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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Letters to the Editor

'GLOBAL VIEW'

IT'S UP TO HAWAIIANS TO DECIDE ON ARTIFACTS

Hawaiians, though they supposedly bore a "far more sophisticated and comprehensive worldview" than the early missionaries, are less aware these days, it seems. Forgive us for not being "global" enough in our scope when we, along with other aboriginal peoples, especially in North America, oppose having the remains of our ancestors desecrated by the museums of the enlightened.

Perhaps we who possess a living culture, having always found it difficult to accept the atrocities of 20th-century relic hunters, should now let the "globe" decide on what pieces of that living culture continue on into the future?

Please do not speak for our ancestors when it comes to "listening" to cultural objects that "provide eloquent testimony" while turning your back on the people who represent that living culture. Maybe some of us in this living culture are not quite ready for your museum or your spin on Hawai'i nei. This is the real issue, not whether Hawaiians can unite or agree on everything.

Makua Keale
Kailua

HUI MALAMA

WHERE WERE OTHERS WHEN BATTLE JOINED?

From 1995 to 2000, we worked closely with Edward Ayau and Hui Malama in the identification of the ancient Chamori remains, stored in shoeboxes at the Bishop Museum. The Hornbostel Collection of 311 sets of human remains and thousands of artifacts were taken from our Islands between 1919 and 1921 under the guise of research.

In January 2000 and with the assistance of Mr. Ayau and Hui Malama, we were successful in securing and repatriating those remains back to Guam and Saipan.

Mr. Ayau and Hui Malama have been the forefront heroes in the Hawaiian iwi issue. They have championed the cause of the Hawaiian ancestors from the get-go.

Where were these other claimants when Hui Malama was fighting for the inclusion and recognition of Native Hawaiians in the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act? Where were these claimants when Hui Malama was fighting to secure the repatriation of Hawaiian remains and sacred artifacts from the Museum of Natural History in Chicago? And many more significant repatriation efforts.

Similarly as with our ancient Chamori belief system, the greatest Hawaiian taboo of all is the disturbance of the sacred resting place of our dead. Remain steadfast, Mr. Ayau. Your cause is a sacred religious order.

Norbert Perez
President, Bring Our Ancestors Home Foundation

PROPERTY TAX

KEEP IT SIMPLE: CUT RATE

There are many solutions for the increased tax evaluations that will work. Most of them, though, are a one-time solution, leaving us with the same problem next year. The fairest for everyone and most sensible is to simply lower the tax rate. Take the amount of the budget and divide by the evaluations and come up with the tax rate, Hence no windfall.

Norman Duncan
Honolulu

POLITICIANS

WE'LL BE ABLE TO VOTE OFF THE TAX LOSERS

ABC has "Dancing With The Stars," Honolulu residents have "Dancing With The Pols," aka "The Honolulu Hale Hustle."

As the property tax debacle unfolded, we were treated to some unusual performances. We watched the "Council Cha Cha Cha" as members tripped all over themselves proposing various tax-relief schemes (as detailed in the Sunday Advertiser) to assuage beleaguered property owners. And the mayor's performance of the "Mufi Moonwalk" took backpedaling to new heights.

However, judging by comments I've heard and read, taxpayers are less than impressed by these performances, saying they lack imagination. So, just like on "Dancing With The Stars," taxpayers must remember that we can vote off the losers. Come election time, I hope to see several new dancers on the floor.

Kerry A. Krenzke
Honolulu

PROPERTY TAXES

STOP THE POLITICKING AND GIVE US SANITY

I find it to be nothing but a political bouncing ball to watch our mayor and City Council address the issue of property taxes, appraisal rates, plans for relief, exemptions, etc.

Why do they have to attempt to curry favor with each group of moaning taxpayers as a separate group by offering a favorable solution to each and every complainant? Are we rewarding the squeaky wheels?

Every property owner has seen a ridiculous increase. Do your jobs. Set a budget, determine what money is needed, look at your appraised values and then assess a rate that fulfills that need.

No favoritism, no political balls to toss around and no windfall profit for government.

Bill Comerford
Niu Valley

WAIKIKI

REAL SIDEWALK HAZARD

With all the hoopla about the sidewalk entertainers in Waikiki creating hazards and forcing pedestrians into the street what about the lack of space in front of the Cheesecake Factory? The extremely narrow and uneven sidewalk is hazardous. Is this perhaps a fire hazard also? Are there plans to widen the sidewalk, take out part of the planter? Let's discuss the real sidewalk problems on Kalakaua, not the political ones.

Cobi Eernisse
Honolulu

WHITEWASH

DIOXIN DANGER ON WAIPI'O PENINSULA HIGH

Why fund federal agencies that whitewash problems?

Dioxin, the most lethal man-made substance, is found in high concentrations on Waipi'o Peninsula at the former O'ahu Sugar Co. pesticide mixing area. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) action level for dioxin is just 1 part per billion (ppb).

