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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 5, 2004

Letters to the Editor

School system doesn't seem to need teachers

"Hawai'i's public education system is simply not working as it should be. It is, in fact, obsolete" (quote by Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto).

I am a Hawai'i-born college-educated man of part-Hawaiian ancestry with many years of teaching experience in the United States and abroad. It has been wonderful being "home" on Maui, but I am shocked at the high cost of living. Many retirees of my generation still have to work to make ends meet.

To give back to my homeland, I do volunteer tutoring at the elementary school near my home. While I enjoy volunteer work, I still have to face the necessity to supplement my small retirement income.

I thought the Hawai'i education system would welcome a native son, but it hasn't. I applied for the substitute teachers' course in December. I now find that the course may not be available until this summer. There are several other bureaucracy requirements that make it difficult to get into the system.

Based on my teaching experience in Asia, I received an inquiry to teach in China. While I prefer to remain in Hawai'i, I may be compelled to take another teaching assignment abroad.

With all the hoopla about needing native-born teachers, the reality belies the need.

Francis Akiona Wing Hong
Kahului, Maui

Measure would have OK'd mass medication

Cool heads at the City Council prevailed in rejecting mass medication. Although the blatant show of "editorial wisdomlessness" by the editors of The Advertiser on the "clean water bill" missed the mark, it is critical to correct their misrepresentations.

First, fluoridation of community water supplies is mass "medication." Contrary to The Advertiser's point of view, Stedman's Medical Dictionary defines a medication as: " ... any substance used to prevent or treat a disease." Dental decay, a ravenous "disease" of teeth, would see its end by community water fluoridation, according to so-called experts. This is clearly not so. Cities like New York and Boston are experiencing rapid, unexplained increases in dental decay of epidemic proportions in spite of 40-plus years of community water fluoridation.

Second, it is not at all about "social justice" as presented, although that phrase always pulls the heart cord of the do-gooders. It is really about "general welfare," that of all the people. Look up the mandate of the people for government in our founding preamble. Clearly, it is " ... provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty ... " The passage of this bill does that nicely.

Ingloriously, Donna Ikeda, speaking for the Hawaii Dental Association, revealed the real attitude of institutionalized healthcare. She stated, roughly, "In times of emergency, we should always leave open the possibility of using water as a means of medicating the people." Wow, what Orwellian notions are we next to hear?

Ronald S. Carlson, D.D.S.

Pediatric, OB/GYN services will continue

Regarding your Jan. 20 article about the changes occurring at Straub Clinic and Hospital: Pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology services will continue to be provided at Straub King Street as well as at our satellite clinics.

We are planning for these services to transition to private practice at our King Street location with the pediatricians and obstetrician/gynecologists continuing their current medical practices.

We would like to reassure our patients that they will continue to receive the same high-quality medical care they have come to expect from Straub.

Raymond P. Vara Jr.
Chief executive officer
Straub Clinic & Hospital

3rd-grade reading goal is a very low standard

In her speech to the Legislature, Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said that one of the goals for the DOE's reinvention of itself is for kids to be able to read by the third grade. This was wildly applauded by her counterparts, but it is an incredibly low standard.

Third-graders are 8 years old. How about first grade? My wife and I homeschool our oldest girl (4 years), and she is beginning to read already.

Children are capable of learning far more than the DOE is giving them credit for. This fundamental problem is within the department and can only be fixed with complete systemic change. Please, no tinkering.

Rep. Bud Stonebraker
R-17th (Hawai'i Kai, Kalama Valley)

The people have their eye on Cal Kawamoto

Sen. Cal Kawamoto should know that there will be many citizens who are carefully following his challenge to transparency and the rule of fair fiscal dealing.

The Campaign Spending Commission has done a fantastic job in turning the tide in the task of cleaning up the "old boy" network and under-the-table donations. Robert Watada is to be commended for his integrity and persistence.

This issue appears to be a litmus test of whether the Senate will show the same persistence and courage in supporting and upholding the good work of the commission. Many citizens will be very interested in seeing the Senate's response to this gauntlet being thrown down in the path of honest process.

Michael Preston
Hawai'i Kai

Buy cheaper textbooks so they can be marked

Just want to express my thoughts about our public schools' system of recycling textbooks. My children told me that they are not allowed to mark or write in their textbooks because the books are not theirs.

I understand that books are very expensive. But do they have to be made that expensively? How about changing all the textbooks to regular covers instead of hard covers? There must be other ways. If the cost could be lowered, I wouldn't mind paying for part of the textbooks so my children would be able to study more efficiently.

In Asian countries, parents are asked to buy new textbooks for their children every semester (books are much cheaper). Low-income families get discounts. This, so children will be able to mark their books, underline them in class and take them home for review.

Lena Fong
Hawai'i Kai

Animal abuse must be treated as a felony

Getting 40 days for abandoning, starving and abusing animals is unconscionable.

