Letters to the Editor
Rep. Say good example of need for term limits
David Shapiro's Oct. 15 Volcanic Ash commentary, "Education reform? Forget it," hits the nail on the head. The old saying "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem" rings true in Hawai'i's attempts to accomplish much-needed reforms.
Shapiro's correct: House Speaker Calvin Say is the key person who's constipating public school reforms by blocking efforts by our governor (or anybody else). Mr. Say, I'm sure, is very sincere and a hard worker, but the problem is that he's been in office too long. He's a good example of a local career politician who becomes entrenched in his ways and apparently can't see things as a leader must and the people suffer.
We have term limits for our mayor, our City Council members, our governor and our U.S. president. Let's level the playing field (the healthy friction between the Legislature and governor), and initiate term limits for Hawai'i legislators. We'll become liberated from constipation in our government.
Alan T. Matsuda
More support needed for Hawaiian causes
I am Japanese, Chinese and Filipino. I am also Hawaiian, and even though I am just a small amount of the latter, I am proud to call myself a Hawaiian. Lately, the Hawaiian community has been under attack, receiving more criticism and lawsuits than before. This has caused many Hawaiians to run and hide, but what we need most at this point in the fight is more Hawaiian support than ever.
The Ku I Kapono march was to show Hawai'i and the rest of the world that Hawaiians are going to gather together to win this battle. Just because the march is over doesn't mean we have done enough. We have to keep up the fight.
Kamehameha Schools has been targeted in particular lately. Many people find the admissions policy to be unconstitutional. These people believe that it is unfair to give Hawaiian children preference, thus giving them more advantages and benefits. But these people should also remember that when the missionaries came to our Islands, the Hawaiians were stripped of everything that was themselves. In a sense, they weren't allowed to be Hawaiian.
Ke Ali'i Pauahi's one wish was to give back to Hawaiian children what was rightfully theirs: their lives, their culture, their identity. This is not to say that the Hawaiian community is seeking revenge and reparations by supporting a school that gives preferences to Hawaiians. The Hawaiian community supports Kamehameha because it stands for the continuation of our Hawaiian culture.
We as Hawaiian people don't want to cause trouble or start a fight; we just want to be able to be who we are freely, without causing conflict.
Lingle reliance on test scores is misplaced
Gov. Linda Lingle (Oct. 15) takes exception to your editorial position that our public school system needs to be fine-tuned. The changes she lists sound very much like the ideas that Roderick McPhee from Punahou wrote in your Focus section in 1993. He spoke of changing the school boards, allocating funds on a per-pupil basis, promoting school choice and promoting more power to the principals.
Gov. Lingle bases her justification for change by carrying the mantra that testing matters. It certainly mattered in Texas, where achieving higher test scores led to corruption. One of my former students from a military family relocated to Texas after three years here in Hawai'i and wrote back that "they just drill you for the test."
Your education writer, Jennifer Hiller, did a great service to the citizens of Hawai'i by writing fair and balanced articles on the No Child Left Behind law, Hawai'i standards and how they impact our schools. Our governor does a great disservice to our citizens by writing that educators are in denial because they disagree with her regarding the importance of test scores as a true measure of a student's education.
However, there is one element of her political agenda that all of the teachers and principals will support: "restoring discipline in the classroom." During my sabbatical, I surveyed over 600 school-level teachers and support staff, and 57 percent rated classroom behavior that disrupts their teaching/ learning environment as at least a moderate problem.
Previous surveys listed smaller class size, parental support and restoring discipline as ways to improve the classrooms. Gov. Lingle got one out of three correct in a "real world" assessment of her ideas. Does that mean she passes with a 33 percent score?
Blame the drivers for killing themselves
I see many people pointing the fingers again, saying the youths who died recently from speeding and consuming copious amounts of alcohol weren't at fault. They say that we should look to see who sold the alcohol to them, who allowed them to get into the car, who sold the fancy car parts to them.
I say, it is their fault.
With freedom comes great responsibility, and if you cannot handle the responsibilities that come with the choices you make, you must pay the price. Did anyone force these two young men to drink? No. Did anyone force them to get into the car? No. Were they forced to drive at excessive speeds? No.
These were all their choices, and it's just too bad they made all the wrong decisions. Too bad they had to hurt others in the process of exercising their freedom of choice.
Stop the accusations about vehicles' abilities
Regarding the Oct. 15 letter on automobile advertisements in which "almost every sport-type vehicle is shown 'drifting' and speeding": To attack these companies is ridiculous. In this day and age, we should expect an individual to know right from wrong. Not giving that credit to a person is ignorant.
If a 30-second commercial can influence people to break the law, they shouldn't be driving. In our society, we like to find loopholes and exploit them to our favor, and a lot of times use them for financial gain.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Our mentality as a nation is to blame; we accuse and find scapegoats for our problems. We use them for a quick buck at someone else's expense. We should use this terrible tragedy, last week's fatal crash, to learn responsibility, not how to accuse.
