Letters to the Editor
Bus drivers should count their blessings
By now a vast majority of the people on O'ahu have come to cope with the bus strike and are making due. To let this strike go on any longer will do nothing but harm the dues-paying members of the union. I'm not sure if the Teamsters union is giving its members any "strike pay," but one thing is certain: Bills have to be paid, mortgages or rent has to be paid, children have to be fed.
In today's economy, I would think that the promise of no cuts to your current benefits would be good enough.
Consider this: I am a state worker and have been so for over 10 years. With the overtime I have made along with the paid holidays that I have worked, I still don't get paid as much as the bus drivers (and we are not allowed to strike). So please, put things in perspective and count your blessings and please don't be misled by a grandstanding union rep (he is still collecting his salary).
Daniel J. Bryant
Monthly bus passes should be reasonable
Monthly bus passes should not exceed $30 for adults or $20 for students per month. We have to remember the adult bus pass fare includes poor college students, part-time workers, low-income families and working class. The normal working-class person rides the bus 20 days per month, costing him $1.50 per day; students pay $1 per day.
The majority of the riders are seniors. Asking them to pay $30 per year is not close to using a taxi. Another large group are tourists. Raising the box fare to $2 per ride is not close to renting a car for a day.
Federal, state and city government provide their employees low- or no-cost parking. How many of you in the City Council have to catch the bus, stand for one hour and pay for your children to ride the bus? I suggest charging $2 at the box with no transfer. This will encourage people to purchase a monthly bus pass. If this does not work, then raise the monthly bus pass.
The union started the bus strike. Let the union strike until the $6 million is saved from not running the buses. The losers are the bus drivers, not the public. Everyone has a little inconvenience and change of schedule. Maybe it is time for the union members to rethink the leadership.
Reopen the HOV lanes
OK, with a couple of weeks of the bus strike under our belts, we've learned to be more patient in extra-heavy traffic. Now is the time to reopen the HOV lanes to multi-passenger cars only. This would discourage single-occupant cars.
Why should Teamsters be given guarantees?
Last week's Advertiser printed the following statement by Mel Kahele, president of Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996: "We're ready to talk, but we're not going to come back for a contract that offers no raises and no assurances about cutbacks for three years."
My question to Mr. Kahele and the striking bus workers is this: How did it come to be that bus workers privilege themselves above other union workers who not only sustained wage and benefit reductions but also saw their members laid off in response to the economic conditions in their respective industries, i.e. airlines and hotels?
Additionally, how is it that bus workers should be guaranteed salary increases and no layoffs while UH lecturers and others face layoffs, as reported in the same edition of The Honolulu Advertiser?
Milo D. Huempfner
Kamehameha should accept 'C' students
Recently I received our much-anticipated application to the Kamehameha Schools in the mail and would normally have filled it out and sent it back promptly. Due to the recent barrage of letters and media coverage criticizing the school acceptance policies and reporting the disappointing experiences others have had trying to get their children accepted, I have held off sending it in.
No one in my immediate family, my two sisters' families or my husband's family has ever been accepted at Kamehameha Schools, even after repeated attempts. My son is applying for the seventh grade and is one-fourth Hawaiian. He is a C-average student at his public school, and though he has not been gifted with special athletic abilities, he has a great attitude. As we have no political or Kamehameha School connections, and he is not a "cream of the crop" "A" student, I feel it will be a waste of time and the $25 application fee to apply.
It is truly discouraging as I believe he is one of thousands of children of Hawaiian ancestry who could truly benefit from the Kamehameha Schools.
Hawaiian geneology puts us where we are
Bob Rees' statement in his Aug. 31 commentary that "Hawaiian is and ought to be the culture of Hawai'i" is gratuitous.
Hawaiian culture teaches us that with the right comes the responsibility. With the right to practice Hawaiian culture comes the responsibility to care for its source, the 'aina and hoa'aina. And it is our Hawaiian geneology, not our race, that situates us in place and time in Hawai'i, linking us to each other and through the millenia to creation.
We live in the best of times; we are sustained by our halau, canoe clubs, voyaging societies, artists' huis, civic societies and charter immersion schools. We live in the worst of times, when the sustenance from our ali'i through their many charitable trusts is being disrupted.
It was understood in Hawaiian culture that the ali'i were the intermediaries between the hoa'aina and the akua. Disruption of that intercession is a most grave matter and one not easily understood by Mr. Rees and his malihini mentors in Washington, D.C.
Hunakai tree median a waste of our money
The Hunakai Street tree median near Kahala Mall does green up O'ahu and extend our Tree City USA designation, but you have to wonder how it could have cost taxpayers $800,000.
The median is a 6,750-square-foot, easily accessible level lot. So, for $118 a square foot, we got a pile of dirt with grass, 14 trees, a sprinkling system, all surrounded by a curb.
