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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 4, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Blame state skimming for fund performance

In your May 27 article "Retirement plans take hit," it was reported that the Employees Retirement System pension fund plummeted by $1.2 billion over the past nine months, suffering losses in the stock market. It doesn't take an economics genius to figure that the ERS could weather economic hard times had politicians, prior to 1997, not balanced the state's budget by skimming $1.3 billion from ERS investments.

In 1997, politicians promised to halt the skimming, only to return in 1999 with Act 100, allowing the skimming to continue one more time, further weakening the ERS.

The weakening effects were felt last year by retirees when Gov. Cayetano eliminated their five-year pension adjustment. This year, claiming that changes were needed to continue funding healthcare, politicians passed the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund bill to balance the state budget. This may cause retirees to increase their co-pay or have to accept less medical coverage.

2002 is an election year. Those reported "90,000 members, including 29,000 retirees," and their families should remember those 13 senators and 38 representatives who chose to continue to balance the budget on the backs of retirees, and have them "take a hit."

Earl Arakaki
'Ewa Beach

Irwin Park must not become a garage

I agree with your editorial comments on the need to find an alternative parking solution for the Aloha Tower area. Almost anything would be better than building a garage where Irwin Park now stands.

Irwin Park is an integral feature of Honolulu's urban landscape. It is one of the few green sections of urban Honolulu, an anchor of Bishop Street to the harbor, and one link in the ever-more-beautified Nimitz, Ala Moana, Kalakaua stretch from the airport to Waikiki.

Further, a parking garage would wall in and vastly reduce the experience for tourists (actually, everybody) at Aloha Tower, just when it is starting to walk on its own and draw a crowd.

The planners need to find a different solution.

James W. Frolich

Now it's my turn to play in the NBA

As an infant, I contracted polio. It left me with limited use of my legs. After years of therapy and numerous surgical procedures, my ability to walk was restored. My growth has been stunted and mobility is impaired, but .... I want to play in the NBA.

I figure that fitted with the right prosthetic (a cherry picker pickup truck) that can compensate for my lost height and mobility, I would be NBA material.

Although my mental faculties are intact (well, maybe) and I've got a good job and family, athletic competition is what I crave. Why shouldn't I have the same opportunity to perform (with a little help from my friends at Ford) at the highest levels in sports?

O. Butch Groves

Commentary on spy plane incident bizarre

David Polhemus' writing in his "U.S. is still mishandling plane incident" (May 29) is rather unbalanced.

He worries considerably about Chinese feelings being bruised, but gives very little consideration to the U.S. citizens whose lives were recklessly endangered in a clear violation of international law.

Speaking as the commanding officer of a Marine fighter squadron whose pilots perform with discipline and professionalism, I feel he should grasp that few of those who defend him share his bizarre opinion that we owe the Chinese gratitude for their unrequested hospitality.

Lt. Col. D.H. "Cow" Gurney
Marine Attack Squadron 513, "The Flying Nightmares"

Several administer health scholarships

We want to commend Bev Creamer for her recent article on the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program.

Her article captures just how important this program has been not only in terms of training this generation of health professionals for Hawai'i's communities, but also in terms of enhancing and uplifting the lives of many in the program.

In the 10-year history of the program, over 100 individuals have either passed through the program and are providing service in their respective communities or are still in some form of training.

The one omission in the story was any reference to the agencies administering the program. Since its inception in 1991, Kamehameha Schools has administered the application and administrative part of the program. This is because of the school's impressive graduate financial aids program, which assists both Kamehameha School graduates and those who are nongraduates, and its interest in post-secondary school education.

It may be of interest to note that most of the Native Hawaiian health scholars are not Kamehameha School graduates and come from public high schools. Final applicants are selected for the program by the Bureau of Primary Health Care.

Once schooling has been completed, scholars are required to pay back the program through a service commitment to Native Hawaiians and to the Hawai'i community. This aspect of the program is administered by the Hawai'i State Primary Care Association.

Hardy Spoehr
Executive director, Papa Ola Lokahi

Prosecutor forgets pertinent gun stats

I find it odd that city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle will only give one reason for the lower murder rates, which for him is gun laws.

He forgets that none of the gun laws that were proposed in 2000 have passed.

He forgets that after more gun laws were passed here in 1992, crime went up.

He forgets that people have used guns in self-defense.

He forgets that there is less of a gang problem in Kalihi than there used to be (which gun laws didn't affect one bit).

He forgets that one of the reasons Hawai'i has less crime than on the Mainland is that there is less ethnic tension here.

He forgets that Vermont has one of the most lenient gun laws, yet also has low crime rates.

He forgets that Switzerland has more guns per capita than the United States, yet has a very low crime rate.

He forgets that after passing gun laws, Australia and the United Kingdom have had higher crime rates.

