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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Transportation folks heard, came through

For some time, folks who ride home on Route 4 of TheBus in the afternoon from downtown up Nu'uanu have suffered terrible service. Buses are supposed to arrive 20 minutes apart, but waits of 45 and 50 minutes are not unusual.

Courteous but frustrated drivers explain that construction on Kuhio Avenue and congestion near the University of Hawai'i are the problem. But at the end of a long working day, waiting at a bus stop on a narrow sidewalk as tank-sized SUVs snail by carrying an oblivious single passenger, that's small consolation.

Complaints to TheBus, the city Department of Transportation Services and the mayor brought promises to study the problem. Now, in time for the start of school, an additional bus will be added on the downtown end of the route in the afternoon.

Thank you, Cheryl Soon, director of DTS, and Clyde Earl, chief of the Public Transit Division, folks at TheBus and all others who helped. They listened, heard and acted. Mahalo.

Peter Rosegg

'Hawaiian Vacations' race car a success

After reading your editorial on the differences between the Lingle and Cayetano administrations' approach to the HTA/HVCB, I was offended by part of your analogy.

The "Hawaiian Vacations" race car was not just a name on the side of a car at the races attended by more than 100,000 at each event. It was a marketing effort tied together with tour promoters, the race promoters, local media in each city the vehicle and its crew visited and the sanctioning body.

The team passed out marketing materials for Hawai'i at each of the events it attended, and Miss Hawai'i of 1993 (Pamela Kimura) attended the Atlanta Nationals and came back with a written report to the then-HVB to continue the program because of the way the crew and team as well as the National Hot Rod Association used its sponsors and corporate partners to integrate the program into a national marketing campaign.

The end result was more than $1.4 million of marketing exposure (the state paid $220,000) even though the program was cut short by 15 of the 22 races it was scheduled to attend. Had it been allowed to complete its schedule while fully funded, it could have easily hit $4 million of exposure and done a tremendous amount of cross-corporate marketing with the motorsports partners and industry at large.

We now have the profile of a very large new demographic called the "NASCAR dad." To me he is nothing more than the guy next door who loves some form of motor sports. As a good friend of mine once said, "There is a little bit of Mario in all of us." The largest corporations in the world that make up a major portion of global marketing cultivate them. They belong to the largest spectator sport in the world.

Michael T. Oakland

The Israeli security fence is a necessity

I take issue with your July 12 editorial demanding Israel dismantle its security fence: "The ruling adds moral suasion to an argument that seemed intuitively obvious to many: The wall is wrong and wrong-headed."

I'm sure many do not find your argument so obvious, including President Bush and John Kerry, both of whom condemned the World Court's wrong-headed opinion.

Israel's 5 million residents are surrounded by 300 million Arabs intent on their destruction. Israel's protective fence is a nonviolent response to 19,000 terror attacks and weekly suicide bombings that have caused more than 900 deaths. Since construction, attacks have dropped 90 percent, clearly proving its effectiveness as a deterrent.

Yasser Arafat's PLO was founded to "drive the Jews into the sea." It is said that if Palestinians laid down their arms, they would get peace and land. If Israelis laid down theirs, they would be killed. The security fence is a necessity.

Instead of focusing on it, the United Nations should ascertain why Israel should need a fence in order to live peacefully with its neighbors.

Golda Meir said, "There will be peace in the Middle East only when Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel." Until then, allow Israel self-protection.

Brian Marguleas

Slower drivers must move over to the right

Regarding the July 18 letter "Driver who is going the limit not wrong": It is true that that person is not wrong for going the speed limit. I applaud those drivers for their diligent effort to abide by the speed limit. To do so is sometimes a scary thing.

However, if they don't pay attention to the other sign on the side of the road, "Slower traffic keep right," they enter the great valley of the wrong and are now slowing traffic.

In the driver's manual from the state of Hawai'i, it says, regarding speed restrictions, on Page 28: "You must not drive so slowly that you hold back other traffic. If you cannot keep up with traffic, pull off the roadway and let other traffic pass or change to another route."

I interpret this to mean if you are driving on a multi-lane road, then you should move to the right. If you are on a two-lane highway, upon noticing you are holding traffic up, you should pull off the highway when it is safe and let other drivers pass by.

Let's all be aware of what is going on around us as we try to drive. Let's all work together to make our drive a more enjoyable experience.

Jack Gray
Pearl City

Regents have created a fine financial mess

What the regents have done to the University of Hawai'i and our state is beyond shameful. They have made us the laughingstock in the world of academia. How can the regents make cogent judgments on former President Dobelle when they're not even aware of what one another is doing concerning policy and contracts?

