Letters to the Editor
STREET PERFORMERS ARE JUST PANHANDLERS
In trying to deal with the street performers in Waikiki, the city went about it in the wrong way. It should have done what so many Mainland cities have effectively done: pass a law against panhandling.
The street performers are nothing more than costumed panhandlers. Take away their money pots and they would be gone posthaste.
Many Mainland cities have very successfully passed and enforced anti-panhandling laws. They do not allow any panhandling within so many feet of any commercial business, park, bus stop (train station), school, etc. A law of this type here would rid Waikiki of its panhandlers and could also be used in Chinatown.
Panhandling is not free speech; it is begging.Ann Ruby
SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS SHOULD BE MADE WHOLE
The verdict is in. For about a decade the Department of Education cheated substitute teachers by illegally underpaying them. It's now time for the Legislature to act and make subs whole.
Allocate the funds with interest for all the back years substitute teachers were illegally denied their proper pay, and provide them with the go-forward pay rate the Legislature intended they receive.Allan Kliternick
HERE'S HOW TO GAUGE HIGH-SURF CONDITIONS
Predicting high-surf conditions generated by storms in the Northwest and North Pacific is not a simple task.
Thanks to our professional weather marine forecasters, our NOAA buoy deep-water recording system, ship reports and publicly accessible phone recordings for this information, our state is provided with accurate data. When this information is used correctly, the subjective human influences are minimized.
Once a storm generates swells heading for our Islands, the most objective means of determining their size and speed is through the use of the NOAA Deep Ocean Buoy System, which is anchored approximately 200 miles offshore. Equipment on these buoys works through satellite communication and electronically registers wind, swell size, direction and wave intervals.
This information is made available to the public by calling a telephone recording at 973-6114.
The north, northeast, west and northwest shores of the Hawaiian Islands are affected by high surf during the months of October through April.
You must be aware of these potential conditions when planning a trip to offshore waters, shorelines and beaches. The buoy that will keep you best informed is Buoy No. 51001.
To be safe when going to any of these areas, check with the area's lifeguards. One of the first questions to ask is whether surf conditions are increasing or decreasing.
Tide changes influence bottom depths, influencing wave-breaking form and developing currents. Tide charts are published in The Advertiser.
When you surf it, learn it, and remember to respect the ocean, not fear it.George Downing
Surfing Education Association
HAWAIIAN RELIGION IS BEING MISINTERPRETED
Is cultural voyeurism a religious practice?
In recent articles surrounding the lawsuit against the Bishop Museum and Hui Malama, there have been a number of claimants posing to be Hawaiian cultural practitioners in order to gain influence over the public and power over the repatriation process.
Cy Kamuela Harris of the Temple of Lono has publicly stated that he was taught that funerary objects should be placed in the museum for all too see. This statement is inconsistent with any of the traditions and practices that I have ever heard of concerning Hawaiian religion.
If this be the case, then I suggest Harris be the first in donating the bones and burial items of his immediate family to the museum in order to perpetuate our traditional cultural practices. In fact, I am a trained archaeologist and would be more than willing to do studies on his family to assess their intelligence and place monetary value on these "artifacts."Kekuewa Kikiloi
Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner
CHEMICAL FIRMS ARE ON OUR FARM LANDS
Two of the largest chemical companies in America are farming on Moloka'i: Monsanto and Dow.
They say, "Don't worry ... " but if you do your homework, and type in these two names (Monsanto and Dow) on the Web, you will begin to worry.
When you do even more homework, you will realize that government has been neutralized, and these companies are doing "field testing" on our farm lands instead of in the laboratories, where the tests should be done. Then you will find that the chemical companies do not have to write on their permit applications where these tests are and what they are testing here on Moloka'i. You will also find out that these test products are considered "substantially equivalent" by the federal government, and thus need not be regulated.
The history of these two chemical companies, the secrecy of their open-field testing, the unknown consequences of this new technology, the huge amount of lands under their production on Moloka'i, and the worldwide controversy of GMO foods all point to the need for local input and protection.
We feel threatened by these new farmers on Moloka'i and seek relief from our government officials.Walter Ritte
Hui Ho'opakele 'Aina
TRAFFIC WOES NEED FLEXIBLE SOLUTIONS
Yes, we do have a traffic problem. The much-talked-about planned mass-transit system does not solve this problem. It is too expensive and does not provide enough flexibility. We have too many cars without a supporting road system to handle the traffic. Where are our costly city planners?
Did we all get brainwashed for a small number of special interests? May I suggest real solutions — outright simple and cost effective:
I, for one, would be willing to pay increased taxes to pay for those improvements.Joe Wolf
PROPERTY TAX: I CAN'T WAIT FOR ELECTION DAY
I noticed that someone suggested that older property owners take out a reverse mortgage. Why do that when it's easier to get rid of the people who raised the property tax?
