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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 23, 2003

Letters to the Editor

Private schools offer students so much more

Regarding Ken Anama's May 17 letter, "Academic standards are reason to attend": I agree that parents who send their children to private school work hard to finance their children's education, believing that private schools have a higher standard of academics, versus the standard held at public schools.

I attended a public high school for four years. Previous to that, I attended an all-girls private school. I agree that private school is college prep, but I also believe the same of public school.

No matter which institution of learning a student attends, there are different factors involved in the type of education he or she receives. It is not solely up to teachers to push for maximum potential, it's also up to the student to do the best he or she can.

I found public school most rewarding in the sense that I had teachers who did care if I "made the grade." I pushed myself to graduate with honors. I feel the experience of public school fulfills the meaning of "college prep," not only in the academic sense, but also preparing students for the "real world." Students attending private school are often only taught academics and are sheltered from everything else.

Caitlin Isaacs
Pearl City

Sovereignty can only be for the kanaka maoli

Rolf Nordahl's May 18 letter on sovereignty was to the point, accurate and well-articulated. His objectivity and clarity are greatly appreciated. As a follow-up, sovereignty in the Hawaiian Islands can only be sought by kanaka maoli.

Five generations from the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i to the unlawful annexation of 1898 and statehood referendum of 1959, the perpetrators created a heinous illusion in our lives. Programming (brainwashing) the masses to believe the Islands and its indigenous people were acquired in a legal and morally just manner is nothing more than blatant lies within a complex scheme.

The political/judicial establishment, social/commercial infrastructures, the majority (non-indigenous) population and government's denial of wrongdoing were all created from this illusion on land belonging to the indigenous people. In effect, the perpetrators were able to socially and mentally assimilate whole generations into this criminal paradigm.

Today, five generations later, the kanaka maoli and those residing in these Islands coexist in unprecedented circumstances, a direct result of the cause and effect of 110 years of criminal conduct.

The majority of kanaka maoli I speak with favor the U.S. government's Akaka bill. We in the minority have instead chosen to exercise our inherent rights. Regardless of who or how many choose the ways of the usurper, it is the freedom of choice that we must all respect and honor.

A parting thought to ponder: Unprecedented circumstances require unprecedented solutions. 

Foster Ampong
Lahaina, Maui

Gov. Lingle's 'change' is the same old same old

Last election, Linda Lingle promised to give us "change." So far, at UH, we see a governor who looks more like Ben Cayetano every day.

Lingle continues Cayetano's policy of deadly cutbacks on university funding. Like Ben, she shafts the faculty on a new contract, then nominates a bunch of campaign supporters (who know next to nothing about higher education) as UH regents. Tuition on students will again be raised to cover shortfalls, keeping many disadvantaged students from an education.

The idea of raising taxes — as is occurring in states like Nevada and Connecticut to provide funds for education and social services — is nowhere on the Lingle agenda. Meanwhile, she undermines the revenue base by providing millions in tax credits to resort developers.

Is this the "change" Lingle so ardently promised?

Noel Jacob Kent
Professor, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Volunteer needs help with cleanup project

This is a letter regarding a great person who has helped the city to beautify an area that has not been kept clean: the walking trail along Manoa Stream behind Iolani School and next to the Ala Wai Canal.

It is now a beautiful walking path used by many locals and tourists each day. It has never been cared for and was a terrible mess of fallen trees, old dead branches, much garbage, scorpions, etc., and you could not even see the pretty stream.

Jimmy Tsuchiyama has worked by himself in this area since Sept. 1. He has worked daily, and you would not believe the change. He is so proud of the job he has done, and he certainly has helped the community. The biggest problem is getting someone to get a truck to take away the piles. They are neatly stacked and would not take very long to take to the dump.

I spent most of one day last week and called 14 numbers belonging to the state and city. I asked if there were someone who could take this away for him. Would you believe that out of these 14 calls, I got one person who said he would help? What is wrong with this picture?

The city should have cleaned this up long ago. Are the old days of thanking volunteers completely gone? I realize that our city has many problems to solve, but take a minute to see the good in people who are willing to help.

Pat Myers

Legislators' funds for schools dumbfounding

I believe that schools, teachers and education should be of top priority, but I read the prices that the legislators tacked on for schools, and I am dumbfounded. 

Two locker rooms for $4 million. Parking lots for $820,000. School bells for $170,00, and plenty more of what I see as overspending.

So how do I land one of those contracts? I'm ready for an early retirement. 

Michael Marks

High gasoline taxes keep price at pump up

While I think it is quite obvious that the gas companies, or rather the refineries, have been ripping off the Hawai'i public for years, I wonder why I very rarely see any comments about the real reason for the high prices here.

We constantly hear that the prices in Hawai'i are the highest in the nation, but we never hear in the same breath that the gasoline taxes are also the nation's highest. If the state could get its hands out of our pockets, or at least take less from each gallon of gas sold, the prices could go down dramatically.

