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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 16, 2003

Letters to the Editor

Homeless housing solution: DOE offices

The Institute for Human Services' executive director, Lynn Maunakea, offered a solution to the homeless problem (Island Voices, May 14). Maunakea advocates placing the chronically homeless in housing as a measure to break the existing gridlock, thereby making room for other individuals living on the streets, until they too can be placed.

I have a modest suggestion in support of this idea: Cashier the current residents of the Liliu'okalani Building on Punchbowl Street, give them a day or two to clear their junk out, then turn the building over to the chronically homeless until they can be placed in permanent housing.

Come to think of it, most of the rest of the DOE offices throughout the state could be turned to this good work as well without any noticeable impact on the quality of public education. Indeed, quite the contrary: Any certified teachers found lying about in these offices could be placed back into their classrooms where they belong.

Taxpayers fork over considerably more than a billion hard-earned dollars each fiscal year for the dog's breakfast current occupants of these buildings have made of public education. Why not try to get at least some utility out of these physical assets? One might think of it as in the aftermath of any other natural or man-made disaster, to wit: a salvage effort designed to reclaim at least some minimal return on investment.

Thomas E. Stuart
Public-school teacher
Kapa'au, Hawai'i

McCubbin was pilloried in newspapers unfairly

The front pages of The Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin recently have read more like the National Inquirer than like the family dailies we're used to.

It hardly bespeaks aloha, and it doesn't say much for paradise. Nor does it reflect much by way of democracy or innocent until proven guilty. Hamilton McCubbin hasn't been tried, but he sure has been pilloried in the press.

We'll never know how many of the charges are true. I have strong doubts about much of what has been said for several reasons. One is that I've sat on several committees with McCubbin. And although it certainly cannot be said that I knew him well, he appears far too normal to be mixed up in the kinky, obsessive behaviors that the story writers would have us believe. He also appears to be too quiet — almost too reticent and shy a man to be so occupied. I also noted that he's good-natured.

But far more weighty and substantial than the foregoing is the way tenure works in a university. When I first read what the papers told us, professor McCubbin looked quite guilty. But when one reads it carefully, and with some knowledge of the way universities operate, the Wisconsin allegations about him just don't hold water. The reports of the gifts the young lady is supposed to have bestowed, for instance, is just not the way tenure works.

And as one looks carefully at the Kamehameha allegations, it appears that it may all boil down to a jealous office worker's resentments. Of course, possibly it may not. But the point is, we don't — and can't — know that. Yet the press and its readers have seemed ready to vilify with or without confirmation. That's the shame of it.

Mary Anne Raywid

Walter Wright caught the humanity of story

I can't tell you the number of times over the years I've been halfway though an article in The Advertiser and said to myself, "This must have been written by Walter Wright." Sure enough, I'd go back to check the byline and find that Walter wrote the article.

On Wednesday the 14th, Walter retired after 26 years of writing for The Advertiser. I, for one, will miss his ability to show the humanity of those he was writing about. I'll miss you, Walter, with my morning paper.

Garry Francell

Private schooling as 'status symbol' rude

I would like to respond to Charlene Hosokawa's May 13 letter in which she labeled private schooling a "status symbol." I attended private school my entire school-going life. And never, ever did I see it as a status symbol.

My parents weren't the wealthy snobs that Charlene described. They worked hard to earn enough money to put me through private school. In fact, most of my classmates were on scholarships — meaning they couldn't afford the full tuition. Many of my classmates' tuitions were paid by other family members, like grandparents.

I never was arrogant or looked at myself as better than public school. I felt her comments were both ignorant and rude. I don't know about her, but I teach kids tolerance, respect and equality.

Amelia Woods

Professor's lecture on judges falls short

R.S. Miller's May 11 letter doesn't read at all like a good lesson from a professor. He hurls labels, insults and cliches at others in his own profession (lawyers) who are judicial nominees rather that using "fairness, openness and balance ... truth, honesty and respect for all ..." He didn't give any of these to those he opposes.

The lawyer (Miguel Estrada) and judge (Priscilla Owen) who are currently being obstructed in the U.S. Senate are fully backed by the American Bar Association, which has been held up as the gold standard by leading liberal senators.

Miller didn't bother giving us any reason to believe any of his claims; he simply asserts them. Now that the arguments against judges who misuse their position by writing law from the bench have done well, professor Miller turns the argument, which works against left-wing judges, and tries it on conservative judges, but without any evidence.

Activist liberal judges have tried to add many things to our very short Constitution. Please give a quote from where it says "right to privacy," "separation of church and state," or how it tells judges that you can't say "one nation under God" if you choose to.

Cary Mendes

Anti-U.S. editorial on Iraq's fields stinks

An anti-Bush editorial is excusable. But an anti-U.S. editorial is reprehensible.

The May 11 anti-Bush editorial "Too much feeding at Bush Inc.'s trough" hints that the purpose the U.S. went to war in Iraq was to grab Iraq's oil fields. Such an anti-U.S. stance stinks.

