Letters to the Editor
Merger of airlines wouldn't be of equals
Regarding the Hawaiian and Aloha airline merger: Please explain what "equals" means.
On one hand, you have a local airline on the verge of (if not in) bankruptcy, and on the other, a financially viable airline promising growth, acquiring new aircraft and turning a profit. The airline currently experiencing financial turbulence has very little to lose with this proposed merger of "equals."
Could it be that one airline needs to ride the other's "wings" of success? Or should they "expect more" from their own employees? Let me remind our local people of an airline in which its employees took pay concessions, lost benefits and had employees furloughed for the sake of survival and competition while the other airline had a company barbeque in celebration of its distress.
Two questions of equality:
Should a merger take place, would the majority of the "up to 600" jobs lost be those of the employee group willing to give (Hawaiian)?
Should the seniority of both groups be combined, would it be fair that the employee group of the aspiring airline lose such seniority to save that of the financially distressed employees?
I have friends and family working for both airlines, all of whom are dear to me, but in the interest of being fair to either the public avoiding a monopoly and my friends and family who are employed by the airlines, I don't see a merger of equals here.
Let's find a fair solution to this potential big problem for Hawai'i.
Pali Highway speeds should be increased
The Advertiser's Jan. 7 editorial, "More traffic camera answers are needed," clicked in on the key points. The Department of Transportation should provide those answers before it sends out citations.
Daily drivers on the Pali Highway know the speed limits are unreasonably low. On the stretch from the tunnels to Nu'uanu, the highway has limited access. Raise the limit to 50 or 55 mph, DOT, which is the speed the majority of vehicles safely traveled before the advent of traffic cameras.
DOT's spokeswoman claims cars are slowing down. But are motorists driving more safely or are their eyes glued on speedometers? "Slow" does not mean "safe" in this instance.
One other question to be added to the editor's list. Will drivers be ticketed for going too slow in an area with posted minimum speeds and no obstructing traffic in front of them?
Refocus your cameras, DOT, and answer questions instead of using traffic fines to enrich your department.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen
R-49th (Kailua, Kane'ohe Bay Drive)
Cameras creating dangerous driving
It is unfair to give a speeding ticket to anyone exceeding the speed limit by a few miles per hour because of the inaccuracy of a car's speedometer (tire wear, precision of the speedometer, etc.) and of the difficulty to maintain a steady speed (even the cruise control cannot maintain precise speed).
But more important, we are creating a dangerous situation when drivers constantly look at the speedometers instead of the traffic around them.
I'm not against the cameras catching speeders, but I hope some sense is used to determine when to issue the speeding tickets.
Is it true that one of the camera speed enforcement vans was recently ticketed by the HPD for illegal parking?
Gambling should be locally owned and run
Gambling owned, built and operated by out-of-state owners would be sure to take huge portions of the revenue out of the state of Hawai'i, whereas if it were locally built, owned and operated, it would keep the revenues here to the benefit of all involved.
Perhaps the initial capital could be derived by allowing all residents of Hawai'i to invest $20 or $50 or whatever would be projected to raise the needed capital, and become shareholders in a state of Hawai'i corporation that would own and operate the facility. This would assure that there would be no huge individual interest involved that would control the voting interests of the corporation.
The resulting facility could be leased out to professional operators who could be required to share a very healthy percentage of profits with shareholders. We should take a page from the article in the A section of the Jan. 6 paper of understanding the value of an arrangement where local residents benefit.
Vision team projects are just boondoggles
The recent Advertiser article concerning the growing conflict between neighborhood boards and the so-called "vision teams" raises important questions. Most notably, who gets to call the shots when it comes to spending our tax dollars?
In theory, the vision team concept sounds like democracy at work. In reality, it has created a boondoggle of pet projects that get pushed through by self-serving groups.
Want an example of how your tax dollars are literally being flushed down the toilet? In the latest Kailua Vision Team mailing, it says that $350,000 is budgeted next year for "Model Airplane Park Comfort Station Construction."
Out of a $2 million budget, the letter says the vision team plan will also allocate $100,000 for "Model airplane park restrooms planning and design" $100,000 just to design restrooms for a handful of overgrown adolescents who want to fly toy airplanes? This is outrageous.
At the same time, the vision team plan sets aside just $65,000 for what it calls "miscellaneous beautification projects." This insult of a "plan" comes at a time when our parks-maintenance budgets are being cut to the bone and public facilities are deteriorating due to lack of funds.
It's bad enough that the peace and tranquility of the Kawai Nui Marsh is being ruined by the incessant drone of expensive toys that get bigger and louder each year. Now these "hobbyists" have the gall to ask us to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to build them restrooms.
It's time other people get mad as hell and speak out against the waste of our tax dollars. That is my "vision" of democracy.
