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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Letters to the Editor

Ko Olina aquarium should get tax credit

The Honolulu Advertiser and the local tax groups are so wrong about advising Gov. Cayetano to veto the tax credits for Ko Olina. Even a marketing bozo could write a proposal to lure incoming tourists to the proposed world-class Aquarium and Sea Mammal Training Center.

If tax credits can be given to the local movie industry to produce grade-B films resulting in meager, fleeting employment, then doing the same for long-term growth and jobs in the area of O'ahu where it is needed the most is hopefully a no-brainer.

The argument for Ko Olina jobs outweighs every concern about tax revenue due the state. What the misguided state has done to a very decent, hard-working and community-spirited man like Jeff Stone requires some soul-searching.

Michael Akin

Drug rehabilitation bill addresses key problems

I am writing to thank the Legislature for passing SB 1188, which concerns drug rehabilitation. This new law now mandates substance-abuse treatment for inmates. It also requires community-based supervision and treatment for offenders convicted of nonviolent drug-possession offenses and requires the offenders to participate in community-based supervision and treatment instead of incarceration.

This law will prevent some from returning to their old lifestyles once they get out of prison. The law will also prevent prison overcrowding. Studies have shown that 80 percent of offenders who completed some kind of treatment program did not have any drug-related violations afterward.

Operating such programs will cost our state a lot of money, but we shouldn't complain about any tax hikes because they will go toward a good cause. The Legislature met the needs of our community, Waimanalo, and others: solving drug problems.

Romelyn Arellano
Kailua High School

Drama review didn't capture play's essence

Joseph Rozmiarek's May 11 review of "Rain," though accurate in some details, overall misses the mark.

The play is a tragically realistic character study rooted in religion and sexual repression. And though set in 1932 Pago Pago, it is obviously relevant to our current crisis of clerical misbehavior.

The small audience is powerfully and intimately engaged, not "trapped" by the "minuscule" Yellow Brick Studio Theater. And Rozmiarek's assertion that "we could enjoy this more if somehow we didn't feel that we were expected to take it seriously" seems to fundamentally misunderstand the archetypical realism of religious and sexual hypocrisy. It is as old, after all, as "You lash the harlot that you lust to use in kind."

Finally, it's mixing media, if not metaphor, to downplay the raw, emotional immediacy of this live drama, in favor of Joan Crawford's movie version of yesteryear. Let each stand on the merit of its own form.

The scenery and wall hooks have already been mended. Rozmiarek's methods of appraisal need more serious repairs.

John Conner
Leeward Community College

Penalty for seat-belt violation outrageous

Let me start out by saying I do agree with the seat-belt policy. My complaint is that the infraction doesn't justify the penalty. I think the fine is outrageous. It is just another way for the government to make money off working people.

I was guilty and I agree I should pay a fine when I received a ticket as I was leaving a gas station in my company truck. I probably would have clicked on my seat belt if I had only a little bit more time to do it. The police had a stake-out right next to the gas station.

The fine of $67 is way too much money for this offense. A more reasonable fine would be $25 or $30.

William Fenwick

Thieves took more than my father's car

After working for 38 years for the federal government here in Hawai'i, Japan and South Korea, and being on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands list for nearly 30 years, my father finally had the good fortune to be given a lease for the newly built Hawaiian Kupuna Apartments in Waimanalo.

On April 16, my dad was the first to move into that complex. On May 15, his 1993 Honda was stolen from the parking stall less than 10 feet from his front door. My father's car is his only means to get to Tripler for his monthly doctor's appointment and represents his ability to remain mobile and independent.

After reporting this incident to the police that morning, my father discovered that a radio was also stolen from his neighbor's automobile.

This is a sad day for Hawai'i, especially for those seniors who have strived to remain independent for as long as they are physically and mentally able. I think the real tragedy, however, is having to acknowledge that there are those among us who not only withhold the care and respect our kupuna deserve, they downright stomp on it.

Auwe, Hawai'i!

P.S. Thank you to the policemen who took the time to answer my father's call and to take his report. My dad's car was found trashed and abandoned May 16 at Makapu'u Point.

Keola Horita

Tax credit available on child safety seats

I am writing to address some of the issues raised by Mike Hoffman's May 17 letter regarding the failed bill that would have allowed a $25 credit for each child safety seat purchased and would have required car seats or booster seats for all children under 8 years old.

Hoffman's letter may lead people to believe that there is no tax credit available for taxpayers who purchase child safety seats or booster seats. However, under current law, there is a refundable income tax credit of $25 for a taxpayer who purchases a qualifying child safety seat, including qualifying booster seats, during the year.

