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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2001

Letters to the Editor

Here's congressional vote on Patriot Act

You failed to report to the people of Hawai'i how our congressional delegation voted on the very important "Patriot Act."

The Patriot Act is the most sweeping change to our federal criminal justice statutes in the past 40 years. To say that this measure is not substantive, or worthy of coverage, is just plain irresponsible.

Quite simply, the Patriot Act provides for enhanced electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists. The Justice Department needed to be able to track all forms of electronic communications. This includes voice mail, e-mail, cell phones, pages and faxes. Without this legislation, terrorists are free to conduct their communications via cyber-cafes or even public libraries using multiple e-mail accounts. Not any more.

The bill also provided millions of dollars to fund the U.S. fight against terrorism and its ongoing investigations into the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks.

As a former Marine Corps officer and Gulf War veteran, I genuinely supported the Patriot Act; my position is the same as that of Sens. Inouye and Akaka. Neil Abercrombie did not vote. Patsy Mink voted no.

Rep. Bob McDermott
R-32nd ('Aiea, Salt Lake, Aliamanu)

Media making anthrax scare even worse

Mahalo for a whiff of common sense regarding the anthrax issue. It is high time the media stopped supporting terrorism by endlessly covering "suspected" incidents of "possible" anthrax in Hawai'i.

To date, there has not been one single anthrax spore located in our Islands. But we see daily reports, particularly by the local TV stations, of schools being emptied, hotels being scoured and other "flashy" photo-ops being paraded across our TV screens.

I have been a journalist for over 25 years in five countries and I am fully cognizant of editors pressuring writers to produce "sensational" reports. I have fought this trend for years — it's an international press problem. But responsible editors and producers should remember the age-old witch doctor formula for casting powerful black spells: "Make sure your victim knows he's being cursed." Then the victim's own paranoia will often do the trick without any supernatural intervention.

With every unsubstantiated report of a terrorist incident, we're feeding right into that timeless formula, psyching ourselves into varying states of terror. We're giving a free ride to terrorism.

Yesterday I realized I'd been victimized by our own media when I caught myself gingerly lifting my mail by my fingertips into the microwave.

Nikki Kalanimalie Ty-Tomkins

Two days of infamy mostly dissimilar

I see parallels being drawn between the attacks that took place on Dec. 7, 1941, and on Sept. 11, 2001.

On Dec. 7, a military force out in the open attacked a military target on its base, and it shouldn't even have been a surprise; a radar operator tracked it, but was ignored.

On Sept. 11, civilians operating undercover sabotaged nonmilitary buildings with the intent of killing as many civilians as possible.

Where is the similarity, the so-called parallel?

Ted Chernin

Auto dealership 'deals' help Mainland economy

Regarding Terry Wilson's Nov. 7 letter: Yes, there are some dealers who do not participate in "manufacturer financing." Instead, they choose to keep our money flowing locally through our banks here in Hawai'i.

The interest may be higher, but the money is keeping Hawai'i's economy going and not floating around Santa Ana, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, etc.

All manufacturer financing generates from the Mainland. So by focusing on dealerships that offer "deals," you're keeping the economy going elsewhere.

Cecilia Morris

Public school children will finally get to play

In the Nov. 5 Island Voices column, Richard Johnson commented on The Advertiser's articles about dismantled playgrounds in our public elementary schools. He correctly stated: "Our inactions are shameful indeed as we continue to let play experiences slip away from the lives of children."

The ball is in the Department of Education's court, while children resort to hula-hoops on empty playgrounds.

The Legislature has appropriated millions of dollars for playground equipment. Just 39 out of a total of 185 elementary schools will have jungle gyms and swings by December. The next group of 35 schools have to wait until the end of March.

Here is the timeline, as told to me by Raynor M. Minami, director of facilities and support services branch of the DOE:

  • Nov. 12: DOE advertises its request for proposals.
  • Dec. 12: Deadline for vendors to submit bids.
  • Dec. 22: DOE completes its evaluation of bids.
  • Jan. 9: DOE procurement office completes its review and issues notices of award.
  • Jan. 16: Vendors' deadline to provide proof of bond; procurement office issues notices to proceed.

Vendors may need up to nine weeks to ship playground equipment to Hawai'i.

Installation will take two to three days.

  • Mar. 25: If the DOE keeps to its timeline, children in at least 35 schools will have jungle gyms and swings.

Should this have been done faster? I think all parents and grandparents of children K-6 would say "yes."

Rep. Cynthia Thielen
Assistant Republican Floor Leader, 49th District (Kailua/Kane'ohe Bay Drive)

Airline passengers should be told of dengue risk

I have a friend who just got back from an environmental trip to Tahiti, which happens to be one of the hotspots for the dengue fever epidemic. He told me that neither the airlines, U.S Immigration, nor the state were doing anything to inform the passengers about the risk that they could be carrying the disease.

