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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 11, 2001

Letters to the Editor

It's not only Waikiki that needs assistance

One must applaud the efforts of the companies pushing this $100 bonus they are giving employees to boost sales in Waikiki. It's a nice gesture to remind us that we need to support local businesses.

However, Hawai'i is beyond just Waikiki. It is almost as one-sided as the journalist from the Tri-City Herald who wrote as if Waikiki is all of Hawai'i. Businesses are struggling all across the state.

So we infuse money into Waikiki — what about every other business that is not in Waikiki? Waikiki is not the only tourist destination either.

Granted this was started by the private sector, but maybe the state should step in and repeal the 4 percent general excise tax (which was supposed to be a temporary fix when it was first implemented). Sure, 4 percent may not seem like a lot, but it helps. That would help everyone. It doesn't just target Waikiki.

Solutions and opinions are rampant as we all try to deal with everything, but let's think on the larger scale, that is, the State of Hawai'i and not just one area.

J.Y. Matsuo

Mainland tourists don't use the trams

In the Oct. 7 Business section on page G3, a photo of a Waikiki tram is shown with the caption, "The Waikiki tram, usually full of tourists from Japan and the Mainland, is nearly empty at the intersection of Kalakaua and Monserrat."

This statement is wrong. Although these vehicles are operated by E Noa Corp. (the same company that operates the Waikiki Trolleys), the trams are owned by JTB and may only be used by their customers. That has been the policy since the trams have been in service. Therefore, it was never the case that tourists from the Mainland used the tram.

Allen Nakamura

Airport security? That's an oxymoron

Capt. Snelling, you are not alone. Your Oct. 3 letter was 200 percent on target.

The inmates are running the asylum when it comes to airport security. What happens when an airport door alarm goes off? Do we hear the pounding boots of a SWAT team, or does an annoyed employee use his or her security card to silence the alarm?

I recently retired with nearly 32 years in the cockpit. I flew my passengers worldwide and was always conscious of my responsibility for them.

I was constantly frustrated by the fraud being perpetrated on the public. Years ago, I argued with one of the designers of the security system at Chicago's Ohare Airport that its only purpose was to fool the public into believing that the politicians were doing "something" about the problem.

In the early 1990s I told him, "If Yasser Arafat (my model terrorist of that time) wanted a plane, he would take it." I lacked the vision to see the type of terror we witnessed on Sept. 11.

Members of the public will probably not believe this: Pilot friends of mine who were on trips (when service was restored) had to mail their tool kits (which they were required to carry) home or lose them at security checkpoints. All because the kits had screwdrivers and a small knife. These pilots were the crew of the aircraft. I did not exaggerate about the inmates being in charge.

Why not have federal officers man the security checkpoints? I think those in charge know there will be a failure; after all, screeners are only human. It is easier for the government to keep the liability with the airlines than face its responsibility.

Stuart Mitts
Captain (retired), United Airlines

Fair-weather friend

Waikiki is one of our favorite places, but in recent years we haven't gone there much, partly due to the crowds. We will take advantage of this temporary slowdown, especially to eat in the fine restaurants. Having said that, it is unfortunate that Waikiki businesses only court local people in a crisis.

Kenneth L. Barker

Shortsighted people closed down school

With the recent outbreak of dengue fever and talk of the readiness of our officials to handle a possible bioterrorist strike, I just wanted to take a moment to thank the small handful of people who personally closed down what was once our community's and the Asia Pacific region's foremost School of Public Health at UH-Manoa.

Thank You, Ken Mortimer, Sharon Weiner, Everett Dowling, Joseph Blanco and ultimately Ben Cayetano.

Kalawaia Moore

Hawai'i doesn't need a money-losing zoo

Last month Councilman John DeSoto spoke to our Rotary about his idea to relocate the zoo. As he stated, "The zoo is losing money."

If the zoo is a problem in its present location, what guarantee do we have that it would generate income in Kapolei? The zoo is not a tourist attraction. People are not saying "I can't wait to come to Hawai'i to see the zoo." They come here for our beaches, weather, food, culture and the historical attractions.

For those who live here, we may visit the zoo once and never return. It is not the greatest educational facility. We can learn more from watching The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and The Learning Channel, plus logging on to the Internet.

I believe our priorities are wrong. I propose that we move the children up the priority list and utilize what money would go for the zoo toward helping our children. We don't need a zoo in Hawai'i.

John Pepe

All our traffic laws must be enforced

There have been several recent deaths due to what is presumed to have been road racing. As a result, politicians have postured and the public has sounded off loudly that something has to be done.

There is no doubt that road racing is, besides being illegal, quite dangerous. However, this is but one symptom of the chronic problem with Hawai'i's drivers.

