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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Only Hawaiians can decide on cave bones

A collection manager at Bishop Museum Archives, DeSoto Brown, claimed in a letter to the editor, "There are Hawaiians who believe that Dr. William Brown is acting properly and support his leadership of Bishop Museum." Who are these Hawaiians? Why is it that when some people state there are Hawaiians who are supportive of an issue or issues, they usually do not supply names of Hawaiians?

Also, he states, "The signers of the previously published article in The Advertiser are strong in their beliefs, and many are known and respected in their fields. But they represent a segment, not the entirety, of the Hawaiian community. Other views exist, and these are of equal sincerity and importance."

It seems that some people don't understand that Hawaiians have the right to decide what to do with the bones. It's not for Bishop Museum to decide — which, by the way, is directed by a white man. Let the natives decide. Period. It's also the law.

Lana Ululaniokekaihawanawana Robbins
New Port Richey, Fla., and Hilo, Hawai'i

Gas cap legislation simply won't work

In their June 24 letter urging motorists to urge Gov. Lingle to approve gas cap legislation, self-proclaimed consumer advocates George Fox and Scott Foster fail to acknowledge the truth about gas prices in Hawai'i and the negative impacts a cap would likely have on the public.

At the heart of the price of gasoline and indeed many other necessities is one basic fact: Things tend to cost more than they do on the Mainland because the cost of living here is generally higher across the board. Some of this is due to our geographic isolation, but it is also due to the state's general business climate, which includes high taxes and costly regulations.

In fact, Hawai'i's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism recently told The Advertiser that "magazines such as Forbes that rank the business climates of states 'all talk about this price cap because that's an example of overregulation of the business climate.' "

Under bipartisan direction, the state's own energy experts recommended the original gas cap bill be repealed — not amended — on the basis it would be unlikely to work and could put many small retail gas station operators out of business. And the Federal Trade Commission told the Legislature that gas caps and similar market controls do more harm than good.

The amendments offered by proponents unwilling to accept the economic realities do nothing to address the real underlying market conditions and could still end up harming the motoring public. One need look no further than the text of the amended bill itself, in which sponsors state "the objective of this act is not to guarantee lower gas prices." Case closed.

Melissa Pavlicek
Western States Petroleum Association, Honolulu

U.S. contractors must be held accountable

I commend Sens. Akaka and Inouye for recently voting in favor of the war profiteering prevention amendment proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., which was defeated along party lines.

If passed, this measure would have subjected contractors working abroad to stiff penalties if they overcharged or cheated the U.S. government.

In a time when America is spending billions of dollars in Iraq, this amendment would have put in place much-needed taxpayer protections. In light of recent news that companies such as Halliburton have continuously overcharged the government, contractors could have been held to new criminal penalties under the proposed amendment.

This amendment should not have been about party politics, but about holding accountable the contractors who are spending Americans' tax dollars.

T.J. Davies Jr.

Groundwater article simply dumbfounding

Dumbfounding is the only way to describe The Advertiser's metronomic reportage ("Dozens of chemicals in O'ahu streams," June 22) that there is "no cause for concern" despite a "three-year federal study of O'ahu's water supplies (that) found that groundwater and streams throughout the island are laced with chemicals."

On the other hand, I fully support the paper's sublime, farsighted agenda: It will be easier in this community to reach "high levels of concern" when each member has two heads.

Lawrence Graham Williams III

Our Miss Universe didn't make the cut

Aloha and a big mahalo for a great paper. My favorite is the crossword puzzle, but I have noticed that your coverage of the Miss Hawaii pageant omitted one name: the only girl from our state to wear the Miss Universe crown, Brook Lee.

All of the papers only mention Carolyn Sapp and Angela Baraquio, but they did not win the prize, the Miss Universe title and crown. Or has everyone forgotten Brook Lee? Where are those who are in charge of these pageants?

Please acknowledge all those who have helped to spread the aloha spirit in the world. Please do not forget our Miss Universe.

Annie K. Lorenzo

Religious-oriented parade must be private

The June 25 editorial "A little aloha might settle parade tussle" provided only a partial understanding of the reasons for the Family Day lawsuits filed on my organization's behalf and others because of blatant discrimination.

The discrimination was not being challenged because a private organization was sponsor, but because the city administration had helped organize, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on, the parade and afternoon festival, with proceeds going to a religious organization.

I do not believe any of the plaintiffs expressed any challenge to private organizations spending only their resources to plan and conduct a parade on public streets as long as public funds and personnel were not so engaged.

