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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Letters to the Editor

Legislature must OK cap on gas prices

I'm very glad to see the Legislature is considering a cap on gasoline prices and profits. It is too bad that the lawsuit didn't proceed; so now it's on to Plan B: put a cap on gas prices.

If anyone wants to see what the price of gas is anywhere in the country, log on to www.gaspricewatch.com. If you think we are being ripped off here in Honolulu, the other islands are much, much worse off.

On the Big Island, for instance, gas is consistently 25 cents a gallon higher than on O'ahu. In fact, they should be paying less than we do here in Honolulu. Why? The gas tax here on O'ahu is 32.5 cents per gallon. On the Big Island, the gas tax is only 24.8 cents per gallon.

That's 7.7 cents less per gallon in taxes. Add 5 cents per gallon for transportation. That still leaves the gas price on the Big Island 2.7 cents less per gallon — or at least it should be. Then why is it 25 cents more than on O'ahu?

Maybe Arthur Andersen was a consultant to the Hawai'i oil refineries.

The Senate should stop dragging its feet and act on the gas cap. The reduced gas prices should give everyone more money, instead of the money going out of state as corporate profits. This added income should help the Hawai'i economy, maybe even help reduce the budget deficit that the Legislature is conspicuously trying to ignore.

John Apo

Current guidelines should be changed

I am merely a citizen, not skilled in legislative work, but I understand that with the current guidelines, the risk of a rabies infestation is greater than what is being proposed.

I clearly understand that according to Dr. Holck's study, the risk of rabies would be 2.4 cases per thousand years. The current risk is 3.8 cases. Under our current plan, we are spending $4 million per year in direct cost. Multiply this times about 250 years per case, and you get $1 billion spent on one case of rabies which may not even infect humans or another animal.

Many military families are placed here and face immediate separation from their loved ones due to deployment. Our current guidelines compound that separation by removing pets from those families for nearly half as long as the deployment — a double hit on children and spouses who find comfort in the company of their animals.

Stop wasting our time and money. Amend the current regulations. This is a reasonable request, a reasonable change. Let us share aloha. Let change happen.

Malia Davison

Hurricane threat isn't going away

Rep. Joe Gomes is entitled to his interpretation of the Hawai'i Hurricane Relief Fund statute and Mother Nature, but what is the rest of the story?

His recent letter excludes important facts and considerations. He says that keeping the fund intact for uses consistent with "the purposes of this chapter" means only what he purports — to pay for losses resulting from a future hurricane, which didn't happen — so give it all back because the past policies have expired.

His conclusions fail to mention the standby need for new policies in the future. He fails to consider that our state's extreme risk of calamitous damage was, and will continue to be, the underlying cause of Hawai'i's insurance crisis and high rates.

His conclusions fail to mention mitigation (damage loss reduction) as an established, pertinent and legitimate HHRF mission.

Only seven Republican lawmakers (three in the Senate and four in the House), including Gomes, cast "no" votes last session on a pilot program bill to provide homeowners with matching grants to strengthen their homes against tropical storms and hurricanes with hurricane clips and window shutters. The other 69 lawmakers decided that sound disaster readiness is not a partisan subject and voted "yes."

Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by the governor — citing the pending completion of a major research study on the subject, now completed. It is the basis of updated mitigation legislation this session.

He states that a storm "may" not come for decades. Well, one has hit us about every 10 to 12 years for the last four decades, with many just missing. And El Niño is back.

Gerald Peters
Legislative coordinator, Hazard Mitigation Task Force
President, Hurricane Protection Systems

Ship letter headline maligned dock workers

As president of McCabe, Hamilton & Renny Co., Hawai'i's oldest and largest stevedoring firm, I take strong exception to Robert Levy's April 8 letter criticizing our longshoremen for their alleged nonperformance and even greater exception to The Advertiser's headline characterizing our loyal, hardworking employees as "petty longshoremen."

No doubt Mr. Levy is unaware of the contractual obligations we have with the longshore union, which binds us to certain work practices. In this case, the vessel's agent instructed us to tie up the Norwegian Wind precisely at 7 a.m., and that's exactly what we did.

An earlier lines-handling operation could have been scheduled but at considerable expense to the vessel's owners.

Mr. Levy can be excused for his ignorance of our union contract. But I find it far more difficult to absolve your paper for your thoughtless description of our fine employees.

Wouldn't you agree a public apology is in order?

Tim Guard

We must stop business as usual

As I look at our elected officials, one thing gets me upset: how they are spending our money.

They use the tobacco settlement money to help build the UH's medical school. And they want to use some of it to balance the budget, when it is supposed to be used to help stop teens from smoking. They want to raid our hurricane fund to help balance the budget. And every year the budget gets slowly bigger and bigger.

Our schools and libraries get less and less. We all know that the politicians use the taxpayer money on raises and government projects that are not necessary. And they give it to their union friends in return for endorsements and campaign contributions. It's this type of business as usual in our government that has to stop.

It seems the trust for our elected officials is slowly disappearing. It's time for a change. We must stop this business as usual and keep our elected officials accountable.

Alan Kim

Spending $50,000 on dog not justified

I was absolutely appalled to hear that the Hawaiian Humane Society planned to spend $50,000 to save the "tanker dog."

