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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 2, 2006

Letters to the Editor

TEACHER

DOLLY TAKEUCHI, THIS RETIREMENT'S FOR YOU

After many decades of teaching in the Hawai'i public school system, my wife is finally retiring at the end of this month. Like many of her hard-working and dedicated peers, she has never received any awards or public recognition for her many years of exemplary service.

The last 36 years of her tenure has been as an elementary school teacher in the Kalihi district in Honolulu where the No Child Left Behind goal is very, very difficult to achieve.

My wife's career has always been dedicated foremost to the education of the children the state has entrusted to her care. I can truly say that she has done an outstanding job in this regard, not only in her classroom but at home where she has spent many, many hours doing countless things for the benefit of her students.

The approximately 1,000 students who have had the privilege of being assigned to her classrooms during her teaching career have all left much more learned, not only academically but also personally, because of her influence in their lives.

So, Dolly Takeuchi, without your knowledge or consent, I publicly recognize and applaud you and the many other similar "teachers in the trenches" for your many distinguished and dedicated years of service in the education of all of the children who have passed through your classrooms.

Walter Takeuchi
'Aiea

FORBES CAVE

PERHAPS ARTIFACTS MEANT TO BE FOUND

Regarding the Forbes Cave Collection: Hawaiians in general, prior to 1778, had a far more sophisticated and comprehensive worldview than did the small but influential group of early missionaries. The latter's challenging views were based on a strict education that while sincere and soul-wrenching, was narrow rather than global.

It may be assumed that sometime, presumably after 1820, these objects (and probably many more) were to be destroyed. One can easily conjecture that a small, concerned group, likely kahuna, deliberately secreted them away and hoped that in time they would be indeed discovered and provide documentary evidence to the vibrant, creative, holistic and unique way of Hawaiian life that was fast slipping away.

Cultural objects may be regarded by some as mute, but in fact they do indeed provide eloquent testimony. Perhaps we now are slowly starting to learn how to "listen" to them. Imagine the public outcry if they were "written" documents not yet translated.

We all, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, should be thankful that these objects exist vital fragments of history from which all may learn.

Mana does not disappear and mana is renewable.

John Cotton Wright
Kailua

BLAME HARRIS

MAYOR HANNEMANN'S FIRST YEAR A DISASTER

Now that the year is coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to review Mayor Hannemann's first year in office:

  • Fired the bandmaster.

  • Gave union cronies a raise.

  • Promised his No. 1 priority was to fix all the potholes; after a few million bucks, he decided to take pictures instead.

  • Removed freshly planted trees at $1,000 a pop.

  • Got into a flap with the Police Department over his wife's ticket; he said it was no big deal but felt a need to call the chief at home. It couldn't wait until morning?

  • Raised (fill in the blank) rates as far into the future as the eye can see.

  • Canceled Sunset on the Beach later picked up by private donations.

  • Turned off the fountains in Waikiki great for tourists.

  • Did away with the E bus; try to squeeze onto an 8 bus now.

  • Has taken numerous trips out of state to look at choo-choos. Fell in love with the 0.5 percentage point raise in the excise tax to pay for trains when he can't find money for potholes or any of the above-mentioned items.

  • Couldn't get the unions on board for curbside recycling.

  • Wants to get rid of street performers but can't get rid of the homeless lying on bus benches during working hours.

  • Took back a contract and gave it to a friend and then was indignant when someone questioned it.

    He will gladly tell you all this is the previous mayor's fault.

    Mahalo, Mayor, on a great first year.

    Skip Rudolf
    Kapolei

    MAINLAND

    O'AHU PROPERTY TAX IS COMPARATIVELY LOW

    This won't be a popular view, but our real property taxes are low. I have owned homes on O'ahu since 1974, and my recent assessment just went up 25 percent after going up 33 percent the year before.

    I have owned homes in Colorado and Virginia. The tax rate on O'ahu is about 25 percent of the rate in Arlington, Va. Right across the Potomac River in Montgomery County, Md., the rates are even higher. I should mention that the median homes prices in Arlington and Montgomery counties are about $600,000. To make it simple, if you owned a $600,000 home in one of those counties, your tax would be the same as someone owning a $2.4 million home on O'ahu.

