Letters to the Editor
PEARL HARBOR IS PART OF MILITARY INVASIONS
The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was being considered a candidate for closure or realignment, a possibility that Sen. Dan Inouye likens to a "bomb scare" ("Hawai'i must show shipyard's high value," July 10). Absent in Inouye's defense of Pearl Harbor is any acknowledgement of the colossal size of the American military. Its budget request for 2005 was $420.7 billion, which is more than the combined spending of the next 23 largest militaries in the world.
Spending vast sums on the American military creates more demand for military invasions and a spiraling need for even more funding. Pearl Harbor must be acknowledged as one part of this larger problem.
David T. Johnson | Honolulu
AKAKA BILL COULD TEAR SOCIETY APART
There is concern that the Akaka bill as written is a case where we don't see the forest for the trees. The sponsors of the bill, with their intent to help indigenous Hawaiians, fail to address the potential impact of a separate government in the same land area on Hawai'i's population at large.
The Akaka bill would, in effect, separate one group of people from the rest and erode the integrated society of Hawai'i as we know it.
A better alternative would be to present a bill to recognize Native Hawaiians and assure federal benefit programs under the existing state-federal structure.
Frank Scott | Kailua
HISTORY REVISIONIST SHOWING DESPERATENESS
The deceptive attempt by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and his surrogate Bruce Fein, to revise Hawaiian history is a desperate and dishonest attempt to use the only strategy available to Kyl in the hope of erasing crimes committed by the United States against the Hawaiian people.
He further attempts to cloak these crimes by using old and tired cliches of "racial division" and "ethnic separatism." This country has been racially divided and ethnically separated for the past 200-plus years. Or hasn't Kyl noticed? The suppression and segregation of blacks is an example.
Kyl and his ilk never address the reasons why the United States apologized to the Hawaiian people for its participation in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom described in the U.S. Apology Bill 103-150, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1993.
Kyl can be included in that frightened clique who, understanding full well that people of color are emerging as a political force in this country, are desperately attempting to blunt this force.
The Hawaiian recognition movement is not made up of a small group of malcontents looking for handouts. It is a formidable phalanx of committed, dedicated human beings (kanaka maoli) fighting for justice a force that needs to be taken seriously.
Wake up, America, before it is too late.
Rodney Ferreira | Waimea, Hawai'i
MAYOR'S SUPPORT FOR RAIL UNCHARACTERISTIC
I commend our mayor for his hard work in cleaning up the city and for cutting back on the needless spending. I favor his reasoning of "maintenance costs" for cutting back on luxuries such as water fountains or landscape beautification; the monies should be spent on more important things such as sewage or roads.
That's why I find it hard to believe that he is supporting rapid transit. What are the maintenance costs for the transit? In the event of an accident, will it cause increased traffic congestion? Will it leave dependent passengers stranded as in the infamous bus strike? If it runs on electricity, does this mean our electric costs will go up? What are additional costs that riders will be required to pay?
The taxes will not only be raised but there will be an increase in construction and most importantly this machine and its tracks will depreciate the natural beauty of O'ahu. That's why tourists come to our Islands to see our beautiful trees, greenery and waters. How can they see our island's beauty if this big machine is blocking their view? There has to be another way.
Fili Taumanupepe | Kapolei
WIDEN THE PROTECTION
Regarding the July 15 story "Emergency medical workers seek protective law": I think that's a great idea; however, it should not only cover EMS personnel, but also any health worker in the state. That would include doctors, nurses, medical assistance people and anyone who provides, practices and promotes healthcare.
Chubby Bruhn | Kane'ohe
GET, SALES TAX ARE TWO DIFFERENT ANIMALS
It is time for government to be responsible and remove the "mask" from the general excise tax. A full disclosure of the GET structure and impact, with comparisons to sales taxes in other states, should be provided immediately.
Attending the Downtown Neighborhood Board meeting on July 7 was an absolute shock to me when the proposed GET increase was discussed. The board members compared the GET tax rate with that of the California sales tax rate. They did not have a clue as to the very significant structural difference of these two forms of taxation, or the negative impact the proposed Honolulu GET increase would impose on O'ahu residents, visitors, businesses, as well as those outside of O'ahu doing business with O'ahu.
I tried to explain some of the differences. The GET is a pyramiding tax applied to every level of a transaction from import to wholesaler to manufacturer to distributor to retailer to consumer of a product, which increases the cost of the product purchased by the consumer. Only Hawai'i imposes a GET on the gross income of independent contractors, which is a business expense, but not income-tax deductible. GET is charged on groceries, medicine and drugs, which is not applicable in other states. Other states exempt tax on products if they are for resale, only applying the sales tax when it reaches the consumer.
Helen Carroll | Waikiki
MASS TRANSIT WON'T BENEFIT EVERYONE
I was born and raised in Kailua. I am away at college, but when I return, all the changes that have occurred and will occur will inevitably affect my family and me.