I just built my cliff house above Hunakai Street for less per square foot, resulting in an architecturally designed residence, not just landscaping.
Maybe the city thought it was also getting a 50-year maintenance contract like Actus Lend Lease's upcoming Army housing project. Or, maybe the city thought it was buying the Kahala fee-simple street lot and didn't realize it already owned it.
With expenditures like this, you have to realize there's big, easy money to be made for road reconfiguration projects like that proposed for Bus Rapid Transit. If the cost is not reasonable for the resulting benefit, find another project. Or if you have to throw my money away, throw it at education.
Lack of public parking makes visit frustrating
Waikiki offers so much to do for both locals and visitors alike. The only problem is, there is not enough parking to accommodate everyone.
I decided to take my two young children (3 and 1 1/2) to the Okinawan Festival and to spend a beautiful day at the beach. We circled Kapi'olani Park a few times and had no luck in finding a stall. I then tried the zoo parking lot. After an hour and 17 minutes of circling the zoo lot, we found a stall. A car was leaving so I put my blinker on and was waiting.
The Saturn in front of me reversed and was trying to take this stall, too. They didn't have enough room so they were motioning me to reverse. I was there first and was waiting so long, there was no way I was going to give it up. The female passenger even got out of the car and told me to move back. I shook my head, "No." She then proceeded to tell the driver of her car to "just bang" my car if I wasn't going to move. I could not believe what was happening. The car was full of tourists, and all eyes were on me. I was livid. They were going to try to bully me out of my stall.
This could all be avoided if there were more parking. This is the reason we don't go to Waikiki anymore. There is a lack of public parking, and the hotel parking is way too expensive.
The city spent so much on beautifying Waikiki and not enough on parking to accommodate everyone.
Kudos to Rep. Takai for getting school funds
All hats off to state Rep. K. Mark Takai. As noted in the Sept. 3 Advertiser, his efforts will be bringing in $3.5 million to Hawai'i public schools.
During a time when some politicians are investing in themselves by throwing money at their chummy associates in the form of non-bid work contracts, Mr. Takai has come forward to show us what a true politician should be doing: working for the people.
It is obvious that Mr. Takai realizes that investing in our future means investing in our public schools. If he is able to do this much for us as a representative, imagine what incredible things he could probably do for Honolulu as mayor. Mr. Takai, how about it?
Stop the pictures of bad bicyclists
This is my second letter to ask you to please stop publishing pictures of bad bicyclists. Once again on the front page and on the Neighbors page, Aug. 28, you show bicyclists riding unhelmeted, against the rules of traffic, and improperly fitted to their bicycles.
As a parent, educator and bicycle advocate, I encourage you to print photos of adults on adult bikes, kids on kid bikes, riding safely and wearing helmets.
Your editorial responsibility can positively influence good bicycling.
Inconsiderate smokers made movie miserable
A hundred or so uncaring, inconsiderate smokers made life uncomfortable for thousands who were otherwise enjoying the city's Sunset on the Beach movie. Some were forced to leave when groups of addicted youngsters near them all lit up at the same time.
I realize that smoking on the beach might be legal, but when that whole area is wall-to-wall bodies (living, breathing humans), a carefully worded request from the city's managing director, Ben Lee, could have made for a much more enjoyable evening for all of us.
At future events on the beach, perhaps the managing director could say something like: "In the interest of your health and that of those around you who might be bothered by smoke, please don't smoke during the movie."
This bus driver went beyond the call of duty
In February 1999, a bus driver for TheBus was chased down, lifted up off the ground and body-slammed to the pavement by a recovering drug addict with schizophrenia who apparently forgot to take his medication.
The man had made his way to a seat and started shouting obscenities at the bus driver. After repeated attempts by the bus driver to quiet down the angry man, the only option left for her was to order him off the bus out of concern for the safety of other passengers, who were now very afraid.
The driver had made several attempts via radio to bus dispatch for police assistance, to no avail. The man refused to leave the bus, and then he violently attacked the driver. Through the power of God, the driver recovered and forgave the deranged man.
In January 2003, this same bus driver used quick thinking to help authorities reunite a missing boy with his family. She had remembered the little boy's face on a flyer distributed by OTS prior to that day's work shift. This event touched her heart. The driver knew what it was like to lose a child. She lost an 11-year-old special-needs daughter to cardiac arrest in November 1998. After burying one daughter in November, a second daughter was born a month later, two months before the violent attack.
This driver continues to operate TheBus and has gone above and beyond the call of duty on too many occasions to count ask the daily passengers. She operates in excellence and treats all passengers as 'ohana.
Mr. Mayor, OTS and City Council, you cannot afford the raise this driver deserves, but I thought I would give you a glimpse of what your money currently pays for. Who is this driver? My baby sister.