Letters to the Editor
DLNR CHIEF HAS IT ALL WRONG ON FISHING
Regarding Mr. Peter Young's testimony to Senate Bill 3047 and House Bill 2881/2587: Mr. Young failed to mention what the goals of the Department of Land and Natural Resources are. What species of fish is it worried about? How many of those species exist and how many existed 10 years ago? What aquatic resources is it talking about?
He mentions closing designated areas to fishing and how that will increase the fish population. We already closed Waikiki on the odd-numbered years to fishing; does it work? I say "No." There are no fish in Waikiki, not because of over-fishing, but because of light pollution in the nighttime and pollution from sunscreen lotion.
Mr. Young claims to work with the fishermen on conservation, but I have yet to meet anyone he has met with.
Mr. Young has been head of the DLNR for three years, and what has he produced? To my understanding, his department was being audited for a number of reasons. Is this a coverup to save his dignity?Chad Yasumura
REGENTS MUST NOT APPOINT MCCLAIN
It would be a terrible mistake to appoint David McClain as the president of UH without a thorough national search, as the recent announcement shows the Board of Regents appears to want to do.
Above all reasons for not appointing him is the need to ensure that regent activities are open and transparent and in accord with board policies on a national search for president. Appointment without a search confirms many observers' views that everything important that occurs at UH is done in secret without even a modicum of transparency. Discussing it openly in a meeting after the fact is not transparency.
Conducting a national search to find the best potential president, bringing short-list candidates to UH for public interviews and seeking input from the university community and other communities would be the essence of transparency.
The UH system is on an emotional roller-coaster ride right now. We cannot take another blow that smacks so much of secrecy and rule by oligarchy, especially when morale is so low.
There are other reasons for not appointing McClain. For many years, the presidents of UH have been besotted with mediocrity. Just look at the names: Matsuda, Simone, Mortimer, Dobelle and now McClain. No wonder UH is ranked either in the lowest quadrants of most rankings or, at best, as mediocre.
We have not progressed at all in McClain's first two years and I know that we will not progress with more years under McClain.Joel Fischer
Professor, University of Hawai'i School of Social Work
FOSTER YOUTH SYSTEM HAS SUCCESS STORIES
I wanted to commend your newspaper for calling attention to the plight of former foster youths who age out of the system.
As Wendy Peltier's former social worker, I first met her when she was an Honor Roll student who excelled in several sports, despite the issues within her large blended family. Nevertheless, Wendy continued to persevere and has grown into one of the most respectful, unselfish adults I have had the pleasure of knowing. She has always put the needs of others first, especially when it comes to her blended family of brothers and sisters. She is a shining example of why we have hope for the future.
As a DHS social worker, I have also had the pleasure of working with Kathy Bowles, a hardworking advocate for our former foster children who has made amazing things happen for our youths.
And finally, enough cannot be said for Lee Dean, tireless advocate for our current and former foster youths. Lee has been doing positive things for the adolescents for years, and he does his job with the conviction that every youth should be given every opportunity to succeed.Lori Kanaeholo
DESTRUCTIVE FERAL PIGS MUST BE DEALT WITH
If the activities of Animal Rights Hawai'i include research, funding and implementation of humane pest control, then I applaud them.
But I have a few questions: Where is the compassion for the native "sentient beings" that are killed by pigs, cats, rats and so on 24/7? What makes Hawai'i's own rare creatures, the results of millions of years of isolated evolution, less important than introduced animals? Would you let even one pig live in your wheat field, however large the field? Are unique native forests less significant than fields of wheat or commercial flowers?
Whatever merits pigs have, they're big, dangerous, destructive animals. Giving them free run of public lands is foolish, shortsighted and negligent. Our watersheds are mazes of pig trails and mosquito-infested wallows; beloved native forests are being converted to alien weed patches; personal and public assets are being devalued.
Why do taxpayers tolerate this?
We will certainly be "condemned by future generations" for allowing the needless destruction of the landscape and numerous animals and plants found nowhere else on Earth but Hawai'i.
Can pig birth control reduce numbers now? Extinction caused by pigs is beyond horrible, and it's happening on our watch. As stewards of this remarkable place, we should be pulling out the stops to prevent it, instead of giving lip service to the problem while feral pigs multiply.Mary Ikagawa
ANTI-OUTDOOR-ADS POSITION APPRECIATED
Many thanks to The Honolulu Advertiser for supporting The Outdoor Circle's concerns regarding outdoor advertising.
Your position reassures and helps us tremendously in our continuing fight to "keep Hawai'i clean, green and beautiful."
Often after a victory against an ugly advertising venture, a new group appears on the scene to misuse our natural beauty and our aloha spirit. We need you as our ally; be vigilant and outspoken.Jane Morris
EDUCATION SHOULD COME BEFORE SPORTS
Providing children with experiences that enrich their lives, broaden understanding of different cultures and allow for avenues of expression are now, it seems, suspect categories.
At the very least, funding for enrichment programs and librarian services should not have to compete with, for example, a request for $18 million for football/track & field spectator seating at Kalaheo High School.
This is not a matter of "competing priorities." This represents skewed priorities to the detriment of Windward students.Debbi Glanstein
IWASE'S ACCUSATIONS JUST EMPTY RHETORIC
How dare former Sen. Randall Iwase accuse Gov. Linda Lingle of not fixing the state's ills.
May I remind him that it was his Democratic Party that gave this state its ills. For over 20 years, the Democratic Party only gave us empty and broken promises.
Since Linda Lingle became governor, the state's economy has improved. We now have a surplus. When the Democrats were in power, we had a deficit.
