Letters to the Editor
Teacher's lament ignored school reality
Teachers like Walt Novak ("What a wonderful strike it was," May 15) do a great disservice to their profession and our children.
In his Island Voices commentary, Novak indulges in more than 700 words of self-obsessed adolescent wallowing; not a single word is dedicated to exploring issues surrounding education.
In his final analysis, the teacher strike turned out to be an enthralling event that, as he insists three times, made his students "love him." Novak says he misread the governor when he "figured that if we teachers crippled the public schools for just one day, Gov. Ben Cayetano would strew rose petals before us, chant Ali Baba and give us what we demanded." He says he's convinced that "teachers hate Ben" because "he hates us."
A governor who, according to the teacher union's own most current data, raised teacher salaries from 24th in the nation, then to 18th, now to among the top 10 this is "hate"? On what other Hawai'i governor's watch were such significant increases granted? This kind of vilification for an administration that has responded to school over-crowding concerns by building more new classrooms than at any period in Hawai'i history?
It seems the real rub among some has been Gov. Cayetano's push to introduce accountability and compensation-based professional development in order to improve student learning.
It's time for those who truly care about education to take a serious review of the record and get back to engaging in meaningful discussions to improve the system.
Director of Communications, Office of the Governor
Special funds are in danger of raids
I'm writing to set the record straight regarding Gerald Peters' May 11 letter on the legislative bills that would have raided the Hawaiian Hurricane Relief Fund.
I stand by what I said in my May 4 letter. For the sake of brevity, my previous letter did not go into the differences between the two bills in question, SB838 and HB1156, but both bills would indeed have raided the fund for purposes unrelated to the sole purpose for which the fund was set up hurricane insurance. Spending the money on anything else is raiding the fund, whether it is for scholarships, civil defense or wind mitigation devices.
But my quarrel is not really with Peters. The wind mitigation devices his company sells are practical, worthwhile devices that may prevent people from losing their homes when the next big hurricane hits. In fact, I would have voted yes on a bill subsidizing those devices through the general fund.
The problem is that Peters was a pawn in a much larger game. The game is setting up special funds and then raiding them.
Essentially, the Hurricane Relief Fund is a giant special fund, waiting to be raided. My research has shown that an amount limited to between $50 million and $100 million is needed to jumpstart the fund in case a major hurricane hits. Any amount above that is not necessary, and should be refunded to property owners who paid into the fund. Otherwise, that extra money will tempt every future Legislature.
My point is simple: In no case should the fund be raided.
Sen. Bob Hogue
Republican, 24th District
Court didn't throw out 'medical marijuana' law
The opening sentence of your May 15 editorial on the Supreme Court ruling on medical marijuana is misleading, thereby adding to the confusion surrounding this widely publicized decision.
The court's decision did not "throw out California's 'medical marijuana' law ... " as claimed. Nor did the decision have any impact on Hawai'i's law.
The decision focused on a very specific question: Could the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative use the medical defense to justify distribution of medical marijuana to patients? The answer was clearly no. By extension, the court's negative decision would apply to other persons or organizations that distribute cannabis to patients ... or anyone else.
Hawai'i's law does not permit distribution. Each of Hawai'i's 187 registered patients, at most recent count, or the patient's caregiver, is authorized to grow his or her own in specified amounts.
While marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, the risk of prosecution for medical use is statistically very slight. Throughout the nation, federal authorities make less than 1 percent of marijuana arrests; state and local police account for the other 99 percent.
Are the feds likely to ratchet up their war on medical marijuana users? I hardly think so. Since nearly 80 percent of voters support the use of marijuana as medicine, prosecutors would have a hard time finding a jury willing to convict.
Donald M. Topping
President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i
Many innocent people are being killed on roads
Our class wants to stop drunk drivers from killing people. We want to say, "If you drink, don't drive. If you drive, don't drink."
Many, many innocent people have been killed by drunken drivers.
To all drivers: Think before you drive drunk.
Mrs. Stern's Reading Group
Hau'ula Elementary School
DOE should become separated from state
Based on Paul LeMahieu's excellent talk at the Arcadia Retirement Residence on May 4, my resulting perceptions are listed:
Make the Department of Education a separate entity from state government.
With its own revenue-raising means, the new education entity would finally have the authority to accomplish its mission. This would correct a major handicap of the DOE.
The staff of this new education entity should not be unionized. This would avoid present labor vs. management conflicts and hopefully enable problems to be addressed as "ours" rather than "my interests against yours."
