Letters to the Editor
SAFE TO SWIM?
ALA WAI SEWAGE SPILL DIDN'T JUST HAPPEN
Let's call it what it is: Sewage Dump.
Forty-eight million gallons of raw human waste didn't just spill into the Ala Wai. I don't even trust the restrooms at Ala Moana Center, but they're telling me it's safe to swim at Waikiki?
Watson Okubo of the state Health Department says the rising bacterial count in front of the Moana Hotel "must have come from somewhere on the shore, the beach" and is due to an animal or bird that "came by, did it's thing."
Come on! Ocean swells were a little higher on the South Shore; the current agitated sand underwater and loosened up all the disgusting sewage that settled.
Who's at fault? Both Jeremy Harris and Mufi Hannemann. Mufi's been in office long enough to at least get work started on that sewage main labeled "extremely critical" since 2004.
It's not Amity Island and some rogue, mammoth shark hunting visitors and locals — it's our own city and state attacking us!Elly York
'BAD TENANCY' IS NO HOMELESSNESS REASON
The comments in the March 31 Advertiser article entitled "Lingle asks for homeless solutions" by Treena Shapiro show exactly why well-meaning folks perpetuate the homeless problem.
Ms. Carol Ignacio talked about "efforts by the Catholic Church's Office of Social Ministry to teach the homeless to be good tenants." This is plain and simple ignorance. Being homeless does not mean someone is a bad tenant, and becoming homeless is not the result of being a bad tenant.
Homelessness knows no race, no gender, no socioeconomic status and no age.
I worked at a shelter doing intake case management and was surprised to find many of the homeless worked harder than I did when I had two full-time jobs. Many were very reliable and would not miss an appointment or a day of work.
People become homeless for many reasons, including but not limited to ill health, disability, loss of a job in a specialty field, economic recession, increasing rents and home prices without equivalent increases in wages, inability to find a job, domestic violence and, in some cases, drug addiction. Any one of us could become homeless.
It's high time we lend a hand so people can step up and stop the victim-blaming. Being homeless is not a character defect. The last thing the homeless need is to be taught how to be good tenants.
Let's wake up and deal with the real issues like lack of affordable housing and insufficient welfare grants and disability benefits.Lourdes "Sal" Salvador
CAMPS FOR HOMELESS
State Attorney General Mark Bennett is right on the three-strikes-and-you-are-out law. And you liberals are dead wrong on it. Just as wrong as you are on the homeless.
We need to outlaw the ownership of cars to the homeless since otherwise we will soon have an army of them living in cars and despoiling the Islands. Homelessness should be outlawed, and camps where they are forcefully located to should be set up.Volker Hildebrandt
TAXES ARE SPENT FOR THE GOOD OF ALL
We have heard time and again from residents of Windward and East O'ahu, as well as Honolulu proper, that they should not be made to pay for a mass-transit system that they will not use. To them I say that the idea of taxation is to tax everyone and then spend on everyone.
Residents of Manoa receive my taxes for flood damage, and soon my taxes will go to fix the sewers surrounding the Ala Wai.
But realize, too, that West O'ahu is where an ever-increasing portion of the state's workers live. If they cannot get to work on time, or leave the state, tired of spending hours in traffic, our economy will suffer.
I would also remind you that when you take your 'opala to the curb, it doesn't just vanish; it comes to us out here in West O'ahu. We're not exactly thrilled about this, and some of us did get a bit upset when a refuse truck flipped over on the H-1, closing it for hours, but I figure we're just doing our part for the sake of everyone on the island.
The City & County has promised to find another site on another part of the island, but the good folks of Kailua and elsewhere gave that proposal the "not-in-my-backyard" response.
So I propose to you, people of Kahala and Portlock, Wai'alae and Lanikai, please keep your hard-earned money — and your garbage.David Wolkoff
VACATION RENTALS ARE GREED OUT OF CONTROL
Regarding Debbie Morris' March 27 letter: Our state is at a critical point. To quote Gavan Daws, "An island is like an elevator; it has limited capacity." We cannot afford to increase our tourism figures each year.
We are destroying the nature of our Islands and killing the golden goose.
We have numerous legal short-term vacation rentals and B&Bs in Kailua; to increase them would create an undesirable situation. We will have the "old legals," "the illegals" and the "new legals." Will we have space for the residentials?
