Letters to the Editor
Tax deduction better way to help with costs
If first lady Vicky Cayetano truly wants to advocate long-term care for Hawai'i's residents, she should fight for a tax deduction, not an increase.
A $200 tax deduction for each individual would be better spent on long-term care that already exists in the private sector. That way, it just wouldn't be "like buying insurance," as Rep. Dennis Arakaki says it would be. Of course, a $200 tax deduction means less money in the pockets of people who define Social Security as "an investment."
Reginald J. de Guzman
Irrational policies make matters worse
Fans understand the need for extra security precautions at Aloha Stadium. However, some of the new rules and procedures clearly flunk the "common sense test" espoused by University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle.
For example, stadium officials will not allow you to bring in plastic water bottles. Yet, they allow vendors to sell beer to drunken fans during the second half of the game. What's more dangerous: a drunk driving a car out of the stadium parking lot or someone with a water bottle?
Another example is the bone-headed decision to ban purses. Yet they will allow fanny packs, which are essentially purses worn around the waist. What's next, banning all pants with pockets because we can conceal items in them?
Dumb move No. 3: banning umbrellas. What sense does that make? They already are making it as hard as possible to bring in rain gear since you can't pack them in bags or purses. Moreover, it's easier to hide a weapon in a jacket or poncho draped over your arm.
These are tough times for all of us. But overreacting and instituting irrational policies makes matters only worse for everyone. The Aloha Stadium management and UH athletic department administration need to rethink their decisions or risk alienating thousands of longtime supporters and fans.
Turn ship into memorial
The USS Kamehameha was decommissioned earlier this year and slated for scrap iron despite bearing the name of one of the greatest leaders of the world.
We have the USS Arizona, Missouri and Bowfin serving as memorials, and I feel that the USS Kamehameha should be a memorial at Pearl Harbor also.
In addition to contemporary history of Pearl Harbor (Pu'uloa) and Ford Island (Moku'ume'ume), there needs to be an understanding of the host culture's history and why there is a document titled the Bayonet Constitution.
Many Hawai'i residents including myself served our country faithfully. In the 1960s, we had an opportunity to do the same for the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Kukui, and it's significance was that Hawai'i residents of various ethnic identities made up most of the crew.
This is also an opportunity for the Hawaiian organizations and entities to show their integrity and give back by supporting this idea, which has been submitted to Sens. Akaka and Inouye.
Thomas T. Shirai Jr.
Competence abounds amid current problems
I cannot think of a time over the two decades that I have been in Hawai'i when the state Health Department has been run better, especially under the helm of Dr. Bruce Anderson, who has been a model public-health professional and an outstanding director.
Although there are many well-run branches in the department, the epidemiology branch has been truly exceptional. Most lay people may not appreciate how well the recent dengue outbreak has been handled because they are not familiar with the details of this infectious disease or know how such an outbreak should be controlled.
As an outside observer and a public health epidemiologist, I am in a position to make an objective comment and it is a strongly positive one. This extends well beyond the current dengue outbreak and anthrax/bioterrorism problems.
I have not seen this epidemiology branch run with as much competence and creativeness, not only in just services but extended to new state of the art developments in the surveillance of infectious diseases, in 20 years. In turn, this has helped our graduate teaching and research program in public health and epidemiology at the University of Hawai'i.
The public in Hawai'i needs to recognize those in the public sector who do their jobs well, and right now we have a lot of really good people in the Health Department.
F. DeWolfe Miller, MPH, PhD
Professor of Epidemiology, Acting Chairman, Department of Public Health Sciences and Epidemiology, John A Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai'i
'Bridge' population among those targeted
I was dismayed by the community outcry over the needle exchange program reported in the Dec. 6 Advertiser.
Perhaps what the Kukui Street community does not clearly understand is that HIV spreads to the general population through "bridge" populations, such as drug users, who may pass it on to their partners, who then may pass it on to unwitting members of the general public through unprotected sex.
I am a public health professional working in the field of HIV/AIDS in developing countries, primarily Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia, and can recognize that the Community Health Outreach needle exchange program is based on a widely accepted strategy in the public health community that focuses on high-risk groups to forestall the spread of HIV. The program is doing a public service, and it should be embraced by the community as protecting them.
The needle exchange program in Hawai'i is being emulated in countries throughout Asia, spearheaded by former Hawai'i resident and needle exchange volunteer Aaron Peak. Many of us in the public health profession, such as Aaron and the volunteers manning the van, will go to great extremes to get a sometimes dirty job done, for the greater good of the community.
Don't let ignorance kill our spirit or our programs.
Moving the earth may be what it takes
The Dec. 11 Advertiser reports that following the 7.0 October earthquake in Guam, the federal government approved millions of dollars for the repair of Department of Education facilities in Guam, 75 percent paid for by the federal government and 25 percent by Guam.
