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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 30, 2001

Letters to the Editor

BOE must stand behind its teachers

Maui teachers are MAD! Everyone I've talked to at professional development classes and from various schools agree: We will look like the biggest fools if we agree to return to work without a signed contract after everything we went through.

The Board of Education must stand firmly behind us, even though Superintendent Paul LeMahieu is wimping out. Gov. Ben Cayetano should be impeached for what he is trying to do to teachers. C'mon, folks. Wake up and back our teachers.

Ann Ashley
Kula, Maui

Ben is doing it again: divide and conquer

Thomas E. Stuart hit it right on the nose in his July 25 letter when he stated that the April strike was not a "teachers strike" but the "governor's strike."

It was obvious as I walked the line day in and day out that Gov. Ben's entire motive was to build resentment between groups of people: the public against teachers; state workers against teachers; and parents against teachers.

Well, he's doing it again. Instead, today he's going even lower. The governor is turning teachers against each other. In other words, he is promoting the "haves" (master's/professional diploma) against the "have-nots" (without master's/professional diploma). Let's not fall for his divisive puppeteering.

The governor proposes to separate out the 3 percent merit bonus (from the contract) for those of us with master's degrees or professional diplomas. He is promoting ratifying the rest of the contract. He's trying to demolish the solidarity we have as a group.

How dare he! Let us not allow the governor to separate out that part of our contract. Judging from his past actions, what will keep the governor from dropping the 3 percent bonus completely?

The governor is also attempting to turn our parents and students against the teachers again. He is stating that if he honors our contract of a 3 percent bonus for two years, the cost difference would need to come from other programs within our schools.

Colleen K. Cashman
Counselor, Kalaheo High School

Next Legislature must tackle lottery issue

The gap between the quality of education acquired from private schools and public schools is too wide to even try to measure. The question is why?

Are private school teachers better than in public schools, or are they just being paid higher salaries?

The salaries issue of public school teachers has been around for decades. Salaries and benefits were the reasons for the recent teacher strike. State lawmakers seem to just ignore the problem and not address the issue by failing to come up with the funds to pay public teachers higher salaries and provide state-of-the-art school equipment and supplies.

Forty-eight other states do not have the same problem as Hawai'i does. Their public schools and universities are among the top in the United States, if not in the world, because they can afford better equipment and benefits for their school teachers.

Where do they get their funding? A state-run lottery, which supports the state's education system.

The lottery issue has been on the Legislature's table every year for almost four decades now. But many lawmakers think the people of Hawai'i are better without a lottery. Are we really better people than the people of the other 48 states? At least they can afford to give their children a quality education.

I am sure that this lottery issue will be on the table again during next year's legislative session; I hope by then that the lawmakers will have given it careful consideration.

M.M. Francisco

Abercrombie should vote no on Cheney plan

This week, our representative in Congress, Neil Abercrombie, faces a defining choice in the vote on the Cheney energy plan. It's a choice between multibillion-dollar giveaways to the oil, coal and nuclear industries (a "yes" vote), or protecting our families' health, and our wallets, by sensibly investing in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy sources (a "no" vote).

It's time for Abercrombie to do the right thing and put constituents ahead of big energy companies.

Christopher D. Hundhausen

Recapture Isle beauty with undergrounding

The July 23 Advertiser's lead editorial recognizes the insidious development of land everywhere on O'ahu and has taken a strong stand against overhead utility lines. We need to recapture some of our Islands' scenic beauty.

Undergrounding ugly, unsightly power lines is one step in that direction. Makua, Ka Iwi, Wa'ahila, Waiahole, Manoa Falls are bringing communities together in ways not previously imagined. The mayor's visioning process makes clear the neighborhoods' feelings on utility lines.

The recent UH study by Professor Sam Lankford on tourism and the environment showed what most people thought it would show: that what Hawai'i residents and environmental activists most want is protection of natural coastlines and the environment of the Islands. The study also showed that tourists share the same views — to preserve Hawai'i's natural and cultural aspects.

It has been a long struggle for many communities that realize the land cannot defend itself. It would be wonderful if a firm that specializes in consolidating electrical, TV and cable lines could implement the undergrounding of all lines at a cost much less than is previously estimated.

Thank you for taking this position and encouraging our legislators to act responsibly and quickly to perpetuate the beauty of our Islands.

Jeremy Lam

State must reconsider Waimanalo pollution

I really feel comforted by Gary Gill setting the record straight on his family ties (see July 15 letter: "Confusion: Scorecard needed to tell Gill siblings apart"). I wish he would be as open about the policy decision regarding a World War II abandoned landfill at Bellows in Waimanalo.

Gill, state deputy health director for the environment, has failed to return phone calls or answer memos asking for a reconsideration of the decision to leave lead, mercury and zinc in excess of EPA limits in place.

