Letters to the Editor
Senator is mistaken on her views of HTA
Recently in Island Voices, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim stated her support for the old Hawai'i Tourism Authority board. She said all of the HTA directors met the law that requires at least six of the directors to "have visitor industry experience." She said all of the old directors had either direct or "indirect" visitor industry experience.
However, she is wrong about the law, as direct or indirect visitor industry experience is not what the HTA legislation requires. The HTA legislation is specific; here is what it says: "At least six of the 10 public voting members shall have knowledge, experience and expertise in the area of visitor industry management, marketing and promotion."
I believe it is obvious that most of the old board fell short of the expertise, marketing and promotion skills required by the legislation.
The tourism summit stakeholders laid out a clear program of proactive initiatives to make HTA work for the tourism industry. Each of the summit's initiatives serve the HTA's mission, which is: "To strategically manage the growth of Hawai'i's visitor industry in a manner consistent with our economic goal, cultural values, preservation of natural resources and community interests."
Sen. Kim says she is troubled that many in the visitor industry believe the HTA exists to sell Hawai'i as a travel destination. Again, I think she is out of step, as selling Hawai'i as a travel destination is one of the most important ways to accomplish HTA's mission.
I believe that most of Hawai'i's citizens agree that Hawai'i will be in serious trouble without a successful tourism industry. What other industry is ready to support Hawai'i's citizens?
Waikiki Beach Activities
Vision teams are luxury we can't afford
The vision teams parallel the efforts made by the elected neighborhood boards. There is a difference, though: Vision teams are not elected by the community. If we are going to spend the money, the neighborhood boards could easily handle the projects that the vision teams have undertaken.
The concept of vision teams is wrong. If you're an insider in the community, you may have a voice. If you're not part of the "in crowd," your voice probably won't be heard. It helps to be a Mayor Harris supporter.
A very nice bandstand was built in our community. Its intended function is to draw the community together by having functions at the bandstand. My vision is that within a couple of years, the structure will be vandalized and covered with graffiti. Who's going to pay for the upkeep of this structure?
I'm sure all the vision teams' intentions are sincere, but one has to question the need for spending money like this when at the same time the city is cutting or reducing services. We have some misplaced priorities about how our tax dollars should be spent.
It seems to me that vision teams, along with Sunset on the Beach, fall into the nice-to-have category, rather than the need-to-have category. If it were in a household budget, it would be called a luxury item. I wasn't aware that our city budget was in such good shape that luxury items can be afforded.
Unlike New York, we have only one outlet
I can empathize with the wistful and wishful thinking of Seymour Katims on NYU dropping athletics ("New York University made education No. 1," Letters, June 23). But the difference here is one major consideration that would make dropping athletics at UH impossible: There is no other show in town.
New York state has numerous professional sports teams, and many of the other college and university campuses field a variety of sports teams. We only have one venue for sports statewide out here in Hawai'i. (And, to reassure Mr. Katims that I'm on his side, I was an SP student starting junior high school back in Queens, N.Y., also in the Dark Ages, and am currently teaching at a local community college.)
John C.N. Shen
Don't blame June Jones for his coaching salary
Teachers, educators and others who are complaining about June Jones' contract should stop blaming him and blame the Board of Education and the Board of Regents for not giving them adequate salaries.
Whatever amount of money Jones makes doesn't affect teachers' salaries one bit.
More importantly, the governor, both boards and the Legislature should learn from Herman Frazier, who values his employees enough to go and find the money in order to adequately compensate his coaches and at the same time make UH athletics a first-class organization. He's proven to the state that talk is cheap and it's the action behind the talk that's more important.
It's time to clean house at our university
It seems that the University of Hawai'i is becoming one big pork barrel for people to get rich on salaries.
Everyone who is getting rich there seems to claim that it's competitive salaries. Hogwash! It's an excuse to make bigger money than the community can comprehend or afford. It's an embarrassment and shameful. It's a system that is now broken and abused.
Someone needs to remove all those politicians and officials who are entrenched there. Like the Bishop Estate and Kamehameha Schools, we need an overhaul of the university, including its president, professors, regents and sport directors. It's time to clean house.
