Letters to the Editor
Democrats won't get away with more hijinks
You could call it "Stop Lingle III," the bill by House Democrats to put a stop to successful Republican "get out the vote" efforts by using volunteer poll watchers at polling places.
As they did in 1998, the Democrats analyze the results of the previous election and then pass legislation to ensure that they have an unfair advantage in any future elections. If you remember, in 1998, they passed bills dubbed "stop Lingle" that reduced the amount a party could contribute to a gubernatorial candidate because the Democratic Party was having problems raising funds. That didn't work.
But after looking at the 2002 campaigns, the Democrats want to beat the Republicans in 2004 by taking away their most basic right of democracy: to watch at the polls to ensure there is no illegal activity going on and to observe who has voted.
For 40 years, the polls were controlled by whatever party the governor belonged to (Democrat, duh!). But now with Republicans watching poll activity and calling potential voters, the Democrats feel they are being beaten at their own game and it must be stopped.
Legislating against a basic right of democracy to "watch the polls" cannot be legal. Remember, Democrats, now the attorney general works for a Republican governor; you won't get away with violating the Constitution anymore without a challenge.
Garry P. Smith
Long-term-care plan should be approved
The Legislature is considering two bills that would set a tax of $10 a month for a benefit of $70 a day for long-term care. It's about time.
More than 10 years ago, the Family Hope Program was proposed to relieve Hawai'i residents of the high cost of long-term care. Family Hope did not survive, and since then costs have dramatically increased.
I hope I'll never need long-term care, but no one knows for sure what will happen. I cannot afford the cost of nursing-home care and I wouldn't want to be a burden to my children. The legislation being considered would help me contribute toward a fund to help pay for some of my long-term-care needs. If we all contribute, we can all help each other.
Some people are opposed to a tax, saying we should buy long-term-care insurance and get tax credits for premiums paid. But the truth is that many people can neither afford the insurance nor even qualify for it because of pre-existing conditions. Many people have help from Medicaid. But who do you think pays for Medicaid? Taxpayers like you and me.
If taxes will pay for most long-term care anyway, each person should be allowed to contribute a nominal amount to be used for their own long-term care. I support the legislation being considered and I hope everyone else will, too.
Recycling program poses some problems
At the risk of sounding politically incorrect by questioning Jeremy Harris' mandatory recycling program, I have some questions of the mayor's program.
Where does the mayor propose I store these recyclables until a scheduled pickup day? If not properly stored, they could attract undesirable insects or rodents. Why should I waste water washing a container that's headed for the recycler?
Why should I have to pay out of pocket to support the mayor's pet project?
The scheduled once-a-week pickup of regular rubbish would not affect me, but there are many households that have large families or extended families living under one roof that would be affected. I don't think these families should be forced to pay for a second pickup. And storage of recyclables would be more of a problem for them than for small families.
How would the second pickup day be manned? The city projects perhaps 50 percent of the households participating in the second weekly pickup. It stands to reason that not as many workers would be required. Would people lose their jobs? Or would we have a full workforce with a 50 percent workload?
Part of the program is to have city workers go house to house explaining the program. Do they really expect to find someone at home during the workweek?
There is at least one company doing curbside recycling now. Will mandatory curbside recycling put them out of business?
Plenty of blame for letting felons go free
A Honolulu police officer was slain and part of each one of us also died, as he was protecting us all. He was killed by a man with 14 convictions.
A few weeks ago, the media reported a 30-year-old with 35 felony convictions. Neither one should have been out on the streets. Who is to blame for such situations? There is plenty of blame to go around:
- The little old ladies of both sexes on the Parole Board are under pressure to release more and more poor risks back into our community.
- The groups fighting attempts to give our prosecutor better and more efficient tools to bring arrested persons immediately to court.
- Judges who give inappropriate sentences time and time again because there is no room at the inn.
- The undermanned Police Department.
- The Legislature that refuses to bite the bullet and fund a much-needed new prison at Barbers Point or other suitable location.
- Or maybe all of us who just wring our hands.
So what happens now? We will hear the strains of "Amazing Grace" as the bagpipes wail at the coffin of the slain officer. The low-life killer will get excellent medical attention, and attorneys will line up to be selected to defend. As Hawai'i has no death penalty, there is no incentive for the killer to plead, thus bringing on the technicalities with a long, expensive trial.
When will we learn? When will we learn?
Frank D. Slocum
Career criminals can be exported
It is beyond belief that our legislators who so recently spoke to us about being "tougher on crime" are now saying that the "three-strikes" legislation cannot be passed here because of limited prison space.
Career criminals can be exported to states where prison space is available.
Why must we continue to be subjected to the terror that these miscreants engender in hard-working taxpayers?
Environmental pollution bill must be revived
In Sunday's paper, the Legislature 2003 status report showed the public what bills are passing or failing at the Capitol. In the environmental category, several very beneficial bills are currently failing and may die soon, particularly the Clean Power Act (bills HB 195 or SB 499).
