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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 3, 2006

Letters to the Editor

POLICE OFFICERS

CHIEF CORREA MAKING LIFE A LOT MORE DIFFICULT

On a salary of $37,000 a year, the only way a police officer could make ends meet is to work more than one job. Now that Chief Boisse Correa has decided to switch the officers' workdays from three 12-hour shifts to five eight-hour shifts, making ends meet will prove next to impossible.

Wasn't it only a month ago that Chief Correa learned of how dissatisfied the police officers were with his leadership? Is this truly a change to "expose patrol officers to their commanders and the community more regularly," or is it a move purely out of spite?

The chief's change to police officers' schedules will have detrimental effects on their families and their ways of life. I can say that because my family will be one of them.

Congratulations, Mr. Correa, your level of respect just went from barely there to nonexistent.

Melissa Clayson
Honolulu

HIGH SCHOOL

RESIDENTS OPPOSE WALDORF EXPANSION

The Jan. 30 article "School hopes to expand" gives the impression there is little opposition to plans of the Honolulu Waldorf School to build a high school in Niu Valley. A great number of residents strongly oppose having the high school in their neighborhood.

The school recently hired a community relations director whose job apparently is to put the right spin on a very bad situation. His statements in the article need clarification.

He said the school had put in some of the recommendations of a traffic study and "it's been a big help with the flow of traffic." The reality is that more congestion builds up during the morning rush hour. An especially bad area is the stop sign at a certain intersection where vehicles are backed up because of the new traffic flow. Even some parents of the school recognize this and make illegal U-turns after dropping off their children to avoid that intersection.

He said the school has not heard any complaints about the high school since the beginning of the school year. The truth is that residents did not complain because they had written to the school asking it to drop any plans for a high school and were awaiting an answer to their letter.

Another quote: "We also have made an effort to contact the neighborhood when we have an event." Two Sundays ago, several hundred attended an event at the school, and a quiet Sunday was shattered with ear-splitting noises of an hour-long Chinese lion dance complete with drums, gongs and cymbals. The streets were filled with cars, and a PA system blared throughout the program. Nobody from the school contacted us about that event.

Most of the residents oppose the high school because a bad situation will only be made worse if a high school is added to this neighborhood.

Henry Lau
Niu Valley

GAS PRICES

RAIL PROJECT CRITICAL TO EASING TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK

As the price of gasoline goes higher and higher and I find myself spending more time stuck in traffic, the solution becomes crystal clear: We need a transit system, not more cars.

And I don't mind paying the half percentage-point general excise tax increase to fund a rail project because it will improve my quality of life.

Thanks to the mayor and the City Council for moving this forward so we can have an alternative to traffic gridlock.

Debra Pang
Honolulu

ISOLATION

STATE NEEDS RAINY-DAY FUND FOR BIRD FLU THREAT

For the first time in years, we are informed of a positive financial status of our state's economy. We read how and where our monies can be spent after years of restraints and restrictions.

We once had a rainy-day fund after Gov. Ariyoshi's term ended. The monies were spent, and shortfalls began in the mid-1990s.

Everyone has his priorities; however, we cannot forget the experiences we had globally with SARS. Bird flu will have a major global impact. Isolation and quarantine are scary terms for a state dependent on a tourist economy.

Please keep a rainy-day fund available until the bird flu vaccines are available and administered globally.

Harold T. Matsuura
Hilo

HOUSE SEAT

LET THE GAMES BEGIN ON SUCCESSOR TO CASE

I have to admit, I was almost giddy reading about Ed Case vacating his seat to run against Daniel Akaka. I personally prefer that Akaka represent Hawai'i, at least for one more term, but the scrambling that has already begun to fill Case's seat is going to be so entertaining, I'm not sure I can stand it.

Forget about finding a Democrat to run against Lingle. That's a lost cause, but now all those hopeful Democrats can race to register for the vacancy that will be caused by Case's bold move.

I don't know if he has a chance of winning, but I have to give Case credit for stepping outside of the Democratic paradigm. The Democrats need a bit of shaking up, and the hilarious thing is that it is being done within their own ranks. Reality really is much more entertaining than fiction! I love it! Let the games begin.

Susan Ramie
'Ewa Beach

TRAFFIC TICKETS

COUNTIES SHOULD GET ALL FINES, FORFEITURES

Legislators missed a good chance to bring an old issue to a head. They should have included giving counties all fines and forfeitures from uncontested traffic infractions (House Bill 1954).

The counties should have received fine money all along since the counties pay police wages. Or maybe the state should pay the police officers.

John P. Gallagher
'Ewa Beach

CHARACTER

DAVE LYMAN'S SOUL IS PART OF OUR HEARTS

Every image of Dave Lyman brings a smile. His sense of humor held nothing sacred, and most of those stories can't be shared in public. Dave Lyman was a "waterfront character" and so much more. Numerous organizations benefited from his personal generosity and fundraising ability. He recently began planning a fundraiser for the Wai'anae Maritime Academy.

