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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Letters to the Editor

School establishment afraid of losing power

Thank you, David Shapiro, for your common-sense commentary about school reform (Volcanic Ash, Feb. 4). Indeed, Patricia Hamamoto did let herself be used, and indeed, this is an establishment terribly afraid of change and loss of their centralized power.

The argument that decentralization would create more bureaucracy is definitely bogus. It would eliminate a dictatorship and bring decision-making and help for the teachers and principals down to the local level.

If House Bill 2331 is not passed out of committee, I believe the electorate will definitely hold the legislators who stop it accountable in November. As Shapiro pointed out, it's senseless for politically motivated legislators to kill this proposed constitutional amendment. They will not be committing themselves to anything by passing it. Not killing the bill will leave the issue of decentralized school boards open for debate until November when the people can decide. Why are they so afraid to do that?

Shirley Hasenyager

Remove layers of bureaucracy, red tape

The education system is not working after decades of same-same. Should we continue to bang our heads against an abutment and hope the pain stops?

The bureaucracy is too removed from the action to respond quickly or accurately. Every layer of administration adds cost and delays and removes the decision-maker from understanding the problem at hand.

Currently, by the time a problem reaches the Legislature, it requires study groups, committees, commissions, consultants, hearings, meetings, testimony, lawyers, depositions, lawsuits, audits and unfunded judicial mandates. These all cost — you guessed it — money, delays and red tape.

Volunteers, a valuable resource, are either turned away or discouraged by a tangle of rules, red tape and delays. Remove these barriers and volunteers will come.

For those who argue decentralization will cost more: Cheap is good, free is better.

The status quo doesn't work. Let's change, but before we do, let's make sure we model it after a formula that has already worked. Let's not make guinea pigs of our youth again. We've done it with three-on-two and we've thrown out phonics. We don't need to experiment.

Carl Okumoto
Hawai'i Kai

Legislature has duty to audit public agencies

Your Jan. 28 editorial "Campaign commission should be left alone" has me wondering whether the Legislature has touched a sensitive nerve.

After reviewing the Constitution, I believe it is clear that the Legislature not only has the right but the duty and responsibility to review and audit public agencies, especially those agencies it created. And make no mistake, the Campaign Spending Commission was created by the Legislature.

We are all concerned when the media yell "bloody murder!" and "foul!" However, we must make sure that the yelling is not merely a smokescreen to divert our attention from the real problem. After all, don't the media still believe that the people have the right to know how public agencies are managed and how taxpayer monies are spent?

When was the last time we heard of the media lobbying the Legislature not to investigate, review or audit a public agency? Is there a sacred cow here? There should never be any sacred cows in government.

Why are the media lobbying the public? Why are the media bending over backward to prevent the Legislature from doing its job? What are they afraid of? Will an audit uncover some dirty linen?

Sen. Cal Kawamoto's decision to step aside on this issue, for whatever reason, should not prevent the Legislature from doing its job of auditing and investigating the Campaign Spending Commission — or any other agency, for that matter — as it deems necessary.

When our two dailies have the same position on a subject matter, unfortunately the other side is not heard. At stake is a well-informed community with accessibility to all points of view.

Henry Haalilio Peters

Don't be fooled by Keauhou development

Regarding Kamehameha Schools' plan, reported in the Jan. 31 Advertiser, for the development of Keauhou on the Kona Coast: Since when do condos and homes "in the luxury price range" ($450,000 to $650,000 for condos, and from $750,000 to $4 million for single-family homes) and a 25,000-square-foot commercial development on the oceanfront contribute to a "Hawaiian sense of place"?

This is just another big development, with the restoration of heiau, etc., as window dressing. (It will be useful for attracting buyers. I can see the ads directed at the affluent international market now: "Luxury units on the Kona Coast: sun, ocean breezes and restored heiau — Live in the Real Hawai'i! From $ ... ")

Barbara Downs

Plan to cool new med school has problems

The proposal to pump cold seawater from 3,000 feet below the surface of O'ahu to cool the new medical school, under construction in Kaka'ako, is a promising way to conserve large amounts of electricity ("Seawater system proposed to cool medical school," Feb. 2). However, discharge of the used seawater into a drainage canal, as planned, has the potential for significant environmental harm.

The problem is that deep seawater is very rich in plant nutrients such as phosphate and nitrate. Deep seawater pumped from within the Island land mass, as proposed here, would have even higher levels of nutrients.

This suggests that the planned release of 10 million gallons a day of this seawater may significantly impact nearshore ecosystems. In particular, nuisance algal blooms, already a major coastal problem in Hawai'i, may be notably enhanced by such large-scale nutrient additions to the coastal zone.

I wonder if the developers have considered such problems. I also wonder if they have considered the potential difficulties of obtaining the necessary permits for these kinds of nutrient-rich discharges.

