Letters to the Editor
APOLOGIZING WAS EASY; NOW WE NEED ACTION
I believe the Akaka bill is a good effort in the right direction. Sen. Daniel Akaka is trying to put some action behind the formal apology given by former President Clinton and Congress in 1993. Apologizing is relatively easy, in my opinion. There has to be some action behind the words; hence, the Akaka bill.
Granted, there are different factions for and against the bill. Some say it goes too far and is possibly racist. Other people feel it doesn't go far enough.
I believe most informed people would concur that foreigners, including the United States, did bad to the Hawaiian people. Some active measures need to be taken.
I hope the bill passes. Fine-tuning can always come later. Some actions for reconciliation are far better than nothing and just bickering. Actions for reconciliation are long overdue.
Lawrence M.O. Chun | Kailua
PRAYER DOES WORK IN HELPING THE SICK
I was most interested in your July 15 article about a study that "proved" prayer did not help the sick. The study found that people who did not ask for prayer did not benefit from prayer they unknowingly received.
Might this be like giving medical treatment to those who did not ask for it, nor understand that it was being given to them at all? What might those results be?
Prayer, like medical treatment, is best served with the cooperative knowledge and participation of the patient. In recent years, there have been many national and academic studies on the use and healing effectiveness of prayer. A survey of Americans published in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an agency of the National Institutes of Health, showed that indeed prayer is significantly used in healing. Prayer for one's own health and prayer by others for one's own health were the two most commonly used CAM therapies.
There have been other studies that indicate that those who pray on a regular basis tend to have better health, less hospitalization and live longer.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, is well-known in the realm of prayer and healing. In her book "Science and Health," she says prayer does not change the all-encompassing love of God, "but tends to bring us into harmony with it." Thus prayer is an active and hopeful means of reaching out to experience God's goodness.
For many, either alone or as complimentary to other systems, prayer is an important part of their healthcare. Perhaps because they have found it works.
Nancy Walden | Christian Science Committee on Publication for Hawai'i
WINDWARDITES HAVE NOTHING TO GRIPE ABOUT
Windward people should not be complaining about having to help pay for the rail transit system, which they claim won't help them.
Who do they think helped pay for the three yes, three highways and freeway over the Ko'olaus? No one else on this island has three ways to get to town and back. How did the people who live Leeward and Hawai'i Kai feel about that at the time?
There are legitimate reasons for not supporting the rail system, but that is not one of them.
M. Mau | Waikiki
OPEN HANAUMA BAY TO ALL, LIKE OLD DAYS
I just received an e-mail from a Japanese friend saying that the highlight of her trip to Hawai'i was snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, undoubtedly on one of those illegal tours.
Hanauma Bay is just a couple of acres of reef, handy to town where tourists can have a couple of hours of snorkeling, which, in any context, is, for most, a unique and special experience. It doesn't have to be really natural. Fish have thousands of acres of reef elsewhere where they can live naturally and undisturbed, if they want to.
I think Hanauma Bay served Hawai'i better in the old days with big crowds of people attracting hordes of fish to the shoreline with frozen peas, when we could swim outside the reef and when you could buy your hot dogs right down there at the beach. You didn't have to stand through a half-hour of instruction full of meaningless warnings about the reef. The part of the reef that people could walk on is exposed at lowest tides and has been dead for thousands of years.
Let nature lovers concentrate on natural habitat elsewhere. Hanauma Bay is our Coney Island. Tourists need things to do in Hawai'i. Let as many of them squeeze into Hanauma Bay as can find a way to get there. It doesn't help our tourism to be rationing that experience to a small number and turning others away.
Harold Loomis | Kaimuki
TOO LONG TO FIX
LET US KNOW WHERE POTHOLES ARE LOCATED
I would like to address the issue of the many potholes around the island, which were featured in recent articles. I know that the city is working on a plan to fix these road devils, but I don't think the plan has been working fast enough.
For drivers old and new, we are very restricted to where we feel at ease to drive. When driving in familiar areas, I, as a new driver, am able to remember the different areas that the potholes are located, but I shouldn't have to worry about this.
If the city doesn't have the time to fix these potholes quickly, one possibility is that it could give the drivers of Hawai'i the locations of where these holes may be. And maybe when it does get a chance to fix them, it could fill them with another substance that would last longer, such as concrete.
Megan Watanabe | Mililani High School student
GOVERNOR BLINKED ON RAIL TRANSIT, GET BILL
What was the governor talking about when she said she hopes people learned the lesson of not letting personal issues affect the political process? That there was no winner or loser on the transit issue? She clearly blinked and we clearly lost.