Democratic Party embraces integrity
Kevin Dayton is a talented and objective journalist. However, his Dec. 30 story on Hawai'i's Democrats reflected none of the objectivity ordinarily apparent in his writings.
While it is easy to focus on mistakes made by an individual, ascribing them to the Democratic Party as a whole discredits all other members of the organization. This is both unfair and unprofessional.
Lorraine Akiba, as the new party leader, has taken a very public and a very energetic stand against corruption in government. Under her leadership, this new Democratic Party that's emerging today embraces the values that do not compromise integrity, but instead reinforce honesty, openness, inclusiveness, equality of opportunity and a sincere love for Hawai'i Nei.
State art museum will fill positions
Thanks again for The Advertiser's long-standing commitment to coverage of the arts and the excellent work of art critic Virginia Wageman. The arts community deeply appreciates it.
I would like to clarify one misunderstanding in Wageman's Jan. 6 column. The new staff positions for the state art museum in No. 1 Capitol District were generously funded by the Legislature during the 2001 session. Filling the positions is subject to our completing final job descriptions; there is no hiring freeze, which was in place for a short period after 9/11.
As a practical matter, though, our very capable and experienced Art in Public Places staff, assisted by a blue-ribbon panel of art professionals familiar with the state art collection, will do the lion's share of the work for the initial opening, hopefully in October 2002.
David C. Farmer
Executive director, State Foundation on Culture and the Arts
Plate column showed how to achieve peace
Tom Plate's column in the Dec. 30 Advertiser was even better than his usual insightful writing about Asia.
He elaborates on wise words from Isaiah Berlin about the dangers from those who believe "they are in sole possession of the truth ... and that those who differ with them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad, and need restraining or suppression."
If only this column could be reprinted in every newspaper in the world. If only those who, in ignorance, accept the stereotypes that foster hatred could read and understand the knowledge stated here so eloquently, there could really be "Peace on Earth."
Thousands were trapped in their cars
Who is the idiot who authorized blocking the entrances to the H-1 freeway Saturday afternoon in order to "protect" Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert?
This arrogant and ill-advised action inconvenienced thousands of people who were trapped in their cars for more than 20 minutes. A simple stretch limousine with a police escort and no traffic stoppage would have been more appropriate.
Stadium security rules are sound
After the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S., the Aloha Stadium Authority took a long, hard look at its security policies. The primary concern was, and still is, the safety of stadium patrons, as well as the players on the field.
In developing the new policies, the HPD, Wackenhut (the stadium's private security provider) and the NFL were consulted. None of the decisions affecting the fans were made in a vacuum.
Take, for instance, the policy on fanny packs vs. small purses or backpacks. If we allowed only small purses, we assumed that many of our male customers would have felt excluded. And, backpacks were out of the question since the NFL had prohibitions against backpacks and large purses.
If the message given to the public is one of not caring about their safety when bags are checked, then we certainly must increase our training for stadium personnel. We should not give the public the impression that we are simply going through the motions, as your letters and editorial suggest. At the same time, we certainly don't want our gate personnel to be overzealous.
For some time now, we have asked our food and beverage concessionaires to assist us in removing the caps from water bottles. This policy is not unique to Aloha Stadium. It is standard practice at many other facilities. This extra step is taken to lessen the possibility of having full water bottles thrown onto the fields (as was the case at several NFL stadiums) or into the stands.
Contrary to your belief that only allowing fans into their designated or ticketed seating area is silly, we have had compliments from our spectators who were constantly harassed by others who were congesting the walkways and disability-seating areas. Truly, the response to this policy has been quite positive. In addition, this policy has made it easier for us to enforce the city fire codes regarding emergency exits and aisles.
On the question of noisemakers, we admit that there was a miscommunication between the authority and the stadium's concessions. Several of the items should not have been sold. For this we apologize and promise to do better in communicating with Volume Services.
In regard to beer sales: If we were truly as avaricious as some have suggested, it would be to our advantage to sell more than one beer to a customer. We could increase our gross sales, as well as our vicarious liability at the same time. Would this be the responsible thing to do and one that The Advertiser would endorse? In any case, your complaint regarding liquor sales at the stadium would be better served if it were directed to the Honolulu Liquor Commission, which has rules preventing the sale of more than one cup of alcohol per customer.
Finally, we would like to make clear that the NFL security measures that will be taken during the Pro Bowl game are considerably more stringent than those that have been used this past season at UH games.
In addition to establishing a secure perimeter around the stadium, more security will be employed, color-coded tagging of media and staff bags are required, photo credentials for media and stadium staff will be issued, backpacks and bags will be prohibited, search criteria will be enforced, etc.
All of these measures will be instituted at the request of the NFL commissioner.
Edwin K. Hayashi
Aloha Stadium Authority