Letters to the Editor
MANY POSSIBILITIES FOR NEWFOUND WEALTH
The city's concept of my wealth is mind-boggling. I can hardly sleep thinking of the possibilities available to me. Should I sell now and move? Maybe I could find a little place in the desert in California or Arizona.
Another possibility would be banking my riches from the sale, but the interest rate is very low, and I hear the rent has increased beyond belief for even a shack.
Maybe the best thing to do is to pay my $25 to the city to try to dispute my wealth, but I hear through the grapevine that that is touchy. I could open a bees' nest, and they will find I'm even wealthier than before.Barbara Jessee
IT SHOULDN'T BE UP TO THE TAXPAYERS
When the projected property tax goes up an average 26 percent in one year, all taxpayers protest.
The humble individual taxpayers have the onus thrust upon them to research and appeal the amount if they choose. A vast number of protesters, because of their humility and the awful thought of having to defend themselves without having done anything wrong, will not avail themselves of the appeal process.
All it would take for the mayor and City Council members to alleviate the public's concern is to recognize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime problem and should be resolved by the mayor and council, not by tens of thousands of irate citizens attempting to deal with bureaucracy. For example, our elected city officials could assess only a portion of the increase in value, lower the tax rate or provide tax credits.
Whatever our officials choose to do or not do, individual taxpayers should not be forced to prove to the city government that the projected tax increase is unjust, uncivil, oppressive, disruptive and will cause many undue hardships.Richard Y. Will
SEWER, GET, HOME
HANNEMANN IS SETTING TAX-INCREASE RECORDS
Mayor Mufi Hannemann is a record-setting mayor. In the history of the county and probably the state of Hawai'i, there has never been such record-setting tax increases by any one individual.
Shortly after taking office, Mayor Mufi increased our sewer fees by 25 percent in one year and 10 percent a year thereafter for seven years. Not much later, he gleefully signed the law that raises the state GET to 4.5 percent, presumably providing forever over $140 million a year to finance the construction and operation of a rail transit system that even the mayor admits won't reduce traffic congestion.
Now the latest potential hike is the 26 percent average property tax increase that will provide the mayor with over $120 million a year in new spending cash.
I suppose it's ego-building to set new and higher records, but with these kinds of tax-increase records, maybe the citizens of Honolulu should consider electing a mayor who will be more content with allowing the citizens to keep some of the money they earn.Erm Gartley
KAKA'AKO CAN BECOME A FIELD OF DREAMS
Thank you for the Dec. 25 excellent coverage on Kaka'ako. This project can please everyone.
Gov. Lingle is correct in her statement that there must be more emphasis on affordable housing beyond the 20 percent moderate price requirement.
If the 630-unit condominiums are allowed, make it 50 percent affordable with a Hawai'i residential income limit requirement. A&B would still make plenty of money on this project if it scales back the balance and follows the Grand Central Park idea that the nation's brightest planners and architects recommended for the peninsula. No beach, but people magnets such as minigolf, carousel, soccer fields, tennis, small amphitheater, walking paths and a simple water pond like at the Ala Wai Golf Course will ensure maximum public use.
No retail. Lunchwagon plate lunch only.
Daniel Dinell, HCDA director, said, "The state has an easy time building things but a hard time maintaining them." It's sometimes true. Let's slap stickers stating, "If this park restroom is not clean, call this number," with a three-times-per-day checklist as hotels do.
Kaka'ako can become a field of dreams and gathering place for future generations.Elmer Pichay
IF YOU MUST BUILD, GIVE US ANOTHER PARK
Leave Kaka'ako waterfront alone. The state talks as if it is a product that it has to sell. It belongs to the community —everyone — not just the ones who can afford it.
The state's so-called concern that the development will help the affordable housing problem is a joke. If that is really a concern, then build on a golf course.
Ocean access is becoming very limited. Kapi'olani and Ala Moana parks are enjoyed by all of the community, showing a need for more parks on the ocean.
The A&B proposed development is not for the improvement of the community but once again only for profit, a community of second homes for nonresidents.
On the practical side, the infrastructure could not handle the development.
Leave it — at least you can still feel the breeze and smell the ocean when you're stuck in traffic. Wake up!Jay Hubbell
KEEP HIGHWAYS OPEN BY USING CROSSOVERS
If the police feel it is necessary to close highways for hours to investigate accidents, fine. There is no need, however, to imprison motorists affected by the closure if the police handled the situation properly.
First, an officer should be dispatched to the nearest highway crossover point (and there are many of them in the median dividers throughout O'ahu) to open it and allow traffic to cross to the other side of the freeway. The freeway should be either coned to allow contraflow to the next crossover point where traffic could be rerouted back to the original side, or the crossover traffic should be directed in the opposite direction to find an alternate route.
Another officer should start working forward from the crossover point, directing cars in the back of the queue to turn around and proceed back to the crossover point in an orderly manner, where they could merge with the other traffic and exit the area.
