Letters to the Editor
'Big bucks' research provides 'big bang'
The headline for the Dec. 23 article "Big bucks, little bang for UH research" by Sean Hao was, at best, misleading. It is certainly true that the state would benefit if more UH research could be commercialized, a process hampered by the same arcane rules that make Hawai'i a difficult environment for any small business.
However, it is worth noting that the "big bucks" almost all come into the state from elsewhere. One could certainly argue that bringing in and spending an extra $190 million in Hawai'i is a very big bang, which employs thousands of people. UH and RCUH research is Hawai'i's largest high-tech enterprise. The many hundreds of research papers published in scientific journals each year by UH faculty and staff (the big-bang the sponsors actually paid for) also have a huge impact.
At an educational institution, the creation of new knowledge should be more highly valued than creating new licensing income.
Barry J. Huebert
'Iron Woman' inspiring
Thank you for Paula Rath's "The Iron Woman" (Dec. 27). The story of Carol Murry's completion of the Ironman in Kona was truly inspiring. I was a volunteer at the Life Foundation, Hawai'i's first support agency for people with HIV and AIDS, a decade ago when Carol Murry was its executive director. She was a caring, compassionate and capable leader.
She continues to inspire courage and a spirit of not giving up. She shows us how to be a winner. Congratulations and aloha, Carol!
Make tree sellers responsible for trees
On Sunday, I followed the instructions on the state Department of Health Web site article "Recycling Christmas Trees Is Easy and Convenient," which announced the DOH was discontinuing three "Treecycling" collection sites for Kane'ohe and Kailua, leaving only one The Hawaiian Earth Products company on Kapa'a Quarry Road. Easy. Convenient.
So, I got the needle-leaking tree into my car, drove over to Kailua, up the dirt (mud) road and was directed to drag my tree through more mud to a small pile of trees. Easy. I simply drove home and washed the mud off my car mats, slippers and feet. Convenient. It only took an hour and a half.
Kane'ohe and Kailua holiday shoppers bought about 10,000 trees last month. I just don't see all those tree owners slogging them up to be recycled, then going home to clean up. Not easy, and not convenient.
Let's make the tree sellers responsible for collection. Take your tree back to where you bought it. If the tree sellers added a buck or two to the price, they could even make a profit. Otherwise next year, I'm afraid, I may just take my tree out to the trash.
Fireworks should no longer be allowed
Fireworks are a part of some people's tradition and culture in Hawai'i, but don't be fooled into thinking it is everyone's tradition.
Does it seem rational to pollute the air, dirty the 'aina, break noise ordinances, cause fire, terrify pets, close down neighborhood streets and risk injury or death for everyone in the name of a "tradition" that only some observe?
People have a right to their traditions, but not when they violate the basic right to breathe and sleep. The tradition of fireworks can be celebrated through public displays, not in Honolulu's dense neighborhoods.
Honolulu is not unique in that some people enjoy fireworks, a tradition that dates back centuries to China. However, that has not stopped other states and counties from realizing that in the 21st century, launching fireworks from the "back porch" is no longer acceptable.
Whether our county leaders are protecting traditions or permit revenue, successful alternatives can be, and must be, found to improve current law. Ban commercial sale of fireworks so everyone can enjoy New Year's Eve!
Just $1 per person could go a long way
If every household in America donated just $1 from each member toward the South Asia earthquake/tsunami cause, more than $280 million could be sent to this very worthwhile cause.
The sooner something like this is done, the better since lives are being lost each minute. In Hawai'i, we can begin today. With over 1 million in population, Hawai'i could donate more than $1 million.
I read that donations can be made payable to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96813.
Lorrin L. Lee
Sand could act as temporary solution
There is a simple solution for the Natatorium. Any competent civil engineer will verify that sand can be a stabilizing element. The interior spaces and pool should be filled in with sand. Sand will restore the beach around the arch memorial and preserve the structure beneath.
At some future time when there is surplus money burning in the City Council's pocket, the debate can be rekindled as to the best method for bringing the entire structure into line with modern times. At this time, the structure is unsafe.
O'ahu's new mayor can delve into his ancestry to verify that ancient peoples protected and extended their islands' shorelines with fish ponds and baskets of sand, and it is no stretch of the imagination to envision the same techniques saving a structure that is clearly dear to a majority of local folks.
One more example of 'mission accomplished'
Has anyone noticed the similarity between Mayor Harris' recent dedication of the Waikiki/Kuhio Avenue improvement project and President Bush's "mission accomplished" appearance aboard that aircraft carrier?
On Friday before the dedication, the 'ewa end of Kuhio Avenue with its orange barricades, traffic cones and gaping or steel-covered holes looked nowhere near finished. The following morning, just in time for the dedication, the street was miraculously cleared and presented to the public in all its newly refurbished glory.
Then, three days later, everything looked just as it had the week before with its barricades, cones and gaping holes. Seems the "mission" wasn't "accomplished" on Kuhio Avenue any more than it was in Iraq.
