Letters to the Editor
Casino gambling here would be disastrous
Casino gambling in Hawai'i would produce an army of destitute, homeless, hard-core compulsive gamblers who would lack funds to leave and who would stay and look for work.
In Las Vegas, it's common to observe hordes of broke gamblers, especially after holiday weekends, desperately trying to leave town. They engage in begging, selling personal possessions, prostitution and stealing.
Here in Hawai'i, they will not be able to hitchhike, carpool or catch a freight train or Greyhound bus. Many will be stuck here in the middle of the Pacific.
If Hawai'i adopts casino gambling, the state should prepare for increases in bribes and graft involving public officials, social service costs, family breakups, suicides, homeless shelters, jail populations, crimes of every description, police protection and a flood of pawnshops.
Historically, the problem of legalized gambling is the difficulty in separating those who can afford to lose from those who cannot afford to lose.
Pay comparison was apples and oranges
In response to the June 27 letter by Jackie Kido on teacher salaries: Does Gov. Cayetano have you brainwashed?
When you say he was correct that Hawai'i's teachers were ranked 18th in the nation, you are playing with the figures. He was using current Hawai'i teacher salaries vs. 1998 NEA teacher salaries. That is a difference of three years. Virtually every state in the nation has since given its teachers raises due to an almost crisis-level national teacher shortage.
You said: "Over two years, starting salaries rise from $29,204 to $34,294. With professional development, the starting salary jumps to $36,695." I'll believe it when I see it. The teachers haven't seen a penny of that yet.
Now the state is saying it wants to reinterpret the issue of master's degrees and professional diplomas. It doesn't say anywhere in the contract that a teacher must get his or her degree from UH or that it has to be in education. What is wrong with an English teacher having a master's in English literature?
The state also claims it doesn't have enough money. What happened to all the money that the Legislature allocated to the teachers even before the strike was over? The teacher contract calls for much less money than what was allocated to them by the Legislature. To make matters worse, the teachers will not be receiving their "retention bonus" of $1,100 on July 5 that was negotiated in the contract.
What is the sense of having a contract, or laws for that matter, if the state won't keep its end of the bargain because it doesn't like it? Do you really feel the governor is committed to education? If so, you really must be brainwashed.
If laws are enforced, violations will drop
Andrew Thomas, the writer of the letter "Red-light runners: Increase revenues by ticketing drivers (June 25), does not understand law-enforcement principles.
The emphasis item for 2001 is road racing. Failure to indicate turns and inattentive driving are being considered for 2002. Failure to stop or yield, illegal lane changes and cutting off another driver will be considered in 2003. Red-light runners are not intended for enforcement until 2004. Tailgating will be early 2005. Illegal parking enforcement is planned for 2006 or 2007, pending additional overtime funding.
I do agree with Thomas that more police officers can be reassigned to emergency services to assist in the increased accident load. Currently having five officers responding to a fender-bender is not enough; we need additional officers observing the rubber-neckers stopping to look at whose bumper received greater damage.
It is very disturbing when police agencies object to the lack of funding to perform their duties. If the laws were enforced, people would hesitate to violate them in anticipation of the consequences; but above all, the respect for a police officer would increase exponentially to the point it once was.
Humane societies were wrong about pit bulls
I have never before had a beef with the Humane Society, nor am I an advocate for the banning of pit bulls. However, the jointly signed letter of June 25 by the four executive directors of the humane societies is an example of gross irresponsibility by professionals who should know better.
Their clever use of selective quotes from a national study implies that there are no "bad dogs," just "bad owners." Such naivete is not only misleading and deceptive, but also untrue and dangerous.
What they failed to mention in their letter is that the very same journal from which they draw their misleading conclusions recently published a national study (see JAVMA, Vol. 217, No. 6, Sept. 15, 2000) by the Centers for Disease Control regarding breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks. After analyzing 20 years of dog bite-related fatalities, the CDC concluded that breed does make a difference.
Its findings noted that "fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem," with pit bulls and Rottweilers accounting for 67 percent of all dog-related fatalities in the United States between 1997 and 1998.
Those perceived as having animal expertise have a professional responsibility to correctly portray the facts regarding such an important issue of community safety.
Stephen T. Molnar
Military enlistees hurt by quarantine bill veto
As the senior enlisted adviser of the U.S. Pacific Command representing the enlisted military community in Hawai'i, I am disappointed that Gov. Cayetano vetoed the pet quarantine bill.
This quarantine fee has a significant negative financial impact on our junior service members, as they must already pay for other pet-associated costs such as shots, blood tests, microchip installation and shipping adding anywhere from $300 to over $1,000 to their out-of-pocket expenses. The quarantine fee is a complaint I hear frequently and loudly from our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
Service members were grateful for the generous relief provided by the state and federal governments from quarantine fees this past year. That's why we were surprised and disappointed that the governor vetoed continuing state support for one more year while our senior military leaders pursue an increase in the amount of federal reimbursement.
Military members sacrifice much in service to their country. They go where they are ordered without question to high-cost areas such as Hawai'i. Most enjoy their tours here while giving back much to the community in volunteer efforts and community service.
