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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 3, 2003

Letters to the Editor

Shame on the ACLU: God is not a religion

Regarding your Jan. 29 story, "McKinley drops 'Love for God ' ": Let's get something straight. God is not a "religion," as the ACLU mistakenly claims in a lawsuit against McKinley High School.

It says the school is endorsing a religion through the inclusion of "love for God" in an honor code on a plaque. Again, simply stated, God is not a religion — God is infinite, divine good, the supreme good each individual reflects. And God is love.

Shame on the ACLU for trying to diminish or eliminate "good" from our schools. The students must not lose this point of reference or be confused. They must hold to good no matter what the ACLU or a confused sophomore says about separation of state and church.

The Constitution guarantees our individual right to free speech, and the school should not kowtow to false thinking; keep the code as it is.

Suzanne Teller

Treatment facilities must be provided

Regarding Alan Shinn's Jan. 23 letter, "School drug testing isn't best answer": We at Hina Mauka also appreciate Sen. Robert Bunda's concern for student drug abuse; however, further discussion of the problem and its solution is needed.

Hina Mauka's Teen C.A.R.E. currently has 12 school-based drug counseling programs throughout the state. We treat approximately 500 students a year. The YMCA has similar capacity in its school-based programs. Aloha House on Maui and the Big Island Substance Abuse Council also have school-based programs. Altogether we treat about 1,500 children each year — and our programs are at capacity.

According to "The 2000 Hawai'i Student Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Study" by the Department of Health, it was estimated that over 12,000 Hawai'i students need substance-abuse treatment. If we are to begin identifying more adolescents who may need treatment, the community needs to know how we are going to allocate resources to provide the services.

What good will a drug testing program do if we don't pay for prevention and treatment for the youth we've already identified to be in need of help?

We really need a thorough and realistic approach to reduce drug and alcohol use among youth. Please get more input and give it more thought.

M.P. "Andy" Anderson
CEO, Hina Mauka

Without gambling, what is the solution?

For those who strongly oppose the move to legalize any form of gambling in Hawai'i, did you read the headline in the Jan. 18 Advertiser, "School budget starts to take cuts: Many programs losing 30 percent of budget"?

Trust me, folks, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

In the next five to 10 years, you will see a huge exodus of tax-paying workers leaving the workforce as the baby boomers start to retire. To compound the problem, as good-paying jobs in Hawai'i disappear, you will see more and more of our youngsters decide to find work on the Mainland after graduating from college.

As the number of taxpaying workers declines, you will soon see a dramatic drop in revenues collected. When this happens, state and city governments will have no choice but to slash the education budget, eliminate thousands of government jobs, eliminate social service programs, change trash pick-up to once a week, scale back the workforce in the police and fire departments, etc.

Am I starting to scare you? Where do you think the "make-up" revenues will come from? Tourism? I don't think so.

The only solution will be for the state and city governments to raise taxes on small-business owners and the unlucky people still in the workforce. You will also see huge increases in sewer fees, property taxes, etc. Get the picture?

So for those, including legislators, who strongly oppose the move to legalize gambling in Hawai'i, tell me your solution to these problems.

Akira Abe

Libraries should have fund-raising campaigns

Budgetary restrictions leading to major reductions in library user services are again on the agenda. Before raising the question as to whether these restrictions are truly inevitable, I should like to express my surprise that there has been no opportunity for public input on the question.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the public library system is a governmental agency. Other cultural entities raise a considerable part of their needed funding from public donations; why can't the same system be applied to the library deficit?

I, for one, would be happy to dig into my pocket for $10 or $15 to support my libraries, and I am sure that there are more than enough other public-spirited citizens who would be ready to join me.

Morton L. Brown

Hawaiians should work within 'system'

Regarding the Jan. 19 Focus piece, "New hopes for ancestral culture": The only way for Hawaiians to reach common goals is for them to work within the "system."

We must become educated — and not focus so much on ancestral culture. How can we be "guardians of these Islands" when we can't take care of ourselves?

Hawaiians are an oppressed people. We must build ourselves up by making sure our keiki graduate from college and then give back to the culture and community. We cannot relearn all the ways of our kupuna. These Islands are not the same as they were in ancient times.

How will we decide who gets the land if it is given back to us? Hawaiians must gain power. The only way to gain political and economic power is through education and work, not by building a heiau.

The best option for all Hawaiians is to get educated, work hard at a good job or business, save and buy back the land while waiting for some type of kanaka sovereignty.

Leina'ala Cuevas

Doctor-assisted suicide is better left alone

The problems of suicide and assisted suicide have exercised the world's greatest minds since Confucius and Aristotle. Is it not a bit presumptuous for the state Legislature to try to resolve this issue?

Only one other state has permitted assisted suicide, and the long-term results of that experiment are far from clear.