The Department of Taxation would also like to point out that current law requires all children under the age of 4 to be placed in a child safety seat regardless of where seated and requires children under the age of 18 riding in the rear seats to use seat belts.

Marie Y. Okamura
State director of taxation

Mayor Harris doesn't get it about the budget

I received one of those lobbying letters from the city, apparently because of my attendance at visioning meetings. The letter is a rather blatant budget play by the mayor over the City Council's heads directly to the voters, specifically to "voters" who have been carefully targeted by the mayor as frequent beneficiaries of city services.

Cute. But the mayor's timing couldn't have been worse.

This City Council finally did something right in making hard budget choices. The mayor, of course, doesn't like that and claims he can restructure the city's debt so he can continue his fun projects, such as vision meetings and subsidized beach parties. He asks us to press the council toward fiscal irresponsibility.

Let me share with you my current "vision." I have a vision of a city where restoration projects, such as the Natatorium, are fully financed and actually completed. I have a vision of a city where the streets don't ruin the alignment on my automobile, nor shake my fillings loose. I have a vision of a city where the sewers are maintained so that parts of the city don't smell like a Third World cesspool. I have a vision of a city where fiscal responsibility is a goal, not an obstacle.

More important, I have a vision of a state where Jeremy Harris is governor, and it ain't pretty.

Robert R. Kessler

Here are legislators who supported bill

Gov. Cayetano has promised to veto HB 2509, the bill concerning parking for persons with disabilities recently passed by the Legislature. But I thought the public should know the identities of the misguided legislators who came up with the offensive idea to significantly lower the minimum fine for illegally parking in stalls reserved for persons with disabilities.

The members who would do all Hawai'i citizens a disservice by supporting the bill without reservation in the joint committee were: Sen. Cal Kawamoto, Sen. Brian Kanno, Sen. Carol Fukunaga, Sen. Fred Hemmings, Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Joe Souki.

Lunsford Dole Phillips

Outrigger should have to provide guarantee

I think I'm missing something with the city's move to condemn Waikiki parcels if their owners don't cut a deal with Outrigger Hotels.

Granted the Outrigger people are very reputable and have a large voice in tourism issues. And they have shown us pretty pictures of how they want to improve Waikiki.

But where's the beef? What happens if Outrigger cannot get financing, anyway, despite its newly acquired fee ownership of other people's land? What if the Kelley family elects to liquidate and sell the chain to a Mainland hotel group?

What if Outrigger changes its mind and decides to build something else on its newly acquired land — land that the city handed to Outrigger on a silver tray?

The city needs a guarantee of performance. Maybe a performance bond. Something that says that, if Outrigger doesn't deliver on its promises, the city can take the land back and return it to its original owners.

Otherwise, the city is signing a blank check with Outrigger. Not good.

Mike Roeder

From a fan, with love

Words cannot describe the way I feel about the big win — the UH's Men's National Volleyball Championship. All I can say, with a lot of love and aloha, is, Thank you and congratulations.

Malama Josefovicz

The good and bad of welfare reform

A recent Advertiser article declared that based on 2000 Census data, "The 1990s was a rough decade, economically speaking." The percentage of people with incomes below poverty level increased from 8.3 percent to 10.7 percent.

The state Department of Human Services sees both the difficulties facing children and families living in poverty and also how resilient the people of Hawai'i are even in "rough times."

When Hawai'i's welfare reform started in 1996, the DHS served 22,785 poor families through our Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. In 2002, the caseload dropped 30 percent to 15,965 households.

How was this done? Through hard work on the part of welfare recipients, expanded job training and childcare stipends, partnerships with the private sector for job development, and restructuring of payment standards that reward work. And while it is true that there was a five-year time limit on cash assistance, most people did not hit that final time limit. Rather, they worked their way off welfare.

The DHS also provides financial assistance through the General Assistance and the Aged, Blind and Disabled programs. Participation in these programs declined as well. Between 1996 and 2002, the number of clients dropped from 9,617 to 7,434. Some of these people became rehabilitated and others, who were permanently disabled, began receiving Social Security.

Overall, the total number of individuals receiving financial assistance in Hawai'i (adults and children) declined from 79,691 in 1996 to 56,901 in 2002. While that seems like an excellent trend, we must remember that many families, not only those on welfare, but also those who are working, remain poor. Low wages in part-time jobs do not pull the working poor out of poverty.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to re-authorize a new welfare law. This new law freezes funding to the states for five years, increases work requirements for single mothers to 40 hours a week, reduces state flexibility to provide education and training, and does not adequately provide childcare stipends for working parents.

Many think the 1996 welfare reform was a success in terms of moving people out of welfare, but shouldn't success be measured by a reduced number of people living in poverty?

Susan Chandler
Department of Human Services