What I cannot fathom is why it is that everyone must pay a tax increase that technically will only benefit those residing in Leeward O'ahu, near UH-Manoa and all those areas in between. Forgive me if my facts are a little off, but for those of us who are from the county of Honolulu and who will not see results from our tax money because we don't live anywhere near a mass-transit line, well, you can see what the problem is for us.
And who's to say that this will end traffic congestion? What if this just frees up more space for more vehicles? Well then, the problem never really got solved.
Will this effort benefit our county as a whole? Can we make this worth the effort, or should we just return our focus to our beloved Superferry?
Kainoa Kaumeheiwa-Rego | Kailua
WEIGHTED STUDENT FORMULA MISUSED
I was puzzled by the chairman of the House Education Committee's letter on weighted student formula (July 12). He stated that during the past school year, Kaiser High School received $4,660 and Farrington received $3,647 on average per pupil. He then contended that the Department of Education is underfunded.
But the DOE fiscal reports show that the state expended $8,526 and $7,829 on average per pupil at Kaiser and Farrington respectively in 2003. The current state DOE budget is approximately $2 billion per year, which averages out to be about $11,000 per pupil.
The issue is not the amount of funds. The issue is how the funds are used. That was what weighted student formula was supposed to change. The principals and the schools were promised they would be given control over how the money is spent. Unfortunately, the majority in the Legislature left a loophole big enough for a truck to drive through and, predictably, the DOE and BOE hit the gas pedal.
Schools will not be given control over 70 percent of the budget as promised. Instead, they will have very limited control over 38 percent of the funds. Instead of controlling almost $8,000 per pupil, schools will have limited control over $4,000 per pupil on average. Now that's a "lose-lose" situation.
Laura H. Thielen | Former Hawai'i school board member; director, state Office of Planning
7% POWER PLANT CREDIT MAKES ECONOMIC SENSE
A July 3 letter by Laurie Murphy questioned the fairness of HECO's proposed 7 percent billing credit for its customers in ZIP code 96707 who are near the site of a proposed power plant within the Campbell industrial complex.
This 7 percent credit is a unique and reasonable proposal because it does cost less to serve customers who are located near power plants. These customers do not require the many miles of expensive high-voltage power lines needed to carry electric energy from Barbers Point to Kahuku, Waikiki and Hawai'i Kai.
Because large power plants are more efficient and cost less per kilowatt/hour to build, fuel and operate, it makes good economic sense to build large power plants in industrial areas instead of trying to install dozens of smaller power plants all over O'ahu.
HECO's proposed 7 percent credit for power plant neighbors is to a certain extent cost-based. For this reason, the Public Utilities Commission should give it serious consideration.
Alan S. Lloyd, P.E. | Kailua
HAVE SYMPATHY FOR A LOST HOMEI am a Jew, born and raised in Hawai'i. As a Jew, one of the things that has been most important in my culture and religion is the idea of the land of Israel. Unfortunately, it took us thousands of years and the murder of millions of our people before the world took notice of our landless people.
I am sorry that the Palestinians were displaced and removed from land they also claim as their own. I do believe that the Palestinians deserve a state, just as much as the Jews. But I cannot say that I regret the Jews getting back Israel after thousands of years.
Just as the Jews longed to return to our land base for thousands of years, the Native Hawaiians have longed for their 'aina for more than a hundred years. They watched as their kingdom was illegally overthrown by greedy, white entrepreneurs. They watched as their people were displaced from the 'aina, disease racked the population, water rights were changed, the taro patches dwindled and their culture and language were suppressed.
In the midst of this cultural and population destruction, the U.S. has firmly taken control of these Islands. Recognize that. Recognize that this is the Hawaiians' homeland. This is their nation. They have no other home but here.
Unlike an Irish-American, a Chinese-American or a Jewish-American, the Hawaiians cannot leave and go back to a homeland of their ancestors. They are already here, and they did not emigrate from Hawai'i to the U.S.; the U.S. came to them.
I can understand Hawaiians who oppose the Akaka bill because it gives too much power to the Department of Interior, it gives less than full sovereignty, it has a 20-year statute of limitations for filing claims and a number of other issues. However, I cannot understand the view that is being put forth that the Akaka bill should fail because it is race-based.
Where are these people coming from? How can they not see the history of these Islands? How can they not see that the Hawaiians are an indigenous people and that Congress has a responsibility as the overthrower to restore land rights (especially to a people whose culture is deeply intertwined with the 'aina)? Do they also believe that all Native American tribal entities are also unconstitutional?
Please, citizens of the state of Hawai'i, give thanks to the host culture for welcoming us. Appreciate the history of these lands. Respect the 'aina and respect that the aloha spirit and these beautiful islands cannot spiritually survive without a native population that is whole and unified.
Give the Hawaiians back a political voice to complement the cultural voice that calls out for healing.
Ho'oponopono. It has been too long already.
Emma Littman | Honolulu