Regarding the Dec. 22 story "Inmates, families bond with books": Thank you for sharing with the community about this very important program. Liane Kam Akana (executive director), Pat Mizuno and other staff at Read To Me International have continued to support and promote an interest in reading through our current Read To Me cassette/book project at Waiawa and the Women's Community Correctional Center. We acknowledge and appreciate their efforts.
Library services officer, Department of Public Safety
A Christmas present
Mahalo for your Christmas images article. I enjoyed it along with the photos.
Royal Hawaiian Band controversy
Leadership change needed for growth
Bravo to Mayor Mufi Hannemann for taking a forward step for change in the leadership of the Royal Hawaiian Band.
For too long, this ensemble of Hawai'i's most outstanding musicians has endured substandard leadership and musical direction. Bands in America and throughout the world have progressed to incredible heights of musicianship, performing an ever-growing repertoire of wind band literature.
Sad to say, under Mahi's leadership, the Royal Hawaiian Band has been limited in growth in performing literature to match the talent and skill of its personnel. Hopefully, under new leadership, the Royal Hawaiian Band will reach out to the wider community, perform more challenging works of music and reach new heights.
Aaron Mahi lifted the musicality of band
Regarding the Dec. 24 story "Petition supports removal of bandleader": The current repertoire is in a musical rut?
Twenty or 30 years ago, the band played ad nauseam: "Hilo March," "Under the Double Eagle" or some other John Philip Sousa staple, "Kamehameha Waltz," and oompah-oompahed its way through musical fare reminiscent of the portfolio of a B-band in middle school. At times it even sounded like a B-band in middle school. Now that is what you call a rut.
Aaron Mahi lifted the musicality of the Royal Hawaiian Band a hundredfold by transforming it into a truly symphonic band, good enough for an engagement in Carnegie Hall with accolades to boot.
It would be a dumb move, ousting Mr. Mahi. A handful of band members might be happy with that. I suspect that there is a much larger segment of the taxpaying public that genuinely appreciates Mr. Mahi's ability and eclectic musical tastes than some disgruntled musicians with mixed agendas.
Please, let's not have the tail wag the dog, people.
Band undeserving of Cataluna's lashings
Lee Cataluna is a talented artist, so it was surprising to see her malign the musical artists who comprise our city's beloved Royal Hawaiian Band ("Poverty plea now a bit shallow," Dec. 28). She wrote: "They should sit in the sun, play the same old songs, get micromanaged and be glad for it all." It is easy to imagine the plantation lunas of old Hawai'i patting her on the back.
For your information, band members take great pride in their work. They represent all the best qualities of Hawai'i our talents, our culture, our aloha to residents and visitors alike. No one leaves a Royal Hawaiian Band performance in a bad mood. Everyone whether 7 or 70 years old, from Kalihi or Kansas City or Kyoto leaves with a song in his heart and a smile on his face.
As musicians who perform at 300 concerts and parades annually, they have a stake in seeing the band's musical direction expand and improve, not stagnate. As professionals who greatly contribute to the band's success, they want to be treated with respect and fairness. And in working under the sun's heat and damaging rays, they have legitimate concerns for their health and welfare.
Ms. Cataluna should have the discipline to separate her beef with city leaders from the legitimate concerns of hard-working city employees. The Royal Hawaiian Band musicians deserve her support, not her whip.
Deputy executive director, HGEA
Band without Mahi is a chilling thought
The holidays may be a time for fireside warmth. But your front-page stories of sides and firing within the Royal Hawaiian Band leave a chill within this reader's heart.
Bandmaster Aaron Mahi is someone who has, for 23 years, been an inspiration to us in Hawai'i as well as to visitors to Honolulu (including countless international fans returning to concerts at 'Iolani Palace and Kapi'olani Bandstand lining up to speak to him after most of the band members have left the scene.
He has patience, charisma and time for appreciating everyone. There isn't much seen these days that combines royalty, credentials and star-drawing power with a personality that can support such a role and we in Hawai'i nei feel blessed.
I feel for the band members. On Dec. 6, we heard one of the younger members as a dynamite soloist on the saxophone at the Blaisdell. But flying with performance variety isn't what the royalty envisioned with this band. However, to find a full-time job as a musician (with a city contract package) is like finding gold. You sacrifice a lot for such a job, for such an honor.
We can have such a thrilling program of variety from now on.
We'll just call it The Hawaiian Band.
We can stop Aaron Mahi from conducting complacent repetitions of well-recognized traditional Hawaiian favorites, along with his soft, fluent Hawaiian titles, and surprising, even seductive, translations of the setting of a song.
We'll just call it The Band.
Don't throw out gift
It would be extremely difficult for me to accept a Royal Hawaiian Band without Aaron Mahi. I have watched him over the years, and have been impressed by his knowledge of the Hawaiian language, his voice, his enthusiasm for his music and his obvious pleasure in imparting this knowledge to us, his audience, in a way that we find easy to understand. I hope that we locals, and the thousands of visitors who come to see him, will be able to enjoy this gift of himself to us for many years to come.