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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 11, 2006

Letters to the Editor

INTERISLAND

IT'S NOT RIGHT TO CALL GO! AN 'UNDERDOG' AIRLINE

It is irresponsible to refer to go! as an "underdog" airline (Advertiser, July 31).

Go! is part of a huge company/airline (Mesa) with 5,000 employees. This is by far larger than any of our other local airlines. Have you forgotten that both Aloha and Hawaiian have just recently come out of bankruptcy and are still struggling, yet continue to provide superior service to locals and visitors?

The real "underdogs" are our very own local airlines.

Rich Ferm
Kailua

MICHELLE WIE

MEDIA HAS CREATED UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION

In an Aug. 8 letter to the editor, Bob Frye suggests that Michelle Wie receives more scrutiny than other players on the LPGA tour. One need look no further than the media and particularly The Advertiser to determine why this is so.

When Michelle enters a tournament, The Advertiser writes about Michelle Wie, not the tournament. Followers of LPGA golf must often wade through multiple paragraphs describing every facet of Wie's game to find out who actually won. Rather than giving credit to the winners, The Advertiser takes the disingenuous position of claiming that Wie should have won, and would have won, were it not for a stray piece of moss, a rarely enforced rule or heat exhaustion.

As wonderful as it would be for Michelle to become the next Tiger Woods, that just isn't happening right now. Time will tell how her professional career will play out. By painting Michelle as larger than life, the media create unrealistic expectations of her, expectations that invite negative scrutiny when she is unable to live up to them.

James Moninger
Honolulu

TRAFFIC

ADD EXTRA LANE ON H-1 TO WAIPAHU OFF-RAMP

With the completion of the Pearl City extra lane on H-1 'ewa-bound, why not continue the effort from the Sears Distribution Center on-ramp to the Waipahu off-ramp to help relieve traffic?

By adding the extra lane, we would reduce the need for merging at Sears and have an "exit only" lane for all the Waipahu residents.

Hopefully we can get the ball rolling on this.

Landon Castellano
Wahiawa

TRANSIT

PROPOSED RAIL SYSTEM SIMPLY UNAFFORDABLE

With a vote due within 90 days, the mayor still refuses to discuss the cost of O'ahu's equivalent to Boston's "Big Dig."

Recently, on a morning radio show, the mayor said the cost would be around $3 billion. The mayor knows full well that his own engineering firm, Parsons Brinkerhoff, said the cost would be north of $4 billion. Since it is paid to spin this thing in the best possible light, that really means $5 billion.

The mayor then went on to tout the tax increases in Salt Lake City and how great that city's rail system is. What he failed to mention is that system costs $228 per capita. His system for O'ahu will be around $5,000 per capita. The mayor's comparison to Salt Lake is apples and oranges. If we can do our system for $228 per capita, then I am all for it. However, since our rail system will cost 20 times that, it is simply unaffordable.

With a billion-dollar backlog in sewer projects, lousy roads, a need for more police and better bulk pickup, and ever more homeless, the mayor should handle the basics and forget the boondoggle.

Jim Quimby
Honolulu

HOMELESS

PUT ACCOMMODATIONS MAUKA, NOT ON BEACHES

How about homeless accommodations mauka, instead of makai?

Our state thrives on tourism, and we need to maintain our clean and beautiful beaches.

What about the state allotting a portion of our mountain areas to the homeless with the intent that they must tend to and care for the 'aina?

They could work the land, growing vegetables, fruit trees, even medicinal plants. It would give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, which would help to restore confidence and build self-esteem. Just a thought.

Kalei Javellana
Honolulu

EDUCATION

TEACHER PAY SHOULDN'T BE TIED TO TEST SCORES

Tying teachers' pay to test scores is an idea that lacks connection to reality.

It's the same kind of thinking that created No Child Left Behind, which puts public schools on a track to statistical failure. Public schools serve a broad population, including the scholastically disinterested as well as honor students.

Public school teachers work in communities where interest and commitment to education is also diverse.

Tying teachers' salaries to test scores does a disservice to the profession and to all schools, public and private.

