Letters to the Editor
Move to Kapolei well thought-out
I would like to comment on your editorial titled "'Second City' concept still needs some work," which appeared in the Aug. 15 issue. The editorial in part was critical of the city's delay in fully occupying its first civic center building in Kapolei.
The inference in the editorial, however, was that the state did not plan well for the relocation of state employees (in 1998) to its office building in Kapolei and that the city should have learned from the state's experience with the employee's union.
The fact is that the state began planning for the move to Kapolei for more than four years before the building was ready for occupancy. As early as two years prior to the state's move to Kapolei, agencies were pre-identified. Within six months following completion of the building, 90 percent of the approximately 1,000 state employees, consisting of 35 state agencies, were relocated to the state building, which is twice the size of the city's Civic Center building in Kapolei. This schedule was achieved in spite of all the consulting between the state and HGEA and the hearing over union issues brought before the Hawai'i Labor Relations Board.
To address any personal hardships for employees affected after the move, the state developed job-swapping and position-exchange programs to assist employees to return to their original location of employment.
I would say the state's efforts were commendable, in light of the complexity of the entire project and the diverse issues at hand.
Wayne H. Kimura
Review should offer constructive criticism
This letter is in response to the Amaury Saint-Gilles review of the exhibit at the Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center (Aug. 19).
Saint-Gilles' review was mean-spirited and sarcastic, offering no constructive critical or historical perspective. As a reviewer, it is his job to help others understand the nature of the work of art, to place it in a historical context, as well as to discuss why the work may be missing the mark. To call the work "mediocre" and then to avoid any discussion of the work whatsoever is disrespectful and is not helpful to either the artist or the audience.
I shudder to think how such a terse and dismissive attitude as Mr. Saint-Gilles' might impact less seasoned artists in our community.
Eliminating incumbents shows bias of officials
The blatant pro-incumbent slant the Redistricting Commission has taken is unfair, but eliminating the districts of Republican Rep. Charles Djou and Democrats Rep. Ed Case and Sen. Les Ihara is unconscionable. Of the 76 members of the Legislature, Djou, Case and Ihara are the most vocal pro-reform legislators in Hawai'i. They are also the only three incumbents to have their districts eliminated. I find it hard to believe that this is mere coincidence. Unlike the loss of virtually any other incumbent, the loss of Djou, Case or Ihara would strike a major blow against government reform in Hawai'i.
The only bright side to this redistricting plan is that this could force these three to move up to higher office. Maybe we can hope for an independent Case/Djou ticket for governor and Ihara for mayor.
Review ignored classical preparations
I was troubled by Matthew Gray's review of Donato's Restaurant in the Aug. 10 TGIF. The overall review was mostly positive, and we feel that it has further established us as a premier restaurant for true Italian cuisine. There were, however, elements of the critique that were unclear or incorrect.
Gray criticized the asparagi gratinati appetizer dish, saying, "The term 'gratin' refers to something that has been heated in an oven or under a broiler until brown and crispy; this dish lacked that trademark flavorful, slightly crisp crust."
In America, the nature of gratin is confused sometimes, especially when it comes to Italian cuisine. The general thinking of Italian cooking is to smother food with mozzarella and then bake it. This is not gratin. The nature of gratin, as postulated by Julia Child, Louisette Bert-holle and Simone Beck in the classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (1961) is to layer. The layering of ingredients and broiling them create a unique environment for the flavors to mix in a vertical fashion.
Gray's suggestion of stewing the meats together with the beans also disturbed me. Any chef knows that cassoulet is prepared not as a stew. The meats are prepared fricassee or browned, as Gray points out, and then added to the cassoulet for final baking. Meats used in a cassoulet dish are supposed to be well-done, making the dish heartier.
We have been faulted in a review that was built upon flawed expectations and what appears to be a limited knowledge of classical cuisine. I do not understand the logic behind Gray's desire to change classically inspired dishes into different ones.
Head waiter, Donato's Restaurant
Place of birth shouldn't be a political issue
Bob Dye's Aug. 19 column plays with the question "Do locals count in the governor's race?" He points out that none of the current gubernatorial candidates, Jeremey Harris, Mazie Hirono or Linda Lingle, was born locally, and if Ed Case joins the group, he will be the only local-born politician of the four.
