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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, February 24, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Why is redemption rate so shocking?

I was laughing as I read your Feb. 17 article reporting that out of $5 million in deposits collected, only about $333,000 has been redeemed. I laughed harder when I read that before the program started, the Health Department estimated that there would be a redemption rate of 70 percent. Are you kidding me?

Why is the low turnout shocking?

We accumulate approximately 400 aluminum cans per month, but I don't redeem the deposits. The reason is simple: My car can only hold two, maybe three bags of cans. Then to redeem them, I'd need to stand in line at a redemption center for hours, all to get $8, maybe $12. I don't think so!

I do still recycle the containers, but not through the redemption centers. I, like many consumers of canned and bottled drinks in Hawai'i, have accepted that the state has implemented this new fee and treat it like the tax that it is.

D. Shiroma

Not just dogs, cats should be protected

I appreciated your editorial because you said we must confront the issue of the dog-meat trade, and noted that it forces us to define our societal values. You said that the issue of which animals are fit for consumption is "entirely arbitrary."

This is an important statement. We eat pigs, sheep, baby sheep (lamb), chickens, turkeys, cows and other animals. So why not dogs and cats?

You said it's because Americans assign a higher status to dogs and cats. Yes, but there's more to it. By caring for "pets," we realize they are complex, sentient beings.

Yet we fail to make the connection with farmed animals. We assume they're lower life forms, if we think about them at all. But the truth is, they are also feeling beings who value their lives and enjoy social interaction.

When her calf is taken from her just hours after birth (to live alone in a tiny crate and become "veal"), the mother cow wails inconsolably for days. Her baby has been taken from her.

Thomas Edison said, "Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."

Pamela Davis

PUC should deny Verizon Hawaii sale

The state Public Utilities Commission should say no to the purchase of Verizon Hawaii by the Carlyle Group.

For 38 years, I have worked for Hawaiian Telephone Co., GTE Hawaiian Telephone Co. and, presently, Verizon Hawaii. In those many years, the one constant problem was "not enough money was spent on the infrastructure (cable) to provide quality service for the future."

The Carlyle Group, which is presently trying to purchase Verizon Hawaii, has said it will not be removing the aged, dated copper cable. These are the cables that have given the ratepayers (customers) problems, especially during rainstorms. Without investment for fiberoptics to the premises (FTTP), Hawai'i will definitely become second-class in telecommunications. If the Carlyle Group refuses to invest the money that is needed to make Hawai'i a world-class telecommunications hub of the Pacific, the PUC should reject its application.

In the past weeks, it has also come to light that Verizon Hawaii employees' pension fund has been overfunded by $280 million. The agreement between Verizon and the Carlyle Group will have this overfunding going to Verizon as a bonus.

This money was put into the pension fund by the ratepayers to fund the pensioners. Hawaiian Telcom is being provided with just enough money to run the pension plan. The pension plan money is held in investments; if this money does not provide enough of a return, the ratepayers may end up having to pay more to fund the employees' pension plan.

It would be better to provide an even split of the overfunded pension between Verizon and the Carlyle Group. This would protect the former Verizon Hawaii employees who have retired under Verizon Hawaii and also protect the future employees who will retire under the new company Hawaiian Telcom.

George Waialeale

Firefighters aren't looking for easier job

Regarding Marijane Holmes Carlos' letter on Feb. 14, "Mandatory sprinklers aren't fair to condos": As a firefighter for the City & County of Honolulu, I commend Marijane on keeping her smoke alarms in working order; it is a small step in ensuring her safety in the event of a fire.

But I will have to disagree with her views of the department's extinguishing high-rise fires; we never "get any better" at putting out fires. Our first and foremost job is saving lives. We will put the fire out.

Our department will never ask the public we serve to make our jobs any easier; we relish the challenges of our calling, which is not only to put out fires. It involves training and fire-prevention education for youths, seniors and the public as a whole. We respond to medical emergencies, rescues, auto accidents, hazardous material incidents, flooded conditions, animal rescues, alarms that have no description.

We respond in vehicles worth upward of a half-million dollars that we are responsible for: the upkeep, the maintenance, the safe operation.

When we arrive, we see the public in their times of most need — needing our professionalism, empathy and skill.

We have our family lives divided in two: our home life, our station life. We work together as a team to provide the best to the public we serve, and the best to those we work with. Our professional lives are dependent on that.

We will continue to do the job we get paid for: serving our public.

Mark Marciel
Hawai'i Kai

State tax is hurting sports businesses

I see the latest hoo-haw in the Legislature is "How do we promote sports here in Hawai'i?" While they are finding ways to spend taxpayers' money on this kerfuffle, you can watch sports people like Michelle Wie establish residence in Florida the day before she turns pro, just like Tiger Woods did from California. Why should she pay our outrageous state tax?

