Letters to the Editor
UH student housing, rent hike deplorable
The conditions that students live in at the University of Hawai'i dorms are deplorable.
When I moved my daughter into her dorm room last semester, this is what I saw: a small room shared by two, with stained carpeting, a dirty mattress, broken closet doors, broken screens, no crank for the jalousies, etc.
The UH Board of Regents recently voted to raise the rent. I bet none of them have taken a tour of the facilities because if they did, they would have voted to lower the rent. It's not too late to reconsider.
The board says the rates are comparable to Mainland colleges, but are the living conditions comparable? Why is it when rates go up, it's referred to as comparable, but our salaries are never comparable?
The rent monies collected for all these years should have paid for all of the on-campus housing and then some. So why do the present students have to subsidize the future housing that President Dobelle envisions?
An audit should be sought to find out where the money went to, why maintenance has not been kept up and if the student housing section is being run efficiently.
Vacation showed us the wonders of O'ahu
I took a short vacation on O'ahu last month and offer these thoughts:
The USS Missouri is a great addition to the Pearl Harbor display, and the Academy of Arts is a real knockout. 'Iolani Palace is a gem, and the Foster Botanical Gardens is worth an afternoon.
Hopefully, supporters of the Bishop Museum can generate funds to maintain the original building as well as the displays. It has a great collection but needs the same inspiration found at the academy.
You ran an interesting piece on Jimmy Buffet's concert at Duke's in Waikiki. While having a performer with his profile is nice, don't forget you have terrific local talent like Ha'alilio and Friends.
I had dinner at Duke's, and the musical atmosphere provided by JR, Elaine and Ha'a was truly Hawaiian and underscored why so many people come to the Islands. They are ambassadors you should also promote, as they project the local warmth and culture.
State is taking away retirees' benefits
I applaud SHOPO for suing to stop the Legislature and the governor from perpetuating decades of skimming $1.3 billion from the Employees Retirement System.
The Honolulu Advertiser reported Sen. Colleen Hanabusa saying, "If they have not gotten any retirement benefits because of ERS or because of the act of the Legislature, that may be something else. But as far as I know, all retirement benefits have been paid."
Sen. Hanabusa added, "If you read the Constitution ... it simply says there's an obligation to ensure that we provide these benefits."
The Hawai'i Constitution states, "Membership in any employees' retirement system of the State or any political subdivision thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the accrued benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired."
I remind Sen. Hanabusa that retiree benefits were "diminished or impaired." In 1999, after the Legislature and Gov. Cayetano illegally took the $346.9 million mentioned in the class-action lawsuit, the governor eliminated a longstanding five-year retirement inflation adjustment. The governor said, "The ERS couldn't afford it."
In 2000, Sen. Hanabusa led the Legislature's enactment of Act 88, the infamous Employee-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund bill that will unconstitutionally diminish retiree health benefits, forcing retirees into inferior defined-contribution health plans and causing retirees to pay more to maintain their present level of benefits they were constitutionally promised upon retirement.
Showing her true colors, Sen. Hanabusa arrogantly remarked, "We are the state of Hawai'i. We determine how much people are paid, we determine whether people have collective bargaining rights, we determine the whole gamut. We determine how much goes into ERS."
On election day, public employees, retirees and taxpayers should determine if "We are the state of Hawai'i."
Retiree, 'Ewa Beach
U.S. foreign policy is breeding terrorism
It's past time for our government to stop favoring Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.
Given Ariel Sharon's unwillingness to allow either reporters or inspectors from the United Nations to determine what kind of "collateral damage" has been done to the Palestinians, it becomes very difficult to trust anything said by Israeli officials.
Terrorism is about the only weapon the Palestinians have. It is the weapon of the weak or the hopeless. Sharon has been busy increasing the number who are likely to resort to terrorism.
I urge you not only to do what you can to ensure a safe Palestinian state, but also to do what you can to halt the unilateralism of U.S. policy. Try to get President Bush to work through the United Nations and quit acting as though whatever he thinks we should do is OK to do.
American policy should stop breeding more terrorists and start providing help for the hopeless.
The Rev. Gene Bridges
Reformers led way to consumer protection
Wow. What an incredibly productive Legislature. Landmark legislation included the bottle bill, gas-price regulation, prescription-drug help, oversight of HMSA and campaign finance reform. They gored special interests.
