Letters to the Editor
Mayor's recycling plan was ill-thought-out
I would like to comment on Helen Picca's June 11 letter demanding an immediate recycling program.
I don't think anyone would disagree that we need recycling, but to go forward with the mayor's ill-planned program is not the answer. First and foremost, this plan was conceived to generate additional revenue for the city, with recycling being a secondary benefit. This is borne out by the mayor's inclusion of projected revenues being generated by the second pickup in his budget.
I recently read comments by one person who believed that imposition of the $8 fee for the second pickup would have resulted in increased roadside dumping. I agree with those comments.
If recycling is to work on O'ahu, it must be user-friendly in order to encourage people to participate. If you make it difficult, or if residents feel that they are being charged a fee, then you will only meet resistance.
This needs to be thought out carefully, giving due consideration to conditions such as extended families living under one roof, or a person's ability to pay if fees are considered necessary. Also to be considered are the health and sanitation issues raised by residents and council members. Let's get it right the first time for a change.
One other thing. The mayor's proposal to have rubbish police was laughable. We need police on our roadways, not in our rubbish.
Pali on-ramp lane to the H-1 a danger zone
Are rumble strips effective in slowing drivers? Yes, for less than 10 seconds. Then drivers resume their speeding ways.
Electronic signs to inform drivers how fast they are driving? Does the DOT not know that in every car there is a large, circular gadget within their vision line that tells the driver how fast the car is moving? I believe that every driver already knows exactly how fast he or she is driving.
I have been a driver on the Pali Highway for more than 40 years, and the most frightening area for some of us is the raceway lanes. These are the makai lanes that begin near the Wyllie overpass and continue till after the Pauoa off-ramp and the pedestrian overwalk near Ka'ahumanu Middle School. Cars speed up to 60 mph and 70 mph in an attempt to get ahead of the cars in the right lane (and many of these are also speeding), and they dangerously cut in front of the slower cars. And, if they are unable to cut in prior to arriving at the "no lane change" stripes, they cut in anyway.
I, and many others, have had terrifying experiences in this area. Oftentimes, the race drivers cut in all the way to the Pali on-ramp lane to the H-1.
If citations were given for violations in this area for even one day, there would be thousands of dollars in fines available to improve our roadways. Make it too expensive to speed, and it might even help us to have more aloha for our fellow drivers.
Finally, why does our excellent police force not become active in this obvious area where at least a hundred violations occur each hour? If speeds of 60 mph and 70 mph are OK, then tell the rest of us so we will know what to expect in this area.
Leon H. Burton
Bush deserves credit for his No Child law
Because of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, our schools are already receiving additional resources and historic levels of federal funding to ensure that students succeed, and more positive changes are on the way. Recently, the president announced that every state had put in place an accountability plan to ensure that all schools make progress.
As part of these plans and the No Child Left Behind Act's strong accountability provisions, school districts will be required to test students and give parents annual report cards. Schools that don't make progress will offer their students additional services, such as free tutoring, and parents will be given new options.
Through these new reforms, we have a real chance to ensure that every child receives a quality education, and President Bush deserves enormous credit for focusing our nation's attention on this challenge.
Musical talents of Raiatea Helm amazing
Although I am an avid jazz fan, I must say I am amazed at the Hawaiian musical talents of Raiatea Helm. I was first exposed to her music on TV and was immediately touched by her sweet falsetto voice. Such a talent comes around only once in a lifetime, and I am just happy to have experienced the music of this star.
In addition to Raiatea's marvelous falsetto voice, her old-school style really represents what Hawai'i should be all about. Hawaiian culture flourishing on fresh green lands. Just what the tourists look forward to when visiting Hawai'i.
Raiatea Helm's CD should be a part of everybody's musical collection in Hawai'i.
Air fare increases were announced beforehand
I was puzzled by Jessie Kalika Afong's June 5 letter regarding price increases in interisland travel.
The price increases were well-publicized, making the front page of both newspapers, the evening news and the focus of debate on the radio.
In the last two years, I have seen my cable bill rise 100 percent, the price of my favorite hamburger increase 30 percent, my weekly grocery bill jump 25 percent, etc. None of these companies announce or justify their price increases ...
James L. Jones
Boycott gas stations to bring prices down
There is an easy solution to the high price of gas in Hawai'i. Boycott first ChevronTexaco gasoline stations, then Tesoro's.
In a free market, prices are determined by cost of goods sold and by supply and demand. Since the cost of crude oil has fallen, gas prices should have been moving lower in Hawai'i, but they haven't.
Since the Hawai'i gas market provides ChevronTexaco with 25 percent of its nationwide profits, despite only 3 percent of nationwide sales, ChevronTexaco would be a good place to start a boycott.