Rather than being stuck for literally hours, the whole area could be cleared out quickly, and once done, the investigation could continue unimpeded.Bob Gould
MAKE PEDESTRIANS FEEL LESS SECURE
Considering the tragic death of 89-year-old William Kobashi-gawa, killed while crossing in a crosswalk on Kamehameha Highway in Kane'ohe, it should be considered whether the state's crosswalk laws are making pedestrians feel too secure and therefore less aware of possible dangers.
Some traffic engineers, such as Hans Monderman of the Netherlands (you can Google him), are finding that if you make driving and walking on roads seem more dangerous, they become safer.
In Monderman's work, some urban intersections were rebuilt with no traffic signals and no crosswalks. The result was fewer or no accidents. Drivers and pedestrians were more alert to possible dangers and therefore more able to avoid those dangers.Michael Haig
HOUSE THE 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
GET INVOLVED IN PROPOSING DESIGN FOR FUTURE OF ISLANDS
Editor's note: This is another in a series of letters from previous Advertiser Community Editorial Board members on the 2006 Legislature.
In 1969, a forward-looking state Legislature set up a Commission on the Year 2000. With inspiration from The Advertiser's editor, the late George Chaplin, peace studies scholar Glenn Paige and hundreds of current and future local leaders, the commission organized the "Governor's Conference on the Year 2000."
The Legislature also established the Hawai'i Research Center for Futures Studies at the University of Hawai'i. During the 1970s, similar exercises in anticipatory democracy engaged community activists in useful discussions of the futures of education, environment, technology, transportation and the courts.
In 2005, the Legislature returned to this tradition. Among a record-tying 12 successful veto overrides was S.B. 1592. (On this, the override was unanimous!) The plan gives $200,000 to the legislative auditor to prepare the "Hawai'i 2050 Sustainability Plan."
Significantly, the plan looks beyond the next few election campaigns.
But there is more than one possible future for 2050. I hope that the auditor recommends the Legislature follow up with hearings on all trends and preferences affecting Hawai'i's future in 2050.
Regardless of age, all individuals with a stake in the future deserve to testify.
Also, someone should testify on behalf of future generations. My list of preferences for a sustainable future includes public school education, decent jobs, housing, food self-sufficiency, Native Hawaiian rights, respect for the environment, and demilitarization.
Some will agree. And others may have different priorities.
In November, voters have the opportunity to vote for a 2008 constitutional convention. This convention can discuss competing proposals for the future of Hawai'i. The price for abstaining from designing your future is high.Vincent K. Pollard
Asian studies and world politics specialist
JUDGE EZRA VS. HAWAIIAN BELIEFS
On Dec. 27, after a 40-minute lecture attempting to justify what he was about to do, Federal Judge David Ezra found Edward Halealoha Ayau guilty of civil contempt of court and ordered him confined for an indeterminate period. A few minutes later, Ezra found Kihei Nahale'a in criminal contempt as the young man rose and chanted in defiance. Nahale'a was sentenced to five days in jail for his protest.
In less than an hour of the court's time, Ezra demonstrated the inability of the American judicial system to deal with issues of religious belief. It is, perhaps, for this reason that founders of the American republic took such pains to insist on the separation of church and state.
Ezra's repeated admonishment that Ayau and Hui Malama were not the sole arbiters of Hawaiian cultural and religious practice is really quite beside the point. The issue is that Hui Malama has broken no law and that Ayau is incarcerated only because he has defied the federal court's entry into this dispute among kanaka maoli and the Bishop Museum.
When Ezra ordered Hui Malama to return to the burial site and violate a gravesite, again, he presented the organization with a choice of forsaking their consciences or their liberty. In the finest traditions of a Joseph Nawahi, a Robert Wilcox or, if you prefer, a Henry David Thoreau, the members of Hui Malama chose to honor their conscience.
There have already been attempts to denigrate Ayau's religious devotion as a kind of arrogance, if not fanaticism. There are other Hawaiians who do not share Hui Malama's belief that the items stolen from the Kawaihae caves in 1905 were all moepu, or that they should necessarily be returned to the ground. The issue among them is where the articles should be kept while the different claimants to the articles discuss the matter.
Where, indeed? The museum's position in this, at least under the direction of William Brown, is that the articles should be housed at the museum until the different claimants come to an agreement. Dr. Brown knows that such agreement is unlikely ever to take place, which would, practically, give the museum permanent custody. Hui Malama wants the moepu to remain buried. Hui Malama also knows that an agreement among the claimants is unlikely ever to take place, virtually assuring that they have done their job of repatriating the stolen items to the earth.
Injury was done to our chiefs and ancestors when the 1905 museum encouraged the theft of the iwi and the moepu. Injury is now done to two living descendants who were imprisoned.
Perhaps the Hawaiian plaintiffs will see this and realize that the monetary, academic or even cultural value of these items, moepu or not, cannot possibly compensate for the liberty of two men of conscience and the repute of the museum. Perhaps, then, the Bishop Museum might take the opportunity to evaluate its leadership and the limits of its role as a custodian of the cultural artifacts of Hawai'i.
As for Judge Ezra, is it possible to hope that he might see that our burial practices and beliefs are places where his court and his opinions do not belong?Jonathan K. Osorio
Associate professor and director, Kamakakukalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa