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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 20, 2006

Letters to the Editor



The HI-5 windfall could be increased by charging 25 cents rather than 5 cents for each bottle and can. Such a "Democratic" revenue-generating tax increase seems more important than reducing the tax and the price of groceries.

The Advertiser's editorial said that eventually the current tax on cans and bottles might perhaps be decreased, but now there are important things on which the windfall could be spent. There will always be an infinite number of unfunded needs, such as fixing sewer pipes and increasing pay for state and city employees.

Recycling is important, and many of us conscientiously put our used newspapers, bottles and cans into recycling bins that are conveniently at local schools. We do not find it convenient and economically worthwhile to go through a process of trading in our cans and bottles for refunds. People designing and imposing the bottle tax certainly realized this and the fact that the bottle tax would result in a windfall.

Sherman Carter



The April 18 Advertiser commentary by David Rolf urging reform of Hawai'i's school curriculum mentions that 30 percent of America's high school students drop out of school.

There are many reasons for these alarming statistics. I will point to just one of them, namely the limited vocabulary that children from working-class families usually grow up with and often continue to use way into their teens, at home and among their friends.

Mr. Rolf mentions that by age 3, children from welfare families, for example, have fewer words spoken to them per hour than children from professional families. What this finding does not mention is the content of the words that are spoken to them at that age.

I suggest that what is spoken in welfare families, and in working-class families as a whole, at each age level well into the children's school years is an impoverished English, unlike what children from professional families hear spoken by their parents, their relatives, friends and so forth.

When I say impoverished English, I refer to a vocabulary that is constricted by the absence of thousands of "big" words, most of which are very useful (and happen to have Latin roots).

Not having such words in their vocabulary, these children, in the 10th grade, say, are unable to make sense of newspaper columns such as that by Mr. Rolf, who uses words such as "magnitude," "adapted," "components," "methodology," "utilizing" and "implemented."

Is it any wonder that they find reading a pain in the neck? This is one reason many drop out of school.

None of this is to blame working-class parents, but to blame American society for perpetuating a class structure that makes working-class life so much less than what it could be.

Oliver Lee



Now this idea of an elevated roadway is Hawai'i-sized! It looks great, and we can probably afford it.

While the light rail may be classy, our small state simply cannot afford it when we have to buy low-grade road surfacing, put off sewer repair, put off building more highways to ease traffic in growing neighborhoods, lose our best police officers to other states, and force people to live on beaches.

Let's get real and opt for something affordable.

Judie Thomas-Benito



Well said, Marjorie Ziegler of the Conservation Council for Hawai'i: Invasive species need to be stopped.

I believe that feral pigs should be moved to the top of the list of harmful invasive species. As a resident of Manoa, I've seen the damage they cause and witnessed how pigs clear vast areas, providing new habitat for other invasive species.

The pig damage causes accelerated erosion, which in turn causes increased runoff and silt in our rivers.

There is also the issue of bacteria, literally pig sewage released daily.

These problems trickle down throughout Hawai'i's environment. From the mountains to our coral reefs, feral pigs cause damage.

At the recent Manoa meeting regarding feral pigs, a DLNR representative, Mr. Patrick Costales, said the pigs are not a significant contributor to the landslides in Manoa and that the forest cover has not changed as a result of the pigs. To the people in Manoa, it is as plain as the nose on Mr. Costales' face that pigs are contributing to erosion, landslides and flooding in Manoa because the forest understory has been stripped.

The DLNR should adopt a policy of feral pig eradication, instead of control. New policy, along the lines of Rep. Kirk Caldwell's pig bounty, needs to be developed so that feral pig eradication is a statewide policy, not just in our parks.

Jim Hayes



The Ala Wai Canal is and always has been an enormous filthy sewer, but now it has become an uncovered cesspool.

