Letters to the Editor
Will GOP throw in Brooklyn Bridge, too?
Now let me see if I have this straight. The Republicans want to preserve smaller class sizes, repair schools, maintain libraries, pay teachers more and keep rural health services but they don't want to use the Hurricane Relief Fund to pay for this.
Instead, they want to return the fund money to the people who already got what they paid for. (This is possibly a revolutionary new concept in consumerism.)
They want to reduce the size of government, as long as we don't lay off anybody or cut programs. They want to keep unfilled positions vacant, as long as they're not education jobs or prison guards or health nurses, which make up about two-thirds of all vacant jobs.
They want to pay for all this by eliminating taxes on food, medical services and rent. So the government takes in less, pays our more and then sits back for a year waiting for the tax cuts to take effect and somehow pay for it all.
Utter genius. Why didn't I think of that?
Inept Legislature courting disaster
The city has had its worst sewage spill, and according to The Advertiser story by Robbie Dingman, the city will need $1 billion over the next 20 years for sewer improvements. After taking $41 million out of the fund last year, the city wants to take another $60 million this year. Why? To balance the budget.
Remember Hurricane 'Iwa in 1982? Remember 'Iniki in 1992? Well, here it is 2002, El Nio is back and the state in its infinite wisdom wants to raid the Hurricane Relief Fund to the tune of $100 million. Why? To balance the budget.
What's next? The state want to impose a $10-per-month-per-person tax for the purpose of setting up a long-term healthcare plan. In a story by Kevin Dayton, Sen. Fred Hemmings states that an individual has to be in the plan 10 years before full benefits are paid.
So that means the state will be collecting this tax for 10 years before it has to worry about full payments. If there is anybody out there who believes the state won't raid this fund to balance the budget due to its continuing fiscal ineptitude withing five years, call me. I have this bridge ...
Access to Internet should be reasonable
With all the hyping of the Internet, I am starting to feel left out because I no longer have access. I am surprised at how little interest I have in going back online. I know I have to get back one day and live in hope that some improvements will happen before I do.
It's been more than a year since I canceled my ISP. I don't miss it much. At the insistence of my brother, I bought an e-mail machine and subscribe to e-mail for $8 a month. The experience is less than satisfactory, when I consider how little it is used. I send and receive an average of four e-mails a month. That's $2 each. My brother and I have less to write about than he thought.
Faxes to my brother are only 18 cents each, and fax is instant. E-mail is not instant. On the same note, it would cost me less for a long-distance phone call to my brother four times a month than e-mail four times a month. We have even less to say than to write.
I had Internet access for six months. I went online for a total of two and a half hours. That comes to $48 an hour, hardly worthwhile.
Cost is not the only objection I have to the Internet. I object to the structure of the Internet: the cumbersome addresses, the glitzy graphics of Web pages that get in the way of actually finding information. All the Web browsers I've seen carry the glitz into absurdity.
I would have two browsers. One I would use only for e-mail. This would call up, log on in the middle of the night, get the e-mail, log off, sort and delete unwanted e-mails and wait for me until I was ready to read it. It would turn itself on and off.
The second browser would be configured to ignore e-mail and would only display in ASCII unless I asked for HTML. No glitz, just information.
Is it too much to ask for Internet access for occasional users at a reasonable price and a browser that does what I want?
Commentary about Punahou, UH insulting
Regarding the March 17 Focus commentary "Improving public education is vital for everyone": John Griffin wrote, "Among the ironies is that a substantial number of Punahou grads every year end up going to UH." I found this line extremely offensive and insulting.
No doubt Punahou is one of the better schools in Hawai'i and its grads are expected to attend schools besides UH. Choosing to go to UH or not, however, does not only depend on the quality of the students. There are also other concerns, such as financial and family issues.
How could Griffin suggest, then, that the quality of education at Punahou is not as good as it is reputed? Also, please define the word "substantial."
It is true that about 10 percent of Punahou grads every year attend UH, but is that a shame at all? UH is the best university in Hawai'i. It also has strong academic programs, such as hotel management and design.
None of the Punahou teachers, as far as I know, has ever said, "If you don't get better grades, you'll have to go to the University of Hawai'i." Teachers and counselors at Punahou all respect UH.
Support resolution affirming statehood
Is Hawai'i proud to be the 50th state? Or are we under foreign military occupation and need the United Nations to come liberate us from the United States?
Two resolutions in the Legislature take those opposing views.
One resolution, HCR59 and HR35, claims Hawai'i is not legitimately a part of the United States and asks the United Nations to hold an internationally supervised plebiscite offering independence. This dangerous cry for help actually passed the Senate last year and your own senator voted for it or was absent.
Sovereignty activists have a weird logic saying only Hawaiians, plus non-Hawaiians who support independence, could actually vote in the plebiscite.
A resolution now in both the House (HR11) and Senate (SR22) affirms our pride as Americans. Its history clauses describe our long struggle for statehood, including the petition signed by 120,000 citizens in 1954 and the 94 percent "yes" vote in 1959. It urges the governor to organize a patriotic celebration of Statehood Day (Admission Day) and fly the U.S. flag on all public buildings.
