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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Letters to the Editor

Raising premiums wouldn't be justified

Regarding Deborah Adamson's articles on auto insurance premiums in Hawai'i: She'll need to dig deeper to find the truth.

In 1996, the Legislature restricted medical reimbursement in no-fault to Medicare plus 10 percent; reduced mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) benefits by 50 percent ($20,000 to $10,000); and eliminated coverage for death benefits, lost wages, etc., creating a windfall for insurers.

Subsequently, Medicare has decreased annually due to federal deficit reductions. Last year, Medicare reduced reimbursement 22 percent.

These reductions have created a crisis for accident victims in Hawai'i. M.D.s, who receive Medicare plus 45 percent in other programs, have generally refused to accept PIP cases. For those still accepting them, referrals for treatment, and diagnostic studies, have become almost impossible.

In 1998, the Legislature restricted access to massage and physical therapy by mandating an M.D. gatekeeper, which has created a savings for insurers via the inability of victims to access benefits.

In addition to reaping increased profits since 1996, insurers were absolved from paying general excise tax. Former Commissioner Wayne Metcalf estimated this costs the state millions per month.

Given the above, one has to wonder how medical cost increases could be the rationale for raising premiums.

Rex A. Weigel
Hilo, Hawai'i

Turning back the clock won't help Hawaiians

In regard to Shana Logan's letter on Aug. 19: Yes, the Kingdom of Hawai'i was illegally overthrown in 1893. But, Ms. Logan, what is your solution to this situation? Do you want to "turn back the clock" and restore the kingdom?

That would probably mean breaking away from the United States. I'll tell you right now, I do not support that. That would solve nothing and cause even more problems.

I have lived here my entire life and am haole. I know from history how the haoles took advantage of the Hawaiians. We need to work together for an amicable solution, but turning back the clock is not one.

Aaron Stene
Kailua, Kona, Hawai'i

Trustees don't have to continue discrimination

Because of a federal judge's order, a boy entered a school to receive an education. The head of the school fought his admission because he does not meet the ancestry requirement of the school policy. The students and alumni of the school protest his entrance, for this boy will deny opportunities for their relatives.

People will debate if he should be admitted because he does not meet ancestry requirements. He does not need to attend, they will say. Other choices of equal schools for him to attend exist.

But like it or not, a boy of black ancestry entered a previously all-white school in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. If discrimination was wrong in Arkansas then, it is wrong in Hawai'i now.

Does fulfilling the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop require discrimination? The will gives trustees "full power to make all such rules to regulate the admission of pupils." The will clearly states the school should help orphans and others in indigent circumstances, but only states a preference for pure and part-Hawaiians.

The trustees have used their power to previously allow non-Hawaiian students admission and allowed non-Protestant teachers despite the will's instructions. The present policy of exclusion is based upon the will of the trustees and not the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

Joel Kaslofsky

Students should be taught to be respectful

Shame on the adults who predict that this boy from Kaua'i will be rejected by fellow students. The students are still children and should be taught respect for each other.

The blame goes to Kamehameha, which accepted the child before verifying his eligibility. Change your policies and let this poor boy move on. Accept your mistakes with grace.

The judge ruled on the acceptance issue, not race. I stand by our queen's will also and, for now, I stand by the innocence of this child.

Leilani Gonsalves

Others must pay tuition

I believe Hawaiian children should always be chosen first. But if non-Hawaiians are entitled to go to Kamehameha Schools, they should never be entitled to our queen's money. Non-Hawaiians should be allowed to attend if they spend fully out of their own pockets.

Noe Kahea
Wailuku, Maui

Do we really need all the details of contract?

I, too, wonder why so many people are interested in the details of June Jones' contracts, both the expiring one and the new one. I do understand that as taxpayers we are supposed to be privy to some of the salary information of state employees, but do we really need all of the details?

Just who, besides the media, is trying to get all of the information? In fact, I feel that the private contributors to coach Jones' salary should remain just that, private, since there is no taxpayer money involved.

I would encourage the sports reporters working on this "story" to continue publishing comparison salaries and contract terms from other big-time football schools just to keep everything in perspective.

