Letters to the Editor
LOWER VOTING AGE TO LET YOUTHS PARTICIPATE
I am glad that The Advertiser took time to address the issue of election reform in the United States in a recent editorial ("Election reform plan not a total solution," Sept. 26). However, I believe the editorial fell short of addressing major reforms that are necessary in regard to civil liberties.
Hawai'i may want to consider having a discussion on lowering the voting age to allow youths to participate in state elections. Youths are citizens of the state of Hawai'i, and as citizens don't they have a right to participate in elections just like any other citizen? Or are today's youth second-class citizens?
The editorial sections of our newspapers would be a wonderful place to start such a discussion that will hopefully continue on to the Legislature in January.
In my experience, today's youth are not necessarily apathetic or ignorant of the issues. Instead, adults tend to muffle our voices, shun our opinions and refuse to let us become equal participants in our civil society. I can only hope that legislators and the public will openly consider lowering the voting age.
For the sake of our future, our democracy and our right to vote, let us start this debate on lowering the voting age.Kelsey Yamasaki
College student and 2003-2004 legislative chairman of Hawai'i State Student Conference; Nu'uanu
RIGHT WRONG THROUGH VOTE ON INDEPENDENCE
In regard to the article "Feds still object to Akaka bill," Sept. 22: The U.S. Justice Department knows that in 1898 the Congress of the United States made a grave mistake by attempting to annex Hawai'i by joint resolution 51. They violated their own laws. Hawaiians were not allowed to vote for or against annexation. The U.S. Senate tried two times to pass a treaty of annexation of Hawai'i. Twice it failed.
If they did allow the majority of the citizens of the Kingdom of Hawai'i in 1898 to vote, it would have been an overwhelming no.
Asians, Native Americans, black slaves and Mexicans were being treated like stray dogs during that era and they were not allowed to be citizens of the United States because of the color of their skin.
The Kingdom of Hawai'i was the safest place to be for non-whites. The only way the U.S. government can right the wrong it inflicted on Hawaiians is to let the Hawaiian people decide if they want independent status or be part of the American system.
If Hawaiians are not allowed to vote for the form of governance they prefer then the whole American democratic process is good for nothing.Eric Po'ohina
EX-DIRECTOR APPALLINGLY STILL ON FEDERAL PAYROLL
I caught a brief glimpse of the congressional "investigation" of Michael Brown, the former head of FEMA. I have to say that I was amazed at the level of arrogance this man has to sit and blame everyone but himself for the disastrous failure on the part of FEMA that resulted in the unimaginable suffering of mostly poor people of color.
I have to say he's taking his strategy straight from the Bush Republican "blame game talking points manual." It is just another example of the blatant cronyism that plagues this administration.
I was equally appalled that he is still on the federal payroll as a consultant. I guess he's an expert at what not to do in the event of a major natural disaster. It must be nice to have a job where the criteria for success are to fail.
This is just another chapter in the Bush Chronicles of Deceit, Corruption and Lies.Dave Endo
ABUNDANCE OF ALOHA FOUND ON 'LOST' SET
Hawai'i's and America's best TV drama "Lost" keeps us tuned in weekly at the edge of our seats. I have been fortunate to work as a background extra in a few episodes.
The many acts of kindness, warmth and expression of the aloha spirit among the cast and crew that I witnessed during filming prompted me to write.
For example, while shooting a recent episode, a homeless gentleman was lying on his mat at the exact location of the next scene. Everything was handled very courteously and professionally.
A crew member gave him a soda, sandwich and chips. The gentleman watched in awe as the cameras, lights, cast and crew set up around him. He drank his soda, ate a few chips and after a few minutes gathered up his belongings and went on his merry way.
Daniel Dae Kim introduced himself and shook hands with the extras at each opportunity. A shave ice truck treated the entire cast and crew (at least 85 people), including us extras, to free shave ice, courtesy of Mr. Kim.
Lastly, let's not forget Norman, cheerfully greeting the extras at 5:30 in the morning and 14 hours later still cheerful and happy as ever checking us out at 7 p.m.
"Lost" and its entire cast and crew are truly a class act and well-deserving of their many awards.Lance D. Wong
PRACTICE MAKES FOR BETTER PREPAREDNESS
Recent catastrophes on the Mainland and in the Indian Ocean only emphasize the need for our people to have regular evacuation drills here in Hawai'i, so that our civil defense personnel will know what needs to be improved and the majority of the people understand what needs to be done to be better prepared.
Practice is the only way to be vigilant for the "when," not "if."
Vehicular traffic has to be at a minimum, with only emergency vehicles using the roads. All physically able people will bring their backpacks filled with flashlights, radios, food, medicines and other necessities and move to higher ground to evacuation centers.