Before the Democrats start pointing fingers and putting the blame on others, they should look at their own party to see what changes they can make — so the Democrats can get the respect they are losing.Alan Kim
FIREFIGHTER EFFORTS APPRECIATED BY CHURCH
Mahalo to our wonderful firefighters!
Last Friday at about 1 p.m., a brush fire broke out at Kalaheo Hillsides. The first fire truck arrived shortly thereafter.
Soon there were four fire trucks and a helicopter on our church parking lot. They set up a temporary pool for the helicopter to retrieve water from. All of them were working together as a tremendous team. The helicopter was in the air for over three hours, back and forth, to help put out the fire.
Nine of the firefighters took hoses and climbed the mountain to make sure the fire was indeed extinguished. They were here until after 5 p.m.
Along with other structures in the area, the fire came perhaps within 100 yards of our church. My hat is off to these wonderful servants of our island. Thank you, firefighters from Kailua and the Windward side, from our entire congregation.Pastor Jerald Ogg
Kailua Assembly of God Church
MILITARY'S LEGACY: CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Let it be on the minds of those who defend the military's illegal occupation of Makua Valley that every time you drink a glass of water or swim in our ocean waters, you may be contaminated by the military's chemical weapons.
This is what should be on your mind — your health and safety and the future generations of your offspring and what effect this will have in their future.V. Keli'ikipi and W. Kalawa-Keawe
Koa Mana Moku 'O Wai'anae
NEW REPORT CARDS ARE IMPEDIMENT TO LEARNING
Your Feb. 17 editorial "Let's use time wisely retooling report cards" started with a great title and ended with a premise that was so far off the mark that it would be laughable if it were not so upsetting.
The delay in implementing the new reporting system will not prevent our children from learning. Rather, the revision of the report card could leave every child behind.
Had you looked at the process required of the teachers, the students and the parents to complete the new report card, including the ridiculous "evidence binder" (are our schools now courts of law where one is required to provide evidence to support a case?), you would realize why our children are scoring so poorly on the standardized tests.
The problem is allocation of time and resources. The requirements for paperwork for teachers must be minimized so they can spend their time teaching. Children should be spending their time in school learning. This new reporting system allows neither. Instead, it assigns busy work to both, degrading the quality of classroom time.
It seems to me that the Department of Education is seriously out of control and out of touch with what it means to teach and learn or it would not have developed such a cumbersome and time-consuming method of reporting how teaching methods are changing to accommodate the No Child Left Behind Act. The reporting system is so divorced from reality that the DOE felt it had to issue an instruction sheet or parents would not be able to interpret the card.
While I am not totally convinced that multiple BOEs are the solution, something needs to be done to bring the DOE administration closer to life as we know it. The one good thing it has done is to postpone the rollout of the new report cards. I say it's time to admit that a costly mistake was made. Pull it out of the elementary schools as well before we throw more good money after bad.Diantha M. Goo
MALPRACTICE CLAIMS UNWARRANTED
State Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt claims that preventing medical malpractice is not the solution to the malpractice problem. Instead, he suggests the answer is reducing the rights of patients injured and killed by medical malpractice.
He is wrong. In medical malpractice, as in other aspects of medicine, prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Schmidt claims that reducing patient protections like California did in 1975 will eliminate the malpractice problem and reduce insurance rates. It will not. The Southern California Physicians' Insurance Exchange, California's second largest malpractice insurer, recently stated under oath: "While MICRA (tort reform) was the Legislature's attempt at remedying the medical malpractice crisis in California in 1975, it did not substantially reduce the relative risk of medical malpractice insurance in California."
In Texas, limits on patient rights advocated by Schmidt have an insignificant effect on insurance premiums.
Hawai'i required a mandatory 20 percent to 25 percent premium reduction when it instituted automobile insurance reforms in 1998. There is no premium reduction at all required in Schmidt's malpractice proposal.
Schmidt cites problems with emergency room care and claims that malpractice insurance is the "No. 1 problem." He is contradicted by the state's own study, "On-Call Crisis in Trauma Care: Government Responses," issued just last month, which found that there are many reasons for the shortage of doctors willing to help with emergency room treatment. The study confirmed that "damage caps on non-economic damages do not significantly and systematically reduce overall awards."
It did not find that tort reform was the solution, but rather warned: "However, evidence on how premiums were affected is mixed and findings are at best inconclusive."
The Advertiser's Feb. 13 article "Isles headed for healthcare crisis" examined the same issue of doctor shortages on the Neighbor Islands and in rural areas and hospitals. The primary factors contributing to the crisis, according to doctors, were reduced Medicare-Medicaid reimbursement rates, high cost of caring for the elderly, patients who cannot pay their bills, and compliance with increased regulations.
Malpractice was not even mentioned as a factor, let alone the "No. 1 problem."
The No. 1 problem and No. 1 solution to the malpractice problem is reduction of malpractice in the first place. The American College of Emergency Physicians rates the quality and patient safety of emergency care in Hawai'i a dismal D-plus. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations found heart care in Hawai'i sub-par in 16 of 20 areas. Hawai'i's medical board is rated dead last in the nation in pursuing disciplinary action against doctors, and has been at or near the bottom for the past 10 years.
Current medical studies estimate that between 100,000 to 200,000 people are killed and a million injured by preventable malpractice every year. The Institute of Medicine recently noted that past studies on malpractice did little to motivate doctors into making needed safety changes and issued a call to action, stating: To err is human, but errors can be prevented.
Safety is a critical first step in improving quality of care. Yet few tangible actions to improve patient safety can be found.
The key to reducing the malpractice problem is to reduce malpractice, not reduce patient rights.Rick Fried
Past president, Consumer Lawyers of Hawai'i