Doesn't the stance The Advertiser took in its anti-U.S. editorial advocating for the U.N. oil-for-food program also ignore recent revelations and events concerning the U.N. oil-for-food program and the reasons why the U.S. wants Iraq oil revenues to be turned over to an Iraq administered by the U.S.?

Even hinting that the U.S. intention in Iraq was to grab Iraq's oil fields is inexcusable.

Ruben R. Reyes

Surfers offered help when it was needed

On May 4, I sustained a serious surfing injury off Fort DeRussy near Waikiki. Fortunately, two other surfers provided assistance by pushing me all the way to the beach and even encouraging me as the lifeguards administered first aid.

I didn't get their names, but want to give them a big mahalo and wish them God's blessing. I could have easily died without their help.

It's encouraging to know that most surfers are looking out for the safety of their fellow surfers in the water.

Many thanks also to the Hale Koa lifeguards and EMTs, not to mention The Queen's Medical Center for its expert care.

Jonathan Hoag

Sunset on the Beach cannot be supported

Regarding Nancy Calhoun's May 12 letter on the Sunset on the Beach program: It's time to put aside the naivete that supports this program.

While Mayor Harris and his managing director write checks to pay for these parties with the "intent" to find private funding for them, it is the city programs and taxpayers who continue to pay for them.

If you're amazed that these programs are being scrutinized or cut back, you're oblivious to the truth staring you in the face. First, all city revenue should benefit everyone — not just a relative few who show up to these parties. People like Calhoun who do benefit are vastly outnumbered by those who do not — is this a feasible way to spend tax dollars?

Second, the "hundreds of thousands of dollars" that were put into the hands of the businesses are nice, but has anyone bothered to ask at what cost? Reports suggest that staging each of these "Sunset" parties costs in the high hundreds of thousands, although Harris and his administration have been less than forthcoming on releasing these figures.

Third, if any private business is "counting on" these parties to survive, it's time to wake up. The local economy is not small business-friendly, and this type of frivolous spending is one of the reasons why.

I'm not saying these "Brunch" parties are a bad idea, but the execution is flawed, and it has equated to nothing more than a Harris PR promotion for those naive enough to buy into it.

In this day and age of "fund raiding," how can you justify holding these parties when roads and sewer lines are in disrepair, landfills are exceeding capacity and parks lack maintenance?

Spike Nishii

Library system must be more user-friendly

Hogwash! To blame it on budget restrictions is a cop-out to the real reason why there is a "brain drain" problem in Hawai'i.

The library is probably one of the best ways to help people who want to learn. Both kids and adults alike would prefer the freedom to go to the library on their own terms. Why take away Sunday when the demand is there?

If the library system were to operate from a business point of view, it would have to adjust its schedule so that it could stay in business. We all choose our professions. If the librarian is unable to work on the weekend, well ... This is an injustice to our kids and another slap in the face for the state of Hawai'i.

I believe the library system should step it up and perhaps make the place a little more user-friendly. Why not offer free pencils or tablets to those who visit the library? When you give, it always comes back multifold. And when you retain the best and brightest Hawai'i has to offer, the next generation is strengthened.

Roger Chang

Needed humor is not kicking in

Humor as a prescription for our ills is based on a diagnosis that we, as a culture, are humor-deficient. David Shapiro (Volcanic Ash, May 14) is probably on to something here. Today, jokes about religion are often seen as blasphemy.

You can make fun of sex, but be careful, it could be harassment. At least pornography has found some cultural acceptance as sexual humor. How many jokes do we hear about the White House pantheon? That would be cynical.

Not since Dan Quayle has there been a better target for political humor than George W. Bush, but that would be unpatriotic. During any other time, Bush's jet plane landing would have evoked the same laughter heaped upon Michael Dukakis' classic bobblehead tank ride. Instead, "it was spectacular and memorable" (Kathleen Parker, May 14).

Has anyone seen any of our national political leaders laugh? Sneers are not smiles. Even Richard Nixon laughed. Political humorists like Bill Maher have been exiled to the cloistered confines of college campuses, where the whimsey of youth and tenure has allowed for the comedic equivalent of wildlife preserves.

Billy Crystal once explained the preponderance of so many brilliant Jewish comedians as a response to a history of persecution and discrimination. This makes sense, given the rise of black humor from another maligned minority, and more recently, gay humor. Charlie Chaplin once said that all comedy is born from tragedy. Indeed, his most famous film, "Goldrush," was based on a real-life incident involving cannibalism.

We have had our tragedy, 9/11. Before that date, the president was often pierced by the jocular slings and arrows his demeanor commanded. However, not just the event of 9/11 but its political caretakers are now off-limits. As a species, we evolved with humor as a marvelous adaptive strategy to deal with life's unhappy excesses. But it's not kicking in.

A new strain of political correctness, motivated by pathological fear, has effectively retarded our cultural immune system. Instead, we have been reduced to responding from two emotionally sterile extremes: hatred and sentimentality. There won't be any jokes about Jessica Lynch.

David Panisnick
Professor of religion
Honolulu Community College