Letters to the Editor
HONOLULU SYMPHONY SHOULD BE SUPPORTED
I applaud Michael Tsai's effort to highlight and publicize the recent positive changes at the Honolulu Symphony in his Jan. 24 article.
The orchestra and its musicians are a cornerstone of the arts community in Hawai'i and should be widely supported by the city, the state and the community at large.
The symphony and the community have been significantly enriched by the vision, energy and financial support of many generous individuals, including Carolyn Berry, who have come to the aid of the organization in time of need.
Now we must pull together to build a vibrant cultural life for our families and young people.Cecilia Blackfield
TIME IS OF ESSENCE: SOLDIERS MUST TRAIN
Hopefully, U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway is looking beyond the legal confines of the Makua Valley case and realizes that there is more to this issue than just the Army's compliance with environmental laws.
Nothing in this case is more important than the lives of our soldiers, regardless of whether the Army is or is not at fault for failing to meet the environmental impact statement completion deadline.
For many of our soldiers, time is of the essence because of the scheduled deployment of a brigade combat team from the 25th Infantry Division. And the training of these soldiers should not be impeded because of the supposed failing of the Army to meet an agreement deadline.
We would do our soldiers a serious injustice if we force them to train off-island. We would not only curtail the limited training time they have available (equipment would have to be prepared for shipment, taken to port, loaded, shipped, off-loaded, unpacked, transported, etc.), but we would also impose an additional separation for those with families on O'ahu. Isn't a one-year separation in Iraq enough? And what about the added and unnecessary cost involved in moving men and equipment to another training site?
There is no denying the importance of Makua Valley to our Hawaiian heritage and the need for its preservation. However, no archaeological or cultural site, no artifact, petroglyph or endangered species is more sacred than human life.
For the sake of our soldiers, Malama Makua and Earthjustice should reconsider their opposition to continued training at this facility.Lawrence A. Woode Jr.
ED CASE SHOULD HAVE EXTENDED COURTESIES
U.S. Rep. Ed Case should display, if not embrace, the very fundamental trait of extending courtesies when required.
As a member of the Democratic Party, and especially being a politician, how can he not know that as a matter of courtesy, he should have discussed his contemplated plans with U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka months, rather than "less than 5 hours," prior to making the very public display of his shortcoming?
Rep. Case should offer a public apology to Sen. Akaka and reconsider his decision, or run as an Independent.David Kanehisa
BICYCLISTS ARE TREATED UNFAIRLY IN WAIKIKI
Much has been said in the press lately about pedestrian accidents and deaths, but no one has reported on the many challenges for bicyclists. Fact: There are not enough bicycle lanes on our roadways or designated bicycle routes for Honolulu.
Recently, I noticed two marked police cars and two officers writing tickets for bicyclists who rode on the sidewalk (going toward Diamond Head) on the Ala Wai. The reason for riding on the sidewalk is that you are taking your life in your hands if you ride on Kuhio or Kalakaua in Waikiki.
In the last two weeks, city and private buses have deliberately cut me off more than a dozen times on Kuhio.
I would venture to say that the HPD hasn't checked out or simply doesn't care about writing tickets for the negligent bus drivers — oh, that would put them behind schedule on their route!
It would be interesting to know how frequently and how many bus drivers are even cited in Waikiki.
Give us more bike lanes, or at least enforce the law fairly; don't just ticket bicyclists for riding on the sidewalk when all they are doing is trying to avoid being run over.Linda Jackson
FREEZE LAST YEAR'S DOLLAR AMOUNT DUE
Over the last two years, property tax revenues have increased 50 percent to 60 percent. This is in spite of the prior political campaign rhetoric and accusations that the prior administration was fiscally irresponsible and promises by the current mayor and City Council to be fiscally responsible. Government will always spend all the money it can tax out of its citizens and often spends even more.
There is no excuse or valid reason to overtax the citizens, to rip us off because of political rambling and finger-pointing. We need an immediate freeze to last year's dollar amount of property tax due.
The citizens have no opportunity to appeal their excessive tax burden due to the real estate boom and bubble. The only appropriate thing to do is to immediately roll back our tax burden to the 26 percent increase paid last year instead of doubling the tax escalation again.
The city needs to immediately freeze any and all tax increases, especially as we are approaching an additional escalation in the excise tax.Myron Berney
FAIR TO ALL
JUST LOWER TAX RATE
The City Council could simply lower the tax rate instead of engaging in social engineering that would complicate and add cost to the system.
The bills being considered would require more red tape and gatekeeping. If government is getting more money than it needs, lowering the tax rate would be fair to everyone.Rolf Nordahl
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN ISLES MUST BE ADDRESSED
Amid the debate relative to the expenditure of the massive state budget surplus, funding emergency preparedness must be a priority, too. Five months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, the visual impact of this disaster has faded from the television screens, and complacency could easily overpower the need to invest in preparation.
Since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, we've had close calls in Hawai'i with Hurricanes Jova and Kenneth. We've been spared thus far from a major disaster. However, hurricane season begins in June, but readiness requires years of planning and development so that we're not vulnerable to the weakest link in our emergency preparedness system.
Katrina has taught the nation about the need for continuing investments in preparation for a major disaster. We must develop strategies and plans to safeguard our community. Every new facility project undertaken today must be able to withstand hurricane winds. Every parking structure should be considered a potential shelter for people and even their pets.
For hospitals, we must assure 24/7 operation for all services, not just the most critical. Seven acute-care hospitals in the New Orleans area are still closed; this could be Honolulu, if we're not prepared.
As the state's only trauma center, The Queen's Medical Center's capabilities alone are not sufficient for a major disaster. Nevertheless, we are undertaking initiatives to be prepared. We are reassessing our entire electrical infrastructure and emergency backup system, having already committed $10.5 million toward this, with potentially another $25 million being planned to enable full operations in an emergency.
Hawai'i's long distance from the Mainland demands a higher level of preparedness than any other state. The safety and well-being of Hawai'i's people requires a long-term commitment and partnership between the governmental and private sectors.
President and chief executive officer, Queen’s Medical Center and Queen’s Health Systems