Maybe what Hawai'i needs is a 7.0 earthquake to improve the public school facilities of Hawai'i's future, our children.
Carol Ann Ellett
Solution simple: Don't speed, don't run the red
The recent rash of letters about the traffic cameras would almost be funny if they weren't so sad. Seldom have so many specious complaints been voiced about something that is essentially a no-brainer.
It's simple, folks: If you don't speed and don't run red lights, the subject should be of no interest to you. Understandably, if you do speed and do run red lights, you would be screaming the loudest.
The question of "turning in" a friend or relative is easily solved. Friends wouldn't put you in the position of having to pay a fine. The same rationale applies to spouses because the fines hurt the entire family financially, and how they settle that should be left to the family.
'Threshold' of error needed, appreciated
I generally try to give authorities the benefit of the doubt.
Thus, this past week, I have endeavored to drive on the freeways at the posted speed limits. My schedule allows me to do this at different times of the day. State Transportation Department Director Brian Minaai's assurances to the contrary, I can say unequivocally that, under normal driving conditions, it is almost always unsafe to drive at the speed limits in any lane, but especially in the outside lanes.
I was grateful, therefore, to learn that there is in fact a "threshold" of error that will be considered in the new traffic-camera project. I trust that threshold is within the speed of the general traffic I happen to be in because, for safety's sake, I will be driving at that speed.
Contraption unable to assess other dangers
The idea of using traffic cameras to enforce speed limits makes me sick. Who are we to be judged by an electrical contraption with no regard to true safety?
When it is pouring rain and the roadway is slippery, will it look more closely for careless drivers? Will it take into account the fact that giant trucks loaded with cargo cannot slow as quickly as high-performance motorcycles if an emergency stop is required? Will it understand the differences in inertial "killing power" that these two types of vehicles possess in an accident?
Speed limits are a faulty means of protecting life and property when not used in conjunction with the discretion of a (human) police officer. The notion that these cameras will somehow protect me on the road is completely unjustified they are just as likely to lower my water bill and keep the dog off the couch.
Only a fool would believe that these cameras are anything but a revenue-generation tool, and only an idiot would believe the residents of O'ahu are that foolish.
Cheap trick can control speeding problem
The new cameras supposedly will save lives by sending a speeder a ticket in the mail. By the time this speeder gets the ticket, the violator could have been involved in a serious, if not fatal, accident.
If the state were truly concerned about safety rather than having a fund-raiser, it could have every police officer driving with a blue light on the roof of the car at all times (doesn't have to be on).
I guarantee we would see a dramatic slowdown, and it wouldn't cost anything. Give it a trial run. This is one study that wouldn't cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
History shows evidence of camera's real purpose
Regarding traffic cameras, a little history:
Several years ago the city wanted the state to double traffic fines, with the increase to go to the city to pay for police raises. The state said no because that would be an incentive for authorities to write more citations for more money.
Now, a private company has been hired, one that admits to writing up to 3,000 citations a day and will be paid $29.75 per citation, even though this company faced a lawsuit in California for changing the timing of yellow lights.
There no longer is any discretion of the officer to give a warning depending on the situation, as well as other requirements for testimony at court. Sounds like a monetary incentive to me.
Michael W. Hunt
Driver of car responsible for owning up to actions
A question: Don't drivers get bad points for moving violations? I know some, if not all, insurance companies will base premiums on driving records. Too many points and you risk driving up the cost of your policy or losing your license.
It's obvious to me that the guy who "plays" should pay. If I am kind enough to loan my car to someone, that person should pay for the consequences of "playing" with the speed limit. The moral issue is whether the speeder wants to be responsible for his actions.
Also, it is important that the ticket be issued in a very timely manner, since some of us may have trouble remembering who drove the car three weeks ago.
Obvious methods are best deterrent
I've got one word in response to the transportation director's Dec. 9 letter: Baloney. Two more words for Brian Minaai: Prove it.
Minaai asserts, "This project is about making our streets and highways safer for all of us." If he truly believes this statement, he should prove it by taking steps that will reduce the number of accidents.
If you've been stuck among cars behind a police cruiser on the freeway, you know that the surest way to slow down would-be speeders is to add a well-marked police car into the traffic mix. People are more likely to obey the law when there is an identifiable law-enforcement presence in the area.
Based on this premise, make traffic enforcement zones as obvious as possible. Rather than hiding cameras and speed-tracking devices in unmarked vans, require the contractor to use fluorescent orange vans so drivers can see them at the greatest distance possible, day or night. Enforcement zones also should be clearly marked by signs indicating that speed-measuring equipment is being used in that area. I guarantee that speeding in these areas will diminish.
Also, if safety were truly the Transportation Department's primary concern, yellow light times must be based on safe stopping times, not on arbitrary times negotiated in the contract.
I challenge Mr. Minaai to prove his commitment to traffic safety.