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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Blame the insurance firms for the problem

The plight of Hawai'i's doctors is of concern. However, the causes of their concern, according to the data, are not the trial lawyers nor frivolous lawsuits.

The fact is that litigation against doctors, nationally and in Hawai'i, is down. The fact is that in the majority of cases against doctors wherein allegations of medical negligence are made, the doctors have won. So although doctors can say they fear being sued, in fact they are not.

So what is the primary cause of the problem? It is the financial greed of insurance companies that set such high liability premiums for doctors to pay that they cannot afford to pay the premiums. Think back but a few months ago when HMSA and Kaiser sought huge rate increases but the government agency in charge of rate increase approval refused to grant the increases, citing the tens of millions of dollars in surplus that each company had.

Ask any doctor — the refusal of the medical insurance carriers to pay fair value for the services rendered by doctors to their patients keeps a perpetual stranglehold on a doctor's ability to earn a fair living and is one of the strongest reasons for physician unrest.

If the powers that be, governmental or other, and the medical profession could get together and cause an investigation of the medical liability insurers' books, it would be clear that when the premiums taken in by the carriers are combined with the interest income derived by the carriers' investment of their premiums, the combined figures will be shown to vastly exceed the few payouts made by judges or juries hearing negligence claims against doctors.

James Krueger
Wailuku, Maui

Light-rail system would be too small

Judging from the many recent letters to the editor, many think that gridlock traffic will come to an end with the implementation of a light-rail system. Regardless of whether people will ride light rail or not, the same traffic jam will exist.

A light-rail system simply does not have the capacity to carry enough people to and from work. We are talking about moving thousands, not hundreds, of people to and from work within the few hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, five days a week.

Perhaps our elected officials should offer free bus rides during rush hour to be certain we have a better understanding of the amount of riders on that route. This would allow them to plan a rail system that would be adequate in capacity and size for many years to come.

Michael Nomura

Leave Aiona alone; respect his initiative

I was disappointed after reading your Saturday editorial regarding our lieutenant governor's expressions of his faith.

I have lived here over 35 years and watched the previous administrations tackle and fail to solve many of our chronic problems. Look at our schools, traffic, crime and drug problems. Look at our finances. How about the land promised to Hawaiians or our state hospital system?

Now we finally have a new administration willing to try something different and you want to criticize and "misquote" our lieutenant governor.

Maybe he is just being humble enough to admit that these problems are so big that we actually may need God's help to solve them. Let him alone, let him try something new, admire his courage and honesty. He can't do any more harm than his predecessors.

Ed Hope

Thank you for being there when it counted

Mahalo to the search teams:

• The Honolulu Police Department officers, led by Philip Camero.

• The Honolulu Fire Department, led by Albert Fernandez.

• The Department of Land and Natural Resources.

• The Ho'omaluhia park staff.

• The helicopter crew and search dogs.

We would like to express our most sincere thanks to all of the above agencies that put forth such tremendous effort in finding Richard Hadama, who had failed to return from a walk to the botanical garden. The members were a highly organized group and showed much compassion throughout. Most of all, they helped to keep our hopes alive throughout the ordeal.

We also cannot forget the tremendous support we received from the many friends and neighbors and the general public. The happy ending was the result of everyone's combined efforts.

Mark Hadama and family

Separation of church and state is critical

I am a Buddhist minister and a naturalized American citizen. When I read Mr. Dave Shapiro's column on May 18, I too was concerned that the constitutional separation of church and state is already being violated by official acts of Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

Along with Mr. Wayne Muromoto (May 20 letter to editor), my members and I applaud any attempts to help deal with "broken families, drugs and homelessness." We Buddhist Americans are also doing our best to reduce crime and social problems and would be happy to join with Christians to make Hawai'i a safer and more peaceful place.

I shared a copy of Lt. Gov. Aiona's letter with colleagues and members and all of us became gravely concerned about the future of Hawai'i, which belongs to all citizens of Hawai'i. As Mr. Muromoto suggested, we Buddhists are also worried that we might become "second-class citizens."

My wife and I, and many other Buddhists, have "Support the Troops" yellow ribbons on our cars because our heroic soldiers have been risking their lives for the importance of our American principle of "freedom of religion and equal justice for all people" — not just Christian Americans.

Rev. Shoji Matsumoto
Resident minister, Honpa Hongwanji Hawai'i Betsuin

Recycling program should reflect reality

I am writing this letter because I am sorely disappointed with the state's recycling program.

Today, before I left home, I checked the hours of operation for the recycling center in Kane'ohe on the Web site, which stated it would be open until 5 p.m. When I arrived at the center behind Safeway with my recyclables, it was 4:45 p.m., but the workers had already packed up for the day and told me to come again tomorrow.

