Letters to the Editor
HPD WILL RELEASE AS MUCH DATA AS IT CAN
An April 12 editorial asks the Honolulu Police Department to provide the "most detailed report possible" on internal investigations stemming from the federal indictments of HPD officers.
While Hawai'i's Uniform Information Practices Act and the SHOPO collective bargaining agreement restrict the disclosure of information about disciplinary investigations, I will release all the facts I legally can in order to maintain the public's confidence.
Our community deserves no less.Boisse Correa
Chief, Honolulu Police Department
CHIEF NAKAMURA HAD THAT PERSONAL TOUCH
As we all bid aloha to Chief Michael Nakamura, I can only reflect on those personal phone calls made on my late husband's birthday. How fondly I remember on April 12 every year we would receive a phone call wishing Lee "Happy Birthday."
I answered the phone a few times on that day and will never forget that soft-spoken voice asking to speak to Lee. Wow, what a thrill it was to receive that personal call.
I also remember Chief Nakamura at the funeral of my husband and the kind words he had said about him. He is one in a million and will truly be missed. Aloha, Chief Nakamura, thank you for making my husband feel special.Linda Goeas
NO CHILD, ACT 51 ARE CREATING BIG PROBLEMS
I was snacking at a popular coffee house with a friend who is a public school teacher. I was shocked to see him so angry and frustrated.
I thought that the mandates of No Child Left Behind were improving education, especially since one of my friends in the Legislature had assured me that Act 51, the Reinvention of Education Act, would bring more money to schools whose student populations had certain needs.
Instead of hearing a positive report from my teacher-friend, I heard a horror story whose theme is that No Child Left Behind with its mandated increased test scores has turned students into revenue-generating agents for the state of Hawai'i; and that the Reinvention of Education Act is causing many schools to lose money, in spite of the fact that their student populations have certain needs.
What is worse, teachers have become divided into at least three hostile camps: those who blindly accept the mission of the Department of Education and see the teachers' union as an impediment to school reform; those who believe that the DOE with all of its mandates has created a bureaucracy of madness whose purpose is to serve only the salary justifications of administrators and resource teachers; and those who keep wondering why the teachers' union remains silent about its inability to effect meaningful change.
Granted that my friend may have been stimulated by the excellent coffee and therefore prone to exaggerate. One important point he made was about tests: Tests are not the reason societies have education, yet their results are becoming the sole measure of education.Seen Sang Weisun
CITY CHOSE THE WRONG SOLUTION DURING CRISIS
I am in shock as I witness decisions being made concerning emergency situations affecting not only the environment but the livelihood of our people.
What was the mayor thinking? You do not pump raw sewage into the canal knowing it goes to the beaches. Tourism is our livelihood. The wonderful and beautiful environment is why the people come.
I hope there is a team of engineers offering solutions to the mayor for his decisionmaking process. What would have happened if we had pumped the sewage into tankers and not the canal? What about our water-treatment process? Could we have treated the sewage in the tankers before dumping it back into the ocean?
I hate to say it, but maybe they were thinking the federal fine will be less than the cost of tankers and treatment. I am sure there were other solutions that I can't think of, but that decision should not have been made.
As an industrial engineer and problem-solving project manager, I am terribly upset with our process for solution. There is always a right solution.Barbara Osha
USE COMMON SENSE AFTER SEWAGE SPILL
Wow, let's blame the city for everything. Go in the water after the massive sewage spill, it's your fault, Mufi. Fall down on coral after surfing, it's your fault, city, because you didn't have a sign to say the coral is sharp.
Let's look at this situation another way. Would the young lady who is suffering with a flesh-eating infection go surfing or water skiing in the waters of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? I do not believe that she would have. So why in God's name did she go surfing after the sewage spill?
There is a thing called common sense.
While we are piling on blame, why not blame the Hilton (or whoever) for renting you the surfboard? Why not blame the media for not communicating that the water was not at acceptable levels? More importantly, why not blame yourself for exhibiting very bad judgment?
I am sad that the surfer has had to suffer such a traumatic hospitalization and wish her a very speedy recovery, but I strongly disagree with her blaming the city for her current state of health.J. Smith
QUESTIONS REMAIN IN THE WAKE OF SPILL
The reaction of city and state political leaders to the massive sewage spill into the Ala Wai Canal seems to be a collective shrug. Their reaction should have been outrage and a pledge to take immediate action.
National press coverage of a polluted Waikiki Beach has the potential of serious long-term damage to Hawai'i's image and to our visitor industry.