She was clear that she would veto the bill if legislators did not make the appropriate changes in special session. They promised to look at the issue during the next legislative session and she said, not good enough, change it now or I will veto the bill. Well, they didn't change it, and she didn't veto it. When prominent members of her own party (Sam Slom and Fred Hemmings) are visibly angry, something is very wrong.
Further, if she believed in the bill, why not sign the thing rather than let it become law without her signature? (Or better, put it on the ballot!) Worse is she had it all right when she first got in office and said we should double-deck the freeway. Duuh, that sounds like an idea! I doubt you would have a ridership problem there.
My mistake, I voted for Lingle. Sue me, I just didn't know. Maybe she will be challenged now by members of her own party at election time. Mr. Hemmings, you have my vote.
Kerry D. Lewis | 'Aiea
STATE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM MUST GET BETTER SUPPORTThe recent, tragic death of Talia Enomi Williams and the probable death of Peter Boy Kema drives home the hard realities of our state's child welfare system.
The challenges the Blueprint for Change and other child-abuse-prevention advocates must face to help Hawai'i's families are enormous. The Blueprint for Change is an agency that provides direct services to families at risk for child abuse and neglect and is charged with the responsibility to advocate for a more responsive child welfare system.
There continues to be a lack of support for the systems that are clearly helping to improve our child welfare system. Whenever state budgets get tight, desperately needed funding for prevention, support and treatment services for Hawai'i's families is the first to be cut.
Rather than providing the child welfare system with funding levels that would allow for adequate staffing, line workers at the state Department of Human Services are forced to work with caseloads of 20 or more families at a time, forcing them to perform a juggling act that can only result in a dropped ball at some point.
They need more not fewer resources to do their work.
The specific situation of Talia Williams points to another glaring problem: the culture of the military to isolate and insulate its problems from the public. The military Family Advocacy Program is poorly funded and without authorization to perform meaningful interventions to strengthen families. Military leadership is accountable and should take serious, critical steps to protect children.
We need to request our legislators to support and provide adequate resources to effectively operate and improve our child welfare system and to dedicate adequate funding to agencies whose work is to prevent these tragedies from happening.
Our message is direct in its simplicity: Children are for loving, not hurting. How sad to know we might have been able to save Talia if we only would have been able to get the message truly heard by her parents.
Lydia Hemmings | Executive director, Blueprint for Change
GOAL WAS TO SAVE CEMETERY PAGODAMy involvement with the Honolulu Memorial Park cemetery began when the cemetery filed for bankruptcy. Its reorganization plan called for the demolition of the pagoda, which contained many niches owned by constituents in my council district. The niche owners were fearful that the final resting place of their loved ones would be destroyed and were frustrated because they were receiving no communications from the cemetery. Out of frustration, they began calling my office for assistance.
Ann Ono, a small group of plot and niche owners and I decided on a plan to try to save the pagoda by getting it listed on the State and National Registry of Historic Places, and we succeeded.
Now the goal is to find the funding necessary to initiate repairs to the pagoda. A group was organized called the Friends of the Honolulu Memorial Park, and it initially raised about $56,000 for the restoration of the pagoda. These donations were subsequently transferred to Kyoto Gardens Park, the original fundraising entity of Honolulu Memorial Park because of its nonprofit designation.
The Honolulu Memorial Association, an entity of the original Honolulu Memorial Park, serves as a legal trust whose responsibility is to oversee the maintenance of the cemetery through the use of the perpetual care funds deposited by every plot and niche owner. It has access to more than $1 million in plot and niche owner funds that are supposed to be used only for the maintenance of the cemetery.
Through its trustees, Bruce Matsui, Vicky Kim and Sonny Poe Ching, HMA has stopped water service, rubbish pickup, landscaping and clean-up services. That is why I have requested the state attorney general's office to investigate HMA for mismanagement of the perpetual care funds.
Since HMA was not providing any services for the cemetery, I, along with a handful of volunteers, went to the cemetery each day to pick up the rubbish and keep the cemetery as clean as possible. Eventually we realized that we could not do without some services, so Kyoto Gardens Park decided to donate some funding for maintenance at the cemetery. However, due to legal constraints imposed on nonprofit organizations, Kyoto Gardens Park cannot continue donating funds for the park without jeopardizing its nonprofit status. Thus, there will no longer be any maintenance services provided to plot and niche owners unless the Honolulu Memorial Association decides to restore those services.
It has been a gratifying experience working with the volunteers but also frustrating that the financial and legal problems have not been resolved. I will continue to follow up with the attorney general's office in trying to return the cemetery back to normal operations; however, as requested by the plot and niche owners, I will no longer be responding to individual requests for maintenance and service at the cemetery. I respect their wishes and offer them my support and encouragement.
Rod Tam | City Council member, District VI