Letters to the Editor
Jones Act protects workers, industry
I am an officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine, and I'm offended and angered by the comments from C. Pardee Erdman's Nov. 22 letter concerning the Jones Act.
U.S. maritime companies are competing worldwide with foreign companies. These foreign companies are given subsidies from their governments for building their vessels. They hire their employees from Third World countries.
If these foreign companies are allowed to come to Hawai'i and the West Coast, Erdman's out-of-pocket expense would definitely go down, but every merchant mariner and office employee who worked for Matson and every other U.S. maritime company would be out of a job.
Can you imagine foreign ships carrying cargo between U.S. ports or trading at ports up the Mississippi River?
These companies would not pay any U.S. taxes, would not hire U.S. workers, and would be sailing on our waterways and harbors with very little concern for safety and pollution.
We will see in the near future how many Hawai'i residents will be hired on the foreign-based cruise ships here in Hawai'i.
Mr. Erdman, would you work for $300 per month? That might cover your fuel surcharge.
Allen Curtis Jr.
Science education needs higher priority
Having taught science both on Maui and on the Mainland, I was not surprised that Hawai'i's fourth- and eighth-graders performed last in the United States on a nationwide science test.
Hawai'i is a worldwide center for astronomy, geology, marine biology and ecology. Astronomy alone represents a $100 million industry for the state, so Hawai'i's children could have a very promising future in science. Yet they are largely unaware that the opportunity exists.
Despite the fact that Maui is home to one of the world's premier solar observatories, my eighth-graders did not believe that there were people who spent their professional lives studying the sun.
We could blame the Department of Education for failing to educate Hawai'i's children, but we all need to work together to improve the situation. Hawai'i's scientific community needs to pay greater attention to community outreach and education. The media, including The Advertiser, should give more coverage to science in the state.
And all of us can make efforts to educate ourselves and our children about the fascinating world of science.
Public education here continues downslide
The situation under which public education in Hawai'i labors is bad and does not look good for the future. Consequently, two close special-education-licensed teacher colleagues plan to be in Alaska teaching this time next year. They want to go because of a combination of malaise and current salary.
Test scores go down. Teachers are expected to work miracles with children from home environments that don't support learning, which shows on tests.
Will anyone be looking at the large number of people who are not teaching in the Department of Education now that we have to cut even more dollars from education for the governor's plan? What will happen to these people in the unlikely event that their jobs are cut? Many are former teachers.
Meanwhile, teachers in Hawai'i who can will leave to teach on the Mainland. Some will return years from now on a more secure financial footing. That's how it is in Hawai'i public education.
Kama'aina rates should be for all
This past October, we enjoyed a two-week vacation on the Big Island and in Waikiki. This was our seventh visit to your beautiful state, and it was predictably enjoyable.
However, we were disappointed to see the numerous advertised special offers on hotel stays and airline tickets available only to kama'aina. As Northern Californians, or more appropriately, as citizens of the United States, we were saddened to be excluded. Would a Hawai'i resident sense discrimination if California hotels and airlines offered lower rates only to California residents? I suspect the answer is "yes."
As demonstrated by the display of patriotism exhibited by thousands of U.S. flags flying in your state, this is a time of increased feelings of unity among all Americans. Is it not also the time to change the "local" rates to American rates? Offering lower prices to only locals implies that other U.S. tourists are less deserving of a bargain. It is a contradiction to the unity we must seek to maintain.
Confirm that these slogans displayed on numerous T-shirts and signs in your shops and businesses are sincere: "Together We Stand," "United We Stand," "God Bless America," "One Nation, One Voice, One Spirit!"
Mr. and Mrs. R. Elsemore
Work at Hilo airport being done during day
I am writing in response to the Nov. 18 article by Hugh Clark, "Hilo airport annoys residents."
He writes, "Work on the main runway is being done at night so it can be used during the day." The Hawai'i Department of Transportation has not done nighttime runway repaving work since mid-August, when the working hours were changed to eliminate the nighttime noise problems. The paving work was rescheduled for daytime hours, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The working hours have since been changed, and new working hours of 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. are now in place to accommodate planes that are transporting cargo and need to use the longer Runway 8-26 for landing.
The project has also been delayed not only due to rain, but also because of the Sept. 11 attacks, the subsequent security restrictions and equipment breakdown.
Lastly, the meeting at Keaukaha Elementary School is not the issue of the short runway, but about the environmental assessment to address construction of an earthen berm and sound attenuation of residences in the Keaukaha area.
State director of transportation
Let's liberate palace from the activists
A small group of ethnic nationalist Hawaiian independence activists have hijacked 'Iolani Palace.
They imagine it as their capitol of a still-living Kingdom of Hawai'i. They have controlled our publicly owned museum for years. Many tour guides, and an inflammatory film shown in the barracks, make statements that are false but part of the constant drumbeat of sovereignty activist mythology.
