Letters to the Editor
Voluntary drug test has worked elsewhere
I graduated in 2000 from a high school in Washington state. Originally, the school board and a community full of senior citizens there passed the right to drug-test any student. The ACLU threatened a lawsuit, asserting it was against our constitutional rights for a drug test to be required in a public school.
Many students agreed that drugs were a large problem, and through community gatherings and student input, it was agreed to find another way that was legal.
Eventually, our school required athletes and members of a school club or group to sign a release that they would submit to random, mandatory drug testing. A school can commit legally to drug-free athletes and club members, but it is against student rights to test every student.
They cannot actually force all athletes and club members to test, but they can require, in order to "make" the team or become a member of a club, that students sign a release saying they're willing to submit. Again, this cannot be required of all students, but it is legal to do random testing of athletes.
I am against drug use; however, I am much more against the violation of my civil rights. If authorities require all public education students to take drug tests, then they could require every citizen to drug-test, and that rapidly could progress to legalizing the search of any home for drugs, even without suspicion.
Ecological disaster is unfolding before us
As a property owner along the shores of Lake Wilson, I watch the daily expansion of Salvinia molesta overtaking the lake. In the last few weeks, the salvinia has covered the entire lake surrounding Lakeview Circle with a beautiful green carpet of the plant. The salvinia is so thick that boats can't navigate the waters and trash, including a stove, floats on top of the green carpet.
An ecological disaster is happening before our eyes. The alien plant is rapidly smothering all other life in the lake, and we will soon have a "dead lake," except for the salvinia. The ecological damage caused by a "dead lake" is unknown, but one can easily imagine that the smell and mess would affect residents and property owners in the area. One can also imagine that the cost to clean up a "dead lake" would be much higher than attacking the problem before the lake dies.
Lake Wilson is a cornerstone of the Wahiawa redevelopment plan. The development of Lake Wilson, O'ahu's largest fresh-water lake, as a recreational, fishing and boating area is vital to the economic health and evolution of Wahiawa.
Overthrowing Saddam could worsen problems
In our overconfidence of a quick, easy and decisive victory over Saddam Hussein, we may be overlooking possible side effects.
For example, a major surprise after we defeated the apparently much-disliked Taliban in Afghanistan was that a coalition of pro-Taliban and pro-Osama bin Laden parties won the recent elections in the two Pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan. Not necessarily because people living there love Osama and the Taliban, but, ironically, because they now hate us because many lost family members in our indiscriminate bombings in Afghanistan.
Some of those anguished people might feel justified in seeking revenge by killing equally innocent Americans Peace Corp volunteers, teachers, students, diplomats and travelers.
Why are we trying to get rid of Saddam, anyway? We are probably better off having a known though unpredictable personality in power in Baghdad than an even more unpredictable scenario that might emerge if we kill Saddam and install a pro-West government.
We should strive to attain a win-win situation for us and the Iraqi people even for Saddam: by biding our time and letting nature take its toll. After all, we have effectively contained Libya's flamboyant Moammar Ghaddafi and Syria's vitriolic Bashar Assad by "muscular diplomacy."
Given the intensity of our surveillance, Saddam's planes can't even take off without our knowledge. Let us not risk our brave armed forces unnecessarily.
United States must not abandon United Nations
The United Nations was built for trouble. It has often succeeded in difficult assignments. Concern for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is justified. Now is no time to abandon the United Nations or circumvent international law.
The United States has been ambivalent about the U.N. and international accords, e.g., nuclear arms control treaties.
A look at history is not reassuring. A Republican-controlled Senate prevented the United States from joining the League of Nations in 1919 to 1920. With the election of Warren Harding in 1920, the league was dead.
The Cold War was characterized by U.S. unilateral interventionism at times in violation of the U.N. Charter. After years of discussion concerning the need for an international criminal court that would hold individuals liable for certain crimes under international law, the United States voted against an agreement in 1998.
The present administration apparently is prepared to discount U.N. inspections in Iraq and revert to a historically discredited path of unilateralism.
At this turning point in history, the issue of most consequence may be whether the United Nations will be strengthened by U.S. cooperation or abandoned.
Robert T. Bobilin
Towing firms should accept credit cards
A recent news story covered a request by towing companies to increase their charges. If they are going to increase these fees, they should also allow the consumer to be able to pay by credit card or electronic debit. They currently take only cash. The tow fees are in excess of $200, not even counting storage. Most people do not carry this kind of money.
This is just another rip-off of the public. It is absolutely outrageous. Auwe!
Don't ease standards for military facilities
Should America go to war and tourists stop coming to Hawai'i, it's nice to know we have sound leadership in House Speaker Calvin Say, House Military Affairs Chairman Ken Ito and Rep. Marcus Oshiro.
They have a plan. It's great to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but allowing the suspension of environmental assessments and environmental impact statements to construct new military training facilities on state land is the most absurd idea heard this legislative session thus far.
It's bad enough that federal military training lands are already exempt from state laws, including laws that prevent gambling.