I was shocked to hear this and am becoming more and more concerned that a dengue epidemic is very likely here in Hawai'i. So why isn't the government doing anything to inform and educate the airline passengers about dengue?

This is totally irresponsible, and I think that we should demand that Gov. Cayetano and state Health Director Bruce Anderson start doing something about this.

Evette Shamon

Vacation disaster turned into nice time

I am a visitor to your beautiful island. I have been fortunate to experience O'ahu's natural beauty and aloha spirit.

Wednesday evening I lost my wallet in Hale'iwa. I discovered it was missing 45 minutes later. When I called to cancel my credit card, I was told it had already been canceled and I could pick up my wallet at the Coffee Gallery in Hale'iwa. We drove back to Hale'iwa and met Paina Robinson, the lovely person who found my wallet.

I was thrilled to be able to thank her in person. We met Renee, the owner of Coffee Gallery. A Latin music group was performing that evening. We had a wonderful time listening to the music and enjoying great food. A vacation disaster turned into a wonderful memory of the people of O'ahu.

Ronda Charbonneau
Jefferson City, Mo.

Think tank is needed to restore economy

Our over-dependence on the Legislature for good ideas isn't working. Legislators spend most of their time during their brief annual sessions submitting, debating and revising bills, passing laws and trying to best their political adversaries. They lack a competent source of workable ideas.

Hawai'i desperately needs very quickly to have a full-time group to think up, receive and promote workable ideas for economic vitality.

This should not be a state-run office, but a small, independent, distributed office think tank. The volunteers should be highly motivated creative thinkers (mostly working by computer networking out of their office or home) — all very capable researchers who can think out of the box.

Ex-state officials, big-time bureaucrats, those in or seeking government positions, lobbyists or those connected with the old-boy regime need not apply.

The think tank denizens' main job would be to develop new ideas and analyze economic policies to implement them. After carefully weighing the potential impact of each idea on our lives and the state's future, they would send the ideas and draft implementing policies to the state for consideration and timely approval.

The public also needs a responsive forum it can send ideas to and receive objective feedback from. We should not be limited to sending them to the governor's office, our representatives or one letter per month to a newspaper editor.

One of the first tasks Hawai'i's economic vitality group should undertake is to find decent, full-time jobs for the unemployed, underemployed and soon-to-be jobless workers. Perhaps a modern form of the CCC or WPA could help with this, by providing more free day care centers or nonprofit construction work at schools by competent local contractors without workers having to pay union fees or receive union approval.

However important these issues are, this group should avoid getting mired down in such problems as airport security, dengue fever, the anthrax scare or tourism. Instead, they should fix their sights on finding new ways to create more jobs and improve Hawai'i's economy as fast as possible. Those who offer the group ideas that are actually used should receive recognition and a tangible reward, perhaps a medal, plaque or certificate signed by the governor.

Ed Cesar

Anti-gambling tirades are a farce

I can always count on The Advertiser to alert me when a session of the Legislature is about to begin. That would be when your editorial board launches one of its anti-gambling tirades. The latest, on Nov. 6, uses the tried and true tactics of trying to make your readers believe that legalized gambling in Hawai'i would:

  • Make Kalakaua Avenue look like the Las Vegas Strip.
  • Be a zero-sum game (the jobs, taxes and tourist dollars would have been generated here anyway).
  • Squander our hard-earned money on this despicable vice.

The first argument works pretty well here because the only experience that most Hawai'i people have with gambling is Las Vegas. Aside from the fact that there have been sign ordinances in place for decades that would prevent this type of visual pollution, anyone who has traveled to the better gambling centers in the Caribbean islands has seen how attractive, tasteful and low-key this activity can be. Typically, the design criteria is very conservative: No outdoor advertising or gaudy signs are allowed, and strict closing hours are enforced.

The second argument is ridiculous on its face. I suppose The Advertiser would have us believe that Nevada is the fastest-growing economy in the U.S. because gambling is a zero-sum game. (It must be the sand mining in the desert that makes Nevada so prosperous.) Hawai'i would be even more desirable with a well-planned and carefully developed gambling industry precisely because there are so many more activities of interest here to draw the visitor than the typical Mainland gambling venue can offer.

As for the third argument, if legislators really feel the need to protect us from ourselves, let them enact a 100 percent state income tax on gambling winnings for Hawai'i residents. This would not only dissuade us from frittering away the grocery money in local casinos but it would snare the thousands of residents who export over $500 million of our hard-earned dollars each year to the state of Nevada.

It is interesting to note that your editorial has the temerity to even question "if we are in a serious economic slump." Maybe you would like to ask the 400 of my colleagues who have lost their jobs recently "if we are in a serious economic slump." The nonsense exhibited by The Advertiser only serves to compound and perpetuate the general state of denial that exists among Hawai'i's business and political leaders.

J.M. Schmidt