It's easy to just overtax the people who buy and sell property here (it doesn't take a brainiac to figure that out). Every time the budget is in trouble, we homeowners get whacked with higher taxes.
The council is also to blame. It must have known that our taxes were going to be raised, and it let the mayor get away with it.
Should we be satisfied with a $200 tax break? You know what you can do with that $200. In fact, I should charge the city $100 a month for storing the blue trash can that it left on my property. Can't wait for election day.Abraham K. Aiona
AT FIRST FLUSH, OPINION LACKS HANDLE
While I respect The Honolulu Advertiser’s right to call my restroom equity bill “half-baked,” I must point out a number of inconsistencies in your Jan. 3 editorial. My bill, now law, requires female restrooms to have twice as many toilets as male restrooms at event facilities.
First, your editorial implies that although my restroom equity bill passed on a vote of 9 to 0 and went through the normal hearings process, it was not carefully thought through. The truth is that this measure was based on similar legislation passed in over 20 cities in 15 states. I also took the time to ask for review by the major contractor and architectural organizations in Hawai'i prior to introducing this bill. This is tested and proven legislation.
Second, this bill was specifically crafted in line with the Model Building Code as set forth by the International Codes Council. To adopt The Advertiser position that this law has “gotta go” would mean Honolulu would have a building code that is in compliance with modern building code standards, except for accommodations made for women’s restrooms.
Third, my measure was limited to event facilities because event facilities are where large crowds gather and the problem of long lines at female restrooms is the most acute. Nothing in my bill otherwise prevents any private developer from adopting the "innovative ways" your editorial suggests.
The reality, however, is that most commercial buildings and certainly most residential facilities do not have problems with long lines at female restrooms. Indeed, your suggestion that specific formulas be created for different use levels would create a regulatory nightmare. The city would need a new potty police under The Advertiser’s fix.
Fourth, your editorial amazingly suggests that portable toilets are a good alternative. Respectfully, I must disagree as I have personally yet to meet a person who actually wants to use a portable toilet if another viable option exists.
Furthermore, your criticism is misplaced. If you reviewed Honolulu’s ordinances, the city already requires portable toilets at crowded spectator events where no other options exist for restroom facilities.
I simply do not agree with your position that our community’s quality of life would improve if the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall or the Hawai'i Theater filled the lobbies with foul-smelling port-a-potties.
Fifth, your editorial quotes "pressure from transgendered folk" is forcing changes toward unisex restrooms. At no time in any City Council public hearing have I ever seen even the smallest "pressure from transgendered folk" exerted. Indeed, while I welcome comment from all members of our community, no constituent has ever contacted me about modifying the municipal building code to better accommodate "transgendered folk."
Your editorial opinion that my restroom equity bill is “much ado about nothing” is certainly witty, but perhaps your points aren’t well flushed out.
Council member, District IV
PUBLIC EDUCATION: WHO WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE?
(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of letters from previous Advertiser Community Editorial Board members on the 2006 Legislature.)
In the mid-’70s, legislators took away statutory, incremental raises from public school teachers — a move that took Hawai'i’s teachers from near the top of the national salary schedule to near the bottom.
A few years ago, legislators voted in favor of pulling teachers out of their popular and beneficial VEBA health benefits program. Its return has been promised; however, it has yet to be formally implemented, and it will be a crippled shadow of what it was previously.
Currently, legislators may feel that they are supporting public school teachers with Act 51, which was designed, in part, to bring greater decision-making power and funding at the school level. What teachers do need: smaller classes, specialists for music, art and PE; additional time for planning and articulation; and in-servicing for standards-based curriculum, instruction, assessment and report cards.
Resources are scarce. Teachers are having to do more with less. Our schools are in disrepair, and yet it is expected and demanded (rightfully so) that we provide safe, nurturing learning environments for each and every student who enters our classroom doors.
Legislators’ impact on the personal and professional lives of public school teachers cannot be overstated. Sadly, the connection between supporting teachers and how those actions benefit public education, as a whole, are often not given great value.
Additionally, the DOE is rarely viewed as supporting its employees in creating working conditions conducive to the pursuit of educational excellence. Even our own HSTA, with its current president a self-professed “friend to legislators,” appears to lack the ability to be a proactive organization with the specific interests of teachers in the forefront.
Public school teachers are looking for allies to create quality public education. Who will truly step up to the plate and support us in this endeavor? Will legislators in the 2006 session set a new standard beyond the typical rhetoric and platitudes?
Teacher and technology coordinator, Maunawili Elementary School