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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 18, 2005

Letters to the Editor




When Gov. Lingle took the oath of office, she swore to uphold the laws and constitution of the state of Hawai'i, including defending the rights of the native Hawaiians as defined in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1920. That is, persons with at least one-half to full native Hawaiian blood, sought to be treated under the HHCA and Sections 4 and 5(f) of the Admission Act of 1959.

However, after assuming office, Lingle has advocated for passage of the Akaka bill and its diluted definition of "Native Hawaiian" that would include persons with as little as 1/64th part-Hawaiian, all the way down to anybody with as little as one Hawaiian ancestor out of 500.

The Akaka bill is yet another attempt to try to enlarge, expand and change the beneficial class of approximately 50,000 Native Hawaiians under the HHCA to more than 400,000 Native Hawaiians under the Akaka bill.

By advocating for passage of the Akaka bill, Lingle has breached her fiduciary duties toward the Native Hawaiians as defined in the HHCA and as set out in the federal-state compact of the Admission Act.

Emmett E. Lee Loy | Honolulu



The Civil War (1861-65) was fought over the question of whether or not parts of the United States could secede from the Union and form their own government.

Over 400,000 Americans died in the process of establishing the principle that secession is not permissible.

Yet we have Clyde Namu'o, the administrator of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ("Opponents ask OHA's aid to derail Akaka bill," July 8), seeming to casually endorse the possibility of secession: "If, truly, the Hawaiian community feels independence is the noblest of goals, regardless of whether federal recognition comes about, it could still be pursued."

And at the same meeting, OHA trustee Rowena Akana told the anti-Akaka bill group Hui Pu the same thing (Hawai'i Public Radio, July 8, Morning Edition) — that passage of the Akaka bill would not be an impediment to secession of Hawaiians from the United States, and that, in fact, passage of the Akaka bill could be a steppingstone on the way to secession.

I wonder if all the U.S. senators that Dan Inouye and Linda Lingle have lined up to support the Akaka bill have any inkling that their votes for the bill could lead to an attempt of the new sovereign Hawaiian government to secede from the Union? And I wonder if the leaders of the pro-Akaka bill forces have any idea that "independence" equals "secession."

Tom Macdonald | Kane'ohe



Regarding your July 8 article "Opponents ask OHA's aid to derail Akaka bill": I think there has been way too little discussion among people in Hawai'i regarding the ramifications of this bill.

This bill has the potential to create the same kind of relationship to the U.S. government for Hawaiians that Native Americans and Alaskans have suffered for years. Ask Alaska tribal entities if they are being heard about critical issues like the proposed drilling in the Arctic refuge and how this will affect their subsistence lifestyles. They aren't being heard. Why? Because the 1971 Alaskan Land Claims Settlement Act stripped tribal governments of all their power and created corporations that control all the tribes' resources and who speak for the tribes.

When Sen. Daniel Akaka thinks he is speaking to the people of Alaska about their future, he is not; he is talking to representatives of these corporate entities whose mandate is to make money, not preserve subsistence lifestyles or native culture.

Likewise, when Sen. Dan Inouye claims on the floor of the Senate that 239 tribes out of 240 in Alaska support drilling in the refuge, he is dead wrong! The Alaska Federation of Natives that he is referring to is an association of corporate executives, not tribal leaders. Even with all his experience with the Committee on Indian Affairs, Sen. Inouye doesn't see the difference.

Jack Kelly | Honaunau, Hawai'i



Dr. Robert G. Peters' July 3 "Voices of Education" is a brilliant statement of the essence of what schools should be all about; that is, they should involve everyone, especially students, in the learning process, focus on the positive, take advantage of the "natural curiosity and contagious energy of children," and so on.

The only item with which I might quibble in Dr. Peters' comments has to do with school size. Yes, smaller schools should be easier to manage, but are not absolutely essential. The spirit he advocates has been done, and done successfully, at schools with an enrollment of 800 or more.

School reform? Dr. Peters says it all. Is it any wonder why there is no shortage of student applicants for entrance to Hanahau'oli? But, the sad thing is that all schools, public and private, could be operated the same way, but do not, usually.

Art Wong | Niu Valley



Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza's decision on July 6 regarding the Hawai'i Superferry was wrong and compromises the protection of our Islands through Hawai'i's environmental laws.

The precedent he set by upholding the Department of Transportation's exemption of taxpayer-funded harbor improvements from environmental review is outrageous.

The Hawai'i Superferry, for which these improvements are required, is one of the largest, most consequential projects to come along in years — having the potential to further gridlock Kahului on Maui, hasten the depletion of our local resources, spread invasive species and collide with whales. Yet, thanks to its slick public relations engine, the Superferry is gliding through the "process" of environmental review without being duly processed.