In essence, this bill would promote controlled emissions of pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. In this age of global warming, why not?
In Hawai'i, the frequent trade winds help clear out the pollution and transfer it to other parts of the world; therefore, we are not fully aware of the pollution problems that plague other areas.
So let's start reviving the environment by reviving the Clean Power Act and the other failing environmental bills. This is your chance to show public concern and support for the environment and change the outcome of these bills through public testimony and lobbying.
Sierra Student Coalition
Lowell has brought order out of chaos
It is difficult to understand media-exploited criticism of state Librarian Virginia Lowell (timed during her absence from the Islands) by Linda Lingle and Bob Hogue.
Are they regular public library patrons? Surely not, or they would value the enormous improvements Ms. Lowell has accomplished for us all since her predecessor left us with sparse shelves of aging, tattered books and multi-duplicates of cheap trash volumes.
Virginia Lowell's leadership has brought us an exciting variety of current publishing, ranging from best sellers to scholarly volumes, fresh updated facilities, including computer access, and much-desired librarians' input.
If the Legislature and governor continue to reduce public library funding, what can they expect of a fiscally responsible system? Why even have a state librarian unless they are willing (eager) to heed her experienced professionalism? We are threatened once again by their sticky-fingered micromanaging.
Our library system is now serving the public better than ever in spite of slashed funds and political venom. May Ms. Lowell continue her positive contributions, even under the stringent circumstances.
We remain longtime consistent library users and appreciators.
Elmer and Shirley Gentry
Rural libraries get Virginia Lowell's ear
As a member of the Waialua-Hale'iwa-North Shore community and member of the Friends of Waialua Library, I oppose any attempt to oust State Librarian Virginia Lowell. She supports and pays close attention to rural libraries:
- She has attended many programs at the Waialua Library.
- She has been the guest speaker at the Friends of Waialua Library meetings and has informed us about forthcoming legislative issues and initiatives affecting the library system.
- As a church choir singer, she has performed Christmas music and hymns at our annual volunteer Christmas party. This was deeply appreciated.
- She has encouraged her staff to get involved with the community. It shows, as our librarian, Tim Littlejohn, who works with many community organizations, was recognized as Public Librarian of the Year 2002.
It is encouraging and refreshing to know that we have the ear of the state librarian.
War protesters care about innocent lives
Kelly Bixler (Letters, March 10) holds Saddam Hussein responsible for 9/11. Despite valiant efforts, the administration has not been able to link Saddam to that horrific, sobering event. He didn't do it.
Ms. Bixler's day was ruined by seeing a sign, "Say no to pre-emptive strike on Iraq." The people rallying for peace on March 5 in Hawai'i and around the globe care deeply about the lives lost in such a strike. Lives of children and women, because that's mostly who are in Baghdad. Lives of American and British troops.
Russia might join war on Iraq's side
In its overconfidence of a speedy victory over Saddam Hussein, the United States must not discount the possibility that Russia and possibly China might send troops to "defend" Iraq against external "aggression." Their long-term geopolitical and economic interests would probably dictate such involvement.
Article 51 of the United Nations Charter allows use of force only in self-defense when attacked, or when such an attack is imminent. Since Iraq has not attacked the U.S. and such an attack is not imminent, we cannot invoke this article.
But Iraq could after the U.N. Security Council rejects the U.S.-U.K. request to invade Iraq. Russia and China could then respond to Iraq's appeal for international help against U.S. "aggression."
While these troops would probably need to move through the central Asian republics and Iran, permission for such movement would probably be granted and possibly also reinforced by Iranian troops en route.
The U.S. government must undertake an assessment of the likely increased casualties, increased finances and increased time frame needed to overthrow Saddam if this scenario becomes a reality. President Bush must share this assessment with the public before troops cross the border into Iraq.
Legitimate protest of war must continue
I am compelled to address the issues brought forward by Sunday's letter in which a service member's mother requests those opposed to the war put aside their right to dissent. I agree service family members should not be harassed, but legitimate protest must continue.
There are huge differences between the military of today and the military of the Vietnam era. Unlike the 1960s, today's force is made up of volunteers. These service members are contractually obligated to follow lawful orders and, if necessary, die for their country. They are not less patriotic (in fact, they are more truly "service"-oriented than the draft force of the Vietnam era) and they are better educated and remunerated. They know full well what they are facing and what is expected of them.
It should be noted the military education includes ethics. Part of the boot camp indoctrination involves the definition of a "lawful" order. While the military of the 1960s had no redress if ordered to do something unlawful, the modern one does. It is a cosmopolitan force and well aware that the enemy is human, too.
Professional soldiers (sailors, airmen, Marines) agree to fight and die to protect the legitimate right of all Americans to "bash" their country. As a recent veteran of 25 years of service, I am proud to see the anti-war demonstrations and hear the discussion going on. I am hopeful it will result in larger voter turnout and a concerned society. It means I did my job right.