It was my honor to serve with Capt. Lyman on the Hawai'i Maritime Cabotage Task Force. Dave was an ardent and unabashed supporter of the U.S. merchant marine. He understood the importance of and advocated for the Jones Act. And this passion, knowledge and advocacy was only a sliver of his life's work, but it positively impacted so very many us.

Capt. Dave Lyman will be sorely missed. His access to many as a repository of knowledge and history is irreplaceable. His ability to conduct serious business with humor was unique.

Our love and sorrow extend to his family. But Dave Lyman's soul is part of our hearts always. I expect to see his spirit at all of his usual haunts.

Neil Dietz
Honolulu

MILITARY

UARC INAPPROPRIATE AT UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI'I

In their Jan. 29 commentary defending a university-affiliated research center at the University of Manoa, Lisa Gibson and Mike Fitzgerald asserted that military-funded research does not necessarily mean military research. Why would the military fund any research that is irrelevant to its interests?

Gibson and Fitzgerald are correct in observing that military research has been conducted at UH for decades. However, past and present military research should have been fully investigated and disclosed before even beginning to consider UARC.

What do they think a university is all about? As someone who has devoted a quarter of a century to teaching and research at UH, my answer is that a university is ultimately about open, informed and critical inquiry to promote human welfare. UARC is just the opposite.

The foremost responsibility of the Board of Regents is to promote the university, not the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans about decades ago.

There are numerous ways to conduct research and obtain funding at UH without the military. There are many places where military research can be done without UH. We do not need to descend any further down the slippery slope of the militarization of the minds at UH.

Les Sponsel
Honolulu

BEACH AREAS

VACATION RENTALS HURT AFFORDABLE HOUSING

We had a record 7.46 million guests to Hawai'i in 2005. I am so glad that we were able to accommodate so many visitors to the Islands.

However, while visiting a friend on the North Shore, I was told about the increase in evictions in his surrounding neighborhood and the transformation of once affordable housing into weekly vacation rentals.

As we looked out his balcony, he counted off five residences across the street that are being used as vacation rentals on a weekly basis. This is happening throughout most of our island communities that offer some access to the beach.

While DBEDT may tout the high revenues of tourism and the large new tourist numbers, I believe that there is a connection between the high visitor count and our local lack of affordable rental housing.

Juliet Begley
Honolulu

LEGISLATION

AKAKA IS STRETCHING IT

Why is it that Sen. Akaka thinks the federal recognition bill, aka the Akaka bill, is so shaky in its support that its passage depends solely upon his personal connections not its merits to gain Senate approval? Sounds like a last grasp at straws to me.

Anthony Dalton
Long Beach, Calif.

TRANSPARENCY

LOBBYING LAW OVERHAUL ESSENTIAL

The charges to which lobbyist John Abramoff has pleaded guilty fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe members of Congress should make us all take a closer look at how lobbying works here in Hawai'i.

As a legislator and someone active in developing public policy, I know that I am never too far from a lobbyist. My mother, wife, daughter and friends who tell me where they stand on important issues no doubt hope to shape my viewpoint and ultimate vote. The paid lobbyists who represent various special-interest organizations are also trying to do the same. This is simply the way the process works.

The research, multiple perspectives and access to grass-roots organizations and the general citizens of Hawai'i that lobbyists provide help me to be a better legislator. The hard work of all who are engaged in issue advocacy helps ensure that legislators are better informed and better positioned to vote wisely on important issues of the day.

As I enter my eighth year in elective office, I know firsthand how hard the vast majority of lobbyists work and the very real contribution they make to the eventual passage or defeat of proposed legislation. However, it is clear that somewhere between the zeal to do what is right and the temptation to profit from it, things sometimes go horribly wrong and people in government as well as those who seek to influence them make some very poor choices.

The consequences of those choices contribute significantly to the continued deterioration of the people's faith and confidence in their own government and thus weaken the very core of our most cherished democratic institution. The current Abramoff scandal on Capitol Hill says it all.

To prevent this from occurring here in Hawai'i, prudence would dictate that we take a close look at existing statutes and make amendments where needed in order to more aggressively support the spirit and intent of the law currently governing our local lobbying activities. This is why Maui Sen. Shan Tsutsui and I are introducing a bill this session aimed at tightening the rules governing the lobbying of public officials.

Our hope and intent are to more clearly spell out what the spirit of the existing law is designed to address and to close existing loopholes that are open to abuse. The proposed initiative will provide for much greater transparency of the interactions between lobbyists and legislators.

Our bill will also require lobbyists to report gifts or spending on family members of public officials; report direct business associations with public officials; disclose campaign contributions and disclose their positions on bills they are lobbying for or against on their lobbying reports.

In addition, the proposed legislation would require the oversight agency, the state Ethics Commission, to provide lobbyists and their clients with online registration and report filing. This would allow the public much easier access to this important information.

Too onerous? I don't think so. Certainly, it would be less onerous and less painful than to see a John Abramoff-type scandal play itself out in Hawai'i.

Sen. Gary Hooser
D-7th (Kaua'i, Ni'ihau)