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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Show police officers support against racers

As I read the trashing of the Honolulu Police Department and its officers in regard to the irresponsible racers/speeders (who are the real culprits), I wonder if many of our law-abiding, vocal citizens have taken the wrong tack toward finding a safe, rewarding solution.

For example, instead of bad-mouthing HPD officers, who have been commissioned to do a difficult and dangerous job under tremendous public criticism and unrealistic expectations, the law-abiding community ought to heap on visible, audible and printed praise. This would accomplish several things:

  • It would encourage HPD officers, who are working hard and risking their lives every day.
  • It might encourage qualified law-abiding citizens to become HPD officers.
  • It would keep the heat on those who are making our roads unsafe.

Bryan Wittekind
Pastor, Wai'anae Baptist Church

Close-call nightmares just aren't worth it

Sunday morning, four teenagers were airlifted from La'ie after hitting a utility pole. Monday at 5:50 in the morning, I was in line with several other cars when some selfish (expletive deleted) passed us going about 70 mph. Tuesday about 7 a.m., a sociopath came straight at me in a white pickup, speeding and passing on the wrong side of a double yellow line, forcing me to slam on my brakes and launching the contents of my truck as well as my blood pressure.

I'm just one driver; how many incidents didn't I witness these past few mornings? Unfortunately, the main police presence seems to be at road construction sites, rerouting traffic.

As beautiful as the Windward side is, it isn't worth the Kamehameha Highway commute. I give up; I'm moving. Wherever I land, hopefully I won't hear another fatal wreck while sitting in my living room.

Pat Smith

Enforce speed limit via reconstruction permits

Van cams? Is that the answer to speed, reckless driving, racing and DUI? I think not. "Responsibility" is the ingredient that seems to be missing. It's time to enforce the laws and emphasize responsibility.

"Rebuilt" cars that go zoom and varoom down the streets are supposed to have reconstruction permits. These reconstruction permits should come with a handout that states: "If this vehicle is involved in a moving violation such as speeding (30 mph over the posted speed limit), or reckless driving, or exhibition of speed, or ... the owner will forfeit the car involved, to be demolished at his/her expense and face a fine commensurate to the severity of the infraction."

The majority of these souped-up, altered, noisy cars with enhanced fuel systems are built for either show or speed. The owners need to know that the reconstruction permit is a contract that should remind them that they need to be responsible citizens.

Ted Kanemori

Media must spotlight mercury pollution issue

The EPA must protect our children by making all power plants install controls to stop mercury pollution by 2008. Please let the EPA know you and your children don't want to ingest mercury.

Even though public comment has been overwhelmingly against delaying mercury cleanup, we have seen in similar situations that 99 percent negative public feedback is not always enough. We need to shine a very bright media spotlight on this issue. Not long ago, front-page media attention to a proposal to weaken protection against arsenic pollution in our drinking water shamed the Bush administration into doing the right thing.

Working together, we can make sure that mercury emissions are cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Randy Ching

Executive, legislative battles are nothing new

Dave Shapiro's March 16 column "Democrats playing with fire" ignores Hawai'i's history since statehood.

The debate about who should be able to do what has been part of the dialogue between Hawai'i's executive and legislative branches for decades. The debate may appear to be pretty heated right now, but that's only because it's easy to forget how hot similar debates were in the past.

Appointments by past Democratic governors were rejected, too — sometimes with harsh exchanges between the players. And what about the differences of opinion that occurred regarding the roles of the governor and executive departments? Remember the debates over whether the governor's office should have a stand-alone planning function or an international relations office? There have been numerous budget battles, too.

It's interesting to note how the very Republicans who are complaining now fail to mention their years of carping about Democratic administrations. Take the issue of an elected attorney general, for example. They pushed it ardently for years. But now that the current attorney general opposes the idea, we hear nothing but silence on the issue.

One of the first lessons historians learn is to not let their current frame of reference influence their view of the past. The rule applies equally well in reverse. Just because we have an executive and legislative majority from different parties today does not mean the current debates are unusual. They may be more sharply focused (and receive more news coverage) because the situation is new, but the ebb and flow of debate about executive vs. legislative functions has gone on for years. Just ask some of our former governors.

Rep. Scott K. Saiki
House majority leader

Mike Gabbard's jump into race refreshing

It's easy to get disillusioned with the actions of some of our City Council members. I saw on the news the other day that council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz went on six trips that were paid for by you and me.

I also read an article on how Councilman Rod Tam has been helping his friends get building permits. And on top of that, we have had to endure a bus pass price increase, a motor vehicle weight tax hike and a property tax increase in the last year.

So it's refreshing to hear that Mike Gabbard is running for Congress. Mike is an honest and hardworking man who has been the lone voice of reason on the council.

I certainly support his challenge to other politicians to pay for their own travel as he says he does.

George Acosta

Accident is waiting to happen on Nimitz

I am sure the tourists coming into Waikiki wonder if they landed in the right place. Nimitz Highway is a joke. It appears that the new method of pavement is asphalt on the lower level and steel plate on the upper level interspersed in a random fashion.

I don't know what is being done, but the method needs to be reviewed. I can understand roadwork, but why is so much of the road torn up? Each of the interfaces where asphalt turns into steel plates is an accident waiting to happen. Some of the steel plates appear to have some non-skid on their surface but not all.

