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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Letters to the Editor

STATE, LOCAL

TOTAL TAX BURDEN ON ISLANDERS IS ONEROUS

The Advertiser takes the position that comparing Hawai'i's state tax burden to that in other states is an inaccurate comparison, as Hawai'i funds its entire educational system through state taxes.

However, the Tax Foundation (www.taxfoundation.org) has published data on the combined state and local tax burden in all 50 states. The data show that the relative tax burden on Hawai'i residents has risen from 12th place in 1970 to third place in 2005.

And it's worth noting that Hawai'i's primary source of tax income, the general excise tax, is extremely regressive. This is true both due to its inherent nature and its particular application here. (For example, I don't think there is a single other state in the nation that applies sales taxes to groceries and prescription drugs.)

Ted Miller
Honolulu

FUND CUTS

EXTRANEOUS SCHOOL LIBRARIES SHOULD CLOSE

Regarding the recent front-page article "Schools may cut librarians" due to some schools' funds being cut under the new funding formula: If a public school is located close to a state public library, the public school should not have a library and librarian on its campus.

For example, Kailua Elementary and Kailua Intermediate are next door to the Kailua Public Library; however, both schools have fully stocked libraries and librarians. There would be huge money savings, and these spaces would then be available for additional classroom/office space if these libraries were closed.

Also, students would then become more familiar with their local public library.

Who knows, with enough of these school libraries closing, perhaps there will be more community support to pressure our Board of Education to have more of our public libraries open earlier, close later, and be open on Sundays and holidays. Of course, for those schools that do not have a public library nearby, they should keep their library.

Libby Tomar
Kailua

EVOLUTION

'ORIGIN OF SPECIES' PROVIDES THE CLUES

Regarding Steve Williams' letter of Feb. 8 on evolution: The "few facts" that Mr. Williams throws out are not facts but suppositions.

Darwin also dealt in suppositions, as Mr. Williams would know if he had read any of Darwin's books. If he had read Darwin's "Origin of Species," he would know that Darwin didn't require "evolutionary ancestors" but in fact went to great lengths to explain why he thought there were no "evolutionary ancestors" found.

Whenever the argument of evolution vs. creation comes my way, I always say "Things change with time. Evolution is all around, if you look and see." Then I bring up obvious evolutions, particularly the Thanksgiving turkey that you probably had. The turkey is the same species as the one that was shot out of the tree on the first Thanksgiving but doesn't resemble it much at all. The turkey that we eat today could not survive in the wild as did its ancestors, and yet it is still a turkey.

The counter to this is "selective breeding." If you read Darwin's "Origin of Species," you will see that "selective breeding" is part of the theory of evolution.

Mr. Williams doesn't seem to understand what science is. Science collects data and information and forms theories based on the information. The religious people who reject Darwin seem to come from a theory based on the Bible and try to find evidence to prove the theory, rejecting anything that does not agree. If those against Darwin had any evidence that held up to scrutiny, the scientific community would accept it immediately that is the way science works.

Otto Cleveland
Pearl City

BALLOT ISSUE

RAIL SYSTEM PROPOSAL NOT A SAFE BET FOR O'AHU

Finally, legalized gambling in Hawai'i!

If you pay attention to what your city officials are doing, it appears O'ahu residents will be betting that a rail system is going to solve their traffic problems. But when you go to Vegas and play the odds, you at least decide how much you are going to risk.

If the rumors are true, your City Council will be voting on a proposed rail system this fall. And there is no guarantee that ridership will support the construction and maintenance cost, as not all cities with rail report success. If it's built and it doesn't work, you still have to pay for it, year after year.

Worst of all, it could be a spectator sport for the majority who don't live within the area to be served by the rail system but will observe and fund this bet.

Win or lose, O'ahu voters will have to pay, so they should decide this November that this is something they want before they are railroaded into a operation only rail system developers want.

Contact your City Council representative and ask him or her to get this issue on the ballot for the fall election.

Ron Rhetrik
Mililani

ECONOMICS

GIVE BENEFIT OF DOUBT TO NEW KHON OWNER

Regarding Joe Moore's comments in the Feb. 7 Advertiser: The big question is why did eight KHON managers feel strongly enough to quit when they heard that 35 out of 112 KHON employees would be laid off when they have no idea if the company buying KHON is so rich that it can survive without taking stringent cost-cutting measures right at the start?

Even if the new buyer is being bankrolled by Bill Gates, it is still bad form to try to second-guess someone who has taken a chance on a business venture that has no guarantee of success.

If KHON falters because of the loss of the 35 laid-off people, it will be simple enough to rehire them or hire new people, but we're living in times in which some labor unions are doing something unprecedented negotiating with management to lower their workers' pay to survive and if this newly purchased television company folds, everybody is out of a job.