I attended the hearing last Wednesday, and I could not escape the sense that the ruling was predetermined. Prosecuting attorney Isaac Hall's arguments were thorough and intelligent, whereas the state attorney's allegations bordered on the absurd. In the end, the judge ruled that the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and the Kahului Harbor Coalition do not have the legal "standing" to sue since they, as the plaintiffs, would not be directly harmed by the Superferry.

If respected conservation and responsible planning organizations don't have the standing to defend our natural resources and demand wise planning for Maui's future, who does?

How much will our government compromise environmental law to push through an agenda? How loudly must the public object before they are included in the planning process, as required by law?

Cora Puliatch | Ha'iku, Maui



You know what? Nothing, and I mean nothing, will solve the traffic problems on O'ahu until we realize and begin to admit that in a growing community with clear land restrictions, you do not get to drive your car anywhere you want whenever you want. If you do, there are consequences: traffic jams.

Americans hate consequences; we duck them at every turn.

I am torn about the rail system. Despite the hyperventilating Cliff Slater, public transport systems using trains do work. I just hate the visual blight. This beautiful island has been turned over shamefully to the automobile because Detroit and Tokyo have finessed us into believing that is our due while we and our politicians wring many hands. We have been taken.

David Cheever | Honolulu



I do not believe Mayor Hannemann and the proponents of mass transit have explained to their constituents that there will be a cost associated for the use of mass transit.

Frequent users of the system will have to pay $50 to $150 for a monthly mass-transit usage pass. Hannemann gives the impression the half-percentage-point increase in the GET will cover the costs to build the system, but does not discuss the fee to use it.

The build-out cost and yearly maintenance cost will be enormous, but the taxpayers need to realize they will be charged to use the system on a daily or monthly basis.

Honolulu taxpayers subsidize the TheBus system, and the taxpayers will have to subsidize the mass-transit system, too.

Larry Langley | Honolulu



I'm both amused and disgusted at the argument against a ban on fireworks as denial of tradition and culture.

Local customs do not include suffocation, air pollution, respiratory problems, terrorizing of animals and burned and seared flesh.

It's also ironic that the local mantra "respect for the 'aina" may well be spouted by the very arsonists who destroy it with the irresponsible or intentional abuse of fireworks. Further, I'd be willing to bet that those whining about the loss of local tradition would be incapable of explaining exactly how fireworks relate to their "culture."

And regarding Gov. Lingle's opinion that the issue is a matter for the counties rather than the state, isn't that the same argument she gave on the rail tax?

Cinde Fisher | Honolulu



What would Hawai'i be without Hawaiians? Another California? New York? Can that ever be?

A concerted effort is being made by a small group of so-called "grassroots" individuals who incite fear and doubt among the people of Hawai'i and our nation that Senate Bill 147, the Akaka bill, will create a racist government in Hawai'i, raise your taxes and discriminate illegally against all other people who live here.

They attack the bill and claim it "shoehorns" Native Hawaiians into a "tribe," which could not be further from the truth. The word tribe is used five times in the 15-page Akaka bill in two definitions, "Indian Programs" and "Indian Tribe," neither of which has anything to do with Native Hawaiians. They claim we cannot just spring out of anonymity and become a tribe for purposes of discriminating against all others. Perish the thought.

Hawaiians were here before all others. They lived a culture and civilization that is only in part surviving today as a result of the discovery of their sacred land by explorers from other lands. What is left today are the remains of a unique Hawaiian culture special to this place, and a Hawaiian people who are the foundation and spirit of our island community.

With the good comes the bad, though, and Native Hawaiians, as with so many other indigenous peoples who have been subjected to other cultures, lead in the worst categories of our society, from bad health, to no education, to joblessness, to homelessness, etc.

Hawaiians are not Indians or tribes as we know them today. Hawaiians, Indians and Alaskans are the only indigenous peoples of the United States, and the other two groups have already been recognized. Have they created a so-called Balkanization of America? Is it right to deny a whole people the right to call the land of their ancestors their homeland while others who come here will always have a country to call theirs?

With one stroke of a court's pen, the identity of a whole people could disappear from the laws of our nation and state. That is the real threat. And this same group of Akaka opponents, with the unwitting assistance of those who argue for complete removal from the United States, wants to deny Hawaiians whatever federal benefits they have now and cast any resulting burden upon the state of Hawai'i.

The Akaka bill provides a process and opportunity for Native Hawaiians to be recognized and allowed to address their own problems and concerns within the structure of the U.S. government. It requires an elected Native Hawaiian governing entity to negotiate with the state and federal governments to resolve long-standing claims as a result of an illegal overthrow aided by the United States. It offers reconciliation to a people so long forgotten by the rest of America that even the flora and fauna of their beloved land have more protection than they themselves.

And so these persons whose roots do not appear to be very deep in the grass of Hawai'i, who seek to nurture the rights and responsibilities of the individual, would best be advised not to trample on the rights of a native people to their ultimate elimination. Let's not become California West to avoid remaining Hawai'i.

Boyd P. Mossman | Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs