Letters to the Editor
DEMS CAN DO BETTER
RANDY IWASE OFFERS LEGACY OF BAD DECISIONS
In 1987, City Councilman Randy Iwase voted for luxury housing development near Sandy Beach. Voters rejected Iwase's vision by 2-to-1 in the Sandy Beach Initiative, voting instead to preserve coastal open space.
In 1994, Sen. Iwase unsuccessfully pushed for a measure opponents said would have destroyed wildlife habitat in Ke'ehi Lagoon.
In 1997, Iwase introduced Senate Bill 8, a bill to strip Hawaiians of their traditional gathering rights. Thousands of Hawaiians showed up at the state Capitol to protest the senator's attempt to overturn the Supreme Court's PASH decision. Iwase was forced to back down.
In 1998, Sen. Iwase proposed opening the floodgates to development on more than 700,000 acres of open space. Thankfully, his effort failed — again.
Randy Iwase's failed legacy is best left to the trash bin of the last century. Democrats can do much better.David Kimo Frankel
STATE SHOULD PROBE WELFARE FRAUD CASES
The case of two women who bilked the Department of Human Services out of a small fortune in welfare benefits calls for an investigation by the Legislature.
The Big Island woman repaid $292,000 for using a false identity for 22 years. The O'ahu woman collected $342,000 in nine years: That's more than the average wage-earner makes.
How could these two women swindle such huge amounts of welfare benefits when many legitimate needy people can't get any help at all? The case workers involved were obviously not doing their jobs for many years.
DHS gave away a total of $634,000 in public funds allocated to fight poverty in Hawai'i. That money should have helped a dozen or more needy people who probably ended up living on the beach and Dumpster-diving for food.
How much more is DHS giving away to welfare cheats right now while poverty continues to grow and destitute people are turned away on the phony excuse that there is no funding available to help them?William Starr Moake
CAPITOL BUDGET FLAP WAS JUST PETTY POLITICS
I would like to clarify and set the record straight regarding a hypocritical quote made by Fred Hemmings Feb. 5 in The Honolulu Advertiser, blaming the Democrats and me for delaying the legislative budget resulting in late paychecks for Capitol workers.
The facts prove that there was no delay in hearing and reporting out the legislative budget bill. The amendment made to the bill in committee saved the taxpayers $340,000 and was voted for unanimously by the Republicans and Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee.
But it was Fred Hemmings and the Republicans who made a motion in committee to defer action on the budget. He argued and voted for the delay in hopes of stalling the budget vote. The Democrats on the committee voted against any delay.
Thus the bill went to the Senate floor as scheduled in time to be sent to the governor's office for her signature by Friday. But alas, the governor was not on O'ahu when it reached her desk around 1 p.m.
Double talk and contradictory statements by Fred Hemmings do not surprise me, since he does it all the time. What I find objectionable is his accusation that we delayed the budget when ironically every action he took on this matter would have resulted in a real delay. These actions clearly reek of petty politics.
He is quick to lay blame without taking any responsibility for his actions. If he were honest, he would admit that he wanted to delay the budget without any regard to whether Capitol workers got paid on time.Sen. Donna Mercado Kim
D-14th District (Halawa, Moanalua, Kamehameha Heights)
THE IRONY OF ILL HEALTH
So Hawai'i reportedly is getting $100 million from the federal government to cover 29,000 adults and children without health insurance (Advertiser front page, Feb. 4). No doubt some of this money will come from federal taxpayers here and elsewhere across the country who can't afford health insurance for themselves. How ironic — and unfair!Geoff Boehm
BUMPS COULD CUT DOWN ON FATALITIES
One solution to end speeding on rural roadways is to place speed bumps so many feet apart. Because speeding is popular on lone country roads, this idea would reduce the possibility of more traffic fatalities.
The same can be said for stop sign intersections notoriously known for vehicles running the stop signs and placing pedestrians in danger.
Speed bumps work and have proven themselves on several streets in Kailua, parking lots of malls and office buildings.Emerick LaMontagne
PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT EXPLANATION SHAMEFUL
The Corporation for Enterprise Development's 2006 Report Card for the states gave Hawai'i an F as a place to do business. It states that Isle residents are the most likely to work part time because of the limited availability of good-paying full-time jobs. How true!
For years, many companies have offered only part-time jobs because they do not have to provide healthcare, leaving the burden to the state. Of course the local pundits jumped on the bandwagon to dispute this report's findings. The most absurd was Bank of Hawaii chef economist Paul Brewbaker's comment, "They failed to consider the fact that Islanders have the opportunity to go swimming after work in the middle of February, and they define quality incorrectly; if you surf, you don't want to go to work at 8 in the morning; there's a lot of people that want to work part time."