My car is low to the road. On one of the transitions, I actually had the undercarriage of my car hit the transition between the asphalt and the steel, which was a vertical wall. In the rain someday in the future, a two-wheel vehicle will lose control at this transition and someone will be badly hurt.

On the way home from work, I see other roads that have potholes that are an extreme hazard to mo-peds and other two-wheel vehicles. Either we need to fix the roads or all of us need to get all-terrain vehicles.

Fritz Amtsberg

State, county delinquent in fixing up our roads

On my way to work Friday morning on our washboard, bomb-cratered highways and roads and after reading your story "Low staff plagues pothole patchers," a couple of thoughts occurred to me.

We pay federal, state and county taxes for road repair and maintenance. The repair and maintenance are not being done. Along with taxes, we must also pay for vehicle realignment and other costs attributable to poor road conditions. If taxpayers are delinquent on their tax obligations, they are severely punished.

Why are the state and county held to a different standard? Why is it OK for them to be delinquent on their obligations to us? If I were a brilliant local attorney, this would look like a good opportunity for a class-action suit. Any takers?

Aimoku McClellan

Gasoline price cap should be repealed

Should we really trust our politicians to do the right thing on gasoline prices? After all, they are the ones responsible for imposing the highest gasoline taxes in the country on Hawai'i drivers. They also passed laws that even the Federal Trade Commission says increases gasoline prices.

Now they're at it again with this so-called gas cap. According to their own experts, this gas cap will increase prices, put hundreds of local people out of work and cause harm to many small businesses.

Let's stop playing political games and get rid of this turkey.

Lionel Lindo
Owner, Lionel's Union 76

Lingle's reform bill on schools misunderstood

The Advertiser inadvertently circulated false information by printing the letter by Jacques and Jane Bargiel alleging that the creation of local school boards would result in a disproportionately large amount of money going to boards in affluent areas (Advertiser, Feb. 27).

Presuming they are referring to Gov. Lingle's education reform bill, the scenario they imagine is impossible.

The governor's bill would do more than just establish local school boards. Among other things, it would also create a transparent mechanism for allocating funds to schools. Appropriations would be distributed to individual schools based on the needs of students using something called a "weighted student formula." A theoretical "average" student would be given a certain numerical weight. Students who cost more to educate — those with learning disabilities, for example — would be given greater weights. Funds would be distributed to each school based on the enrollment and the weight given to each student.

The formula, along with each school's actual funding, would be made public. That is a lot more reassuring than what we get from the existing system, which keeps the public in the dark about how much each school gets and why.

The governor's bill is a comprehensive approach to reform public education comprised of various components that have not been explained well by the media. It's no wonder that the Bargiels misunderstand it. With more information, they might like it a lot better.

John Kawamoto

Thielen should not be silenced on education

The citizens of Hawai'i should be appalled at the duplicitous Board of Education members who are trying to silence Laura Thielen for speaking the truth. The truth is that our supposedly statewide egalitarian education system is not egalitarian at all when it comes to funding schools.

Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto has publicly admitted that the system is "obsolete." I can tell you firsthand that we are seeing the same "business as usual" mentality here at the Legislature being displayed by the educational status quo.

What is really sad is that many of the people at the helm of our failing statewide BOE are themselves perpetuators of falsehoods. How dare they denounce a courageous board member whose only crime is that she refuses to defend failure.

Stand tall, Laura Thielen. The people of Hawai'i are listening to you and the real truth about education. The BOE, HSTA and DOE lunas are the purveyors of falsehoods and failure. The state of Hawai'i's public educational system and the deeds of the BOE speak louder than their deception.

Sen. Fred Hemmings
R-25th (Kailua, Waimanalo, Hawai'i Kai)

Why no hearing on Fritz Rohlfing?

The recent confirmation hearings for the judicial nomination of Ted Hong to the Circuit Court bench revealed the democratic process in all its glory, passion and imperfections.

However, an even more important judicial appointment for Hawai'i's federal District Court has never even had the opportunity to see the light of public scrutiny. Because a single Mainland reviewer appointed by the American Bar Association found Fritz Rohlfing "unqualified" and the ABA adopted this recommendation, Rohlfing has been denied a hearing on his qualifications — and indeed basic due process. Even worse, the basis for the "unqualified" rating has never been disclosed or publicly examined.

Though his personal background has been thoroughly investigated by the FBI, and he was found well qualified twice by the Hawai'i State Bar Association, Rohlfing has not even been given a hearing by the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate.

This failure is even more alarming because there has been an independent determination that a "judicial emergency" exists in our district, and we do not have the fourth U.S. district judge that Hawai'i direly needs to serve its existing federal caseload.

While even parking violators receive hearings on their alleged infractions, it is truly astounding that a candidate to the federal bench nominated by the president has not even had a public hearing on his qualifications for almost two years. Surely, Hawai'i's senatorial delegation should actively demand an open hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee where the ABA's alleged concerns can be addressed, and Mr. Rohlfing can be given an opportunity for rebuttal.

If the Judicial Selection Commission, the governor, the state Senate Judiciary Committee and the entire state Senate all can scrutinize a nominee for the Circuit Court in Hilo and have their opinions debated in an open legislative hearing, why is it that the same opportunity has not been extended to a nominee for a federal judgeship by holding a similar hearing in the U.S. Senate?

Lowell K.Y. Chun-Hoon