A decade ago, surface, subsurface and groundwater tests revealed significant dioxin hits well above action levels. All bore holes had hits above the action level. Instead of expanding the test bores outward to find where the contamination ends, the Navy threw up a fence around the existing bores. Trespassers, including children, have gone through the fence and entered the site.

ATSDR released a report on Pearl Harbor ("Pollution exposure not high at Pearl," Honolulu Advertiser, Jan. 5). It noted that the dioxin sample concentrations on-site ranged from 37 to 992 ppb, while Navy contractors have reported total hits exceeding 1,500 ppb.

ATSDR concluded that "incidental exposure to dioxins/furans is not likely to result in adverse health effects in children or adults who trespass at the former pesticide mixing area."

Henry Curtis
Executive director, Life of the Land

ALCOHOL, DRUGS

LET THE HOMELESS HAVE THEIR WAY

David Shapiro generally produces insightful columns, and his "Hawai'i coming to grips with homelessness" (Jan. 4) is no exception. Yet as someone who spent years trying to provide the homeless decent housing in San Francisco, I would like to make a few observations.

First, Shapiro uses the phrase "resolving chronic homelessness." I hope this is not Gov. Lingle's goal since it is doomed to fail, simply because there isn't any "homeless" problem to solve. Not that there aren't plenty of people sleeping one block from where I live in Chinatown, but the problem has never been one of finding people shelter.

That could easily be solved with far less than the $21 million Lingle is prepared to give the social service agencies to resolve the perceived problem. But that perception is shallow and hasn't worked in the 20 years since middle America woke up and realized this rich nation has a bulging "homeless problem."

When we liberals talk of "solving" the homeless problem, we envision a cornucopia of services that will get people off alcohol and drugs, cure their mental and emotional issues and train them so they can hold decent jobs. We want them to be us. Yet if anyone spent even a few minutes talking with my brothers who sleep outside the Institute for Human Services shelter in Iwilei, he or she would find that many homeless aren't ready to give up their wayward ways. Plain and simple, they would rather just get stoned.

Now here is the tough, I will say unsolvable, problem for many do-gooders. If we want to provide "shelter" for the alcohol and drug dependent, we can't expect every single one of them to quit just because we really, really want them to. Ain't gonna happen.

But our Christian missionary history tells us we have to get them to quit or we shouldn't be supporting their "evil" ways by providing them housing. So in essence we are telling the homeless that in lieu of rent, we expect them to change their lifestyle. For those who are ready to quit the streets, this will work and a bushelful of services should be there for them.

To truly get most of the hard-core homeless off the streets, we are going to have to accept their horrible life choices, at least in the short term. That means the Lingle/Shapiro "drown them in services model" has to be modified. Sure, have the services and plenty of them, but also be willing to let many of them smoke their dope (from pot to ice), let them drink themselves silly, and let them shoot horrible, wretched, contaminated drugs into their veins.

Of course, our Puritan ethos gets in the way and resists letting any of this happen, especially in buildings paid for with taxpayers' money.

Yet, if we want to give shelter to many of the hard-core who sleep on our streets, we are going to have to be more permissive. Call it the Holland model, and remember that Holland once had more Puritans per capita than any other country in Europe. If the Dutch changed their thinking, so can we. If we think it is easy for the homeless to change their lifestyle, then we should find it easy to change our Christian missionary ethos that limits solutions.

Kevin Comaskey
Honolulu

STATE BUDGET SURPLUS MUST BE USED TO ATTACK POVERTY

Editor's note: This is another in a series of letters from previous Advertiser Community Editorial Board members on the 2006 Legislature.

Congress recessed after approving $40 billion to $50 billion in federal cuts to Medicaid, child support enforcement and other programs. Programs for low-income children, job training, children's health and No Child Left Behind measures were cut $1.4 billion in a different bill.

In the face of these cuts, it's good to learn that Hawai'i projects a budget surplus estimated to be $570 million. It feels like a windfall, an unexpected gift.

Who could not find a good use for this bounty?

The governor proposes returning more than half of it in refunds. A small refund seems like a political move, given all the needs the state has in the area of education, healthcare and infrastructure.

Hawai'i's people are facing greater economic challenges today than in past years. The state and county governments need to do the numbers and evaluate the economic pressures individuals and families now face before they spend the surplus. Many seniors, people living with disability and those on low or fixed incomes can no longer cope. To spend the surplus and let people starve would be irresponsible.

Everything is more expensive property taxes, rent, medical care, electricity, even plate lunches. O'ahu's excise tax will soon jump 12.5 percent.

In other words, we're in increasingly hot water and should not view the surplus as some sort of comfort we need to use it wisely to avoid a pandemic of poverty across the state.

You know the story of the frogs sitting in a pot on the stove: They enjoyed the warm water and in the end they boiled to death. We are those frogs. Worse, we know it, and we're just going to sit here and enjoy our surplus.

Larry Geller
President of Kokua Council

Correction: Larry Geller was incorrectly identified in a previous version of these Letters to the Editor.