Gun laws have put criminals at an advantage, since criminals get their weapons no matter what, while gun laws make law-abiding citizens defenseless. But that's not important to Peter Carlisle; the only important thing for Carlisle is more power and more people in jail.

Pablo Wegesend

Homophobia violates the meaning of aloha

The Memorial Day attack on Martin Rice and his fellow gay campers at Polihale State Beach is not surprising. Homophobia is alive and well in the Aloha State.

Gov. Cayetano has stated that "we don't have that problem in this state, yet," referring to hate crimes against gay and lesbian people.

I see and hear antigay discrimination every week. It takes the form of the homophobic joke (always about gay men, since lesbians, as women, are seen as unimportant). It takes the form of the smirk or snide remark when two gay men enter a restaurant. It takes the form of in-your-face bigotry, promoted by professional homophobes. It takes the form of insulting remarks like "fag" and "fairy" focused at gay elementary and high school students.

As long as our homophobic citizens insist on nurturing their sickness, we will never realize the meaning of aloha.

Paul Weidig

Hate crime a fallout from religious rhetoric

Yes, we have finally had a "hate crime" in Hawai'i.

As a Mainland haole who has lived in Hawai'i for over 30 years, I and my family have greatly benefited from living in a diverse community rooted in Hawaiian values, as well as those of many other cultures. My children grew up in a multiethnic society, which continues to show the rest of our country that different people can live together with aloha, tolerance and respect and that we can build upon our differences to benefit our communities.

Recently, there was an issue that divided our community: same-sex marriage. While each of us is entitled to our own opinions, beliefs and values and to express those with our vote, there was a message from the religious right that violated the values of tolerance, respect for diversity and the aloha spirit. This agenda attempted to link same-sex marriage with God's will for the family and the "right" way to think, feel and vote.

Rhetoric was inflammatory and thinly concealed a message of intolerance. The message of "hate" was subtle but clear and continued during the campaign for the Board of Education.

History over the centuries has shown us many examples of nations, peoples and even churches that have perpetuated crimes against humanity based on "right" thinking. And for some individuals, it is a short step from the subtle messages of intolerance and "hate" to violent behavior.

Our community cannot accept nor condone messages of intolerance toward any group of people. The costs are too great.

Barbara P. Mathews

Manoa Longs worker came to my rescue

Last week, I stopped at Longs Drug Store at Manoa Marketplace about 11 a.m. When I returned home and unloaded my purchases, I could not find my purse.

I called the store and talked to a clerk, who advised me I had not left my purse on the counter but asked me to hold the line while she checked with the general manager. When she came back on the line, she told me he had the purse in the manager's office and it was turned in by one of the Longs employees, who found it in the parking lot.

When I picked up my purse, I asked for the employee's name, which was Bert. When I asked what I could do for Bert, the manager said it was not necessary and their employees do not accept gifts of this kind.

So I would appreciate it if you would publish my letter in hopes that Bert and others might see it. I want him to know how very much I appreciate him and others like him who really have the aloha spirit and do such nice things for people they do not know.

Mrs. Robert H. Rotz

Store-closing story sparked memories

On behalf of the Murata family, we feel that, like anyone else in business, we understand an "honest mistake" ("Misspellings fell through the cracks," May 27). We feel that a misspelling in no way comes close to the effect the publishing of the story on the store closing had on our family, other families that grew up in 'Ewa and our regular customers.

First of all, it took someone "very local" to even recognize and appreciate the story of a rather typical small business, labored over for three generations, finally closing its doors. It represents so many people's stories in Hawai'i. We found James Gonser to be a thoroughly professional reporter with keen observations and a warm way of drawing the story out of people who didn't even know they had a story.

What that story did do was to start people talking and remembering and asking parents and grandparents about their lives on the plantation. It happened within our own family, and we heard from many friends and neighbors who have long since moved away. In the last days of the store's operation, people from all over the island came to see the store one last time. They would tell us stories of families our grandparents helped that we had never heard before.

They thanked us for setting up a "credit system," which was unheard of at that time. It allowed plantation workers to have wedding receptions (home-cooked, of course) and pay for it over many months, sometimes years. Or just being helped out during "bad times," with illness or deaths. So many stories of hardships and difficult times, and they all seemed to start with "Our mother would always tell us about the time ... "

There were a lot of funny stories, and probably because of the "Pearl Harbor" movie, a lot of war stories. We found out that a few community programs and other small businesses were started by the store for neighbors and friends.

No one spent a lot of time talking about the "typo."

We would like to thank The Honolulu Advertiser for sharing our story. We are very proud and thankful for the accomplishments of Katsuhei and Tetsu Murata and all of the pioneers of their generation for starting their business in Hawai'i and giving us the sense of community that we call "local."

Wally Murata
Hon Shokai, Ltd.