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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2003

Letters to the Editor

DOE failing students on school lunches

Over 180,000 public school students at over 250 public schools across six islands are served food that is selected by a central committee (Advertiser, June 1). Approximately half the students at the six high schools surveyed by The Advertiser do not buy lunch.

Students at Baldwin and Kalani high schools have taken the initiative to work with the system to develop more healthful and appetizing menus (Letters, June 4). The students have been told the schools cannot provide alternative menus.

According to Gene Kaneshiro, director of the DOE School Food Services Branch, "altering menus would raise a series of issues ranging from procurement laws ... to union agreements" (Advertiser, June 1). The students were told the system's best alternative is to add "additional meal distribution points."

Students don't want more places to buy the same food they are rejecting. They want better food.

We are constantly told that the DOE is not "one size fits all." Yet this is a prime example, one of thousands, where the concerns of adults override the interest of the students, and we are shackled by a centralized system.

We need to move to more local control so that schools have the freedom to tailor their services to their own communities.

Laura Thielen
State Board of Education member

These pointers will make driving easier

Having been to over 12 countries and almost every state, I have to say that the drivers here are the worst I've ever seen. Hopefully, I can pass on a few pointers (actually common knowledge elsewhere) that might help our traffic problems and make our roads safer:

• When you're driving, don't eat, talk on the phone, read the paper, etc. Driving should be your primary concern. If you concentrate on driving, you won't leave a 10-car gap between you and the car in front of you and traffic will move faster. You'll also be much safer.

• The left lane of a highway is considered the fast lane and is normally used for passing. It is dangerous to pass on the right, but that seems to be the rule here rather than the exception. If traffic is passing you by, get over to the right rather than staying in whatever lane you're in. Also, if someone comes up from behind and flashes his lights, it means he wants to pass, so go ahead and move to the right.

• Merging is not that hard. It seems people here are terrified of merging and almost come to a stop hoping someone will let them in. When merging, adjust your speed so you can merge with traffic without causing any slowdowns.

• The resale value of your vehicle won't increase if you don't use your turn signals, so use them.

• This thing about not using horns is ridiculous. The horn was placed on a car for a reason, so use it. I know, folks don't want to because the horn they blow today will be blown right back at them tomorrow because they're also a terrible driver. Learn how to drive and you won't have to worry about it.

Tim Jenkins
'Ewa Beach

Don't sign scooter ban

If the mayor approves the proposed City Council ban on gas-powered scooters, then he should also ban leaf blowers, motorcycles, cars with custom engines, etc.

Please, Mayor Harris, exercise some good judgment and oppose this inane ban.

Kimberly Lewis

U.S. flag is more than just a piece of cloth

I'm a World War II veteran of the Pacific war, and your editorial regarding flag burning is a bit hard to swallow.

I don't imagine the writer is a combat veteran. I have not talked to one combat veteran who thinks flag burning is free speech. They do call it a few other things not fit to print.

If the author had put some thought into what the flag represents, if he had been in combat and had gone through the misery of seeing men torn to bits, but most of all standing at attention watching men being buried at sea ... As the body slides from under the flag and into the sea, this horrible feeling of loss comes over you. You know this man will never see his family again.

Yes, the flag is more than just a piece of cloth.

Howard W. Hudson

China isn't threatening Hong Kong freedoms

Your June 6 editorial "China threatening Hong Kong freedoms" contains misconceptions about the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government's proposals to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law to protect national security.

We have provided specifically in our national security (legislative provisions) bill that all its provisions must be interpreted, applied and enforced in accordance with constitutional guarantees on fundamental rights and freedoms. This also mandates strict compliance with relevant international conventions on human rights.

Following the "one country, two systems" principle, there is no question of extending mainland laws to Hong Kong. The way of life, rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people will in no way be affected by our proposed national security law.

Annie Tang
Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco

Support Maile Meyer and her Native Books

Thank you for putting a well-deserved spotlight on Maile Meyer and Native Books Na Mea Hawai'i.

Native Books is a cultural treasure trove for Hawai'i. Maile has been a protector and visionary for Native Books.

Sure, you can save a dollar or two by buying a book from Amazon.com. But Native Books has much that will never be sold at Amazon. And, supporting a local merchant like this one is helping to save our island state's culture.

At last year's Governor's Conference on Arts and Culture, Maile implored the people in this community to stick to their ideals and passions. We all need to support Maile and Native Books Na Mea Hawai'i in sticking to her own vision. It represents the very best of our local cultural ideals.

Bruce Behnke
Photographer, Pacific Rim Photography

Homeowner association off base on restriction

The 'Ewa resident who installed a solar water heater on a garage roof was trying to do his part to help the environment and work toward making Hawai'i more self-sufficient. He should be applauded. Instead, the man was threatened with a lawsuit by the homeowners association of the subdivision in which he lives ("Man told solar system must go," June 3).