A population of scofflaws has been created by lax law enforcement. Infractions that attract the media will receive special attention from the police, at least until something else comes along. At this time, the highlighted problem is road racing, but next month it may again be pedestrian traffic, bicycles or cell phones.

It is time for the police and public to realize that all laws must be obeyed at all times. The time the officers spend now writing tickets will be more than saved, down the road, when they have to spend less time lighting flares and pulling bodies from wrecks.

Don Chambers

University of Hawa'i, Dobelle on right track

On Sept. 30, Jan Becket wrote a letter to the editor taking exception with the UH Board of Regents, Ben Cayetano and the University of Hawai'i in general for not focusing enough attention on core liberal arts programs.

Becket's criticism of the regents fails to recognize the role they each individually and collectively played in persuading Evan Dobelle to become the 12th president of the University of Hawai'i system.

Also not acknowledged is the leadership role the regents, the governor and the Legislature played in securing constitutional autonomy for the university — a status that sets UH apart from other state departments and which had been fought for over 20 years.

Another important point: First with Ken Mortimer, and now with Dobelle, the regents have kept UH running as the 10-campus system faced the most severe budget shortfalls in the institution's history.

As for funding for research in biotechnology, and in other areas of scholarship such as marine sciences and astronomy, such dollars not only generate hundreds of millions of dollars in return, but also the new discoveries that come from these endeavors help to make not only Hawai'i, but also the world, a better place.

As Dobelle has often pointed out since arriving on campus: The ability of Hawai'i to claim international pre-eminence in the areas of biotechnology, marine sciences and astronomy sets us apart and ahead of many other universities.

Finally, 68 percent of all UH undergraduates major in an arts and sciences discipline; 60 percent of all doctoral degrees at UH come from the arts and sciences; and 56 percent of all classes on all UH campuses are taught by arts and sciences faculty. These are facts that both Dobelle and the UH Alumni Association are focusing on as we work to move the university forward.

I am proud of the engagement of the regents and the leadership of Evan Dobelle and his team, to make liberal arts a priority at UH by doing such things as making sure the fields such as biology, chemistry, political science, history and mathematics — all from arts and sciences — get the funding they deserve.

Dobelle's recent calls for a "college within a college" at arts and sciences at Manoa, an honors college attracting our best and brightest young people, also speak to the importance he places on liberal arts education.

Under Dobelle's leadership, we are beginning to dream again about how we can best engage UH's 8,000 faculty and staff, 180,000 living alumni and 46,000 students to bring UH to the higher place in the national rankings that all of us dream about.

Christine Kondo
Vice president, UH Alumni Association

A teacher who made a difference

"I'm sorry to tell you that your son hasn't been doing his homework or participating in class activities. He's not interested in school," said our son's sixth-grade teacher, Paul Burnett.

My husband and I sat facing him across his desk during a teacher conference at the beginning of the school year. We weren't surprised to hear this poor evaluation of our son's school performance. Although he is a bright child who read a Michael Crichton book in two days when he was 8, he'd never been a good student. We were used to hearing about him at teacher conferences failing to live up to his potential, and we were used to feeling like losers at raising good students.

After Burnett broke the expected news, he said something that we weren't used to: "I want you to know that my goal for your son this year is to get him to do his work. It's my responsibility to get him interested. I will find a hook."

We were speechless. We couldn't believe a teacher would willingly accept such a daunting responsibility. We had been trying, unsuccessfully, for years. While private school has been recommended for our children, we believe learning how to get along with everyone is more important than academic success in early life. We tried everything else to get him interested in school, and here was a teacher telling us he would try.

After I could speak again, I blurted "Oh, thank you!" My husband told him we would appreciate his efforts because so far ours had failed. While my husband spoke, the cynic in me thought, "And good luck, buddy, because getting this kid interested in school won't be easy."

My husband and I walked out of the conference encouraged. "Can you believe he said that?" we asked in unison in the school hallway. We both recognized that Burnett was young, this was his first class and he wasn't jaded yet, but we felt relieved. We had an ally who wanted to help our son become a good student.

It's a year later now and I have told this story many times because incredibly, Burnett did get our son interested in school. He found subjects our son liked (like squirrels) and combined them with math, history and science. He invited our son, and other students, to do their homework after school in his classroom. Burnett played Magic Cards with them after they finished their assignments.

Our son now does his homework without being asked or supervised. His handwriting is still terrible, but at least he does the work, and after all, there are computers. Most important, he has begun to learn that struggling to learn new things can be a satisfying part of school. He is experiencing the consequences of putting time and energy into difficult activities, and then enjoying the satisfying results. He is getting good grades, and school has become enjoyable because he is participating the best he can. He is beginning to understand the power of his efforts.

Paul Burnett is a great teacher at Waialua Elementary School. He made a difference that has made all our lives better. Mahalo, Mr. Burnett!

Lorenn Walker