If they want to promote sports here in Hawai'i, the politicians should get the state off the backs of the sports businesses and let them promote the state.

William R. Millan Sr.

People won't leave cars for rail transit

Here it comes again — the shibai, of course, by our legislators who favor a rail transit system.

Rep. Marilyn Lee, vice chair of the House Transportation Committee, recently opined in your newspaper about the need to raise the general excise tax to fund a new rail system. She said "driving a car is expensive" (as if people who drive cars don't already know this). Then she provided statistics from the American Automobile Association that a motorist would save over $2,000 a year by driving 10,000 fewer miles.

This is where the logic breaks down. Her assumption begs the point that just because you build a mass-transit rail line, motorists will give up their cars as their primary transportation vehicle. It's not about the $2,000. It's about the convenience of leaving home when you want to, taking children to school (and picking them up afterward), of going to the bank or running other necessary errands at lunchtime or after work, or even stopping by on the way home to pick up something for dinner from the market.

Rail transit will not decrease the number of motorists on the highway. This is nonsense! Moreover, motorists will not drive to a place just so they can get out of their cars to catch a rail line, then worry about their cars being broken into all day long.

I wish our legislators would stop the charade and start developing real plans with real alternatives to our incessant traffic congestion.

Don Rochon
Hawai'i Kai

Politicians have forgotten the law

What happened to our Sen. Fred Hemmings and the Colorado elected politicians who wanted to block a speech by a Colorado ethnic studies professor, Ward Churchill? Didn't all those politicians have to swear an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which includes the First Amendment, the guarantee of freedom of speech?

Even if they want to trample on the First Amendment for their own political benefits, it might be wise of them to listen to a different viewpoint. Perhaps the good professor from Colorado may be on to something. Really on to something.

Gerhard C. Hamm
Wai'alae Iki

UH should have canceled lecture

It is appalling that the University of Hawai'i would support the attendance and lecture of Ward Churchill. It is one thing to support free expression, but it's another thing when the University of Hawai'i (government-sanctioned) supports ideals of bigotry.

Churchill compared some World Trade Center victims to Nazi war criminals. This is unspeakable and unacceptable. Hawai'i has always been a place of tolerance and free expression, and hopefully will remain so. But to have a university of our caliber supporting hate and dissension and teaching it to our students — this should not be tolerated.

Many universities and colleges across America have done the right thing and canceled his lectures. The University of Hawai'i should have done the same.

Benjamin Mahi

Is chivalry dead?

In the past week, I began taking the bus for the first time. Each time, I got off the bus disgusted. The buses were on time, clean and safe. I was disgusted because of the number of teens and men who did not voluntarily give up their seats on the crowded buses to women or elderly riders. Some did, but the majority never offered.

Is chivalry dead? Are fathers not teaching their children to respect and honor women and the elderly? Even a man who has labored all day should gladly give up his seat to a female or senior citizen, every time, period.

Greg Kling

Let's explore alternatives to costly sprinkler systems

No one wants to die in a fire, or worse, be damaged beyond human endurance and live to tell about it. This said, I believe the state Legislature should look at alternative situations before it makes sprinkler systems mandatory in older condominiums.

Did you know it is required for all new buildings and renovated apartments to have smoke detectors, but not in units that have not been upgraded? As a real-estate appraiser, I go into older apartments weekly, and I would venture to say only about 10 percent of the homes have detectors.

Did you know the average condominium is about 25 years old, and maybe 3 percent to 5 percent of the breaker boxes and electrical wall plugs have been upgraded and replaced? Many older buildings did not provide for air conditioning, and more and more people are installing window units and fans, which require higher amps than the present capacity can support. This overload can cause electrical shorts. If wiring is frayed, this too can cause electrical fires.

Has anyone looked at the feasibility of providing sprinkler systems in the common and limited common areas only of the condominium projects, which would block the fire from traveling to additional areas and units?

Alternative ideas must be looked at before the Legislature makes laws. Many people purchased condominiums because they could not afford single-family homes. Many live within very tight budgets. An average retrofit will cost the individual apartment owner anywhere from $5 to $15 per square foot for his unit. An average unit today is approximately 850 square feet, so the cost is anywhere from $4,250 to $12,750. This is not counting the individual condominium association's direct costs for the common areas. The burden of money will again come to the individual owner in the form of assessments, which will run in the thousands.

Government can give some tax breaks for this, but it will not be enough for many owners and they will be forced into crippling financial situations. So before everyone knee-jerks into responses, can we all be responsible and look at every alternative way to prevent fires in high-rises?

Stephany L. Sofos