Our Legislature contains many compassionate, clever and principled people, but they have had great difficulties in recent years with basic day-to-day issues of government, such as traffic safety, taxation, budgeting and public education. Perhaps they should set themselves more modest goals.

If our legislators are compelled to do some great deed of compassion in 2003, let them help the poor by repealing the GET tax on food, shelter and medicine. It will not put us on the front page of The New York Times, but it will be a good work and long overdue.

Ray Gagner

Big jets shouldn't fly over populated areas

Your Jan. 24 report on the China Airlines pilot who wakened and terrified hundreds of Honolulu residents recently "did not violate any FAA rules" just reinforces the fact that these rules desperately need to be changed.

It is insane for the FAA to permit jumbo jets to fly over heavily populated areas at an elevation of 1,200 feet when there are miles of open ocean for aircraft to fly over. Approaching over the water should be mandatory, not optional.

The FAA spokesman cavalierly admits that the FAA controllers gave no instructions to the pilot to remain over water, but makes no mention of any disciplinary action taken for this failure to do so.

Once again the FAA thumbs its nose at residents of Honolulu.

Tom Macdonald

Lingle's educational proposals wonderful

Gov. Lingle is to be commended for her vision and courage when it comes to increasing funding for conversion charter schools and support for homeschooling. It was heartening to hear our state's top elected official speak about changes within our educational system that will benefit children and teachers immediately upon implementation.

By expanding the educational choices and options Hawai'i's people have for their children, we should expect to see a reduction in the kind of systemic stress that has characterized many of our public schools for too long. We should see relief in our children as they enroll in smaller classes and in environments they and their families have chosen. We should see renewed enthusiasm among teachers and administrators, who also will enjoy a broader range of professional options in an environment more conducive to constructive interaction with their students.

Finally, as members of the general community, we should all expect to feel greater satisfaction that our tax dollars will help fuel this positive change and that the success of our schools and students will directly impact the success and well-being of Hawai'i Nei.

Thank you, Gov. Lingle, for the focus these long-needed, logical changes will bring to education in Hawai'i. Your plans coincide perfectly with the existing initiatives to improve school readiness and provide quality early education for Hawai'i's keiki.

Hamilton I. McCubbin, Ph.D.
Chancellor and CEO, Kamehameha Schools

Mystic rock column showed no respect

Tanya Bricking's Jan. 28 column on mystic lava rocks reminds one of the slowly eroding respect, knowledge and appreciation toward the Hawaiian culture that is a result of the influx of disrespectful outsiders to the Islands. It's the Californication of Hawai'i.

Sounding like a fresh-off-the-boat tourist, she alludes to the respect for Pele and her 'aina numerous times as "superstition," and is sure all her other colleagues would throw the rocks in the trash. Tanya says she would return the rocks, not out of respect, but simply because she doesn't want to take any chances of experiencing bad luck. To add insult to injury, she says she has always been intrigued by real-life bad-luck rock stories since watching the Brady Bunch-cursed tiki episode.

If she really were interested in this kind of thing as much as she implies, she would study and read of it through your own newspaper archives or read any number of books on Hawaiian culture or Glen Grant's books. Of course, then we would have no column making light of Pele and the returning of "bad luck" lava rocks.

Hey, that's not such a bad trade-off.

Allen St. James

Most prisoners aren't given drug treatment

As an inmate who has violated parole and is now serving time for my violations, I must respond to the Jan. 21 letter by Mary Juanita Tiwanak, acting chair of the Hawai'i Paroling Authority. While I cannot argue in any way the importance of getting true violators off the streets, I do need to dispute her view of the millions spent on treatment.

Because of the violations in my case, I did need to be sent back to prison. But when I returned to prison, what I really hoped for was the opportunity to get treatment. In the past two years that I have been back, I have not been given a valid opportunity to get the treatment I need. Though drugs did not cause me to break the law, nor do they relieve me of my responsibility for my crimes, they are the root of my problems.

When Tiwanak points to the perceived treatment available in the system, she reinforces my belief that the Hawai'i Paroling Authority is truly ignorant and ill-informed about how thing really are here. Of the four medium-security housing modules at the Halawa Correctional Facility, only one quad in one module is available for treatment. That is only 32 beds out of the some 1,000 or more beds here. Add to that the high-security facility, the special holding unit and the small medical unit, and one quad is a sad number.

Do I blame Tiwanak for her lack of true understanding? No. She will probably point to other facilities within the system and say, "Go there to find help." She may even believe this is true. But, despite of the millions spent so far, the truth is that treatment options are few and far between.

After more than 16 years revolving through this system — a reality I am willing to admit is based on the things I have done — I'm really looking for change. All I need is for those in authority to admit things are not what they seem, accept that and do something about it.

I've got some ideas, based on my inside view, but no one in charge seems to want to listen. There are positive options out there, but I just can't seem to get them.

Michael A. Maggiacomo
Halawa Correctional Facility