Every time it rains, or when the daily ocean tides come in, a very small portion of the canal's contents are flushed from the canal's mouth into the open ocean, where, depending on the winds, tide and current, they are gradually disbursed, either out to sea or along the beach, where they are eventually diluted to an "acceptable" (whatever that means) level of pollution.

The recent addition of an enormous amount of raw sewage has created an intolerable situation that is not going to go away and needs to be addressed now!

May I suggest that a truckload of chlorine crystals or tablets be loaded on a small boat capable of navigating under the canal's bridges and then distributed in the water the entire length and width of the canal?

Jack Telaneus



Beginning March 29, we stayed in Honolulu for three days. Then after we disembarked the Pride of America, we claimed our luggage and were cheerfully greeted by Eddie of the Limousine. We had a nice conversation with him on our way to the Hale Koa, and we thanked him for his and everyone else's hospitality here in Hawai'i.

Upon entering the hotel, I noticed one of my earrings had fallen off. We looked around the reception desk, but to no avail. Eddie had given us his business card, and my husband called him and asked him if he would check his backseat. Just minutes later he said he found it and would be at the Hale Koa in 30 minutes to bring it to us. My husband insisted he take money, but he absolutely would not.

Where, oh where, in this whole world would this happen, but in this most courteous, kind and caring 50th state of the Union?

Thank you, Eddie, and every other thoughtful person with whom we came in contact the last 10 days.

Gary and Harriet Samad
San Angelo, Texas



As a member of the Japanese-American community whose ancestors experienced discrimination firsthand, and as president of the Honolulu Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, I urge the governor to support House Bill 1233, which clarifies that all people are protected from discrimination in public accommodations regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

The failure to clearly protect all people from discrimination in public accommodations because of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is contrary to our state Constitution, which guarantees all of our basic rights.

Protecting these minorities and marginalized groups is important because of our unique history: a dispossessed Hawaiian nation in 1893, inequitable plantation past of the early 20th century, oppressive martial law and World War II internment of over 2,000 Hawai'i citizens of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry, and the communist witch hunts of local union leaders in the 1950s.

We must not allow those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex to feel like second-class citizens.

Karen T. Nakasone



While diversification of Hawai'i's economy away from low-wage tourism is a sensible goal, the current proposal in the Legislature to pour another

$200 million of taxpayer money into a fund to attract high-tech companies here is like giving a blood transfusion to an injured person before repairing his bleeding artery.

Even before the current damaging publicity on the Mainland on our sewage woes, Hawai'i was regularly receiving negative marks for being a hellish place to run a business or to raise a family.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently reported a Harris survey of 1,465 senior attorneys nationwide who ranked Hawai'i's legal system as the fifth worst in the U.S. No surprise, then, that we are facing a critical shortage of obstetricians and orthopedic surgeons.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that "residents of Hawai'i pay more state taxes than ... any other state." We know that this overstates the case, but we are indeed near the top in combined state and local taxes.

National educational surveys show the world that Hawai'i's public school scores for reading and math skills are near the bottom in national rankings, a result of our dysfunctional statewide school system and the political clout of the teachers' union in stopping needed changes to it.

Hawai'i does not have a major university or technical institute to nurture and support high-tech activities. UH is certainly a good "state college" and is moving in the right direction, but we are not even in striking distance of the university research incubators of Silicon Valley, Boston's Route 128 or North Carolina's Research Triangle.

The millions of people who visit here each year are painfully aware of our traffic gridlock and are in shock at our housing costs.

And these visitors also observe that our vaunted "aloha spirit" is crumbling from tourist overload and creeping friction between Hawaiian sovereignty advocates and the rest of our citizenry.

Those who make the decisions on where to locate a high-tech business are not going to let a tax credit, even a very generous one, outweigh all these negatives in choosing where to do business.

Until many of the above-mentioned negatives are fixed, until we stop the bleeding, we would do much better to invest that $200 million (and a lot more!) in overhauling the Department of Education and growing a University of Hawai'i that is free from legislative micromanagement.

Tom Macdonald