Since the money that is collected, ostensibly for road maintenance, never comes back to us in the form of better roads anyway, why should we be gouged and still have to fight potholes every time we drive?

Bryan Geoffrey

Mits Aoki is more than a great teacher

Watching Monday night's PBS "Living Your Dying" reminded me of how great a teacher professor Mitsuo Aoki was when I took his UH night course way back in the 1960s.

I've been lucky enough to have had wonderful teachers all through my academic life, but a small handful stand out as special ones, great ones.

Mits is one of those because he is more than a great teacher; he is a beautiful and sensitive human being. His years of helping his fellow humans come to terms with their approaching deaths should earn him a special place in the hereafter.

Hawai'i is fortunate to have such a "Living Treasure" in our midst.

Dick Simons

Hawai'i should parallel Texas on Legislature

Texas is big. Ask any Texan. But it's also true. The area of Texas (268,601 square miles) is 24 times larger than that of Hawai'i (10,932 square miles), and the population of Texas (21.8 million) is 17 times larger than that of Hawai'i (1.2 million).

However, the recent media coverage of the Texas Legislature revealed two "small" legislative practices that should be considered for adoption in Hawai'i. First, the Texas Legislature meets only once every two years. Second, each legislator receives an annual salary of only $7,200.

Considering the difference in size between the two states, the making of laws for Hawai'i cannot be any more complicated or more difficult than the making of laws for Texas. Texas legislators seem to get things done by meeting once every two years, compared with once a year for Hawai'i. Could it be that they are smarter than Hawai'i legislators and can get more done in less time? I don't think so, and I don't think Hawai'i's Legislature needs to meet any more often.

Regarding legislative salary: Hawai'i's Constitution envisions "citizen legislators" who are primarily ordinary citizens and who are lawmakers secondarily. The rationale is that citizen legislators tend to be more understanding of the circumstances of common people than "full-time" legislators, who tend to be more disconnected from them. As legislative salaries in Hawai'i have risen to $32,000 per year, it seems that more and more working-aged legislators do not have other jobs because they can survive on this income. A $7,200 annual salary would encourage legislators to find other jobs, thereby strengthening the concept of citizen legislators.

Although Texas is big, it has two "small" ideas that can be adopted by Hawai'i.

John Kawamoto

Commencement speech was a political attack

What was Sen. Daniel Inouye's message to the graduates of the University of Hawai'i at Hilo in his commencement address Saturday?

Commencement speeches are meant to congratulate, inspire and motivate. Traditional speeches usually send a message to the graduates to take with them in their next steps of life. Instead, the senator took the opportunity to criticize the war with Iraq, to sympathize with the French and to bash the Bush administration.

This was a political speech and not a commencement address.

Jerry Olson

Don't blame poor roads on cuts

Mike Leidemann's May 5 article, "Budget cuts hurt road repairs," was way off the mark. In it, he fingers the City Council as the culprit behind the poor maintenance of our roadways. His misunderstanding of the facts produced an erroneous and unfair conclusion.

The heart of the problem lies in Leidemann's statement that budget cuts imposed by the council have reduced the number of roads that can be resurfaced or rebuilt every year. Nothing could be further from the truth. The record shows that over the past 10 years, the council basically approved whatever funding the administration asked for.

But after getting all it asked for, what did the administration actually do with the money? Except for 2001 when $11.7 million of the $38 million allocated was actually expended, in only two other years was as much as $2 million expended on road repair. In all other years, expenditures on roadwork failed to exceed even $700,000.

This dismal performance is not because the council did not give the administration enough money. Rather, despite the council's appropriations, in most years the administration did not use funds earmarked for roadwork. For example, in 1998, it was given $14.2 million but expended only $218,000. It allowed $10.3 million to lapse and encumbered $3.7 million for expenditure in later years.

And this pattern continued: $2.9 million lapsed in 1999, $8.8 million in 2000 and $7.7 million in 2001. In those years, it also encumbered huge amounts because of its inability to expend the appropriated funds that year. Even worse, in many instances, it allowed significant amounts of federal dollars to lapse. This means that we could have done needed roadwork without using local tax dollars.

The year 2001 sticks out like a sore thumb because of the unusually large amount, $38 million, that was budgeted for roadwork. Of that amount, however, only $11.7 million was expended, $7.7 million lapsed and $27.6 million was encumbered to save funds from lapsing. We were told that the reason for the huge lapses, and the inability to expend more than $11.7 million in 2001 (and no more than $2 million in the other years), is that there are not enough contractors on this island to do that much work.

Given the administration's spotty record of implementation, and the backlog of encumbered funds, the council last year reduced the amount requested for road maintenance from $14.1 million to $8.7 million. And this year's request for $40 million is obviously "pie in the sky."

The council wants to improve our roads, and has given the administration ample funding to do so. Unfortunately, it has yet to prove it can do the job.

Don't blame the council for the poor condition of our roadways. If the administration can show us that it can spend this year's $34 million on road repair, we'll gladly give it more next year.

Gary H. Okino
Council chairman, Council District VIII