Mr. Brewbaker, I suggest you get out of your ivory tower and find out what's going on in Hawai'i. The local people are struggling to make a living by holding down three or four part-time jobs with no health insurance for their families. Most of them do not surf or even go swimming. For you to suggest anything different is an insult to our citizens. Shame on you!Neda Baird
EARLY MORNING DRIVE DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS
I almost die every day. At least it feels that way. The stretch of Farrington Highway between Ko Olina and Kapolei going both east and west is treacherous during the early morning commute.
Getting on Farrington Highway westbound from the Ko Olina on-ramp at 6 a.m. is like jumping into a tank of man-eating sharks. There is little room to accelerate and merge. Traffic is coming at lightning speed around Kahe Point, and there are roadblocks along the side of the road that prohibit one from continuing until a merging opportunity arises. If the road is not clear, if somebody doesn't move over into the left lane or just slow down, then I have to simply stop; then it is even harder to get into the traffic.
After I drop my daughter off at school in Kapolei and head back toward Wai'anae, I face other problems. It's really dark and difficult to see the road. The streetlight next to the on-ramp from Kapolei is out. There are no streetlights between Kapolei and Honokai Hale. And there are no reflectors between the lanes. Add to that streetlights that are out on the westbound side of the highway right around the point, and I am nervous driving in the morning.
The solutions are obvious. Drivers need to slow down, the roadblocks at the Ko Olina on-ramp need to be removed and the streetlights need to be fixed.Lorraine Gershun
PIRACY, TERRORISM ARE DIFFERENT PHENOMENA
Regarding his Jan. 29 commentary, "U.S. moving against pirates on high seas": Richard Halloran repeats a common mistake — conflating piracy with terrorism. This mistake is significant because some countries purposefully conflate the two phenomena for ulterior purposes.
If piracy and terrorism are conceptually fused into a general threat, countries that zealously guard their sovereignty in the Malacca Strait may find it easier to accept an outside military presence in their territorial waters and to sell it to their publics.
Thus it is in the interest of certain maritime powers desiring access to such waters for anti-terrorism activities to conflate piracy and terrorism.
For similar reasons, they also exaggerate the possibility of the worst scenario, in which terrorists sink a large ship to block the economically vital Malacca and Singapore straits.
Terrorism is distinct from piracy in a straightforward manner. Piracy is a crime motivated by greed, and thus predicated on immediate financial gain.
Terrorism is motivated by political goals beyond the immediate act of attacking or hijacking a maritime target. The motivating factor for terrorists is usually political or religious ideology stemming from perceived injustices, both historical and contemporary.
Terrorists want to call attention to their cause and inflict as much harm and damage as possible. Pirates want to avoid attention and will inflict only as much harm as is necessary to accomplish their objectives.
However, both piracy and terrorism thrive in circumstances of poverty, political instability, permeable international boundaries and ineffective enforcement.
Thus, long-term efforts to reduce terrorism and piracy in Southeast Asia must address these fundamental problems rather than rely solely on military force.Mark J. Valencia
DRUG-SNIFFING DOGS ON CAMPUS NOT THE ANSWER
Lahaina Intermediate School's plan to introduce drug-sniffing dogs onto its campus ("Lahaina school considers drug dogs," Jan. 10) is an admission of failure. Either school officials have failed to educate children to refuse when approached to buy or take drugs, or for some reason students at this school have bucked the state and national trends that show a marked decrease in drug use among schoolchildren.
Either way, parents should be very concerned.
Use of illicit drugs by students in Hawai'i has been on the decline for years. The 2003 ADAD study available on the Department of Health Web site found that reports of ecstasy, marijuana, methamphetamines and hallucinogens dropped and most other illicit drugs decreased slightly or remained unchanged.
The DOH surveyed public schools and selected private schools. Nationally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse also found that use of illicit drugs for the grades surveyed decreased significantly. These findings mean that sound educational programs are working to decrease drug use. If Lahaina Intermediate has to resort to dogs, parents should ask administrators what went wrong in the classrooms.
Mid-Pacific Institute, a private school, may be having its own drug problems. Last year ("Mid-Pac to start drug tests," Advertiser, March 18, 2005), administrators instituted a voluntary program based on random urine testing. The program was put in place despite vocal opposition by some parents who suggested that there are better evidence-based programs that could be adopted.
Students should be taught to resist drugs and not how to duck detection by dogs or random urine testing. Parents planning to send their children to Lahaina Intermediate or to Mid-Pac might consider whether they should instead choose a school with a proven effective drug education program.
Parents want to know that if their child should be approached by a stranger offering drugs, whether on-campus or off, the child will know to refuse and walk away. If children can resist these offers and peer pressure, then there is no need for dogs in the school or for intrusive random drug testing. These enforcement measures are no substitute for evidence-based programs that are effective at other schools.
Dogs may keep the schoolroom free of drugs, but they do nothing to immunize students against pressures they may encounter on the sidewalks nearby.Larry Geller