The activists said they felt "hurt" when our American flag was raised. But we all are hurt when 'Iolani operates as an anti-American propaganda factory and cult headquarters. Not flying our Star Spangled Banner there gives aid and comfort to radicals who see the U.S. as a hostile foreign occupying power in Hawai'i. Every expression of their anger or "hurt" is another reason why the Flag of Freedom must fly there, to show we are all Americans and will remain so.
Let's all wear or display U.S. flags whenever we visit this museum or have a picnic on its lovely grounds. Let's replace the sovereignty activists on the board of directors with historians, scholars and managerial experts. Let's liberate and demystify 'Iolani.
For further information about the Hawaiian sovereignty issue, please see http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/
Judicial system supports offender, ignores victim
It seems too easy to forget the heinous crime committed against a 7-year-old New Jersey girl named Megan.
The action of the Hawai'i Supreme Court to strike down the state's sex-offender registration law as unconstitutional exemplifies the view, held by the majority of the public in my opinion, that our judicial system supports the offender and ignores the victim.
Somewhere along the line there has to be a much improved balance between interpretation of the law and common sense. The public deserves equal protection under the law, the same as the wrongdoer.
Sex registration law deserved its fate
Finally, the Hawai'i Supreme Court ruled with some common sense regarding the flawed sex registration law.
Its ruling would eliminate the worst segments, taking out some of the misdirected emotion and most prejudicial parts. It is amazing and shocking a law of this type would last this long without challenge.
To include persons convicted of even minor offenses, crimes included before passage and with no statute of limitations is clearly prejudicial and enacts perpetual punishment on all offenders regardless of the gravity of their crime.
Those who are redeemable and correctable should be distinguished from those who are not. Any future version should only address those who are incorrigible or uncorrectable.
Stadium management now allows megaphone
My son and I read with interest and bemusement the Nov. 23 letter from M. Silva about his experience over his UH plastic megaphone at the stadium.
During the San Jose State game, we also purchased a green UH megaphone from a vendor's booth at the stadium. When we tried to enter the Boise State game, we were told that the megaphone was not allowed inside the stadium.
Fortunately, the gate attendant empathized with my son's disappointment when I disgustedly told my son to just throw the megaphone away. The attendant "suggested" that if we hide the megaphone under our jacket, he would be unable to see it. Needless to say, my son had a great time at the game, due in part to his being able to cheer through his megaphone.
Here's the kicker: When we entered for the Miami (Ohio) game, we pointed out to the same attendant that we had left the offending megaphone at home, only to be told that it was now OK to bring it into the game.
Lucky we live Hawai'i, despite the efforts of the stadium management to quell our enthusiasm for our Rainbow Warriors.
Recovery operation done superbly
From my backyard, I watched the Monday recovery of the fallen hiker's body from the mountains behind Ka'a'awa. I used a 20-power surveyor's transit (I was a reconnaissance surveyor in another life), which gave a close-up view of the entire operation.
Seven fire and rescue men were gathered on the narrow ridge trail just below the summit of the hidden valley trail across from Swanzy Beach Park at around 8 a.m. The elevation at the top is about 1,100 feet. Two small helicopters were buzzing around the summit and the almost sheer drop below it.
One of the men on the ridge tied himself to the end of a rope and was lowered at least 200 feet down the gray rock face by his colleagues. As he was being lowered, he worked his way across the face of the cliff to a brushy ledge high above the valley floor. Once there, he unwrapped what appeared to be an orange body bag that he had in his pack and began wrapping the hiker in it.
Two other men rappelled down the rope and helped with the preparations. After a short wait, a larger fire and rescue helicopter arrived, dangling a long rope with a hook at the end. The chopper eased up next to the cliff until the hook hung directly above the waiting rescuers.
It was amazing how steady the hook remained and how easily they seemed able to reach up and grasp it. The body was lifted from the ledge, and, dangling from the helicopter's rope, was flown out over the ocean and then landed at Swanzy Beach Park.
There were numerous police and fire vehicles and a tanker truck to refuel the choppers parked along Kamehameha Highway next to the park. The chopper then flew back to the ledge and picked up two of the rescuers at once at the end of the rope and flew them to Swanzy. He returned again to pick up the final rescuer on the ledge and land him at the park.
The other four firefighters who had remained high on the ridge retrieved the rope, coiled and packed it, and climbed the steep, narrow trail to the summit. The chopper made three more trips to collect the four men and their gear. The pilot couldn't land on the summit but had to remain just above the peak while the men climbed onto the helicopter skid and into the open door of the hovering chopper.
I spent some time in the Army working out of small helicopters and years in Alaska where we used choppers for remote reconnaissance surveys in mountainous country. This was as professional a job as I have ever seen. These men performed calmly and competently in the face of high danger.
Had the hiker been still alive, they would have saved his life. Even then, they all risked their lives to recover his body.