Parents and communities need to be involved with their schools, and they need to take a hands-on approach with their children's education if quality of education is to improve.

Neal Ikeda
Kane'ohe Grove Farm

STEVE CASE'S ROLE DETAILED

Your readers deserve the full picture of Steve Case's involvement in the December 2000 merger of Grove Farm on Kaua'i, referenced in a Bloomberg wire story on July 31. The article is flawed and distorts the truth about Case's role in the transaction.

For several years prior to the merger, the economy of Kaua'i was terrible due to the effects of Hurricane Iniki in September 1992, compounded by the exodus of Japanese investors from Hawai'i. Grove Farm was hurt: Dividends were halted, projects were left half-completed and credit facilities were exhausted. The directors, all of whom were shareholders, were determined to sell the company in early 2000.

After the shareholders narrowly rejected an offer of $125 per share, the directors unanimously approved an offer of $140 per share. If that buyer had not pulled out of the deal at the last minute, Grove Farm would have been sold for that price a lower one than what Case ultimately paid. The decision to sell Grove Farm to a new owner was made before Case was on the scene.

Once the buyer selected by the board and shareholders refused to close the deal, Grove Farm was left to search for a new buyer. Only then did Case emerge as a potential buyer. At the outset, the board agreed that Steve Case's father, Dan, could act as his agent.

Case made a bid for Grove Farm, and after some negotiations, raised his offer to $152 per share about 10 percent more than the previous offer that had been accepted and higher than any other credible bidder was willing to pay under the tight deadlines imposed by the Grove Farm board due to the company's deteriorating financial situation. More than 99 percent of the shareholders voted to approve the merger.

Since late 2000, the Kaua'i economy has improved. Grove Farm has benefited from growing tourism and from tens of millions of dollars spent under Case's leadership to renovate and complete real estate projects that had foundered under former management. This should be cause for celebration. Instead, it has been the basis for an after-the-fact attack on Case and the Grove Farm directors. In 2002, a handful of former shareholders filed suit against the directors who approved the merger, seeking more money for their shares than they were given at the time of the sale.

The bottom line is this: In 2000, Grove Farm was in desperate financial straits. Case took a big gamble on a deteriorating business, and shareholders overwhelmingly backed the sale. Case invested millions more to improve Grove Farm and its facilities. Now that those risks have yielded results, critics have come out of the woodwork. Guy Combs, the former director quoted as saying, "Grove Farm did not have to be sold," is the very person who once said that the only alternative to selling the company was bankruptcy, and who voted to sell it to a different buyer at a lower price.

Bloomberg's slanted presentation of this dispute based largely on documents and materials provided by the plaintiffs is unfair and misleading.

Warren H. Haruki
President and chief executive officer, Grove Farm

MASSIE CASE

MOCK TRIAL ENDS WITH 'NOT GUILTY' VERDICT

As the Honolulu attorney who coordinated the Aug. 3 mock trial of the Massie case at the American Bar Association convention, I was pleased that an overflow crowd of lawyers wanted to learn about this historic Hawai'i case.

The 1931 criminal trial, which hurt race relations in Hawai'i, happened 75 years ago. Thalia Massie, a Caucasian wife of a Navy officer, accused five local men of kidnapping and raping her after she left the Ala Wai Inn nightclub.

(Coincidentally, the Ala Wai Inn was located where the Hawai'i Convention Center stands today and which is where the ABA's mock trial was held.)

Because the 1931 trial ended with a deadlocked jury (and was never retried), we wanted to conduct the mock trial using as a resource the 1932 investigative report prepared by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. That report, which we obtained from the State Archives, was commissioned by the territorial government and completed by Pinkerton after the original trial was over.

We had two Mainland forensic experts review the Pinkerton report. The experts then testified at the mock trial about their findings and opinions.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a former judge, played the role of the presiding judge. Honolulu attorneys David Farmer and Howard Luke were the prosecutor and defense counsel, respectively.

Mainland and local lawyers in the audience served as the jury. They voted unanimously that the accused men were "not guilty."

Marvin S.C. Dang
Honolulu