Though I understand the bond that grows between a dog and his owner, I can't see how one dog could possibly be worth more than a new Mercedes convertible.

I am sure the publicity generated from this action will prove detrimental to future fund-raising efforts, as there must be other families like mine who will be writing their checks to more responsible agencies.

A dog is a dog is a dog.

Natalie Lau

Closing breweries won't help economy

When you hear names like Royal, Ali'i, Koolaus, Pacific, Whale Tail, Big Wave, Tradewinds, Diamond Head, National, Honolulu and Primo, do you think of failure? Do you think of our state as failing to help diversify our revenue sources?

The preceding is a list of breweries that have gone out of business in the state of Hawai'i. The proposed increase on the liquor tax, especially on beer, is another nail in the coffin of diversifying industry and manufacturing in Hawai'i. If the proposed bill passes, it would force even more dependence on importing and would penalize through taxation our No. 1 source of revenue: tourism.

We've heard it time and time again that Hawai'i needs to diversify its economic base — yet we continue to make it harder for new businesses to start or stay in Hawai'i. Do we force diversification through extinction of our current bread and butter: tourism?

Hawai'i has the highest beer tax in the nation. To produce beer in Hawai'i, it costs almost 45 percent more than it does to produce on the Mainland. Electricity, gas, labor, health insurance, TDI and taxes are 30 percent to 400 percent higher.

As the managing partner of Kona Brewing Co., the largest brewery in Hawai'i since Primo closed, I have an obligation to our 50 employees, our more than 100 vendors and the state of Hawai'i to adamantly object to this proposed increase in the state liquor tax. It completely lacks vision, fails to diversify our revenues and will certainly kill many small businesses.

Please, do not pass this bill.

Mattson C. Davis

Whitney Anderson wrong about forum

Back in the early 1990s when I was Republican Party chairman, we sought inclusion of Native Hawaiians in policy development.

One of the many efforts in that regard was a workshop at a large meeting room, use of which was donated by the Airport Plaza Hotel, which was attended by about 60 people, many of them Native Hawaiians and representatives of Hawaiian groups and concerns. We invited just about every group interested in Hawaiian issues at the time.

Some came, some did not. Partly as a result of that forum, and later as a result of other grass-roots input, the 1994 Republican platform devoted six paragraphs, a relatively substantial portion of the document, to support of Native Hawaiians, with planks supporting self-determination, advancing Hawaiian control of Hawaiian lands, and endorsing remedies for the breaches of trust and injustices of the past. Later platforms have expanded on those concepts.

The idea that Whitney Anderson (Letters, April 5) might think that these serious proposals were conjured up by three haoles and an AJA in an airport hotel coffee shop, and his assertion that he did not attend because no other Hawaiians were invited, is total nonsense.

While for now I am willing to attribute this to Whitney's loss of memory rather than a willful disregard of the truth, the only "vacuum" in this scenario is in his disregard of facts. There was no disregard of Native Hawaiian input or participation by the GOP on my watch.

Jared H. Jossem

Use state tax credits to start building boom

Hawai'i's economic rebirth is at hand:

  • Victoria Ward Ltd. has the vision, courage and cash to develop a major new shopping center. Let them build it.
  • Outrigger Hotels has the vision, courage and cash to develop a major new hotel complex to replace a 50-year-old tired piece of Waikiki. Let them build it.

Our construction industry gets jobs. Our labor force gets jobs and pays taxes. Consumers buying products pay taxes.

These companies would like some future tax credits. They still have to build the buildings, market their new ventures and create new opportunities for Hawai'i's people. No cost, no risk to the taxpayer or the legislator who has the courage to get out of the way to let business people do business.

The tax credits requested only happen if these companies invest, develop, market and employ Hawai'i's labor force. This lust for future tax revenue lost is short-sighted.

This is a win-win situation. It doesn't get any better. All we have to do is get out of the way and let it happen and all Hawai'i wins.

Rick Gray

'Dobelle-Trouble' is a might effusive

Boy, talk about Dobelle-Trouble! Has the UH president ever heard of a run-on sentence or idea?

"At the end of the day, the businesses also have to be there," Dobelle said (Advertiser, April 4). "The businesses of Hawai'i also have to buy into the fact that this is going to be their first net of applications for jobs. And if young people don't see a real opportunity for at least being in that first pool of applicants to be considered, then what is the reason for these training programs?"

Maybe it's me, but just what the heck does that mean — get rid of education, get rid of community colleges, or what?

Perhaps D-T needs a few bucks to hire a dozen or so East Coast intellects to figure out what he wants to mean.

Bottom line: Dobelle-Trouble, stop throwing out a bunch of weird ideas with no intent or ability to follow through; just do the right thing, compadre.

Patrick Stanley

'Material witnesses' shouldn't be arrested

There cannot be adequate justification for federal officials to arrest and handcuff crew members of the detained Chinese fishing vessel as "material witnesses."

This speaks volumes to those who are in our country as tourists and witness a crime to ask themselves, "Will this happen to me if I am identified as a 'material witness?' "

Hopefully, China and other countries will not follow our abysmal treatment when Americans travel to their country and are held as witnesses.

Dan Elmore