I am not denying that the livelihoods of 35 families are at stake here, but it is my humble opinion as a disinterested observer that the national trend is to downsize for the sake of survival, and no company is going to be stupid or suicidal enough to fire almost one-fourth of its veteran staff for any other reason than simple economics.

If the 112 original employees of KHON were offered a pay cut so that the 35 could stay on, would they have agreed to do that?

David Yasuo Henna
Honolulu

ATTITUDES

BULLYING REINFORCED ON 'AMERICAN IDOL'

The Feb. 7 editorial "Vigilance, not law, needed to stop bullies" briefly touched on the idea that attitudes often reinforce bullying behavior. On this, I concur. As a public school teacher, I see the result of such attitudes daily.

Unfortunately, it is easy to blame our social problems on lack of law enforcement or school board policy. Yet, I wonder how many of us tune in on Tuesday evenings to get our weekly dose of bullying at its finest a la "American Idol"?

If we really want to make a change, let's start by looking in the mirror.

Cecile LaMar
Kapolei

EMPLOYEES

THERE'S NO EXCUSE FOR LATE PAY CHECKS

The statements by Sens. Fred Hemmings (Feb. 3) and Donna Kim (Feb. 10) tell the hard-working people of the Capitol and the Hawai'i taxpayers that they are nothing more than serfs.

In what could only be described as true Three Stooges fashion, employees were not paid on time for services rendered. And in true Three Stooges fashion, both of the senators need to have their heads knocked together to get their attention.

There is absolutely no excuse acceptable for paying these people late. None!

I am reasonably sure that both senators were paid on time. So get it together or get out of office. It is as simple as that.

Al Coleman
Pearl City

STATE IS GIVING BUM'S RUSH TO HAWAI'I'S FISHERMEN

I attended a legislative hearing recently on House Bills 2547 and 2881, my first. These bills concerned changing the process that the Department of Land and Natural Resources uses to implement new regulations and closures for state water (up to three miles offshore).

HB 2547 asked that the DLNR analyze all of its existing data related to its enforceability and effectiveness. HB 2881 asked that the state use good science and include all parties before closing areas to fishing.

It was interesting to see all of the concerned fishermen as well as conservationists there. In all, there must have been over 200 fishermen, as well as a contingent of environmentalists.

As a concerned lifelong fisher, I was appalled to see the state's closed-minded attitude about these bills. After hearing DLNR head Peter Young testify, I got the impression that he has a closed mind, let's-go-after-the-fishermen attitude. All the fishermen are asking is to be included in the process.

If you looked at whom he was sitting next to in the legislative meeting, you'd see they were all Mainland environmentalists, commercial dolphin tour operators and dive tour operators. These people all help drive the tourism industry that brings in tax dollars, and they want to increase closed areas to fishermen. Do they now affect the resource as well?

It is estimated that fishermen bring in roughly $200 million to the state's economy. Is that not a significant amount of money? This year there is an economic survey for fishermen; I strongly suggest that fishermen participate. Be active in the process.

I took my 4-year-old daughter to Pupukea this past summer to catch fish. In the tide pools, a game warden came down and told us we had to leave or he would write us a ticket and confiscate our gear, two scoop nets and a bucket. My daughter asked, "Why can't we fish here, Mommy, are we bad?" This is how Peter Young and the environmental groups feel about fishermen.

Christina Gauen
Kailua

CASTLE COMPLEX

PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAM GIVES CHILDREN A CHANCE

What are we doing? I just finished reading the article about cutting the Castle Complex performing arts teaching position for our eight elementary schools.

This program has proven its worth to the parents, teachers, students and community for 15 years. As one parent said in the article, it "transforms children." That is huge.

This program gives "children who wouldn't raise their hands in class or speak up" the self-confidence to do that and more to be so changed and motivated as to have the courage to do what most of us fear: stand tall on a stage and perform in front of hundreds of people with poise and self-assurance.

This is not a program that we as a community can afford to cut.

While it may seem expedient to cut one program and one position, it is important to weigh the long-range ramifications of this decision on the future of hundreds of children. We have a unique opportunity for them to, among other things, receive the individual attention needed to do their best, increase their comprehension and overall ability and motivation to learn, help them overcome challenges and personal obstacles, and learn cooperation, trust and mutual support.

All of this and more in one short semester. At $67,000, it is a bargain.

I have had the privilege of attending some of Mr. Richard MacPherson's students' performances. It is remarkable what a positive impact this program has on the lives of so many of our children, not only teaching them skills needed to perform successfully in the classroom and in life, but also affording them an opportunity to perfect them. This program is unique. We need it.

I appreciate the difficulty schools are under to conform to the laws covering education and stay within budget. We also must be careful in what we cut and not be quick to forfeit our community, state and world of tomorrow. Sixty-seven thousand dollars is a small amount to ask to so dramatically and permanently change the life of one child for the better, let alone hundreds.

I beseech the administration to reconsider its decision and to do the hard work of finding somewhere else to trim the budget.

Ann Deramo
Kailua