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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 31, 2002

Letters to the Editor

Tailgaters, beware: Stay off my bumper

Fair warning: Be on the alert for a nondescript, mid-sized, off-color rental car moving at the incredibly slow speed of the "maximum speed limit," for at least one or two weeks per year.

That will be me.

It's not that I am afraid of Hawai'i's high-priced souvenir-photo speeding tickets; it's just that I like watching those following me get as close as possible before I dump the remains of my Coca Cola can out the window.

To be fair, I am an equal-opportunity soda dumper: Both locals and visitors can expect my carbonated leavings.

I thought that "Hawai'i time" meant that no one is in a hurry to do much of anything. I was wrong. On the road, "Hawai'i time" means to minimize the time it will take to plow into my car in case I slow down.

John Doscher

Answers are needed to governor's claims

Kim Murakawa, Gov. Cayetano's spokeswoman, explains in a March 19 letter to the editor that " ... $336 million in premiums collected from homeowners was insufficient to pay for the $385 million cost to the state of purchasing reinsurance to cover them. The state made up the $49 million shortfall by assessing the insurance companies and levying fees on the transfer of real property."

If the state did in fact purchase this so-called "reinsurance," how can there be any Hurricane Relief Fund monies still left to even argue about? Or did the state purchase the reinsurance at all? If there is a hurricane fund still left, does that mean no insurance coverage was purchased?

Also in the same letter, Murakawa states, "In fact, the majority of this money came from insurance assessments not even related to hurricane coverage."

What were the assessments related to? Where is the money coming from that the assessments were intended for?

Michael Greenough

Library budget cuts would cut safety line

Legislators are considering budget cuts to our public libraries.

As a teacher in a low-income community, I am very distressed. Our local public library is one of the few safe places where our youngsters can find knowledge and wonder.

A small investment in a system that is effective will reap great rewards for our community's future.

Karen Kawachi

Matthew Shepard story has wider implications

Watching the recent TV movie on the unusually brutal and cowardly murder of gay Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, I couldn't help thinking of other victims of fatal assaults because of their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or ideology.

I hadn't realized that homophobic fanatics actually yelled and waved ugly signs denouncing homosexuals during the trial that led to a life sentence for the murderer.

At the film's end, Stockard Channing, who portrayed Shepard's mother, implored viewers to be mindful of anti-gay "jokes" and other remarks that ultimately influence others, especially the young. It was a reminder that such extreme acts don't develop in a vacuum.

While some would argue that hate language and bullying aren't confined to traditionally marginalized groups, it's hard to think of any comparable violence toward those espousing anti-black, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim or anti-choice rhetoric on the radio, Internet or other forums without fear.

How many more innocent people have to suffer such physical and psychological harm before we come together with common-sense measures of protection?

Faye Kennedy

Younger students are at risk of lagging behind

Regarding your Feb. 19 editorial "Preschool is needed with later kindergarten": I would appreciate the opportunity for more people to be informed of my research and the rationale behind SB 2032, presently in the House Finance Committee.

Neither your editorial nor a Feb. 17 article cited the specifics of the research, in particular the fact that younger students scored statistically significantly lower than older students in both reading and math for all grades tested (grades 3, 6, 8 and 10).

Many parents oppose the age change because they don't understand that younger children stand a very high risk of lagging behind from kindergarten through high school. The younger students don't catch up. Preschools are a benefit, but the present lack of access to all should not preclude this age-change initiative, as they are separate issues.

Dean R. Liskum, Ph.D.
Kalaheo, Kaua'i

Sen. Matsuura should be held accountable

The fish symbol is back on my senator's office door.

Sen. David Matsuura took it down while the heat was on, but now he's flexing his fundamentalist muscles again. Why shouldn't he? He's just managed to single-handedly block a popular five-year effort to pass Death with Dignity legislation here in Hawai'i.

Never mind polls showing the large majority of Hawai'i residents want physician-assisted suicide. Ignore or distort the recommendations of the governor's blue-ribbon panel. Who cares if the House just passed the legislation 30 to 20? Forget legislative process. Create false do-nothing bills to muddy the water. Pretend it's too complicated an issue to hold a hearing. Don't worry about reason or integrity. Who needs them when the senator has religion?

This isn't just about physician-assisted suicide, either. There is more at stake here than how we die. When we consider our born-again senator's recent victory in terms of American democracy, we should be worried. And the senator should be held accountable.

Diana Lynn

Reform must precede shopping for education

Cliff Slater's March 25 commentary, "Let us shop for education," was right on in regard to school choice. However, most of the public schools in Hawai'i are not worth choosing.

In order to be able to offer the types of options Mr. Slater is suggesting, major reform must happen within the system.

Slater states that "we would have a system where schools would compete and parents would shop." What a great idea to boost competition in a business market; too bad we don't run our schools like businesses. Maybe what we need is a business plan for our schools.

Breaking the system into smaller pieces is only part of the solution. If a plan is set that defines responsibilities, goals and checks and balances within the system, a flexible, clear map can be set for all stakeholders to follow. From there we can break up the system with a clear understanding as to what the responsibilities and expectations are of everyone, including the community and students.

Anne Neal

'In search of real leader' commentary brilliant

Jim Shon's March 19 Island Voices commentary "In search of a real leader" is absolutely brilliant. He captures the essence of true leadership, from genetic factors all the way through to substantive issues.

I certainly hope he has, or will be invited to turn this into an academic course for student leaders in the UH system. It would give me great hope for the future of our state.

Robert F. Gentry