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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2001

Letters to the Editor

'Stepford Wives' are occupying classrooms

Teachers are back in their classrooms, but their bodies and spirits are not integrated and intact.

They suffer from "The Stepford Wives" Syndrome, forcing them to appear pleasant, focused and, of course, compliant. Mandates, flowing freely down to the schools, are "cheerily" accepted. Felix-related tasks multiply and divide and are "embraced" without much more than a mutter of the word "absurd."

The terms "professional" and "accountability" are constantly bandied about, but no one seems to be clear on their ephemeral meanings. Are they being used to oppress and promote a feeling of inadequacy (or, perhaps, guilt) in an already-demoralized workforce?

And, there is no pay raise in sight ...

The abuse teachers have been subjected to has taken its toll. There are more physical and emotional ills. These will increase exponentially as that feeling of helplessness (born of lack of regard and valid outlet) engulfs. Substitute teachers, please brace yourselves.

Rigid compliance appears to be essential for the survival of our DOE system, but destructive for the souls of individuals within the system.

The "contract" ratified by many of the teachers is a very small first step in giving teachers some recognition. It does not address enough of the larger "spiritual" issues, and the monetary compensation, in my opinion as a veteran of 28 years of teaching, is weak.

Our students need to know their teachers as integrated, empowered individuals and role models. Ultimately, each teacher will need to decide for herself what this means.

Debbie Boltz

Bureaucratic rules should be challenged

James Dannenberg in his Aug. 26 commentary rightly calls attention to the deplorable effects of bureaucracy in the city Emergency Medical Services and the state licensing system.

It is well, however, that he makes it clear that his targets are the politicians and administrators and not the rank-and-file medical workers. As a physician who has practiced 48 years in Hawai'i, 41 of them on O'ahu, I have the highest regard for the men and women on the front lines.

A recent personal experience reinforced my opinion. My grand-daughter was hit by a car on the North Shore, suffering a compound fracture of the ankle and a severe concussion that kept her comatose for three days. A city ambulance was on the scene in five minutes, a Medivac helicopter in another 10. I can't conceive of better care for such a case. Excellent care, not thanks to the system, but in spite of it.

Forty years ago, Hawai'i doctors faced similar problems. My group, Kaiser Permanente, had arguably the best cardiologist in the state. He was the first here to be elected into the College of Cardiology and for years had been a professor at the University of Kansas Medical School. But his M.D. was from the University of Shanghai, and the state said, "No, no, only U.S. or Canadian graduates please."

We decided that was ridiculous. We mustered our troops, went to the Legislature and got a rational law passed. I strongly recommend such a strategy to other professionals faced with outdated laws or regulations, or petty bureaucrats educated (or appointed) beyond their level of intelligence.

Willis Butler, M.D.

Dental clinic closing contrary to mission

I was saddened to read about the closure of the Queen's Dental Clinic.

Queen Emma saw the need for the Queen's Dental Clinic back in 1854 when she saw that the people of Hawai'i were not getting the level of healthcare they dearly needed. Her vision was a blessing to the thousands of Hawai'i residents who could not be treated in any other facility.

When Queen Emma humbled herself to get funding for the hospital in 1854, it was a noble act that resulted in the Queen's Medical Center, a monument to her aloha for the people of Hawai'i. Even now the mission of The Queen's Medical Center is clear: "The Queen's Medical Center is an 'ohana committed to leadership in preserving, protecting and perpetuating the health of all people of Hawai'i, recognizing the special health needs of native Hawaiians."

Now we are told that the Queen's Dental Clinic is losing too much money. My question is: When did the Queen's Medical Center change its mission statement to include making a profit?

The Queen's Dental Clinic provides too valuable a service to the public to be summarily closed. It provides care to patients of all races, ages and economic levels. The poor decision to close the dental clinic will result in insignificant savings to the Queen's Medical Center, but the loss to the people of Hawai'i will be much more substantial.

I'm sure Queen Emma would have been extremely disappointed.

Kevin K.L. Ching, D.D.S.
Dental staff, Queen's Medical Center

SHOPO's chairman speaks for himself

As a former Honolulu police officer, I monitor local news closely. I have read several interesting letters regarding gun control in Hawai'i.

The simple fact is this: Criminals still get and carry guns, while the regular citizens don't.

The other interesting thing I've seen lately was SHOPO chairman Alex Garcia doing what he does best — speaking his own mind for everyone else. The Honolulu Police Department has enough concerns without this. The officers and administration have a hard enough time just doing their jobs every day. If I were still a member of SHOPO, I'd think about asking Detective Garcia to resign. Whose interests is he thinking of?

These latest issues are not products of Chief Donohue's administration; they existed prior to that.

Timm Brewer

First let's crack down on speeding parents

The column in the Sept. 2 Hawai'i section by Lee Cataluna regarding the responsibility of parents to "hold the keys" to their youngsters' vehicles is reasonable on the surface. However, she postulates a faulty premise that parents are responsible individuals who set a good example for their children.