Please tell your legislators to support HR11 and SR22, and to oppose HCR59 and HR35. To see the text of these resolutions, and further information, visit http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty
Fresh Start: a chance at turning a life around
Regarding the recent articles in The Honolulu Advertiser about Fresh Start Inc.: I believe it is in poor taste to write about "allegations" that were politically motivated. There was no concern about the residents in the program and all the effort they are putting into turning their lives around.
Fresh Start has been in existence for over five years, and has grown into a learning center for alcoholics and substance-abusing offenders who are willing to change so they can become productive and honest members of the community.
It has taken a tremendous amount of hard work and effort from the staff of Fresh Start to keep our doors open to help these people.
There are no other people on O'ahu who will go into the prisons to interview inmates for possible acceptance into their programs except for Ron Barker, executive director of Fresh Start. I know this to be true as I am a recovering addict who was fortunate to have him come see me on many occasions during my incarceration in the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua.
When I was paroled in January 2001, Mr. Barker offered me employment. I have been working here at Fresh Start for over one year as the administrative assistant and class facilitator, and I know how much time and effort is put into this program for helping the residents.
It is never-ending hard work and dedication that have given the alcoholic and substance-abusing offenders a chance to change their lives around versus going through the revolving doors of prison. Without the hard work and commitment from Mr. Barker and his staff, there would be no place for these people to go.
Celeste J. Hallstrom
Don't blame students for free-bus-pass idea
I would like to respond to Miles A.P. Kahaloa's remarks in his March 20 letter to the editor, "Now's not the time for free bus passes." How can he blame UH students for accepting this offer? They did not ask for it.
This is a pilot program to alleviate the traffic condition we all are causing on the highways, not just the students.
Since we have exhausted all other options to ease traffic, this sounds like a program worth trying.
Citizens lost right of land-use initiative
The acquisition by the city of the two parcels across from Sandy Beach, subject of the 1988 Sandy Beach initiative, is indeed welcome news. I want to thank all who worked on the settlement with Kamehameha Schools, which ensures the protection of the scenic coastline from Hanauma Bay to Makapu'u.
While we celebrate the preservation of the Sandy Beach coastline, we are, however, still mourning the loss of the very tool that helped bring about that victory. When everything else had failed, it was the "Right to County Land-use" initiative that gave us a voice in our destiny. That right helped save a treasure that would otherwise have been lost forever.
But through a highly political state Supreme Court decision subsequent to the vote on Sandy Beach, we lost the right to county land-use initiative. We were stripped of our right to have the ultimate say in the fate of our land. The tool of last resort, the measure that empowers the people to decide issues when their government refuses to listen, was taken from us.
More than government, it is often the people who are the visionaries, as was the case with Sandy Beach. What will happen when another Sandy Beach situation arises, be it here or on any of the other islands? Stripped of an important tool, we stand impotent at the mercy of a government that is at times influenced by special interests.
This should trouble all who care about protecting our land and our scenic resources.
Rainbows, Wahine need better recruiting
Congratulations to the Rainbow Warriors and Wahine teams, their coaches and staff for outstanding seasons.
Although he makes some good points, I do not agree completely with Adam C. Primas' March 19 letter to the editor that the Wahine were "snubbed by NCAA committee."
They ask for more respect. As long as UH teams remain in the WAC, respect and participating in the Big Dance will only come by winning the conference playoffs or winning the conference title outright, coupled with a good record against the Big Boys and Big Girls in the preseason.
Further, UH teams lost games they should have won, which further weakened their quest for respect.
UH teams need to recruit players who respond quickly to errant passes, rebounds, go after loose balls and possess ability to anticipate their next moves quicker. With few exceptions, UH teams lost to teams with quicker-reacting players who were not necessarily better all-around players. Only certain players possess that quality of quickness, which brings to mind a certain Wahine player, Kim Willoughby, who should be an important factor when recruiting players.
I look forward to UH doing better in future recruiting and playing, which should bring respect and invitations to the Big Dance.
Howard S. Okada
O'ahu needs more EMS ambulances
It's good the Honolulu Fire Department is training its personnel as EMT-basics. Since 62 percent of their responses in 1997 were medical co-responses, what a great way to shorten the time before EMS help arrives. The HFD now can provide a better band-aid of sorts (oxygen, CPR, AED application, etc.).
However, as the population grows on this island, I don't see an increase in ambulance units. We desperately need more in Honolulu, Central O'ahu and on the Leeward Coast. I know the state doesn't have the money, but the community must be provided for.
The city is now giving the HFD broader responsibility, which I'm not too sure it can handle. The population needs more EMS units so advanced lifesaving interventions are readily available to the community, not just basic practices.
If I'm having a heart attack in Wai'anae and that EMS unit is not available, the only thing I'm going to get is oxygen from an HFD-EMT before the next EMS unit comes from 'Ewa. Hopefully, that oxygen will do the trick or that HFD-EMT is going to be pumping on my chest.