The spread of tourism in every nook and cranny of our Islands is simply greed out of control. It is not win, win, win — it is $, $, $.Jane Morris
WAR WITH IRAN
BATTERED BUSH MAY TRY TO FIGHT WAY BACK
With his poll numbers dropping like a rock, his aides either indicted or under investigation for all kinds of wrongdoing, the most powerful Republican in Congress resigning under a cloud, the war in Iraq going poorly and now believed by the majority of the American public to have been a bad idea to begin with, with the shadow of incompetence over Katrina, with his loudly announced plans for Social Security reform as dead as a doornail, and surrounded by as lunatic a bunch of neo-conservative revanchist advisers as ever existed and assisted by the most incompetent secretary of defense in U.S. history, George W. Bush could very well think he can boost his political standing by starting another war, this time with Iran.
I am very frightened.Stephen O'Harrow
PRICE DATA SHOW THAT THE GAS CAP IS WORKING
Discussion of the gas cap has suffered from a lack of objective, understandable data and analysis. The Advertiser performed a valuable, though belated, service April 7 by publishing the graph of average retail gas prices in Honolulu, the state of Hawai'i and the U.S. since last September, when the gas cap went into effect. Its value would have been greater if the chart had shown the last three years.
Readers can search online and quickly find the chart's source, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, or try the useful www.gasbuddy.com, as suggested in a recent letter to the editor. The latter Web site offers a very easy-to-use graphic tool to compare local pump price trends with those in the U.S. as a whole, or in a selected city or state.
The three-year comparison is dramatic. Before the late summer of 2005, the national price trend was generally upward, but with major rises and dips lasting for months. In Hawai'i, the line — always higher, of course — rose steadily and gradually, with no significant decreases. You can see why legislators thought that local consumers were getting a raw deal from fuel suppliers and tried to do something about it.
The graph shows a couple of big spikes in both the Honolulu and U.S. price lines in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's supply disruptions, around the time the gas cap took effect. Since then, the Honolulu price line has closely mirrored the movement of the national average, as the legislation presumably intended it to do.
Honolulu drivers, long accustomed to a gradual, upward creep in the pump price, suddenly faced fluctuations just like those taken for granted by Mainland drivers. Most people — to judge by many comments quoted in The Advertiser — didn't like the sharper ups and downs.
There was one important difference with the Mainland, though: Here, everyone had the advantage of several days advance notice of price changes. Now you can fill up before the price goes up, knowing just how much you'll save, or put it off when you know it will be cheaper next week.
Take another look at the trend lines: Since late January, the gap between Honolulu prices and the U.S. average has gradually narrowed.
Yes, we will probably always pay more here than on the Mainland, as before, with or without the cap. But overall, it sure looks like the gas cap is working.David B. Monk
INFRASTRUCTURE BEFORE BUILDING
Recently I went to a Mililani town meeting regarding the planned addition of some 17,000 homes in Central O'ahu.
One group, represented mostly by long-time Mililani homeowners, argued that we should slow down or even put a temporary moratorium on new development in Central O'ahu. Points were made that sewage, water, transportation, schools, hospitals, open space and public services are already overtaxed and that the addition of 50,000 to 70,000 additional people into Central O'ahu would push many of these already marginally functioning services to the point of failure, sharply decreasing the quality of life on O'ahu and possibly permanently damaging the ecology and economy of the island.
On the other side, members of the carpenters' union and other supporters of new development forcefully argued that they need the jobs to maintain their livelihood and that the island needs affordable housing for the working class and for young people.
As is often the case when a community finds itself split, both sides are right. Those who want work and housing do not want to destroy the quality of life here or damage the ecology or long-term economy. Those who want controlled growth do not want others to suffer economically or be denied a chance at homeownership.
There are solutions that can appease both sides. However, underlying the decision-making process is a profit motive. The developer maximizes the amount of profit that can be made by expanding into open lands. That is what developers are supposed to do as for-profit organizations, regardless of the long-term consequences for the community.
And they will use their enormous influence with politicians and union heads to push this agenda, contrary to the best interests of Hawai'i. They rally the unions, saying that this will provide work, but the work runs for a limited time. After this build-out is complete, what then? Eventually, the island will run out of land that can be built out, and the carpenters will be out of work anyway.
The solution that is best for everyone is a sustainable-growth program. This program would not only work toward creating a higher quality of life, but it would create a balanced economy that provides steady rather than episodic work for tradesmen and steadily increases the quality of life and quantity of affordable housing.
Instead of gobbling up open space, expansion would be predicated on careful examination of how best to minimize the impact on the human and natural environment. Housing would not be constructed until the infrastructure was in place. Urban renewal and infrastructure construction will provide a steady need for union workers while improving rather than taxing the quality of life.
There is plenty of opportunity to redevelop neighborhoods that are in decay, building higher-density housing units that are both affordable and pleasant and, where possible, industrial and business complexes to provide jobs near homes.
We can also continue the planned development of the second city at Kapolei. We can build toward paradise rather than build toward chaos.Jay Silverstein