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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 21, 2006

Letters to the Editor

DRUG TESTING

MANY SUBSTANCES MORE HARMFUL THAN CANNABIS

One cannot argue for drug-testing teachers unless you define "drugs." Drugs are different, and legality usually has more to do with politics than danger.

Ice, for example, is very dangerous and therefore illegal. Tobacco, however, is legal, yet heavily addictive and lethal. Legal prescription drugs are also too often lethal and addictive. Cannabis is illegal, yet I still have not heard anyone clearly explain exactly how responsible use of cannabis is dangerous, especially when you remove the "smoking" element.

Some people are very quick to apply ice solutions to cannabis problems, yet when we do this we send out incorrect information to our youth and lose credibility when dealing with the truly dangerous substances, like ice.

When you say we must test for drugs, then, I hope you include alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs and caffeine, because these are all equally, if not more, dangerous than cannabis.

Jason Ventura
Waimea, Hawai'i

TEACHERS ARE LEAST TO BLAME FOR PROBLEM

Those seeking mandatory drug testing of public school teachers seek to address an insignificant part of the student drug problem.

Parents control peer contact and have direct influence. Research shows that many students using drugs actually get those drugs from family members. Any parent or guardian with a child attending public school should be subject to the same mandatory drug testing as teachers.

Research also shows that when it comes to teenage substance abuse, the most dominant factor after parental influence is peer pressure. Students (and teachers) deserve protection from students using drugs. If drug-testing truly hopes to protect students from drugs, then mandatory drug testing of all students attending public school over the age of 12 is required.

A final observation: A school is a microcosm of the community it serves. So long as the community tolerates drug use, no school-based program can be successful. Mandatory drug-testing of everyone in the community over the age of 12, both resident and non-resident, could virtually eliminate illegal drug usage.

Indeed, it is the only drug-testing program that could. Of the four groups discussed (teachers, students, parents and community), teachers are least to blame for the drug problem.

Russell Robison
Mililani

TRAFFIC

HPD SPEEDING PATROLS TARGET WRONG PEOPLE

I finally read someone (Ken Chang's letter, Dec. 16) who understands what speeding tickets can and cannot do. What do 3,700 tickets in three weeks mean? Only one thing: more revenue for the state.

As mentioned by Chang, police are handing speeding tickets out like candy, but predominately to the wrong people. For instance, I saw cops on the H-1 near the 6th Avenue off-ramp the other day stopping cars during the afternoon rush hour. Speeding? Heck if you can do 55 after doing 15 all the way through the standard Punahou Street exit muck you deserve every mph of it.

HPD is not getting racers they are indiscriminately targeting you, me and your neighbor. The only thing that comes out if it is the hassle of dealing with it and more cash in state coffers.

If you really want to catch the racers, get patrols out there late at night when traffic is lighter.

The hot topic of the day is rail because of all the congestion, yet we need a new speeding detail because people are driving too fast? You can't have it both ways.

So focus on the bad and reckless drivers and leave the rest of us alone. Most people don't even get the chance to reach 60 mph on the free... excuse me, clogways.

Alan Luke
Kaimuki

RAIL

'EWA PLAIN EXCLUSION CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED

I live in Kailua, and rapid transit represents a large public work that I will help pay for that won't directly help my traffic woes.

There are a number of areas for which this is true. The exclusion of the 'Ewa Plain by the City Council is unforgivable. The paper should publish the names on the committee so that they can be held accountable. There is an underlying belief that rail transit is being pushed by politicians who bought land in Kapolei and not by a desire to reduce traffic.

The sudden change in the route supports this. If you are going to bill me for rail transit, please make it as useful as possible. Also, this is the perfect chance for Mufi Hannemann to show why 'Ewa should vote for him next election.

Bill Tong
Kailua

AIRPORT-WAIKIKI ROUTE IS NEEDED, AFFORDABLE

Let's do mass transit right. Let's start with a train from the airport to Waikiki. We know there will be riders, both ways. Visitors fly in and out of Honolulu every day. The alternatives bus, taxi or shuttle offer a less-than-optimal introduction to a Waikiki vacation. An elevated train ride would be an attraction. It could have stops in town along the way.