One alternative would be to re-inject the waste seawater back into the ground at a depth below the depth where algal blooms could be problematic, say 600 or more feet. This would increase operating (and perhaps construction) costs, but would eliminate the obvious problem of releasing high-nutrient seawater in our pristine, low-nutrient coastal waters.

Frank Sansone
Professor of oceanography

More local governments would make things better

I love it for 'Aiea when its roadside weeds are cut by our state government just before every football season.

And now, just before the Pro Bowl, the weeds were again being cut, even though doing so reveals all the trash left over the area by the same football fans our government mucky-mucks are trying to impress. But I'm not complaining. It's almost the only time the 5-foot-high weeds get cut in 'Aiea around Aloha Stadium, and for a week or two the Kamehameha Highway entrance to our town doesn't look grubby.

I'll wager anyone that 'Aiea and lots of other even grubbier-looking towns throughout Hawai'i would look a lot better if we had more local governments than more local school boards.

Ross Zolo

Car alarm proposal doesn't belong in Hawai'i

Regarding a Feb. 1 letter by Tom Sebas: I suggest he move to Midway Island or maybe some other remote part of the Pacific. He has to be realistic in what he is requesting regarding car alarm owners being cited or motorcyclists riding down Ala Wai Boulevard who set off the alarms.

What is next on his agenda, requesting the HPD to arrest screaming kids as they are getting out of school? Or maybe it will be slamming some elderly person against a wall for driving 30 mph in a 40-mph zone?

Look, we are in Hawai'i — a state that tolerates imperfections. Since N.Y.C. is so great to live in and its laws are "better" than ours, please don't let the plane door hit you on the 'okole on your way out.

Bob Ruiz

Waste-dumping measure doesn't solve problem

The introduction of SB 2850, which increases the criminalization of waste dumping, is another example of stupid actions by well-meaning people.

When will we learn that there is an inverse relationship between increasing penalty and actual enforcement and conviction? The people "illegally dumping" are illegally dumping because the state and county governments don't provide reasonable alternatives.

Speaking from a prospective developed by 30 years of professional public health experience, I believe that if we're seriously attempting to control the problem of solid-waste mismanagement, we need to increase the availability of legal disposal sites. We need to increase the hours that the currently available disposal sites operate. We need to relax the rules regarding how much and when waste can be delivered. We need community satellite waste collection sites that are conveniently located throughout the state. And we need the waste pick-up program to be more efficiently organized and operated with a public-service attitude.

Vernon J.C. Hoo

Hawai'i drivers should be more like California's

My husband and I recently returned from a driving trip through central and southern California. Although we are long-term residents of Hawai'i, often called a "paradise," we found a driver's (and pedestrian's) paradise in California. Why? Drivers know and obey the rules of the road, and if they don't, there are consequences.

We saw examples of police officers enforcing traffic laws (and obeying the laws themselves). As pedestrians, when we crossed in a crosswalk, drivers actually stopped. When lights turned red, drivers stopped (as opposed to accelerating to race through the intersection).

With so many drivers on California's roads, obeying traffic laws is essential. In Hawai'i, we've gotten away with lax traffic enforcement and a lot of stupid road behavior simply because our smaller population allowed for it. With more cars on the road, we are now approaching chaos, and human lives are at stake.

A recent editorial only mentioned speed and alcohol as accident-causing culprits. Stricter requirements for driver's licenses, better driver education, vigilant police enforcement and better modeling by the police themselves would be a welcome start toward minimizing what you so gently term "misuse" of cars.

Lynne M. Kobayashi

Cheer up, the 'Kahuna' might have been worse

Hawaiians aren't the only ones who don't like the Dodge Kahuna concept car.

First of all, it's a minivan, and the only similarity it has to a classic Woody is some wood stuck on the side. As far as the idea that the vehicle "conveys an athletic, capable image that is associated with California coastal culture," they must be dreaming. I'm from the California coast, and it's still a minivan. Apologies are in order to all minivan owners.

However, as commentary on John Book's petition, not everyone feels insulted or that insult was intended when a respected name is used for an automobile. Many automobiles have the name of the person or family responsible for originally producing the car, although if my name were Edsel, I might question the choice. Apologies to everyone named Edsel.

We have had, at one time or another, a Pope, a Lincoln and a Yugo, which conceivably might have offended the Vatican, the Republican Party and the entire nation of Yugoslavia, had those entities had a mindset to take offense. There are myriad forms of metaphorical reference to heroic peoples, manly behavior or admirable members of the animal kingdom, all designed not to insult, but with which the auto industry hopes we will identify.

I can personally assure former Island resident John Book that not all Native Americans take offense with Chrysler for the use of Cherokee as a name for its Jeep. Call them what you will, transparent, inane, lame, or just plain dumb, the names assigned to various models are designed to make us want to buy that car.

Actually, since a major function of the minivan is to provide transportation for soccer moms and their charges, and there's nothing wrong with that, Dodge could have named it the "Mother," possibly offending everyone, if they were inclined to take offense.

Phil Arnold