I enjoyed David Shapiro's insightful analysis on Aug. 20, but I think he left out a couple of very important points about coach Jones' "value" to the UH football program. His is a very exciting and entertaining brand of football that has attained national recognition (witness the number of games televised by the sports networks compared with the number five years ago), and his presence and his program are keeping terrific local high school football players here in Hawai'i.

John Shen

Put the birds in the zoo

I think that the Maui wildlife officials should put the mitered conures in the zoo instead of killing them. The birds would probably have to be in a big, clear dome so they can't escape. Perhaps someone could invent a material that would absorb the waste of the birds, and the seeds would not sprout.

Malina Kekahuna
Waiahole Elementary School sixth-grader

We are all here to sustain each other

Mahalo nui loa for David Watson's "Half-truths of world poverty" and his reference to July's piece titled "Why don't rich (nations) help poor?" Watson's reference (again) to what a small percentage of developed nations' GDP it would take to make a difference is quite telling — particularly if aid were provided more selflessly.

At this moment, more than 1 billion people worldwide, in more than 80 countries, lack access to safe, potable drinking water, which is necessary for reducing water-borne illnesses such as diarrhea, hookworm and trachoma. It is estimated that this year, one child will die every eight seconds because of the illnesses contracted through their sources of water at home or even at school. For those children who do not die, they most likely will never have the opportunity to fully develop mentally, physically or spiritually.

Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., has recently published a book titled "Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble." He writes that: "Our modern civilization is in trouble. We have created a bubble economy, one whose output is artificially inflated by over-consumption of the earth's natural capital. We appear to be a species out of control, setting in motion processes that we do not understand with consequences we cannot foresee."

In the days ahead, let us hope we do less reflecting upon our navels and grow to accept that we are all here to sustain each other as well as this planet.

Peter M. Bower

It's essential we establish coastal marine reserves

We live smack in the middle of the world's largest ocean and yet import most of the seafood we eat. This irony testifies to the desperate condition of Hawai'i's coastal fisheries. Current conservation efforts are failing to stem the decline, and the latest science calls for more radical measures to prevent irrecoverable collapse.

However, the proposal to create marine reserves for 20 percent of our coastline is meeting objections that are based on several misunderstandings:

  • The proposal is not "anti-fishing," but will rather ensure that this noble sport can be enjoyed by future generations and fresh seafood be fully restored to our island diet.
  • The "right to fish," to partake of a public trust resource, is not absolute, but is temporarily suspended when it's leading to the destruction of that resource.
  • The proposal does not flout "local culture," but is fully in the spirit of the ancient Hawaiians, who were aware that the ocean's bounty is finite and practiced sustainable fishing through seasonal and other kapu.

Replenishment of coastal fisheries will also alleviate a major public health problem: the epidemic of diabetes and obesity that besets local populations that formerly enjoyed a diet rich in fish and are now reduced to eating high-fat fast food.

Graham Parkes

Stop the partisanship and look at accomplishments

Rep. Galen Fox and the governor should get on the same page. While Fox accuses Democrats of "stopping change," the governor has been going around the state in the last few weeks talking story about how much she's accomplished.

In the middle of too much political rhetoric, an important message is being lost: We have made a good beginning (despite a few bumps in the road), and good results are being achieved. If the House minority leader would put down his partisan flag for a few minutes, he might recognize what we've done.

By working together, the Legislature and the governor passed a balanced budget. Today, our state is in better fiscal condition than almost any state in the nation. Working together, the governor and the Legislature passed a strong new law to support mental health parity. The governor said that was one of her top priorities, and we helped her achieve it.

The House created a new approach to shut down drug houses, and the governor is putting that plan into action. The Legislature has formed a special committee to listen to concerns of communities across the state affected by the ice epidemic. The governor is planning a summit next month on the same issue. By working together, we will achieve a measurable impact on this vital health and public-safety issue.

Over the past few months, there has been a healthy debate over what will work best to improve our public schools. We have listened carefully to the governor's proposal for local elected school boards, but we want to explore all options along with the public. Meanwhile, we have introduced a plan that will send funding directly to schools, rather than through the bureaucracy.

Instead of throwing partisan insults, Galen Fox might consider where that path will lead us. Serious politicians and leaders on both sides want solutions and a coordinated effort to achieve results. That's what voters expect from all of us.

Rep. Scott Saiki
D-22nd (McCully, Pawa'a)
House majority leader