    For homeowners on O'ahu over age 62 who are "house-rich" and "cash-poor," I suggest taking out a reverse mortgage to increase their income to pay taxes and even enjoy life a bit more.

    Robert Edmond
    Honolulu

    WINDFALLS

    DOUBLE PROPERTY TAX IS COMING TOO QUICKLY

    I thank Jim Scofield for calling attention to the city's property tax windfalls over the past five years (Letters Dec. 27), but his calculus is too generous to the bad guys.

    He says that increases of 10 percent per year would spread a doubling of taxes over 10 years. In fact, a 10 percent interest rate would cause a doubling in just over seven years. An interest rate of just over 7 percent would double in 10 years.

    The so-called Rule of 72 is a guide to how this works. Divide 72 by an interest rate, and the answer will be how many years it takes to double. At 6 percent, doubling occurs in about 12 years. At 8 percent, doubling occurs in nine years. It also tells us that at 36 percent, doubling occurs in about two years (actually closer to 1.8 years).

    C'mon guys. For us long-time owner-occupants, let's push for an above-the-inflation-rate increase of no more than 4 percent to hold the doubling time to 18 years. Let the fat cats fatten their "rainy-day" funds at the expense of real estate speculators who are reaping the big bucks.

    Victor Meyers
    Kailua

    KAILUA, LANIKAI

    GILL NETTING DESTROYING MANY FISH POPULATIONS

    I began pole fishing for papio in the waters off Kailua as a young boy. Kailua Bay used to be teeming with o'ama, papio, kumu, moi, o'io and other great fish to catch and eat.

    There used to be thousands of o'ama (juvenile weke) in Kailua Bay to catch in July and August months, but now the once-huge schools show up only as tiny pockets or, like last summer, they were all gone.

    Most evenings you can see crews of fishermen arrive to park their cars and lay their miles of nets just offshore Kailua and Lanikai. They leave their lay nets out all night (knowing that the DLNR is understaffed and unable to enforce the four-hour time limit), and they indiscriminately rape the local waters of whatever swims by (including the egg-bearing weke).

    We residents here see these fishermen haul their dead catches in the morning regularly and toss out half of their "junk fish catch."

    All reasonable water people in Hawai'i know that gill nets are decimating our fish populations and are devastating to our ecosystem. Today, the waters off Kailua and Lanikai hold a tiny fraction of the fish that were here just 20 or, worse, 10 years ago. Today, when I troll for papio on my kayak, I feel lucky to even get a strike.

    Please voice your opinion to Gov. Lingle and the DLNR and ask them to ban all gill netting and save what's left of our fish populations.

    Patrick Holzman
    Lanikai

    DANGEROUS

    KANE'OHE CROSSWALK SHOULD BE REMOVED

    I was saddened to hear that a pedestrian was struck and killed while crossing Kam Highway in Kane'ohe near Star market. This is not the first time someone has been been killed while crossing in this particular crosswalk.

    I do not know the specifics of the accident and whether the car was speeding; however, this is a very dangerous spot to have a crosswalk. It is on a five-lane highway that includes a center turning lane. It is a very busy area because there are some six driveways in the immediate area that cars turn in and out of.

    There are two other crosswalks on both sides of this one, and these crosswalks are at traffic signals. If this deadly, marked crosswalk were eliminated, then it would compel most pedestrians to use either of the safer crosswalks at the traffic signals.

    Pam Mori
    Kane'ohe

    GOVERNMENT

    CONCON IS NEEDED TO ADDRESS OUR PROBLEMS

    The abiding, overpowering issue for the public and the Legislature to face up to is the proper role of government.

    The fact that you say that the "surplus" is an issue to deal with pretty much says it all.

    Our ancestors created government to serve them as individuals. Instead, it now serves itself as a way to buy votes and corrupt free, honest elections.

    In the process, some individuals are harmed, willy-nilly, to benefit the favored. Then the situation is reversed and the favored become the picked-upon.