Because of my work schedule, however, I will have to carry these items in my car until my next day off.

Information regarding the state's recycling program should be corrected to make matters clearer. For example, "No recyclable goods shall be accepted after 4:45."

On an island as beautiful as ours, people should be encouraged to recycle, not turned away by workers wanting to go home early rather than doing the job they are being paid to do.

Yumika Kaneakua

Stop blaming the fishers for problems in our waters

I'm very tired of fishers being portrayed and targeted as the bad guys. Suzanne Hammer's May 18 response to the May 2 article on the hooked sea turtle reinforces this image, and I take exception.

While the unintentional hooking of a sea turtle is indeed unfortunate, I know that the actual frequency is much less than what is portrayed, based on my own experience of fishing for ulua for more than 20 years and knowing others who frequent the coastline around Hanauma Bay. These events are sensationalized because they are emotional images used by those that wish to close off areas and take away everyone's right to fish.

Maybe a better title to the letter, which included the term "overfished," would be "depleted," "neglected" or "abused." Those terms put the blame on everyone, where it belongs. The term "overfished" today is about as bad as any racial slang that I can think of because of the bias it shows toward one group of people, namely fishers. Everyone is to blame for the depletion of our resources due to the very fact that we choose to live in these Islands and in the way we do.

Ms. Hammer wrote that she found a desolate Kailua Bay reef. I'd point out that beginning with the very first scoop of dirt dug at groundbreaking for the Windward town, things from her community have been going into the bay and contributing to what she witnessed. And it's not just Kailua but everywhere we live. There are many other reasons why we have this situation today, including illegal fishing activities and invasive species as among the largest.

Our ocean resources are in dire need of attention, but is everyone ready to stop building and driving to protect it?

Just as there are controls and safeguards to keep runoff from destroying the reef, fishing activity can occur also with controls and safeguards. In either case, however, they must be enforced and managed.

I also praise our young students who study to preserve our environment for everyone to enjoy. But it is imperative that their educators help them understand the whole story and not foster the biased "fishers are to blame" type of thinking.

Brian F. Funai

Akaka bill is just a land grab

A pivotal year in Hawai'i's history turned out to be 1996. Issues of major consequences faced the people of Hawai'i such as a vote at the constitutional convention, same-sex marriage, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs lawsuit against the state of Hawai'i for control of ceded lands, and dealing with an extended slumping state economy.

We failed to get the votes to hold a constitutional convention. We did win a constitutional amendment stating that marriage is between a man and a woman, and stopped the increase of the general excise tax.

We faced a strong campaign by OHA against our efforts to have the people of Hawai'i vote in supporting a constitutional convention. I recall that OHA committed some $350,000 for advertising against the constitutional convention.

Today, Hawai'i has been selected to base one of America's future fighting machines, the Stryker. The Stryker Brigade brings some $750 million in construction to Hawai'i and an estimated $75 million a year in payroll and other related military spending.

Hawai'i may secure the approval of home-porting a carrier group at Pearl Harbor with the air wing spread out on different islands. The carrier group would bring over five years some $300 million a year in construction and some $375 million a year in payroll and other related military spending in Hawai'i.

But, OHA through the Akaka bill made its intentions public in 1996 that could reverse everything Hawai'i has developed today.

At the time, OHA Chairman Clayton Hee, awaiting the pending court decision of OHA's lawsuit against the state of Hawai'i for revenues from the ceded lands, knew it was going to be a long, drawn-out legal battle. (Note: Hawai'i's ceded lands belong to all the residents of Hawai'i and not just to the Native Hawaiians.)

Mr. Hee initiated negotiations with the state of Hawai'i to reach a settlement in lieu of waiting for the outcome by the courts. OHA, after a few years of negotiations, rejected the offer by the state in a 5-3 vote on April 27, 1999. Mr. Hee was partly correct in supporting the negotiated settlement because the state Supreme Court ruled against OHA in September 2001.

What was on the table? All the nonmilitary ceded lands that included all nine golf courses on military bases where the ownership would transfer to OHA. Also on the table was ownership of Bellows AFB and Fort DeRussy.

OHA negotiated the share of revenues from Hilo Hospital, the Hawai'i Housing Authority, the Housing Finance & Development Corp. (reorganized as the Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawai'i), and from the duty-free shops because the airports are partly on ceded lands.

In addition, OHA wanted revenues and land title from Sand Island, Volcanoes National Park and the Wailua Golf Course on Kaua'i, all located and developed on ceded lands.

I am certain that if the Akaka bill becomes a reality, the items identified from 1996 will be on the table for negotiations by the new Native Hawaiian entity.

James Kuroiwa