Much credit goes to the young, reformist leadership of the House: Brian Schatz, Mina Morita and Scott Saiki.
But if the House had selected Joe Souki instead of Ken Hiraki as chairman of the House Committee on Consumer Protection, consumers would have had less to cheer about this year. It was a fateful day two years ago when, by the narrowest of margins, House Democrats chose Hiraki over Souki. For the sake of consumers, let's hope that Hiraki remains chairman of this important committee.
David Kimo Frankel
Volcano, Big Island
Tax breaks for empty apartments are wrong
Sharyn L. Miyashiro's April 25 letter about the raiding of the Hurricane Relief Fund was very enlightening. The lack of affordable housing in Hawai'i has been a problem for too long. Instead, the local government rewards foreign investors with tax breaks as they warehouse empty apartments.
How many of us live in large condominium buildings with plenty of empty units controlled by a few real estate agents who represent foreign owners? Foreign investors paid more during the 1990s due to a bubble Japanese economy. Now they leave them empty while the homeless families live in parks. Eventually the Japanese government will correct the bad-loan banking situation and these overpriced units will be on the market creating supply-and-demand pricing.
Small fee-simple two-bedroom condo units are on the market selling for over $400,000 while they pay only $34 per month in property taxes. Instead of raiding funds, the legislators should tax and discourage warehousing empty units. What will happen when the extended unemployment benefits run out? More will be homeless as foreclosures and evictions take place.
Bottle tax adds up to significant amount
No! Do not allow another new state tax.
The proposed bottle tax hits the consumer in the pocketbook especially hard. It is only 5 cents, but the case of 24 cans of soda pop that my family donates to our son's soccer team each week would cost $8.25 instead of $7.05. That is a 17 percent increase in price, a huge tax.
Dejan Miladinovic difficult to replace
My husband promised to change the locks if I went to the airport to greet the volleyball team. So I couldn't do that. If I wrote what a thrill it has been to watch Dejan Miladinovic play volleyball throughout his college career, similar consequences would result, I'm sure.
Risk-taker that I am, let's just say it will be difficult to replace the "Smoldering Serbian Blocker." Best of luck to him as he graduates.
Paula Gillingham Bender
Championship could help UH recruiting
It's nice to finally see a men's program win a national championship for the University of Hawai'i. How appropriate it is the men's volleyball team, which will now complement the women's volleyball team.
Hopefully, the national coverage will turn some heads to new recruits that Hawai'i is a formidable place to win a national championship.
Better recheck books
If the supposed "financial experts" who give the city a clean bill of health are the same ones who make money from selling (peddling?) city bonds, we may just have another case of Arthur Andersen giving Enron a clean bill of health.
Gerhard C. Hamm
Library, homeless also need attention
As I sat down this evening to study for one of my two final exams, I caught a glimpse of the late local news. I listened to the story concerning the "world's most famous dog," and how it has cost approximately $150,000 to rescue the animal from certain doom.
After this segment and before the commercial break, the newscasters announced that the Kapolei Library will remain closed, with no books and no staff. Perhaps the fate of the Kapolei Library will get as much sympathy and media attention as the "world's most famous dog."
While keeping this action in mind, can we strive to address our own by considering and assisting those in need who have no roof over their heads or who will not have enough food in their bellies to keep them satisfied?
Even though I read The Advertiser every day, I am not sure where the funding for the dog's rescue came from. If you are out there and reading, please help the library and help those in need, too.
Micronesians shouldn't be targeted as dumb
I am a Marshallese college student studying in Milwaukee. For the past few weeks, I have heard nothing but negative comments about how Micronesians (Marshallese) are sucking up the economic welfare of the Hawaiian Islands and other U.S. states.
Well, let me say this: Whatever happened to the Pacific way of caring for the neighboring islands?
Micronesians (Marshallese) are not dumb. Try putting an American on an isolated island and see if he or she survives. We all just aren't equipped to deal with things in life we have not experienced. Try watching "Cast Away" and see how not so useful Tom Hanks looked.
We all come from different life experiences, and Micronesians (Marshallese) are not dumb just because they can't read English or operate machines. They are, in fact, some of the most skillful human beings on the face of the planet.
It is ironic that while state government is contemplating a campaign to promote business-friendly Hawai'i, the government passes a gas cap. Perhaps an apt slogan for the new Hawai'i campaign could be: "Freeze Enterprise."