Without practice, confusion may dominate. We need to nip confusion in the bud by practice.Roy E. Shigemura
ASSESSMENT ACCURATE OF SECOND GULF WAR
Sunday's Focus article "In Iraq, echoes of Vietnam" by Stephen O'Harrow seemed to be an all-too-accurate assessment of the second Gulf War. Even my war-loving, Bush-adoring, ex-Marine brother-in-law would have a hard time countering O'Harrow's 10 points.
The litany of "Stay the course," "Support our troops" and "Fight terrorism over there, not right here" has begun to ring hollow. The post-Vietnam trauma dragged on for years; we can now look forward to another such depressing period.
I called the earlier conflict "The War of Johnson's Ego." This one will go down as "The War of Dubya's Choice."Dick Simons
'EWA PLAIN TO FORD ISLAND BRIDGE WOULD REDUCE TRAFFIC
There is no controversy that O'ahu needs transportation solutions. Our challenge is finding the right solution for our community.
There is no silver bullet — no one-shot project that is going to solve it all. It is going to take many projects — some big, some small — working together to bring real transportation solutions to O'ahu.
Today, everyone in Central and West O'ahu has only one major route into town, H-1. It doesn't matter if you are coming from Wai'anae, Kapolei,or 'Ewa on H-1 or from Central O'ahu down H-2, everyone who lives west of downtown must go through the H-1 bottleneck.
We need a second access route for West O'ahu into downtown, and crossing Pearl Harbor is the most logical path.
The city council is now looking at a proposal we introduced that extends the existing Iroquois Road from Fort Weaver Road over Pearl Harbor. We are examining building two short bridges across the West Loch to the Waipi'o Peninsula and then to Ford Island to link up with the existing Ford Island Bridge.
This route will connect directly to Kamehameha Highway at the stadium, providing West O'ahu with a direct access to H-1 and Nimitz at Pearl Harbor and the airport.
This new route provides broad relief. Connecting Ford Island to the 'Ewa Plain will take thousands of cars off of H-1 and improve traffic for Central O'ahu drivers at the H-2 merge and Pearl City/'Aiea drivers entering H-1.
If we can use private funding and federal defense appropriations, we believe this project can be built in a fraction of the time of other projects, without any additional tax increase.
Recognizing this potential solution, the city council budgeted money to study the feasibility of this 'Ewa to Ford Island route. As the city initiates its analysis of O'ahu's mass transit solutions, we are asking that the mayor and his administration begin the process of examining this proposal.
We recognize that legitimate concerns raised by the Navy regarding the project need to be addressed and initial discussions have already been held with the Naval Command and our state's federal congressional delegation.
We appreciate the military's openness and willingness to work with the city to find a sensible solution to our traffic woes. We believe this bridge project can provide the Navy with a vital link between Pearl Harbor and Kalaeloa, should the Navy locate an aircraft carrier in Hawai'i.
While this project is separate from the potential big-ticket solutions of rail and HOT lanes, we look forward to analyzing this piece of the transportation puzzle that deserves attention.Todd Apo
Councilmember, District I; chair, Committee on Transportation
Charles K. Djou
Councilmember, District IV; vice-chair, Committee on Transportation
DOWNSIZE DOE BUREAUCRACY
The appalling physical condition of Nanakuli High and Intermediate School described by Lee Cataluna (Sept. 11), together with The Advertiser's assertion that it should be "an easy one to fix" (Editorial, Sept. 23), is tantamount to an indictment of the Department of Education.
Furthermore, if the DOE cannot even handle the relatively uncomplicated job of maintaining its facilities, it should not be entrusted with the responsibility for a function as formidable as educating our children.
Those who have followed education in Hawai'i are aware that Nanakuli is just the latest in a seemingly endless series of school facilities that have been neglected.
Now that the media have turned their attention to Nanakuli, the DOE will likely give it the resources needed to make it whole.
However, this undoubtedly means the DOE will shift its attention away from other schools. Past experience shows that the DOE just can't seem to keep track of the condition of all of its 262 schools.
Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto commented on the situation. She said, "We need to form a partnership with the community ..."
That statement must have been disheartening to communities throughout the state. Every community values its schools, so creating partnerships should not be difficult. But apparently that has not been much of a priority for the DOE.
If the Nanakuli community had been given more of a say in what kind of education their children were receiving, they would have assumed more responsibility for their school. And they never would have allowed the school to deteriorate to the condition in which it finds itself today.
The underlying problem is that the responsibility for facility maintenance was placed completely with the DOE.
It should be noted that the failure of the DOE to maintain its facilities has nothing to do with the abilities of its employees, most of whom are dedicated public servants. Rather, it is the way in which they are organized that is deficient.
DOE is top heavy with bureaucrats in the central office who don't have a good enough understanding of what is happening in the schools. Improving the quality of public education in Hawai'i requires a reduction in the oversized bureaucracy and giving communities a much larger role in determining how schools are run.
If the DOE bureaucracy is not downsized, any public school in the state may become the next victim of its neglect.John Kawamoto