For several years, the community representatives of the Bellows Restoration Advisory Board felt that the abandoned landfill would be removed and any hazardous waste shipped off to certified landfills. Recently, the board learned of the military decision to leave the landfill in place. Located only 700 feet from Waimanalo Stream, the landfill can continue to contribute to the cumulative pollution impact of Waimanalo Stream and Waimanalo Bay.

The Department of Health submitted a letter on June 7 supporting the military decision to leave the landfill based on "policy." Knowing that the state "policy" is partly based on money considerations and partly on secondary exposure, a reconsideration is in order.

There is no state money involved, and the continued cumulative pollution problem in Waimanalo outweighs any temporary exposure. It was, after all, Gary's department that designated Waimanalo Stream as the most polluted stream in the state.

Joe Ryan Jr.
Vice President, EnviroWatch

Property owners are cause of beach erosion

The Waikiki Beach Reclamation Agreement of 1928 gave property owners title to beach fronting their seawalls.

Pushing the shoreline seaward in Waikiki is not a new idea. It began back in the mid-1800s, and by 1928, the political powers at the time entered into the legal agreement. The objective was to protect private property owners from future problems for work they had already done. They had constructed seawalls to protect their property from erosion.

In many cases, sand beaches failed to develop in front of the walls. They wanted the government to create beaches and to maintain control over them.

The erosion claimed by property owners was due to their own mistakes. Originally, they had put their buildings too close to the water's edge. Most were built partly on the sand and many on the upper reaches of wave and tidal action, the vegetation line. Check this out by reviewing the historical pictures of Waikiki in "Waikiki Yester Year."

The 1928 agreement kept the title of sand beaches in the hands of the shoreline property owners. The only right given to the public was a 75-foot easement along the water's edge for passage and sunbathing. (A copy of the agreement is available from Sinclair Library, University of Hawai'i at Manoa.)

In order for the state to spend public money for beach sand replenishment in the area from Fort DeRussy to the Surfrider Hotel, the Waikiki Reclamation Agreement must be renegotiated and possibly title of the beach property, which is now claimed by private owners, should be transferred to the state.

Or, private property claimants should pay for sand replenishment, following a state plan that would be acceptable to all concerned.

George Downing
Spokesman, Save Our Surf

Sports achievements are worthy of pride

Regarding the July 20 letter on the excessive attention Saint Louis School athletics receives from the media: I was surprised to read that one of the school's own students was appalled at the fact.

It is true that Saint Louis is primarily judged on its athletics, but the fact is, people want to read about a school that excels in sports. Every school in the state should be recognized, but not every school in the state has a coach who has won consecutive football championships.

I was a part of the 'Aiea Girls Basketball Championship team and feel we deserve all the recognition we received. If you ask the majority of the students at our school, I'm sure they'll feel the same. It would be nice to be able to recognize everyone, but we still should have pride in our school and the accomplishments of its programs.

Keesha Aldridge

'Activists' concerned about us all

Regarding the July 19 letter to the editor from Adrian Silva Jr.: I, too, am a lifelong resident of the Wai'anae Coast and I resent Silva attempting to speak for me.

I am not a member of the group of so-called activists; however, I have taken the time to find out what Malama Makua's concern is about. I attended public meetings where both sides of the issue were discussed. In this way, I felt I could make my own intelligent choices. I'm afraid either Silva did not attend any meetings or he did not listen very well.

First, the group of so-called activists is not just concerned about the return of Makua Valley and the inappropriateness of training there. These people are concerned about the health and safety of all the citizens on the Leeward Coast. The group is demanding that an environmental impact statement be done. They are demanding that the military disclose what was disposed of in the valley.

This is a legitimate concern since the military is claiming it does not have accurate records. Could it be that radioactive material, polluted soil or hospital waste was dumped there? Could it be that something illegal was done there and this is why the military is fighting so hard against an EIS?

Second, Mr. Silva, please do not be so naive as to buy into statements issued by the military regarding the necessity of training in Makua and the decline in troop readiness. If the Army is so dogmatic that it cannot improvise and be flexible, how is it supposed to be protecting us? Or does the Army feel that every battleground it fights on will be designed to its specifications or be the "perfect" place to stage a battle?

Third, yes I do agree that the military has defended our freedom. However, Mr. Silva, do you feel that this gives it the right to tell us to submit to rape? Everyone should be held accountable for their actions, including the military. A rape is being committed on the land; shouldn't this concern everyone?

Fourth, our children do have a right to be protected. However, a bullet to the head is a lot faster death than cancer or leukemia. Wake up. Toxins in the water can kill just as surely as a bullet. If the price of freedom is poisoning our children in our own backyard, then the price is too high.

Last, the military "listened" at a public meeting to nearly 100 people demanding that an EIS be done. It told the people that an environmental assessment was done. Yes, it was done using a study that clearly stated the data was insufficient and incomplete to be used for environmental assessments. If this is how the military hears things, then it has bigger problems than lack of training.

Aly Adachi