Will this man also be chained so tightly that it cuts into his flesh; will he be starved; will he be exposed to maggots and lice and disease that infest his body; will he have no water to drink while he is serving his 40 days?

Civilized society must not tolerate this type of indifference and complete disregard for a living, feeling being. A slap on the hand is not sufficient punishment for this abhorrent behavior.

Laws must be changed to reflect the serious nature of these cases. Animal abuse must be treated as a felony, not a misdemeanor.

Cristina Andrews

Lawmakers should OK revamping of Judiciary

The Legislature should pass HB2301/SB2742 during the 2004 legislative session, the twin bills submitted by the Judiciary to alter the jurisdiction between Hawai'i's two appellate courts (Advertiser, Feb. 2).

The current manifestation of problems in the appellate process is, arguably, a predictable outcome of the tepid reform of the appellate system taken in the late 1970s to address the near-identical problems back then. The concept of an intermediate court received strong public support at that time, but halfhearted support by a skeptical legal community and Legislature (about the real need for such a court and its cost) resulted in its having played a relatively minor, secondary role in the appellate process as a supplemental or adjunct institution to the Supreme Court since its creation.

The number of working judges on the Intermediate Court will soon double in size from its inaugural three and exceed the number of Supreme Court justices, which would seem to vindicate the need for and viability of the Intermediate Court. It may now be time to make more appropriate and effective use of this institution.

Allow the Intermediate Court to operate more independently of the Supreme Court and have appeals filed initially at the intermediate level. This type of appellate system may well be dominant among American judiciaries because it works better than the alternative, which now exists with Hawai'i's state Judiciary.

Edmund M.Y. Leong

There's no freedom in military occupation

Wake up, Hawaiians! Break the colonial chains that restrain your brains. The U.S. Army is making its move to further control your destiny.

The Army plans to deploy hundreds of 20-ton armored vehicles called Strykers — they're assault vehicles created specifically to discipline civilians — on our own Hawaiian soil. How dare the Stryker Brigade come to Hawai'i and use our 'aina to better its skills at shedding the blood of other brothers and sisters of the world, many of whom are natives like us.

The presence of the occupying U.S. military forces here in Hawai'i is on the rise. Since 1893, the U.S. military has held our lands and peoples hostage to support the wealth of a few settlers. There will be no freedom, especially through the scam Akakaroach bill, if Hawai'i remains an occupying military outpost for continued American hegemony.

Kaleikoa Ka'eo
Makawao, Maui

No altruism in regard to orangutan

This letter is in response to your Jan. 27 article "Ranch drops plan for orangutan." The article portrayed Kualoa Ranch as being altruistic in its statement that "it was one of those things" and "the plan was opposed by animal-rights groups which wanted Rusti sent to a sanctuary in Florida."

However, there is a different reason behind the dropped plan. On Aug. 27, EnviroWatch Inc. filed a Petition for a Declaratory Ruling requesting a determination of the use classification of the proposed enclosure at Kualoa Ranch under the city's zoning laws. The director of the Department of Planning and Permitting declined to rule because "currently neither the property owner nor the developer has submitted any proposal or plan for the development of an orangutan facility at Kualoa Ranch. Accordingly, the department believes it is premature to provide a declaratory ruling on whether an orangutan facility at Kualoa Ranch falls under the use classification of a 'zoo.' "

EnviroWatch will be appealing the director's ruling before the Zoning Board of Appeals in a contested-case hearing. Contrary to the director's claim that no plan had been submitted, we learned that an application for a building permit was received. Furthermore, we learned that public documents were withheld from view clearly showing that the department held several meetings with OFI and Kualoa Ranch regarding the project. Embarrassment over this being revealed caused the final drop of plans for a "zoo" at Kualoa Ranch.

On Sept. 1, EnviroWatch filed a complaint with City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, District 5, regarding the behind-the-scenes and backroom handling of the matter by the Honolulu Zoo and the Department of Planning and Permitting, the money being spent, and the unofficial use of city employees. We asked her to investigate the unofficial use of city employees, equipment and money to facilitate the placement of the orangutan at the privately owned Kualoa Ranch.

EnviroWatch is opposed to the manner in which city and state agencies employed questionable tactics to facilitate the placement of the orangutan at Kualoa Ranch. It was the impact on the community and environment, and the government's handling of the matter, that prompted our involvement. We investigated the circumstances surrounding the placement of Rusti the orangutan at the zoo.

Although he is "owned" by Orangutan Foundation International, a private organization, we found that for the past seven years, city taxpayers have been paying the bulk of the expenses to house, medicate and care for him. At times, even his food was purchased with tax dollars that were repaid at a later date. In addition, city employees were being used to design and prepare a portion of the new facility at Kualoa Ranch, for free.

The article suggests pulling out was an altruistic gesture, but in reality it was just to get the "monkey off their back."

Carroll E. Cox
President, EnviroWatch Inc.