With no demand for its gas, ChevronTexaco should be forced to lower its prices. In addition, Hawai'i's gasoline consumers will need to use less gas to keep Tesoro from raising its prices since everyone will be buying at their stations. Carpools and better planning for use of personal autos would help.
We can ride by ChevronTexaco's gas stations and watch the prices fall daily. Then, once ChevronTexaco's prices have fallen to a reasonable ($1.80/gallon?) price, we can teach Tesoro the same lesson. And what a great way to teach our children about the American free market ... or lack thereof.
Captain Cook, Hawai'i
University should take into account the community
Having just read the article about Lucy Gay's transfer/demotion ("Coordinator's transfer sparks ire in Wai'anae," June 12), I am saddened by what I am sure is a very devastating, painful and now public event in Lucy's life.
I have had the privilege of working with Lucy on a number of projects related to education in the Hawaiian community, and I feel I know her somewhat enough to know that the praises being shared about her by the Wai'anae community are not unfounded.
What the article does not reveal about Lucy is that she is generally a quiet and unassuming individual whom you would probably not even notice if she were in a large crowd. She is usually a soft-spoken and thoughtful person, and her eyes sparkle with an inner light that reveals she is well-grounded in who she is and that she is directed by principles and values that give her confidence.
She is one of those rare individuals who works within a bureaucracy but refuses to allow the bureaucracy to work within her. She is always resolved to make things happen, and she always finds a way, even if it means doing it herself.
Two years ago, an association I volunteer with hosted a three-day conference at the LCC Pearl City campus while Lucy was still there in her former position. The first day of the conference opened on a holiday and therefore there was no campus personnel on duty other than a few security guards. As part of the last- minute preparation for the event, a large number of chairs and tables needed to be relocated around the campus. Knowing that no one else was available and that we had limited funds to pay the required overtime to bring in extra staff, Lucy brought her husband and son with her that morning to serve as our support crew with the other volunteers of our committee.
That is the level of commitment that this woman has when she does her job. This is but one example, and I'm sure others have many more they could share.
Whatever the "internal personnel matters" might be that the university is dealing with, I hope that it listens to the voices of the Wai'anae community and places the best interests of those they are supposed to be serving above anything else.
Lucy Gay is a wonderful role model for the Hawaiian community and someone I am proud to consider a dear friend.
Aaron K. Mersberg
Let's make our schools smoke-free
The Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund Advisory Board strongly encourages the United Public Workers and the Department of Education to agree to make our public school campuses smoke-free.
In 1993, the state DOE adopted a policy to make public school campuses smoke-free. However, the UPW interpreted this as a "change in working conditions" for certain union members and therefore subject to collective bargaining provisions. For 10 years, these workers have been exempt from the policy and continue to be able to smoke on school campuses.
This exemption for certain union members means our schools really are not smoke-free and Hawai'i is not in compliance with the federal Pro-Children Act of 1994. Our children are still exposed to secondhand smoke in certain schools and continue to see adults smoking in their presence in schools. This loophole also sends a message to children that both mocks anti-smoking activities and implies that our laws are not made for everyone.
To protect our children, the 2003 Legislature seriously considered House Bill 248, which would have prohibited any person from smoking tobacco products on school property. At the end of the session, the Legislature deferred decision-making on this bill in order to give the UPW and DOE additional time to negotiate a mutually satisfactory agreement that will truly make our school campuses smoke-free.
Tobacco causes more disease, premature death and disability than any other preventable cause in the United States and Hawai'i. Each year, hundreds of thousands of individuals and families suffer the consequences of tobacco use. Much of this suffering is found in the personal experiences of those who have the diseases caused by tobacco and in the lives of their loved ones.
But there is also a societal cost to tobacco use. Society loses the benefit of a full and productive life from each person who dies prematurely or is disabled as a result of tobacco use. And, there is the direct cost to society in public payments for healthcare and disability that results from tobacco use.
It has been 10 years since the DOE smoke-free schools policy was adopted, covering all workers except for UPW members. We encourage and support the UPW and DOE's efforts to reach a timely agreement now that will protect our children and keep our school campuses smoke-free.
The Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund Advisory Board is established under HRS 328-L. Members of diverse professional backgrounds and experiences are appointed by the governor, president of the Senate, speaker of the House, director of health and superintendent of education. The board is committed to decreasing tobacco use in Hawai'i.
Chairwoman, Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Board
Correction: A letter to the editor about the transfer of Lucy Gay within Leeward Community College said that the university should listen to the Wai'anae community. A headline in a previous version of these letters erroneously named a different agency.