The editorial skews the reality that the city placed advertisements and co-sponsorship fliers, posters and invitations throughout O'ahu, including posting such on its Web site. The Christian Coalition identified the city as co-sponsor of the Family Day, and public funds appropriated for Family Day were appropriated by the city for these clearly illegal activities — supporting a specific religious entity and allowing discrimination in participation, which was clearly a violation of the city's ordinance on equal opportunity and nondiscrimination and of state and federal laws.

William E. Woods
Executive director
Gay and Lesbian Education and Advocacy Foundation

Newspaper helped form perceptions of Dobelle

In the last few days, I've been reading the flood of letters from Advertiser readers giving their (almost always negative) perception of the Dobelle firing.

This led me to go back and look again at a sentence I remembered from your June 15 editorial: "But if the perception is that the regents are unhappy with Dobelle for personal or political reasons, the university as a whole will suffer." Unfortunately, this does seem to be precisely the perception of an overwhelming majority of Advertiser readers.

Where might they have gotten this perception? Well, for one thing, the editorial itself is headed "Dobelle's evaluation must put UH first." I read that as a pretty strong suggestion of a serious likelihood that the evaluation would not put UH first.

I haven't made notes on all of the stories in between, but now I look at the June 20 paper and find:

  • The top front-page headline is "Dobelle flunked 'Locals 101.' " There are two articles under this headline. By my reading, both of them suggest the perception that any complaints against Dobelle were based on differences of style and maybe reaction to his Democratic Party connections — in other words, a little bit of both the "personal or political reasons" warned against in the June 15 editorial. Of course, others may read their tendencies differently.
  • The lead article in the Focus section is headlined "Dobelle debacle all about politics." That's clear enough.
  • Then, on the sports page, Ferd Lewis characterizes the situation thus: "A maverick university president becomes embroiled in state politics and eventually gets forced out by the board that governs the school."

Of course, the perceptions that the regents were "unhappy with Dobelle for personal or political reasons" were mostly already formed before Sunday, but Sunday's stories seem representative enough of what went before.

It's a truism in politics that perceptions, once set, are very hard to undo. Consequently, we must wonder whether, when the facts do begin to emerge, any facts whatsoever could be sufficient to undo the already established impression that your readers have.

George Grace

War has potential to corrupt

I enjoyed reading the June 1 commentary by Kathleen Parker, "Blame political correctness," because she wrote about gender equality, a topic I am deeply interested in, but she wrote about equality basically in relation to the unfortunate incidents at Abu Ghraib prison. "Does the presence of women advance or delay the goal of security?" And again, "We're all to blame for insisting that nothing matters so much as advancing the myth of gender equality.

My reaction was, "Yes, but women can be corrupted by war as well as men can."

Although war produces what we call heroes and those people are given medals of honor for their work, especially combat, it has the potential to corrupt. It is not normal, decent human relations — human beings killing each other. I was an infantry soldier in World War II and have seen it. And in the United States, this goes on despite the fact that we call ourselves a Christian nation.

Now Time magazine has come out with an edition (June 21) entitled "Faith, God & the Oval Office." I mention this partly because when Ronald Reagan, so celebrated these past couple of weeks, was president, he wanted the Ten Commandments placed in every school in America. The thought occurred to me then whether he really believed the Ten Commandments. The Sixth Commandment says, "Thou shalt not kill." But our government overrides this commandment and recruits (previously, inducted) young people, teaches them how to kill and then sends them out to do this as efficiently and effectively as possible. And, of course, gives medals to those who do it well.

I remember the time when we were in a small town near Munich. We had been moving fast and far. I was tired and horribly thirsty. I saw a young woman at the door of a house, so I went up and asked her to make me a cup of coffee. She invited me in and asked me to sit down. I no quicker sat down when her 3-year-old son came running over to me and climbed onto my lap and sat there smiling. She saw this and broke down sobbing. The boy had never seen his father. He was a prisoner in Belgium, the last she had heard. I drank my coffee fast, thanked her and left, for I was on the verge of tears. We were human beings with the same likes, fears and desires.

And I remember the small town near the Dutch border that had been occupied by the Germans. They had chased the French out and we came and chased the Germans out. There were dead bodies all around, German, French and American. I could tell by their uniforms. Then a thought went through my mind: What if I switched the uniforms? What would happen to the bodies? Who would know the difference? Would we have a German body in our Tomb of the Unknowns? How alike are we? Aren't we all human beings? When we kill our own kind, something happens within us that makes us less human.

In my opinion, neither men nor women should do what our soldiers did at Abu Ghraib prison. The major question is, how do we get rid of war, the great perverter? Or, maybe we should get rid of that commandment?!

Everett Kleinjans