This should be part of the next Constitutional Convention to effect needed fundamental changes to optimize our education effort.
Provide special education via a different structure.
Rather than saddle the DOE with the sole responsibility, take a team approach, with all of the appropriate agencies participating as a joint effort.
Those agencies other than the DOE (or its new entity) should then be required to provide their own staff and funding to assure full compliance with the Felix decree. This should then free the teachers to teach academics, their basic mission.
Drivers are required to signal beforehand
Some of the most irksome drivers are those who wait until the traffic light turns green before signaling for a turn.
The traffic rule states: The turn signal shall be activated 100 feet prior to turning.
I have yet to see a violator cited. Is it because some of our finest HPD patrol cars are guilty of this violation?
Why not reinstate the written test with one of the questions being on traffic lights and signaling?
William T. Takabayashi
Police Department was well prepared for ADB
Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.
That's exactly what our great Police Department did under the leadership of Police Chief Lee Donohue for last week's meeting of the Asian Development Bank.
This philosophy, I am sure, was why we had no problems. I know when the protesters realized how well prepared the city was, they toned down their attitude.
So thank you to the department and all others involved for the money well spent. Good job, well done. I for one am very proud of our excellent Honolulu Police Department.
Championship dreams crashed with Jones
I agree with the May 11 letter from Serene Goodpaster on Coach June Jones. The message I got from him was to live a hard-and-fast life.
I thought he was our savior. Instead, he has an ego like the rest of us mortals.
Perhaps it's all for the better. Now we need not expect another championship.
Congress must close cockfighting loophole
Due to public outrage over the cruelty of animal fighting, cockfighting has been banned in 47 states. Unfortunately, a loophole exists in the Animal Welfare Act that allows interstate transport of fighting roosters.
Congress now has an opportunity to pass federal legislation that would close this loophole, and I urge it to do so.
Cockfighting is the cruel and inhumane practice in which two or more specifically bred roosters are placed in a pit to fight. Cockfighters pump roosters full of stimulants, affix sharp knives to the birds' legs and force them to fight to the death. Unable to escape the fight, no matter how injured or exhausted the birds are, they suffer grievous injuries such as punctured lungs and gouged eyes.
In addition, law enforcement officials nationwide have documented the strong connection between cockfighting and gambling, illegal drugs and firearms. Especially disturbing is the fact that children are brought to these events, which promote the insensitivity to animal suffering, an enthusiasm for violence and lack of respect for the law.
The loophole in the Animal Welfare Act undermines the ability of state and local law officials to enforce their state bans. Thus, numerous law-enforcement organizations support closing the loophole, as does the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It is time to stop cockfighters from eluding prosecution in states where the practice is illegal because they claim they are raising fighting birds for shipment to states where it is still legal. It is time for Congress to close this loophole in the Animal Welfare Act.
Communications Director, Farm Animal Reform Movement
UH students were never at risk
There have been several comments regarding the use of UH students in a security capacity at the Asian Development Bank conference. Royal Guard Security is a strong supporter of the UH athletic department and has used UH students for many years as part-time employees.
Apparently the news media found an interesting angle and overplayed the role of the UH students, many of whom are members of the football team. These students were not hired because they were football players, but rather as an opportunity for students to make some extra money before the end of school to meet travel expenses, etc.
With intelligence reports indicating the possibility of violent demonstrators and protesters, the safety of the Royal Guard Security personnel was foremost in our minds. Extensive meetings and planning sessions were held with key city, state and federal agencies, all addressing the possibility of violence and the proper response to address any outbreak. The rights of everyone were considered, and agreement was reached on the proper response to every conceivable possibility.
Each student had to go through at least 16 hours of special training provided by the Department of Public Safety, the attorney general's office, HPD, federal agencies and Royal Guard Security. In addition, they attended sessions on cultural sensitivity and protocol with foreign dignitaries.
It was agreed that supervisors would respond to any threats or acts of violence. Predetermined response by the appropriate law enforcement agency or units was in place to address any need of support.
Our employees, which included UH students, were in a role of "ambassadors of aloha" and attired in uniforms to amplify that theme. They displayed restraint, maturity, discipline and a good-natured attitude toward their roles and responsibilities.
All company officers assigned to the ADB conference performed in an outstanding manner. The students in particular truly displayed the spirit of aloha. The aloha came from the heart and not from a textbook.
C.E. Rags Scanlan
President and CEO, Royal Guard Security