'Ewa commuters jam up near the airport. Many would opt to park at the airport and ride the rest of the way in. After operating that for awhile, the route could be extended.

Looking at a map, the best route to Kapolei would be across the mouth of Pearl Harbor, instead of up and around the naval base. It is much shorter and faster, making the second city right next to Honolulu.

Logical extensions to the University and other parts of the island could be built as the need (and interest) arises.

This would give city planners the opportunity to see what kind of parking and other infrastructure is needed at the stations. We could also experience what maintenance needs to be done.

Airport-to-Waikiki is needed, affordable, and maintainable meeting the three criteria the mayor promised in considering city projects.

Rolf Nordahl
Kaimuki

DEPLETED URANIUM

SOIL TESTING CRITICAL IN STRYKER MANEUVERING

An Advertiser story on Dec. 16 mentions cultural opposition to the Strykers' 105mm cannon, which fires depleted uranium against armored targets. The opposition is more than cultural. It is biological, medical and historical.

The Army claimed it never used depleted uranium in Hawai'i until January. When a contractor discovered depleted uranium at Schofield, the Army never informed the public.

Since it has now been proven that they used depleted uranium here, it is imperative that the public find out the full extent of radioactive contamination from previously fired depleted uranium on all the live-fire ranges. The problems with depleted uranium in Vieques led to the closure of that live-fire range after many in the community became sick from illegally fired depleted uranium smoke, an insoluble ceramic aerosol composed of trillions of small particles.

In Iraq, the depleted uranium poison dust contaminates the entire country and surrounding region; it can never be cleaned up, and every helicopter and sandstorm puts the uranium dioxide particles back into atmospheric suspension. Allowing the Stryker brigade to maneuver here is a bad idea without knowing if there is radiologic contamination of our topsoil in the training areas already. The Strykers are so heavy and destructive that they will pulverize the topsoil and turn it to dust. Just what will be in that dust as it blows down on our resorts and homes? We urgently need a comprehensive radionuclide testing of our training range topsoil at every live-fire site in Hawai'i before anyone gives the green light to the Stryker brigade.

Doug Fox
Honaunau, Hawai'i

ACCOUNTABILITY

CITY'S NEW BOND RATING WILL MEAN REAL SAVINGS

On Dec. 6, the City and County of Honolulu announced that the rating agency Standard and Poor's improved the city's latest bond rating from AA- to AA. The news drew little attention from the media, and many people may wonder "What's the big deal?"

Mayor Mufi Hannemann has said all along that one of his priorities is restoring financial accountability to the city. When he met with bond raters early last year, he asked them what needed to be done to improve our bond rating, and he made it clear that it was going to be our goal to upgrade our rating.

The removal of the minus sign from the rating means that investors in future bond issuances will view Honolulu's bonds as being "less risky" relative to other municipal bonds with lower ratings. When a municipality such as Honolulu improves its bond rating, the city benefits by being able to borrow at a lower rate. The municipal bond market is very crowded with other offerors and the advantage gained with the rating upgrade will translate into savings over the near and long term.

According to bond experts, the removal of the minus would have saved Honolulu more than $2.2 million in lower interest and insurance costs in its last two major bond sales, which totaled more than $730 million. The rating upgrade also puts Honolulu in the unusual position where its credit rating is better than the state of Hawai'i's bond rating.

Under the Hannemann administration, the city doubled its "rainy day" fund and will continue to add to it in anticipation of the inevitable slowdown in the economy. The mayor also instituted monthly meetings with all city agencies to exercise tighter control over all spending and cancelled $60 million in unnecessary capital contracts. The proposed development of a rail-transit system would spur economic growth for at least 15 years. These are all factors cited by Standard and Poor's in announcing the upgrade in our rating.

Mary Pat Waterhouse
Director, Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, City and County of Honolulu