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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Letters to the Editor

TRANSIT

DON'T ADD CONCRETE, LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVES

Finally, a voice of common sense in the ongoing traffic debate. The author of "The root of traffic woes missing in the debate" (Island Voices, Dec. 18) has outlined many excellent suggestions for alleviating O'ahu's traffic problems. Might I suggest some more.

Staggered working hours for government agencies, including schools and businesses, would spread traffic throughout the day. I have yet to see any analysis of this. Also, bike and walkways should be created and improved so that people can safely travel on foot. For example, children should be able to safely walk or bike to their neighborhood school without having to be dropped off at the door. An added bonus to this would be that our children would have daily exercise, which is currently missing in many children's lives.

I'm sure there are many other ways to deal with the problem, and an alternative to fixed guide-ways can be found. This is an island state, and we cannot continue to add concrete and cars. Our quality of life is at stake here.

Elizabeth Johnson
Kaunakakai, Moloka'i

WE'RE TOO ADDICTED TO OUR CARS TO USE RAIL

There are so many opinions about rail, but here is a new twist on why it should not be the first option: Americans are so attached to their cars that it is impossible to make them give them up as the primary mode of transportation.

I have traveled fairly extensively, particularly to foreign countries where trains, buses and subways are integral parts of everyday life. What's different? Most of the people have grown up for generations with mass transit as a part of everyday life.

They also do one key thing that Americans don't walk. We are lazy, lazy, lazy. Not only do we use our cars to drive two blocks to the store, but we want that custom handicap stall when we get there.

Can you imagine what rail will offer with no serious park-and-ride lots? People having to catch a bus or even walk to get to the station? It will never happen, and that is why rail should never be the first option in almost any American city.

Sadly, it's all about the car, so if the City Council really wants to address the problem, it first needs to recognize what that problem is. Otherwise, it will be strapping us with the biggest white elephant in history.

Tavis K. Heflin
Kane'ohe

RAIL PROJECT WILL DRIVE RESIDENTS TO POORHOUSE

The Dec. 16 front page of The Advertiser is a wake-up call for Honolulu. The transit route selection by the City Council dramatically shifted the perspective of 'Ewa Beach Rep. Kymberly Pine, who complained: "Each person in 'Ewa Beach is going to pay $6,000 in taxes for a transit system that isn't going to help us." But why limit the complaint to the people of 'Ewa Beach?

Each person on O'ahu will be burdened by this $6,000 tax, while 95 percent of them will never use the rail. In fact, a table on rail cities in America (www.hono lulutraffic.com) shows the per-person cost to be $6,531 for Hono-lulu's rail project. This is the highest in the nation by far.

Another front-page article, on rising property taxes on O'ahu, clues us where that $6,531 per person tax will come from. The one-half percentage point increase in the general excise tax is far short of what's needed for this transit project. The city has no other viable source for that extra money other than from real property taxes.

Hold onto your wallets, Honolulu, we're in for a heck of a ride ... right to the poorhouse, if we don't stop this rail transit project now.

Randy Leong
Honolulu

MIDEAST

WAR IS LOST IN IRAQ, BRING U.S. TROOPS HOME

The debate about what to do next in Iraq is misguided. The assumption is that we have only two choices: a gradual, face-saving withdrawal that leaves behind a pro-U.S. government; or, staying the course or intensifying the war because victory is possible.

Iraqi opinion polls show that more than 70 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. military occupation to end, the sooner the better. The last congressional election showed the huge disenchantment of Americans with the war and our desire to see it end. George W. Bush and his minions, however, are stalling and the Democrats seem reluctant to push them to end this disastrous occupation and begin the pullout of troops.

It is no longer possible for the U.S. to win anything there, except to cause more death and destruction. The war is lost and has been for a long time. The real choice is between intensifying and regionalizing the war (the probable Bush option) or leaving Iraq immediately. Both policies lead to or acknowledge defeat for the United States.

Intensification of the war could result in hundreds of thousands more dead (650,000 Iraqis and nearly 3,000 Americans have already been killed) and long-term destabilization of the region ... as it did in Vietnam, before the inevitable and eventual U.S. defeat there.

Reality is catching up with the U.S. Our troops will soon be confined to a holding operation in Baghdad, protecting the U.S. Embassy and the failing Iraqi government in the Green Zone from governmental downfall and the debacle of an involuntary, rushed U.S. departure.

We need to bring home our troops now, for their sake and to minimize the dying and huge waste of resources. We need to prosecute those who got us into that war and those corporations that grossly profiteered from it.

