Letters to the Editor
LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON SCHOOL REPAIRS CRITICAL
I would like to commend The Advertiser for championing the issue of getting to the bottom of the school repair and maintenance debacle. While the debate has served to reinforce that there is over half a billion dollars already allocated, the recent political rancor has been unnecessary.
The public is not interested in whether the DOE or the Lingle administration is technically correct on this issue. We need to stop with the politics and just get the schools fixed.
Once again, I call for the legislative leadership to hold a specific hearing on an issue that our constituents have told us is the most important priority in the state. With so much money at stake and so many schools in dire need, we desperately have to find a better way to address this backlog.
It's time for the DOE and Lingle administration to come together to provide the answers. It's up to us as legislators to ask the necessary tough questions. The bottom line is that we have to stop arguing about who is right. We're all wrong if the schools don't get fixed.Bob Hogue
Senate minority floor leader
BETTER NOTICE NEEDED
It would be nice if there were more news of coming parades, instead of after they are gone and done with. I missed one because I didn't know about it until afterward. A parade is an event for everyone, and the streets are blocked. That should be news now, before the event. Not something buried in a calendar of events, which is hard to find.P. Romano
GET RID OF AKAKA BILL, SENATOR AT SAME TIME
Sen. Akaka suggests his controversial federal recognition bill won't pass if he is not re-elected. Sounds like a great reason to vote him out of office.
Personal commitments? Call me idealistic, but shouldn't a bill pass on its own merit? "I'll vote for your bill if you vote for mine." Is this the kind of politician we want in office?
Then there was his loose claim that "most Hawaiian groups support this bill." I was at Sovereignty Sunday two weeks ago, and every group I came across was against it. Hurricane Katrina provided divine intervention in halting the bill's passage last session. Let's get out the vote this time and kill it with democratic intervention.Lahilahi Verschuur
LET TAXES ACCUMULATE
Regarding the property tax increase that may be too much for low- and fixed-income households: Why not increase their taxes 10 percent or 15 percent now, with the rest to be paid by the seller when the home is sold. Let the taxes accumulate at this rate until the home is sold. Low- and fixed-income people would not be caused an undue hardship, and the City and County would eventually get all of its money.Mike Owens
WHY HAS ALA MOANA BECOME SO UNSAFE?
My wife and I are former residents of Honolulu and returned to live here permanently on Nov. 1. We have always loved Ala Moana Beach Park and enjoyed it many times when we previously lived here in the 1980s. What on earth has happened?
Have the police and all government agencies with any common sense abandoned the notion of keeping the park safe and family-friendly? The vagrants and drug dealers make the park completely unsafe to visit in the evening, and some of the remote areas of the park are not safe during the day.
Don't any of our elected and appointed leaders have the sense to do something to correct this deplorable situation?
I have been told by some of my local friends that the ACLU has handcuffed our local officials and prevented any reasonable enforcement. If that's true, the ACLU has become a useless and pathetic protector of civil liberties. Vagrants and drug dealers are keeping law-abiding citizens from their right to enjoy this beautiful park to its fullest potential.Don Jackson
GIVE US A BREAK ON PROPERTY TAXES
Everyone wants to structure property tax breaks for some specific group. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out a cut of rates is the best solution.
Anyone (young or old) who owns or rents gets hit. Problem is, homeowners have to figure out what to cut back on or sell to pay the taxes. Landlords just pass on the hikes to renters, and their final solution is homelessness.
Mayor and City Council, think about it and give us all a break.Henry Pundyke
EXEMPTION SYSTEM IS FLAWED, NEEDS FIXING
It happens every year that property values increase. The tax bills for the elderly and handicapped increase more than the bills for the young and healthy. Why? Because the exemption system is flawed.
To explain: My property value increased 28.7 percent. My exemptions did not change, so if the rate is the same as last year, my actual tax payment will increase 38 percent.
Why should I (86 and disabled) be hit with a 38 percent increase while a healthy 50-year-old would only have 28.7 percent increase?
You printed an excellent letter from Jon Hunter of Kane'ohe on Dec. 5; he suggested exemptions be based on percentages rather than fixed amounts. This makes sense and would correct the inequity that concerns me.
Now I ask the City Council to take the necessary action.Paul Engelbrecht
STOP THE RHETORIC AND FIX STATE GAS CAP LAW
What a hypocritical statement put out by the Democratic Party of Hawai'i. It is the Democrats who have continued to increase our cost of living in Hawai'i by instituting a gas cap and a bottle tax.
