name is restored.

Finally, it is important to note that there were four ancient traditional Pu'uhonua. Kaho'olawe was not one of them. Today, it is common for Hawaiians to call many areas, sites and even individuals "pu'uhonua," without recognition of the traditional sanctity and sovereignty of the ancient Pu'uhonua.

We applaud the efforts of the commission to preserve and restore the island and its waters for the people of Hawai'i, and hope it will also be respected as a traditional spiritual refuge for Hawaiians.

Clive Cabral

Living in Makiki would give perspective

Your editorial regarding the Punahou Vista housing project reflects the ignorance of someone who wants to see only one side of an issue. One needs to live in the area to know the full impact this project would have on the community. This is one of the most congested areas in the state. The noise, pollution and traffic are almost unbearable. It would be irresponsible of the YWCA to expose children who would live at Punahou Vista to the dangers of this area.

Irena Taylor