Letters to the Editor
Vili is accountable as a UH contractor
I've read some interesting letters on Vili the UH mascot. What's not mentioned is that rights to "The Warrior" character that Vili plays is not owned by UH, but by BIGVIL Productions, a company headed by Vili's spouse.
UH pays Vili $400 per appearance. Ironically, even the UH athletics department has been quoted in newspaper articles that "He (Vili) is not the official mascot. ... His job is to represent UH athletics."
The fact of the matter is that Vili is hired under contract to the UH athletics department, which makes him and BIGVIL Productions contractors to the university. Vili should be held accountable to the provisions of his contract, and the regulations that govern contractors of the university and state of Hawai'i. I have to assume that there is a clause somewhere that prohibits acts of misconduct by contractors of the UH or state.
Look at it this way: Government and university employees, government and university contractors, and even individual citizens whose actions are construed as misconduct are reprimanded for their actions. Shouldn't Vili be held to those same standards? That would be "Warrior-like."
HGEA is silent on principal accountability
The Hawai'i Government Employees Association, the union representing public school principals, opposes Gov. Lingle's proposal to break up the Department of Education into seven independent school districts ("Principals oppose Lingle reform plan," Jan. 15). Interestingly, the HGEA says it's because there is no evidence that this reorganization would improve student performance.
But what the HGEA does not say is much more interesting than what it says. The HGEA does not talk about the fact that the governor's bill also includes a proposal to give principals much more authority to make the decisions that affect student performance and educational quality. Many of these decisions are now being made by bureaucrats in the upper levels of the DOE. This increased authority would improve the effectiveness of principals and enable them to raise the quality of education delivered by the schools.
Apparently, student performance is not really a priority for the HGEA.
Furthermore, the union fails to mention that the governor's bill also removes principals from collective bargaining. Perhaps the real reason the HGEA is opposed to the bill is that it would reduce membership in the union. In the union's thinking, the idea of unionizing principals was defective from the beginning since they would be part of management rather than labor.
The bill calls for principals to have performance-based contracts so they would have to stand solely on their own merits as managers without being able to hide behind the muscle of the union. Although in many cases unions serve a valid purpose, they are known to protect the least capable of their members. The children of Hawai'i deserve much better than that.
Local entertainers made Symphony Pops tops
I was floored by the incredible concert presented by the Honolulu Symphony Pops and guest singers Glenn Medeiros, Anita Hall and Henry Kapono this past weekend at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall.
The tribute to the Beatles was impeccably scored by maestro Matt Catingub, and rounding out the magical two hours of music were talented band musicians James Mancuso (guitar), Sonny Froman (drums) and John Kolivas (electric bass).
On Friday night, the nearly sellout crowd gave the performers a double standing ovation, and from what I learned about the next night's performance, the sold-out concert ended in even more rousing applause.
I'm proud of the talent we have right here in this state and wish this group the best of luck for the Grammy Award ceremony Feb. 8. You guys deserve to win.
Give us solutions, not criticism of principals
The old saying about "walking in one's shoes" applies to all of you who would place the blame on something or someone without a true understanding of what goes on. You should try spending a day or two from start to finish with any of our fine principals and then see if that is the proper place to lay any of the blame for our educational problems. You would quickly discover that they have no time to "sit back," as you say in your article.
As to covering their " 'okoles," yes, they must do that, along with the " 'okoles" of everyone in the state, to make sure we are complying with the Felix decree and now the No Child Left Behind program.
As for taking risks, did you know that some liability policies require that administrators pay an additional premium in the form of a rider? They are not only subject to being sued but are also at risk from disruptive students and parents alike.
Writing an article proposing possible solutions, without laying the blame at someone's doorstep, would do more to further the goals of the educational community. What have you done to help besides writing about it?
Kamehameha trust doesn't need 5 CEOs
The Kamehameha trust should be operated by a business and financial expert with vision and specific managerial abilities. One CEO for the school and one CEO for the trust itself, each having the required expertise. Both such persons could work collegially, with equal accountability to the trustees.
The trustees should be individuals who are working full time as accountants, bank VPs, etc. One of the essential qualifications must be the ability to interpret and see through ledgers and other such documents.
Besides the honor of serving in such a prestigious position, they could be paid $25,000 to $50,000 a year for six meetings or so.
Perhaps I missed something, but all successful businesses that I have known in my own business career had one well-paid CEO and not five.