John Witeck
Nu'uanu

HAWAIIAN

STOP LABELING PEOPLE BASED ON SKIN COLOR

John Kama'i's letter (Dec. 16) was rather disheartening. Mr. Kama'i believes that "a lot of Americans want the Hawaiians to disappear and become just ordinary Americans like them."

This is not true. Where is Mr. Kama'i's evidence?

No matter what color, shape or form a person is, we are all one thing: people. Regardless of race, age or other factors, we should stop labeling ourselves and others based upon skin color or other means.

If Mr. Kama'i doesn't think that other people have concerns very much like his own, then he is very wrong.

When you are a person, regardless of skin color or racial heritage, you are a person for life.

Jude Waterman
Honolulu

SYMPHONY

MUSICIANS ALSO DESERVE PERMANENT MAESTRO

Robert Sandla has a great idea (Letters, Dec. 18), to build a new world-class concert hall for the Honolulu Symphony. Who knows, in the years it takes to achieve that, the symphony might even be able to find a permanent maestro.

Take a look at the 2006-2007 season. Just about every classical concert has a new conductor. There is only one conductor that the classical series will have twice in the entire season. Yes, we do have world-class musicians, but they're not helped by never having the same conductor two concerts in a row.

Then, out of some misguided notion of generating new concertgoers, the symphony dumped on many of its regular season-ticket holders, kicking us out of the balcony by jacking up the prices and leaving us some seats off to the side downstairs.

Those two factors alone caused me and my wife to drop out of the regular audience this year.

Then we are told we wouldn't have been able to keep whatever seats we did order because the orchestra is losing Blaisdell for a while.

Now I can only hope I live long enough to enjoy the symphony in a permanent home with a permanent world-class conductor.

Russ Lynch
Kailua

HOUSING CRUNCH

VOTERS, LINGLE AT FAULT IN HOMELESS CRISIS

Well, well, the chickens have finally come home to roost on the doorstep of Gov. Linda Lingle. While she was making speeches about what she would do to fix the homeless crisis, her administration was balancing the state budget on the backs of the very people she promised to help.

I've seen public housing units stand empty for weeks, months or years while homeless people who are legally qualified are told lies that no public housing is available and are forced to live on the street like stray dogs.

The reason for this incompetence and neglect is simple: When housing bureaucrats do nothing and get no flak from the highest state office, they feel safe to continue doing nothing without risking their jobs.

Come to think of it, this isn't the fault of the governor or the bureaucrats she appointed to handle the housing situation. The fault lies with the voters of Hawai'i who elected her twice, knowing what her priorities ultimately were (helping the rich at the expense of the poor, like her buddy George Bush).

Congratulations, Island voters. I hope you're proud of yourselves.

William Starr Moake
Punchbowl

PROPERTY TAXES

CITY SHOULD PUT CAP ON ASSESSMENT INCREASES

I was stunned when I opened up my 2007 real property tax assessment. My Waipahu condo value went up $42,000. That exceeds the $40,000 increased tax exemption, which means I have to pay more taxes.

The city government is supposed to give homeowners a tax break on real property tax by increasing the exemption. However, the increased exemptions alone are not offsetting the higher property value in many cases. The city government must come up with a real tax break. My suggestion is to put a cap on the property value increase.

Tony Leung
Waipahu

HAWAI'I HOMEOWNERS NEED A PROPOSITION 13

My blood began to slowly boil as the TV newscaster announced that property taxes will go up again this year by an average of about 11 percent. This increase follows last year's increase of some 20 percent. The increase is being blamed on how property value is assessed.

However, city officials are acting irresponsibly in not preventing such large tax increases. I say we need a California-style Proposition 13 to keep our city government in check.

Proposition 13 has not necessarily been good for California, and has been blamed for damaging public services, such as schools, firefighters, etc.

However, citizens have little choice but to fight back. Over 35 percent in increases in two years ... and who knows how much more next year?

Retirees on fixed income suffer the most, and some are priced out of their homes. To be priced out of your home after years paying off your mortgage is criminal. I say we need a bill like Proposition 13 to protect ourselves from our government.

Whitlow Au
Kailua

HOMEOWNER FORTUNATE TO HAVE A HOUSE HERE

James L. Jones' letter, "Portlock valuation increased 20 percent" (Dec. 19) complains of his property assessment rising $300,700. There is something extremely annoying when rich people complain about being rich.

Mr. Jones, you need to be thankful of the fact that you are so very, very fortunate to own any property here ... especially in Portlock. Perhaps you should read The Advertiser story, "Steepest rents in U.S." (Dec. 18), and maybe even take a walk past the homeless shelter in Kaka'ako.

Michael Lauck
Pauoa