Louis Michael Ching
Solution is to reinstate Hawaiian government
In a recent editorial, you discuss state Attorney General Mark Bennett's "minor" success in convincing the U.S. Justice Department attorneys that "Hawaiian-only" educational programs are not unconstitutionally biased because they are based on a "special trust relationship established between Native Hawaiians and the United States." You give the opinion that such Hawaiian-only programs will most likely face strong resistance by the Bush administration in the future and that the Akaka bill, designed to recognize Native Hawaiians as Native Americans, will also face strong political and ideological resistance.
What your readers should also know is that by the end of this year, not only are such Hawaiian-only programs likely to be found unconstitutional, but that hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of acres of land presently held in trust for the Native Hawaiians by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands will most probably be lost by court order in the case of Arakaki v. Cayetano, a civil lawsuit by U.S. citizens who are hostile to the programs benefiting Native Hawaiians.
They claim that any agency providing services for Native Hawaiians only is racially biased and therefore unconstitutional. The result of this lawsuit will have a devastating effect on the Native Hawaiians receiving such services and those living on protected Hawaiian homelands.
There is, however, one solution for the inhabitants of the present-day Hawai'i: support the efforts of the reinstated Hawaiian government to safeguard the assets of the Hawaiian people.
Gerard L. Friend
We should break up HECO into three entities
So! Despite the fact we already pay the highest electric rates in the nation, HECO is asking for our support on how to raise them?
Here's an option perhaps HECO hasn't considered: Let's have a referendum to break this public utility monopoly into three separate entities: Call them HECO-A, HECO-B and HECO-C, and let them compete for our business. Assign districts to be served to the new entities, and let the residents vote which company they want to do business with. Certainly computers could make this possible.
Considering that electricity travels at nearly the speed of light through cable, it would seem HECO could run "reliability wire" above ground, on existing poles, on almost any existing route and using existing poles. Then, someday later in the 21st century when we decide to underground all lines, we can foot the bill to bury these lines.
Splitting up HECO would lead to more cost-competitive business practices and more innovative thinking from non-monopolies. Monopolies, after all, are in business first to serve their shareholders.
What's the difference between WMD, bombs?
I wonder how valid is the distinction between weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons that kill fewer than "masses" of people at one time but are used over and over again with the same result as an attack by a "weapon of mass destruction."
Are the deaths of those innocent people in the Iraq War less tragic than if they had resulted from a "weapon of mass destruction"? I don't believe the victims would distinguish a difference.
By the way, which country has the most weapons of mass destruction?
Lisa J. Burket
Pick on the pedestrians
Since government seems to know what's best for its citizens in terms of coercing all motorists to use their seat belts and contemplating forcing motorcyclists to use helmets everywhere they go, it is only fair and consistent that all pedestrians be required to wear those orange reflector vests if they walk the streets of Honolulu.
Contraception bill deserved veto
There has been some confusion and misinformation on the Hawai'i Catholic Church's position regarding the emergency contraception bill passed by the state Legislature and vetoed by Gov. Lingle.
Rape is a hostile, nonconsensual act. Catholic hospitals, of course, understand this and treat sexual-assault victims with care and compassion. They will use appropriate means to prevent conception. However, if the woman is pregnant, a Catholic hospital will not perform an abortion.
Emergency contraception medication prevents conception. The church has no problem with that.
However, the medication can have another effect. In the rare case where conception has already taken place but the embryo has not yet implanted itself in the uterine wall, the drug will prevent implantation. That destruction of the embryo, the Catholic Church teaches, is an abortion.
The state Legislature knows the church's teaching, but for some reason chose to ignore it. It had access to the document "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which states:
"A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum."
The church (and many others) believes human life begins at conception.
Some would disagree with the church's view. They would say that destroying an already conceived human life during the five to 10 days before implantation is not an abortion. They are entitled to their beliefs.
But they are not entitled to impose their beliefs, through fines and penalty, over the religious rights of others.
This is what the emergency contraception bill would do.
The Catholic Church would not oppose the bill if it allowed a Catholic hospital to follow its own beliefs regarding abortion, and did not order it to comply with someone else's conflicting beliefs, which in conscience it cannot do.
The church asked the Legislature to include the standard religious exemption on performing abortions. For some inexplicable reason, the Legislature chose not to. (The Senate version at one point had a religious conscience clause, but deleted it.)
The absence of the religious exemption clause is the bill's fatal flaw and why it had to be rejected.
Twenty state representatives recognized the bill's error and wrote to the governor urging a veto. "This bill is bad public policy," they said, "and unconstitutional in our judgment."
That would be the Catholic Church's judgment also.
Catholic Diocese of Honolulu