The military in Hawai'i already controls too much land and has polluted a significant portion of that land. Don't give any more ceded land to it in the form of land transfers or leases that will allow the 'aina to be poisoned and prevent or reduce access to the limited land remaining.
"Training tourism" should not be encouraged. Find another way. How about promoting a conflict resolution center like the Sparky Matsunaga Peace Center?
William J. Aila Jr.
Look for real causes for education problems
The recent education articles restate the symptoms, but miss the real causes of Hawai'i's poor public schools: This community does not admire or revere scholarship, and the most powerful entities in Hawai'i the visitor industry and the state Legislature have no need for it and would be inconvenienced by it.
My thoughts are based on eight years as a volunteer reader, from delivering scholarships as chairman of a scholarship committee, and from formerly running a successful actuarial consulting office that required 15 highly educated employees.
I once awarded scholarships to three public high school students who had the potential to do great things for Hawai'i. When I did, I learned that for ball games, the students are taken out of class to attend mandatory "pep rallies." However, honoring these three exceptional students was done in an empty gym at night and with a bring-your-own audience.
Is the message not clear to the rest of the student body? Sports are important. Scholarship isn't.
With respect to an educated population being inconvenient, just ask: Does the visitor industry have a greater need for minimally educated, lower-wage employees or highly educated, expensive ones?
Would all, or even most, of the current career politicians be retained in the next election by a more universally and highly educated population?
Why install cable TV in university dorms?
What is the UH housing department thinking by installing cable television in all of the dorms? Has it nothing better to spend the money on?
I can easily think of several better alternatives: computers in the dorm lobbies for students who do not have any, better laundry facilities to benefit the Neighbor Island students, libraries or study areas for those who want to (heaven forbid!) study, or more parking stalls to solve the problem of ridiculously crowded parking.
Apparently, the housing department would rather waste money on helping students find excuses to skip class or put off doing homework.
Come on, UH. The last thing we need is more TV.
University of Hawai'i student
Lottery would keep our money in Hawai'i
Since thousands of our Islanders are going to Las Vegas for their gambling needs and stimulating its economy, we should start stimulating our own economy.
A lottery would make a lot more jobs available, and proceeds could go to upgrade our schools.
Keep our economy and everything here so we Islanders can reap our own rewards.
Maui finally getting real land-planning
Planning Director Mike Foley and Mayor Alan Arakawa are ensuring we will have a future here on Maui that includes real land-planning.
Certain developers have had free rein for many years to bypass the thoughts and vision of the people who volunteer many thousands of hours on the community plans. These are roadmaps for our future and the way this island will look over the life of the plans.
A plan is worked on, put in place, and immediately these developers begin asking for amendments and exemptions, and they have been very successful with past administrations.
Some West Maui developments are prime examples. Certain developers are telling us they are going to sue the county because we ask for our community plans to have major weight in planning decisions.
Many developers welcome the ability to have a level playing field to work with, and it is these folks and the rest of us who will truly profit from the new planning direction. Let's work with builders and officials who will build real affordable housing for local families.
Please back the administration and conscientious developers who will work with this new opportunity as they try to make sure we have Maui and not Malibu in 10 years.
A-Plus is a socially desirable program
Don Chambers' Jan. 31 letter indicates an enormous lack of understanding of how our society works. A-Plus is a needed, wanted and socially desirable program.
The fact is that the majority of families are not able to make ends meet without both parents working. A-Plus has provided a great service that has allowed families to survive. Not all families are fortunate enough to have nearby relatives who are able or willing to assist with after-school care.
Although my children are now past elementary age, they attended A-Plus and I valued the program highly, as it allowed my family to be financially independent. The bottom line is, if I hadn't worked, we would have been applying for food stamps or other government benefits to survive. With the help of A-Plus, I have been a productive, tax-paying citizen.
Economically and socially, we have a moral responsibility to support the stability of the family unit irrespective of whether it is a one-parent or two-parent family. The alternative would seem to be restricting child-bearing to very rich.
Galen Fox's letter on education appalling
Regarding Rep. Galen Fox's Feb. 2 letter ("Private schools: DOE teachers do send their kids elsewhere"): I am a public school teacher who is proud to say that my two children attended public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. They graduated at the top of their classes. They also learned things and skills they would never have obtained in a private school.
I care about public education. I think all state elected officials should send their children to public schools. Then maybe we would get the support and funding public education should have.
Private schools select the children who go to their schools. As a public school teacher, I must work with any child who comes into my class. Some come in knowing no or little English, having dysfunctional families, having disabilities or behavioral difficulties.
Our books are old or nonexistent. The facilities are deteriorating. My own children went to a high school where textbooks had to be shared, where the bathrooms were horrific, where firecracker bombs were a common occurrence, where teenage pregnancy was common and where drugs could be obtained if they wanted them.
But they learned to cope, compensate, survive and succeed. I am appalled by Mr. Fox's letter.