Sen. Ron Menor keeps on telling me the gas cap is working. I guess it is working by putting more tax revenue into the state coffers. I guess it is working because I am paying more for gas than ever before.
Stop the rhetoric, stop being hypocrites and start working for the taxpayers of Hawai'i.Sean K. Spencer
THE GIFT OF LITERACY IS MOST APPRECIATED
I would like to commend the Rotary Club of Honolulu for their support of the third-grade students in the public schools throughout the Islands. Today Mr. and Mrs. Roy King came into my classroom and presented each of my students with a brand-new dictionary. My children were thrilled!
The Rotary Club is going into every third-grade classroom in the state and giving each child a present: the gift of literacy.
Thank you to those caring individuals who made this project a reality and those members of the Rotary Club who are taking their money, time and energy to support public education.
Thank you especially to those goodwill ambassadors who are coming into our classrooms and making the presentations. You are very much appreciated.Rexann Dubiel
Third-grade teacher, Sunset Beach Elementary
LAWYERS CAN BE EXPENSIVE IN DIVORCE MEDIATION, TOO
Regarding the Jan. 29 letter written by Marsha E. Kitagawa, public affairs officer for the state Judiciary, defending the use of mediation during Family Court proceedings:
While mediation with the opposing party is used by the Family Court as an "alternative" to litigation, it should be made clear to the public that during divorce cases, the end agreements must be incorporated into the final decree by the judge, anyway.
This means that if you are already paying an attorney $180 to $250 an hour to represent you and he recommends mediation before the trial, you will pay an extra fee for the mediator as well. Beware: Two separate attorneys and a mediator can cost upward from $750 an hour.
Remember, this mediation process doesn't mean that you won't end up in a trial. Even if you don't, you must return to the Family Court for a hearing to confirm the mediation resolutions anyway, especially if custody issues are involved.
Using the methods of the state Family Court cost our family our marital house, all of our assets and life savings and more than $200,000 in litigation/mediation fees, and took about three years to complete. We filled nine file boxes of court documents, which included extensive paperwork.
My recommendation to your divorcing readers would be to skip the Family Court arena altogether and go straight to a trial judge. Judges are smart and make their decisions in a timely, fair manner. File everything pro se for yourselves, and forget the mediators or attorneys.
Save the money to send your own children to college and to enjoy your own retirement. Don't lose everything as I did.
PAY, COMMUNICATION ISSUES
HPD FACES STAFFING CHALLENGE
We appreciate the editorial board's insight and understanding of the challenges facing the Honolulu Police Department.
As pointed out in your Feb. 2 editorial, there is an overwhelming need for adequate compensation for our officers.
Our officers provide a vital service to our community and put their lives on the line every day. They should not be forced to work second and third jobs to support their families.
Recently, recruiters from the San Jose Police Department came to Honolulu to entice our officers away to the Mainland. The carrot dangled in front of them included a starting annual pay of $70,000 (compared to our $37,000) and an attractive benefits package.
As more police departments across our nation continue to experience shortages in personnel, they too will be knocking at our door.
How are we going to make it possible for our well-trained, dedicated officers to stay home? It's time to step up to the plate and provide adequate compensation to our police family.
We spend in excess of $80,000 per recruit to train and prepare them to serve our community. Last year we trained more than 170 officers.
According to standards set by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), we are among the best major police departments in the United States. We cannot afford to have our officers stolen away from us.
Communication between management and the rank and file is a challenge for any large agency. The Honolulu Police Department has a work force close to 3,000 people.
The appointment of Assistant Chief Donna Andersen has been a positive step forward in our effort to improve this relationship. She has already coordinated individual monthly meetings between commanders and the line officers in addition to the existing monthly group meetings.
She has an open door policy with the three unions that represent our employees, and has instituted quarterly meetings between HPD management and labor.
Over the past few years, the HPD and other Mainland police departments have been dealing with an ongoing class lawsuit involving federal workplace regulations. Legal considerations prohibit us from providing specifics on these cases until the courts give us permission.
As pointed out in your editorial, many changes in procedures and policies reflect the responsibility of the Honolulu Police Department to adhere to these restrictions.
We are confident that open communications with the community and within the department, plus an unwavering dedication to serving this community, will produce a stronger, more responsive department.
Police Chief, Honolulu Police Department