Our service members and their families do not understand the politics of the veto, but all understand the financial burden the quarantine fees impose. The governor is sending the wrong signal to the military community in Hawai'i.
Barbara S. Smith
Sergeant major, U.S. Army
Police should also target the parents
A car roars down the highway with a 300-horsepower motor, performance-tuned suspension and exhaust, 17-inch rims, blinding headlights and dark illegal tint. Is this a youngster racing his Honda home after seeing "The Fast and the Furious"?
No, it's the latest luxury SUV driven by his parents.
For every modified import car you see speeding and weaving through traffic, you will see 10 SUVs and family sedans doing the same. They are the parents, often will cell phone in hand, running late taking their children to school or soccer practice.
The police need to tone down their profiling of cars and educate all speeders to slow down, regardless of what they drive.
Use Visioning process only for smaller projects
Your editorial on the Visioning team process is right on; however, it missed an additional point.
The Kailua panel should be commended for its outline of community priorities but needs to rethink its means to achieve them. Over the next few years, it has split up the underground wiring into several phases to stay within its $2 million-a-year budget. At $500,000 to $800,000 per contract, this is the most expensive way to accomplish this work and does so at the expense of many other projects.
The vision process needs to be kept for smaller projects in single phases. Should a large-scale project be identified, there should be a means to "kick it upstairs" for funding.
Governor's argument doesn't make sense
Our illustrious governor of Hawai'i must think the people of Hawai'i are sheep and willing to follow whatever he says and vetoes. His (and the prosecutors') rationale for vetoing the age-of-consent bill is absolutely absurd.
"Everybody is already doing it" and "why make felons out of the sexual partners of 14- and 15-year-olds if the sexual activity is already going on" are their loosely based arguments.
Why legislate against any illegal activity because someone is going to be doing it and that just puts a burden on the prosecutor's office?
Obviously, the first place of responsibility rests with the parents of adolescents, teaching them abstinence, not safe sex. Morality does still have a place in our homes, even though the entertainment industry could care less about the lack of morality it pushes out to our children faster than a parent can keep track.
But the government, whether it be local, state or federal, has to back this up with legislation. The state legislators did their part by making it a unanimous decision to raise the age of consent. Praise to each and every one of them.
Now I hope they earn our praise again by overriding this morally wrong and indecent veto by the governor of the state with the lowest age-of-consent in the 50 United States of America.
James and Lorrie Roller
You don't have game if you don't let 'em play
Lee Cataluna's June 22 column gets right to the point of teaching kids to never give up, or you're a loser already because the other guys are bigger, faster and stronger. Life will definitely be tough for kids once they are out of school. By omitting St. Louis on its schedule, Damien does more harm than good.
Football is a tough sport; life can be tough or tougher. Let those kids fight as hard as they can, and teach them to be positive. Just because your 'okole gets spanked doesn't mean you're a loser for life; you're a loser if you quit, and that's what the head of Damien High is doing: insinuating those kids are losers before a fight against the best football program in Hawai'i.
I work out in Kapalua. I met the team that came in second in the high school golf championships for 2001 when they played here. That team was Leilehua. On that day, their faces were lit up with joy. Their coach informed me that no one on O'ahu gave them a shot at anything: no mention, nothing, nada, zippo. But because of hard work and having heart, they came in second in the whole state when they weren't supposed to be in it.
That day will live on in their minds and hearts forever. To see them laugh and even shed a tear was awesome. The kids from the boonies showed the state they had game, the feeling of the small guy passing by the bigger dudes. They took that trophy, and were saying, "This is for all the other public schools that get showed up by the privates."
So Brother Greg O'Donnell, you have lost faith? Let 'em play; they got pads and helmets; besides, this is football, you know.
Gay rights? Hawai'i has outlawed them
Thank you for printing Jim Henshaw's June 27 letter in which he opposes hate-crime legislation. His right-wing views are typical of the propaganda being fostered and spread by fundamentalist Christians.
What's really intriguing is that Henshaw thinks gays and lesbians have special rights. May I take this opportunity to remind Henshaw that Hawai'i is the only state that has a constitutional amendment that makes it legal to discriminate against gays? Did he forget, or was he unaware, that it was fundamentalist Christians who spent close to $2 million on advertising to ensure the passage of a constitutional amendment that took away the right of gays to marry?
If Henshaw really had a bellyful of "outlawing unequal treatment of any citizen," he would be writing about the continued discrimination against Hawai'i's gay and lesbian citizens instead of having his "religious rights trampled" by hate-crimes legislation.
Hawai'i should also get rid of estate tax
True to form, Honolulu's ultra-liberal press is still criticizing the best tax reform passed in two decades: the estate (death) tax, which Congress overwhelmingly agreed was an oppressive, outdated tax law.
Contrary to public misinformation, the estate tax phaseout and repeal is not restricted to the wealthy upper 2 percent, but will benefit thousands of hard-working middle-class Hawai'i homeowners whose lifetime of earned assets can now be handed down to their heirs without government interference.
Hawai'i lawmakers should not drag their feet on this issue; they should vote out this abusive state tax, which has outlived its time and original intent.