My wife and I drive daily from Kailua to the Leeward side, sometimes by the Pali and sometimes by H3. Most of the speeding, aggressive and reckless drivers we encounter are adults. Too many adults exceed the speed limit, move in and out of traffic without signaling or ride your bumper if you are in their lane and driving the speed limit. How many adults drive the Pali at the posted speed limit of 45 and 35 mph? How many adults drive the H3 at the posted speed limits of 55 or 45 mph?

Not many by our experience.

Does Cataluna really believe parents can take control of their children and make them drive sensibly when they don't? She espouses a wonderful concept as the solution; however, someone has to control the parents first. This starts with the HPD taking the roads back from the speeders and reckless drivers of all ages. This HPD action should not be limited to certain holiday periods or right after a horrific accident such as the recent one on the H1.

Until the HPD acknowledges the serious problem we have on our road system and accepts responsibility for control of this problem, we will continue to be faced with accidents involving speeding, reckless and aggressive drivers.

Frank Henrion

Crackdown needed now on street racers

Thanks go to our marvelous HPD for trying to contain the dangers of street racing on public highways, but its hard work is in vain without tougher laws to protect law-abiding citizens.

Confiscating and auctioning of vehicles used in law-breaking activity is a great start for restitution to victims for damages to life and property; a first offense is enough for license revocation and jail time. Why give them more chances to harm others? Parents need to be responsible for young drivers.

Why aren't these public-safety laws already enacted, before someone got killed or maimed in these tragic but preventable accidents?

Voters put lawmakers into office and they can vote them out. For self-preservation and public safety, think before giving candidates or incumbents your vote. Voters need to control their own destiny by voting in competent and safety-minded public servants.

Chester Lau

Our police must be role models for kids

I am very saddened at what is going on with the Honolulu Police Department. The recent scandal concerning two of its top officers really concerns me.

I remember when I was a little kid, I looked up to all the police officers around town. I know it's important to set good examples for the children. That is especially true for police officers. But as our behavior in public is important, our behavior in private is just as important. For our private lives can quickly become our public lives.

I see that the HPD is learning this lesson. As adults we have to realize that the children are watching our every move, every decision we make. We need to be careful what we say and do, both in public and in private.

All HPD vehicles say "honesty, integrity and respect." The HPD needs to follow its own motto; adults too.

Alan Kim

Don't blame Big Oil, blame yourselves

John Balzar's Sept. 3 rant against the Bush administration's environmental and energy policies may have merit, but he makes no mention of the buying habits of all too many Americans, who prefer large, fuel-inefficient vehicles and spacious, hard-to-heat or -cool houses.

To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the enemy, and he is us.

S.L. Botsai

Stop putting down Tripler

I was very discouraged reading John Griffin's "Matsunaga Center offers benefits, services" on the Sept. 1 Focus page. He wrote, "A promotional video quotes impartial researchers as saying the VA now operates 'the best healthcare delivery system in the nation.' This may surprise older folks, who recall VA care that rated much lower, and those who feel that military medical care (such as vets get at Tripler hospital) is not equal to the private sector."

I am discouraged that Griffin is perpetuating the myth that Tripler is not equal to civilian hospitals in providing healthcare. I have heard this "urban myth" for the past three years of living in Hawai'i and working at Tripler.

The second month I was here, a public relations official from another large hospital on O'ahu laughed at a meeting and said, "You know what they call Tripler, right? Crippler." I was stunned and asked her what her experience with Tripler was. She said she had been at the hospital once visiting many years ago and that was it.

Since then, I have met many people who have made the same comment and know nothing about Tripler, haven't visited, and don't know anyone who has received healthcare here. But boy, can they bad-mouth what they have only seen negatively portrayed in the media or heard rumors about.

Tripler has many of the finest physicians, nurses and providers it has been my privilege to work with in more than 12 years of working at military medical facilities. I think it is safe to write that Tripler has more board-certified physicians and advanced-degree registered nurses than any other hospital in the state of Hawai'i and many other states.

The other irony that I cannot figure out when people put down military medicine is, where do you think most advances in medicine come from historically? The private sector? No, they come from the military. Where do you think a lot of the civilian physicians who are providing your healthcare were trained? In the military or with the military.

Did you know that in any given month, 500 residents, interns, nurses, students and other healthcare providers from institutions such as the University of Hawai'i, researchers from Queen's Medical Center and Kapi'olani Hospital and prestigious Mainland civilian facilities are training or working at Tripler?

Who do you think those more than 2,000 civilian staff members are who work at Tripler? People — your neighbors, parents and family — who are part of this community and get tired of only the negative being portrayed.

When was the last time anyone read anything about the close to 240 babies born every month at Tripler who go home with their parents and are happy and healthy? Or all the successful surgeries? Of course, I realize negative and sensational news "sells" to the media, but perhaps we could work on some balance and perspective.

Margaret Tippy
Veteran, Tripler public affairs officer