Police should ticket noisy, modified cars
I agree with J. Karonis of Kaimuki when he asks us to think of ways to prevent those kinds of accidents from happening again. I would like to suggest that the Ho-nolulu Police Department begin aggressively enforcing the noise laws in this state. If you have modified your vehicle to increase the noise, then a citation and fine are mandatory.
I don't know about Kaimuki, but modified cars that drive up and down Kahuhipa Street here in Kane'ohe do speed and also are serious offenders when it comes to exhibition of speed, which is also dangerous and illegal.
I agree that we could fund the raise for HPD officers by aggressively citing all vehicles so modified.
What a class act! Thank you to all of the members of the Honolulu Symphony who have agreed to a pay cut so that "the show can go on." Your unselfishness and commitment are commendable. Bus drivers: take note.
Mother whose baby died in car unselfish
I am blessed, honored and privileged to know and love the mother who was shocked to discover her 10-month-old daughter left in her car last week.
She brings enthusiasm and joy to those around her. She has a precious personality so full of dedicated and unselfish compassion for others.
If I had never met her, I would probably be guilty of falsely accusing, judging and criticizing her for what tragically happened last week similar to the public scrutiny she is going through now.
Because her innocent spirit is so deeply broken, I can only pray for our Heavenly Father to please restore her fragile heart. She remains a treasured friend to many who truly love her, and we will stand by her integrity and character. I hope she is spared further heartbreak as it must already be unbearable.
'Security' opportunity lost in photo captions
The Associated Press and those who might have scrutinized its photo captions missed an opportunity to contrast two different notions of "security" last week.
The caption writer for an international news photo (appearing in newspapers in the United States on Oct. 14) missed an opportunity. The photo of five Filipinas wearing SARS-type George Bush face masks accompanied AP writer Paul Alexander's report headlined "U.S. heightens security in Philippines" just prior to President Bush's visit there.
Challenging that journalistically unquestioned notion of "security," the women held Tagalog-language protest signs. Referring to Bush, whose entourage was about to descend on the Philippines, their signs said, "Have him (Bush) disinfected!"
Vincent Kelly Pollard
Other law-enforcement forces should be used
I am one who agrees that police officers are underpaid. However, how is it that we taxpayers will have to foot their 16 percent raise and now the public is being asked to do their job by ticketing illegally parked and derelict vehicles?
Is the state of affairs so bad that the HPD has to go to Oregon to recruit officers? Is the Honolulu Police Department the only law-enforcement entity in the state that is able to police our island?
I think it's time the governor and lawmakers wake up and use our other law-enforcement resources for the good of Hawai'i's people.
Give the sadly neglected hope
Regarding the Oct. 19 story "Homeless tent city idea raises outcry": I was at a City Council meeting on Oct. 15 when a proposed ordinance to close certain city parks at certain set times would have been decided.
After numerous testimonies in opposition from the downtown, Kalihi-Palama and Wai'anae Coast activists and the homeless from the Leeward Coast, the council members decided to send this bill back to committee for amendment and reconsideration.
Even the HPD submitted testimony in opposition to closure of Kapi'olani Park, certain Waikiki parks and even Ala Moana Beach Park. I noticed by reading the article that 200 persons spoke at a public meeting regarding Camp Hope. The direction of the debate was one-sided, until two homeless people and others spoke up that the camp was necessary.
This article brought back an experience we had at the Kalihi-Palama Neighborhood Board back in the early 1980s. The peanut-butter sandwich ministry of the Rev. Claude DuTeil was being evicted from the Beretania Street bathhouse location due to urban renewal, and they were temporarily housed in an inactive fire station in Iwilei. There was a proposal to build an Institute of Human Services facility across from the present Kmart. The Rev. DuTeil, Vince Yano and an IHS staff member were present to make a case for board support.
Opposition speakers were surprised by this unexpected frontal confrontation. A motion was made to support the IHS facility inside our neighborhood board boundaries. The motion failed by one vote.
However, the very same motion carried the following month when the newly elected board members took their seats. Funding for a joint state-city project was pushed through, and IHS' new home was dedicated and open for business within the same year. This illustrates that where there is a will, there is a way.
Camp Hope would provide temporary shelter for 100 persons for not more than one year. It would not permit the mentally ill, in particular those with dual diagnoses, and the site suggested is not visible from Farrington Highway. As long as the applicants for the camp are properly screened and chosen, it can be a beacon of hope for a sadly neglected community in O'ahu.
For those who are mentally ill or have dual diagnoses, a more permanent facility with outreach service providers may be appropriate. The incoming City Council chairman, Donovan Dela Cruz, together with Councilmen Nestor Garcia and Mike Gabbard, should be able to collaborate with the city task force on the homeless and make Camp Hope a speedy reality.
Arvid Tadao Youngquist
Correction: Lt. Gov. John Waihee and City Council members Patsy Mink and Tony Narvaes were not on the board of the Institute for Human Services in the early 1980s. An editing error changed the meaning of the letter above in a previous version of these Letters to the Editor.