Don't be hoodwinked
So, we get two ferries that will provide service to the Islands. Sounds great. But we been down this road before several times and you ain't fooling me again. Super-high-speed ferries ... well, don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see. I learned that from experience.
Please back proposal for Young St. bikeway
The Sierra Club proposes to redevelop Young Street between Mo'ili'ili Field and Thomas Square into a bike and pedestrian corridor.
The proposed beautification project for Young Street would create a people-friendly, pleasant street environment; reduce vehicle conflicts with pedestrians; resurface streets, improve sidewalks and add bikeways; improve visibility for safer exit from driveways; add trees and landscaping; resolve drainage and flooding issues, and improve the business climate for local merchants.
Please call or e-mail your City Council member and ask him or her to support this worthy project. Mahalo.
Sierra Club, O'ahu Group
Street maintenance needs more funding
A lot more than $2 million is needed to bring our roads up to decent conditions. Just take a look at King, Beretania, Kapi'olani, Kuhio, Ala Wai, Kapahulu, Kalakaua, Pi'ikoi, Pensacola, Dillingham, Ala Moana and, of course, Nimitz, with its infamous steel plates. Not to mention the rest of the streets and avenues in Honolulu.
It is clear that most of our roads need to be repaved and sealed, as one letter writer suggested. In many tropical areas, like Florida, high-traffic roads are paved with concrete instead of asphalt to make them more resistant to the weather (both heat and water).
In most cities, the vehicle weight tax and part of the gasoline tax go to road construction and maintenance. Where are our taxes going?
Hit one-passenger cars
How about this? If a one-passenger car travels on the H-1, the H-2 or the H-3, that car would get hit with a toll. If there were two or three passengers in the same car on the same roads, no tolls. Low-occupancy vehicles would be hit with a voluntary tax. Imagine what a system like this would do to traffic gridlock.
Where's Hurricane Fund when residents need it?
With the passing of the strong winds Jan. 14 over Windward O'ahu that did considerable damage to several homes in Kailua, where is the Hurricane Fund? The Hurricane Fund was paid by homeowners into a state of Hawai'i kitty for repair work for damage done by a hurricane.
This recent wind reached hurricane speeds, and roof damage did occur. If the elected officials want to get respect from their citizens, they need to show us that this committed money for wind damage will be available for what it is intended for.
A Bush conspiracy rebutted
Some say believe half of what you see and even less of what you read. I give this warning to those weekend news junkies and political neophytes so easily taken in by one side of an argument.
After reading Sunday's "Dynasty, deceit & oil," my sister-in-law called me and gleefully said, "I told you the president was bad." Her proof of this was the Bush family's deep and undeniable contacts in the Middle East cited in the above-mentioned article.
I quickly pointed out to her that any successful oil family is going to have some contact, in one way or another, with various officials in the Middle East. I further explained it to her in terms I knew she could understand. I likened the Bush family to a world champion boxer unwillingly forced to do business with Don King, i.e. the "Middle East establishment." I explained that Don King controls enough of the top-caliber boxers, i.e. oil fields, in the world, that in order to continue to keep fighting, the boxer, i.e. the Bush family, is going to have to deal with Don King, i.e. the "Middle East establishment," or leave the sport, i.e. the oil industry.
As she began to grasp what I was saying, I further explained to her that the author examines the Middle East in a vacuum and not in the light of the Cold War or the Iranian radicalism that the United States was facing at that time. When adding these factors to the examination, one is able to understand the forces behind the policies that the author so blatantly ignores with his criticism.
What would the Middle East be like today had the United States not checked Iranian radicalism in the '80s? Furthermore, the author floats an ill-supported and irresponsible argument that the Bush family "may" have laid the seeds that sprouted into the Sept. 11 attacks. This notion is simply ridiculous.
Finally, I pointed out to my now-embarrassed and somewhat frustrated sister-in-law that the author's sources were less than unbiased and suspect in the very least. Sources such as Ted Koppel, Charles Schummer, the conspiracy book "Outlaw Banks" and The Washington Post should sound alarm bells in any unbiased reader's mind.
While the article was a sensational and a somewhat interesting read, it was wanting of any meaningful evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Bush family. In the end, the author's argument is made of paper and is simply a broad brush of the president in the hopes that something negative will stick in the minds of the voters.