    All this is very confusing and getting more and more complicated. If this issue is not resolved, the obvious result is any surplus is "needed" for essential "services" and any shortfall is responded to by a tax increase.

    The end result? Tyranny.

    To give a concrete example, the state government future retirement requirements, not now listed as a liability on state government books, will eventually fail. Having the future obligations on the books would make the problems harder to ignore and create a demand for solutions.

    So, two major issues:

  • The proper role of government correctly assessed, defined and reported.

  • Enforcement of clean elections not manipulated by elected officials.

    The single solution? Let's go with a Constitutional Convention, which can address problems and other issues in a public forum and get them resolved.

    Richard Rowland
    President, Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i

    MOBILE PARK

    HOUSE HOMELESS IN FEMA TRAILERS

    Why doesn't the state of Hawai'i get some of the trailers from FEMA to house the homeless for a year, and build a mobile park temporarily and require each one of them to undergo skill training?

    This would get a roof over their heads and help them get back into day-to-day working skills. The state needs to think outside of the box for a change.

    Bill Littell
    Waikiki

    TUNNEL, OVERPASS

    'EWA ROADWAY CLAIMS UNWARRANTED

    The state Department of Transportation would like to clarify and correct Mr. Tom Berg's claims in his Dec. 15 letter to the editor criticizing the state's transportation initiatives in 'Ewa:

  • The proposed 'Ewa tunnel project. Mr. Berg has criticized the DOT for not releasing $200,000 in state funds to study a proposed underwater tunnel from 'Ewa to Pearl Harbor. Mr. Berg works as office manager of Rep. Rida Cabanilla, who has pushed for this tunnel project.

    The U.S. Navy and Air Force have both publicly stated that they would not support or allow a public road through their military installations for security reasons.

    In addition, the proposed tunnel, estimated to cost between $3 billion and $6 billion, is currently not on the O'ahu Metropolitan Planning Organization's Regional Transportation Plan for O'ahu transportation list, meaning it will not be eligible for federal funding.

  • The overpass along North-South Road. Rep. Cabanilla and Mr. Berg continue to demand that a North-South Road overpass be constructed over Farrington Highway in 'Ewa, instead of placing a traffic signal at that intersection. In analyzing an overpass concept at this intersection, the DOT determined that the proposed overpass would be too close to the planned interchange at H-1 and that safety of the motoring public would be compromised.

  • The Leeward Bikeway. Mr. Berg, an avid bicyclist, said the DOT has favored a delay in the Leeward Bikeway project. The project's design work has and is moving forward. However, there are significant and complex right-of-way issues and design conflicts with historical structures that must be resolved before the design can be completed and construction can begin.

  • The connecting Kamokila Boulevard with Roosevelt Avenue. Regarding Mr. Berg's statement that the Legislature appropriated $4.1 million in state Highway Fund money to connect Kamokila Boulevard with Roosevelt Avenue: Both the governor and the DOT have explained to Mr. Berg that state law prohibits the use of state highway funds for purposes other than the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of our state highway system and that expenditures for anything else would be inappropriate and not permissible.

  • The second phase of Fort Weaver Road widening. As for the delay in the Fort Weaver Road widening project, Mr. Berg would like to have the public believe that failures by the current administration led to the selection of a consulting firm that was not solvent or capable of completing the job. Mr. Berg is correct in that the selection of the consultant bordering on solvency was a poor decision to make; however, Mr. Berg fails to inform the public that it was the Cayetano-Hirono administration that chose that specific consultant. It is the Lingle-Aiona administration that reformed the procurement process for hiring engineering consultants that first and foremost removed the politics out of awarding consultant contracts to one based on qualifications and merit.

    The state DOT also continues with work on the long-awaited North-South Road, which will provide another road into and out of the 'Ewa region.

    Design work is also scheduled for completion next year on a new Kapolei Complex Interchange to provide residents of Kapolei with another alternative to access the H-1 Freeway.

    Scott Ishikawa
    Spokesman, state Department of Transportation