In the interest of providing a little background on the question, Dye might have mentioned that "Palaka Power," which was introduced during the 1978 Constitutional Convention, when John Waihe'e and his cohorts decided that Hawai'i's top jobs belonged alone to the local born. Waihe'e, unknown before the Con-Con, played a dominant role.
Yet, when Ben Cayetano's candidacy for the governorship came up, "Palaka Power" was conveniently pushed aside and John Lewin, a Mainlander and Waihe'e's Health Department director, entered the race at the 11th hour. The belief was that a haole could beat Cayetano easily. Lewin left Hawai'i after his defeat.
Ed Case, at least, has a year to go to make his name a household word. But it should not be on the basis of being local that he might earn the top job. Hopefully, it is because he stands for the change Hawai'i badly needs today.
Jovita Rodas Zimmerman
Canoe gave beachfront a look uniquely Hawaiian
At a time when many canoe halau are being planned to shelter these beloved craft, it has been particularly jarring to have our neighborhood canoe removed from our beach against the owners' will.
My family has lived at Diamond Head Terrace since before the high-rise Kainalu Condominiums were erected in 1956.
The Thurstons, a part-Hawaiian family who were here well before us, shared freely of their canoe, the fish they caught from it, the surfboards under their house, and a short cut to the beach through their waterfront yard.
We all missed the Thurstons when they moved, but the canoe has remained as our connection to them and their aloha. From it we have scattered the ashes of my grandfather and great-uncle.
Now, lacking this distinguishing feature, the big white condo and bare beach might as well be in Florida. We hope to see the canoe quickly restored to its rightful place.
Business, government not trusted by laborers
For many years in Hawai'i, Labor Day has meant getting ready for a picnic at the beach or just relaxing at home but we should also take a little time to reflect on the concerns of today's working families.
A new national survey of American workers offers a snapshot of those concerns: Americans who draw a paycheck continue to be optimistic about jobs and the future of our families, yet we're increasingly troubled about the influence powerful corporations have in our workplaces, our government and our local economy.
According to the Peter Hart Research survey, commissioned by the 13-million-member AFL-CIO, employees of all races and backgrounds don't really trust corporations or the Bush administration in Washington, D.C. to safeguard the rights we hold dear, such as protections against discrimination, making sure workplaces are safe, equal pay for women or privacy on the job.
The survey shows that 63 percent of workers have little or no trust that corporations will treat employees fairly. And 67 percent of workers have little or no trust in the White House to stand up for rights we value.
But as more working people try to improve conditions at job sites, employers are responding with more hostility, pressure tactics and propaganda to dissuade employees. According to Cornell University, a third of employers fire workers who try to form unions and a staggering 91 percent hold mandatory, high-pressure anti-union meetings.
Communities are fighting back. Civic leaders, clergy and civil rights advocates are telling employers to respect the basic freedom of everyone in America to make their own choice about whether to join a union, without fear of reprisal or intimidation.
Communities are also fighting back to support workers who are victims of corporate takeovers. Recently, hundreds of people rallied in support of 274 workers terminated by the new owners of the former Hawaiian Waikiki Beach. Aston Hotels and Resorts rehired less than 10 percent of the original workforce, throwing out many workers who had more than 20 years of loyal service.
These employees are still being denied millions of dollars of earned vacation benefits and severance pay contractually owed them.
Just as we want a voice where we work, we want our voice to be heard in government. Workers and our unions are helping expose the cruelty of eliminating landmark protections to prevent hundreds of thousands of repetitive stress injuries in workplaces. And working families are demanding state prescription drug legislation and speaking out to protect Social Security and Medicare.
It will be up to us working families, our unions and progressive allies to see that the changes called for on this coming Labor Day result in government and employers more deserving of the trust of working Americans.
Labor Day is a fitting time to remember that employees want to do the best jobs they can to help their employer succeed that's what American workers have done for centuries. But a fundamental value in our nation is that employees expect basic respect in the workplace. Without it, employees will not trust employers. We don't need an opinion poll to confirm that just ask the workers at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel.
President, Hawai'i State AFL-CIO