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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 11, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Armistice Day needed now more than ever

Long before Nov. 11 became Veterans Day, it was celebrated as Armistice Day — the day the horror of World War I was finally over. I am proud to have been born on that day.

Last year, to honor the symbol of peace returning at the end of World War II, I donated my art studio and gallery to the Battleship Missouri, where it has become one of their pier offices.

In 1954, President Eisenhower renamed Armistice Day as Veterans Day, when we honor those who fought our wars. We could do that on any day in the year. In 1968, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October, but moved back to Nov. 11 in 1978. But there is only one true Armistice Day in the year.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, peace returned to the Earth. Remembering that can make you wonder how many times since then some country, people, gender, religion, ethnicity or tribe has felt that same wonderful sense of release from fear.

Some wars may be necessary, but even as they are being fought, we must recognize the goal of ending all war. We need an Armistice Day, now more than ever.

Penny Kaiman-Rayner

State must be more serious about dengue

I am writing this letter in the hope that the governor, the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health will start taking the spread of dengue fever more seriously.

This is a very serious disease that, I can assure you, no one wants to get. I have a friend who had dengue, and she told me it was the scariest and most painful experience of her life.

It has been suggested that the disease was brought to our state by a hula halau returning from Tahiti. But nobody is really sure why it keeps popping up all over the different islands.

It seems to me that the DOH should be doing something to find out where the disease is coming from. It also should be making sure that the disease does not continue to spread.

Chris Connoley

We could bail out tourism by smoking

I was thinking about the logic behind not eliminating smoking from restaurants for fear of losing smoking visitors. In doing so, I came up with a bold new way to increase tourism: Why not ask all Hawai'i residents to forego clean air, health statistics and personal culture for a bit and take up smoking, each and every one of us?

We should be encouraged to leave remnant butts on the beach, at scenic lookouts and on our golf course greens. This would surely make our smoking visitors feel very much at home here in Hawai'i, and they might just flock here in greater numbers.

My tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.

John F. McGrady

Many are to blame for schools' mediocrity

Hawai'i public-school children are not getting a first-class education because:

  • The responsibility for improving Hawai'i's public school is split among the DOE, BOE, Legislature and governor.
  • All four have little or no interest in improving public schools because they are part of the Hawai'i political and social elite who send their children to private schools.
  • Every two to fours years, parents elect the same individuals, hoping these individuals will solve their biggest problem, which is poor public education, not knowing that these individuals are the cause of their problem.
  • Money for educating public-school children is wasted. The cost of educating a child at Punahou or Iolani is no more than that of the average public school. However, money for classrooms and teachers is wasted on staff personnel and bureaucracy. Only a fraction of the $1 billion education budget trickles down to services and facilities that benefit the children, such as higher salaries for teachers, air-conditioned classrooms, smaller class sizes, better school facilities and more books, school supplies and equipment.

Paul J. Watson

Ehime Maru memorial wouldn't be appropriate

The accidental sinking of the Ehime Maru and the loss of life for the students and crew members were indeed tragic. However, it is time we let go of that event and moved on to deal with current events.

I do not think it is appropriate to put up a memorial in Hawai'i to mark this accident any more than it would be appropriate to put up a memorial every time there is a multi-death car accident on any of our roadways.

If the Uwajima Fisheries High School wishes to erect a memorial, it would be appropriate to do so on its school grounds. Our city and state legislators need to be more diligent in overseeing approval of any memorial.

While I think the Shinto gate that was erected in Mo'ili'ili is a very attractive memorial, I think the city slam-dunked approval for this project. We will now have to face the cost of defending that decision in light of the legitimate objections raised by that Separation of State and Church group.

Somebody needs to be thinking these projects through before giving approval.

John P. O'Neill

The time is right: Bring in gambling

As well as that "other tourist place" (Las Vegas) is doing, and as bad as we here in Hawai'i are doing, I think the time is very right to drop-kick the economy.

Bring in the casinos. We need real jobs, with real chances to make a living. The time is right. We need this. That is the only thing Las Vegas has that our industry doesn't have, and see how well it is doing. Time for a change.

What we have is just not good enough by itself any more. We need to be able to offer more. In a near-perfect world, what we could have offered would have been enough to keep our industry going. But as we are experiencing, it "just isn't enough" — we need to offer more.

A. Matsumoto

I'm doing my part by drinking

Hawaiian Tourists and residents are being told to "Buy Hawaiian."

But most of what we find here has a label that says "Made in China" — or Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia or a Latin American country.

One of the few things I can buy that is made in Hawai'i is a drink from the local bar. At least the ice is not imported. I'm doing my part.

Humble Blackie Gadarian

Special legislative session did meet 'our challenge'

The Advertiser's editorial on the special session ("Special session failed to grasp our challenge," Nov. 4) took a puzzling tack — criticizing the Legislature for falling short of its potential, yet giving us polite applause for the positive steps we took to halt the economy's sharp downturn.

In any case, you are particularly disappointed that we didn't approve a bulletproof economic stimulus program — and in only two weeks' time, no less.

I believe the Legislature acted decisively and successfully to provide immediate economic relief to our tourism industry and its employees. Many people may consider them to be small steps, but these steps will enable us to meet the needs of those most affected by the sudden downturn in tourism, while we await firmer economic projections and plan accordingly. In other words, we set the stage for more far-reaching, thoughtful and, yes, even provocative proposals during the regular session that begins in just a few short weeks.

You would have us approve the governor's ambitious $1 billion construction proposal. Yet you fail to mention that the governor already has nearly $500 million in construction money available immediately. With the additional $150 million we approved for the University of Hawai'i medical school and biotechnology center, cash for construction will far exceed the state government's capacity to spend it. If needed, the Legislature can approve more construction spending during our 2002 session that would be available well before these existing appropriations can be spent.

The Legislature's actions during the special session were also constrained by great uncertainty:

  • The absence of data on the directions of our economy and tax collections.
  • The cost of additional borrowing for construction on our debt payments, which is already just short of the $500 million-a-year mark.
  • The necessity for more spending to accommodate the growing numbers of unemployed and needy.
  • The ultimate cost of the package we did eventually approve.

Some of the bills we approved contained expiration clauses in case we develop more effective proposals in the future. If the measures we passed prove effective, then it would be a simple task to extend them. To suggest that the Legislature is proposing temporary solutions to seemingly temporary problems misreads our intentions.

The Legislature could have panicked and prematurely approved hundreds of millions in new spending to bankroll every proposal under the sun. But I believe we took a responsible course that will give us room to breathe while we gather economic data, craft new proposals in an open forum and assess our needs within the context of a much-changed economic environment.

The Legislature and governor demonstrated a commendable unity of purpose and spirit of bipartisanship to help our economy, and I expect much more to come when we convene in January.

Robert Bunda
Senate president