There should be a full investigation to make sure it does not happen again. Among the questions that should be answered are: What has been the inspection and regular maintenance program for the sewer system, and why didn't it detect the weakness in the system and prevent this mishap? Who should be held accountable, and what are the consequences they should face? Have leading national experts in this area been consulted, and if not, why not? Was pumping sewage into the canal over several days really unavoidable, or could more urgent and competent action have resulted in a quicker and more effective solution?
Perhaps our elected officials will succeed in escaping blame this time, but if a similar spill occurs again, the public should not let them off the hook.Matt Pietsch
FISHERIES COMMENTARY STRAYED FROM THE FACTS
The April 14 commentary "Fisheries must not destroy resources" by Moira Chapin contains many gross inaccuracies. Here are the facts.
Only one council-managed fish stock, the seamount armourhead, is classified as "overfished" by the National Marine Fisheries Service. This stock was overfished by foreign fleets before the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council was established in 1976. The elements of this stock found on seamounts within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding Hawai'i have remained subject to a council-imposed fishery moratorium for over a decade.
The council banned bottom trawling and pelagic drift gill nets in the U.S. EEZ around Hawai'i and the other U.S. flag Pacific islands more than 20 years ago. Other destructive fishing methods banned by the council include explosives, poisons, bottom-set gill nets and bottom longlines.
The council's Coral Reef Ecosystems Fishery Management Plan is the first U.S. ecosystem-based plan and specifically prohibits the harvest of both living corals and coral rock encrusted with algae and other biota ("live rock").
The council has a substantial and proactive Protected Species Program, which has reduced fishery interactions between longliners and seabirds and turtles by one to two orders of magnitude. The success of the council's Protected Species Program is reflected by invitations to participate in domestic and international conservation bodies such as the Hawai'i Monk Seal Recovery Team, the Ecosystem and Bycatch Specialist Working Group of the Western & Central Pacific Fishery Commission and the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group.
Half of our council members are from state or federal agencies. Only one out of the four council members from Hawai'i is connected with commercial fisheries.Kitty M. Simonds
Executive director, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
DAMAGE IN THE MILLIONS
STOP INVASIVE SPECIES INVASION
The deafening din of coqui frogs has driven Hawai'i communities to distraction since first appearing in the 1980s. Believed to have hitchhiked on nursery plants, the noisome nuisance has nonetheless produced one positive outcome: more people are now aware of our invasive species crisis.
What does not receive as much attention is how such invasive species arrive here in the first place, and what can be done to prevent future introductions.
Everyone who lives, works and plays in Hawai'i suffers the consequences of alien invaders. Whether you fish, gather, farm, garden, snorkel, hike or hunt, you are affected.
Invasive species cost us millions of dollars annually in property damage, crop losses and watershed destruction. They are responsible for the decline of native plants and animals, and they spread disease to humans and wildlife.
Harmful invasive species in Hawai'i include termites (so far, we have only four of the world's 2,000-plus termite species), ants, wasps, fruit flies, miconia, rats, mosquitoes and feral pigs. More catastrophic threats are just a plane ride or shipping container away.
Brown tree snakes have been found on craft and in cargo arriving from Guam, where this introduced viper has exterminated native birds and lizards, and continues to injure children and cause power outages.
Similarly, it doesn't require much imagination to conjure the consequences for our visitor industry and quality of life if snakes, biting sand flies and red imported fire ants were to become established.
Invasive species have been introduced intentionally — as in the case of miconia, an ornamental nursery plant now taking over our native forests and watersheds.
Some, such as the coqui frog, arrive accidentally, going undetected until they become a problem.
Still others, like the veiled chameleon, which preys on native birds and insects, are escaped or released refugees from the illegal pet trade.
Millions of tons of cargo arrive in Hawai'i each year carrying plants and animals from other places. Appallingly, much of this cargo is distributed, uninspected, because the Hawai'i Department of Agriculture does not have sufficient staff to inspect all shipments.
State elected officials have an opportunity to remedy this glaring gap in our defenses by imposing shipping fees to finance invasive species detection and rapid response programs and by dedicating a percentage of existing landing and harbor fees for increased inspections at our ports of entry.
These initiatives make good environmental and economic sense.
We are the custodians of an irreplaceable natural heritage. Worthy and honorable stewardship requires that we do what is necessary to ensure that this priceless inheritance endures.
Policymakers and legislators need to know that the public cares about protecting the unique environment that defines our island home. Please contact your elected officials, make your voice heard and be part of the solution.Marjorie Ziegler
Executive director, Conservation Council for Hawai'i