The inanity of their regime, the cost of their big-buck lawyers and the obvious future secret settlement that Dr. Dobelle will be awarded will be the reasons that everyone's wallet will be a bit thinner at the end of this foul-scented imbroglio.

Hawai'i will be hard-pressed in luring topflight academics to our proud university due to the Third World reputation of our regents.

My heartfelt plea to the board: resign and give us a fighting chance to recover from this regent-inflicted debacle that we are living with and paying for.

Jimmy Borges

Native Hawaiians deserve better than the Akaka bill

I am writing with deep concern about the effort to push through the Akaka bill by Gov. Linda Lingle and other elected officials who seem determined to force this legislation on the Hawaiian people.

The Koani Foundation directors who went to Washington, D.C., in May report they were told by representatives for Sens. Frist, Kyle, McCain and Domenici that there is absolutely no chance of passage for this bill. So why is so much money and press being wasted in its support?

There has been little effort to educate our people as to the consequences of this legislation. No effort or money has been spent to explore alternatives. Why? Is this the only option? I think there could be more to lose than gain for Native Hawaiians.

Imagine the shock to our people in 1893 finding out after the fact that their country had been stripped from them. To voice their opposition, more than 38,000 signatures were collected from Native Hawaiians who opposed the illegal occupation and annexation by the United States. The box containing these documents was found on the floor in a hallway, almost 100 years after they were sent to Washington. The effort of our kupuna went unheard. We have seen what has happened to our people over the years.

The Akaka bill benefits the general public, not Native Hawaiians. If this bill becomes law, our rights will be "sold down the river" a second time. Native Hawaiians will have agreed the past means nothing and we willingly submit to foreign rule.

If any of your family signed the original petitions, consider what they would think if you gave it all away by not catching on to another fast-talking set of trinket bearers. For a few shiny dollars we are selling out our future, our being, our culture and our Islands.

In these days of homeland security, maybe Hawaiians should look to our own homeland. Iraq was just given the right to a sovereign government. Why not Hawai'i? Shouldn't we have the same chance? At least give the Hawaiians a fair forum to explore nationhood, not a political marketing plan that is still trying to sell a day-old fish to a Hawaiian. We deserve better.

Uncle Moon Keahi
Waiehu, Maui

Supportive housing best bet

Kudos are appropriate to Gov. Linda Lingle for throwing some land, dare I say money, at the affordable housing crisis in Hawai'i. Targeting the homeless, however, takes a bit more strategy.

One effective strategy for many of our most chronic and disabled homeless is supportive housing — which combines subsidized permanent housing with supportive case management services.

Hawai'i has approximately 900 units of permanent supportive housing (only 50 units on the Neighbor Islands), most of which serve the homeless mentally ill through the Department of Health. Without this housing, homelessness in Hawai'i would look significantly worse. It is estimated that the state needs a minimum of 1,500 additional units of supportive housing for the homeless mentally ill in addition to other chronically homeless individuals not served by the Health Department.

New affordable units can only serve this population under three conditions:

  • Rental rates must be priced at no higher than HUD's Fair Market Rent ($642 for a studio on O'ahu).
  • The units must come with a subsidy — since the chronically or mentally ill homeless tend to make closer to 20 percent of median income.
  • Supportive case management services (one case manager per 25 to 30 people) must accompany these units to ensure effective placement and retention of their units. Supportive services cost approximately $2,400 per person per year for our lean, efficient nonprofits to deliver, significantly less expensive than providing emergency services, including costly inpatient hospital stays.

Land is a start, but the governor needs to ensure that new developments using state land include units priced right for the homeless. More resources are also still necessary to ensure provision of supportive case management services. State homeless funding has decreased in real dollars over the past five years. The governor must identify a stable, dedicated revenue stream that nonprofits can access. Local foundations should also be working pro-actively with the governor to develop an endowment to pay for long-term subsidies and supportive services.

A check-box contribution on the state income tax form would also afford residents an easy opportunity to support these initiatives.

Contrary to what people may believe, significant progress is being made on reducing the numbers of homeless living in the Islands. Solutions have been identified and are being implemented with some limited support from the federal government. If the federal tax burden is being reduced and prevents additional assistance, then the state of Hawai'i — like many states around the country — needs to come to the table more substantially in providing resources to fulfill the promise of ending, or at least reducing significantly, the homeless problem.

Michael Ullman
Honolulu researcher and consultant working both locally and nationally with homeless service providers