This story illustrates how some of the policies and practices of homeowners associations conflict with good public policy.

As a further example, the covenants and restrictions of some of these associations prohibit residents from erecting clotheslines in their yards. The result is that they must have clothes dryers, which are typically run by electricity generated by burning imported oil or coal, which pollutes the air.

Also, the plants that residents may grow in their yards are limited to those on an approved list that excludes vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, beans and tomatoes.

Admittedly, the things that are prohibited represent only small ways in which people can help the environment and move Hawai'i toward becoming more self-sufficient. But everyone should at least be allowed to do their part. And with more and more subdivisions with these kinds of limitations, the total effect is substantial.

Homeowners associations should reconsider their policies and practices that conflict with good public policy. Perhaps a law can be passed to override them.

John Kawamoto

Mandatory helmet law would kill more people

Ed Chevy, if he is able to open his mind, may find that helmetless bikers are not as "weak of mind" as he thinks (Letters, June 5).

I have been riding motorcycles steadily for almost 50 years and have followed the helmet controversy for a long time. Part of the problem is that most people think head injury fatalities are in the high percentages in biking accidents, but this is not at all true. Only about 10 percent of fatalities are head injuries; most are crush injuries. And the great majority of biking accidents are caused by drivers of larger vehicles.

Another drawback in mandatory helmets is that the ancient and heavy DOT-approved helmets are the ones of legislative choice. If wearing helmets really saves lives, there would be a decrease in motorcycle fatalities when a state enacts a mandatory helmet law. In fact, fatalities increase, and many states over the past few years have abolished their helmet laws.

One of the reasons for the increase in fatalities is that bouncing down the road at high speed with an extra 4.5 pounds of weight firmly strapped to the top on one's head is a good way to almost guarantee serious neck and brain-stem injuries. When mandatory helmet laws are enacted, the death rate from head injuries goes down slightly and the death rate from neck/brain-stem injuries goes way up.

What is needed is a new helmet design using all these wondrous new lightweight materials that would provide protection without killing the wearer. Until this happens, I will not be wearing a helmet.

There is much more, of course: Most helmets somewhat restrict peripheral vision; unless a face-shield is perfectly clean, it restricts forward vision; all helmets restrict or alter hearing, which is vitally important to an experienced rider who can hear larger vehicles nearby; all helmets cause high internal temperatures on a sunny day, which bakes the brain of even the toughest of riders; the weight of a helmet increases fatigue and therefore heightens the risk of poor decision-making ... you get the picture.

I am sorry, but to suggest that people who do not see things as Mr. Chevy does somehow deserve to die is absolutely ludicrous.

Ken Chapman
Makawao, Maui

Bidding fee hurts local companies

Mr. T. Ludwick erred in his judgment and logic in the June 6 letter "Bidding system saves state money." And, is he speaking on behalf of the university?

First, TIG has never paid CommercePoint as a corporation or as a local branch. It was our previous reps, in attempting to survive and to gain the University of Hawai'i's business through this bidding system, who paid CommercePoint out of their own pockets. Unfortunately, these reps could not survive in sales and have since left our company.

Second, Mr. Ludwick indicates that there is savings realized of 10 to 30 percent, which I find misleading. Our industry is based on margins, which local and branch companies have in common with the Mainland companies. Global competition over the years has pushed margins low across the board from here to the Mainland. We all compete very closely with one another. And certainly, prices can go down on various products on any given day between 10 to 30 percent. To claim such savings is naive.

Also, local companies pay shipping costs just as Mainland companies do. Unfortunately, the product does not originate in Hawai'i. But Mainland companies don't pay our tax or the cost to run a business in Hawai'i with local employees, which provides local jobs and feeds our local revenue stream. And does not our state need this tax revenue?

Third, the University of Hawai'i should investigate what other universities have successfully done without charging their local businesses and not try to reinvent the wheel at the expense of local businesses. That's just too convenient and insensitive and has no forethought of our economy. After all, doesn't the university realize that it is the local companies that provide the revenue for it to run, for its paychecks to be paid and for its graduates to be hired?

The CommercePoint system charges our local businesses a winning bid fee, which does not happen in other states. That's not complaining, Mr. Ludwick, that's reality. It's not a good idea. As for the awards of contracts and bids that have not gone through an open and fair bid process in the past, that was an internal university problem and without TIG's involvement.

The solution is simple. E-mail us or post your bid on the Internet for everyone to see and for us to respond to. Local companies will be happy to accept the university's methods of payment. It's not too much to ask for. We need to stop this unnecessary fee to our local companies and keep our revenue flowing into Hawai'i.

John G. Scalera
Pacific Rim regional branch manager
Technology Integration Group