Letters to the Editor
EXTREMISTS OFF MARK IN SEEKING SONAR BAN
Here we go again. The extremist groups that have rendered Makua useless as a training area for our military are now targeting the Navy and its use of sonar. These groups have a history of perverting the spirit and intent of environmental laws to tie up the military in court and make it difficult for them to train.
We still allow the killing of whales, and thousands upon thousands of dolphins die each year in tuna nets. Global fishing by-catch in 2003 accounted for 650,000 marine mammal deaths, while U.S. fishing by-catch accounted for 6,215 marine mammal deaths. Yet there is no outcry from these environmentalist groups.
However, if the Navy uses sonar to train, the environmentalists are outraged. I'd suggest that they are off the mark. There is no conclusive evidence that the use of sonar is directly related to the harming of marine mammals. Yet, these critics contend that sonar use by the Navy must be stopped.Bob McDermott
Executive director, Honolulu Navy League
STUDY ON CELL PHONES IS A REAL EYE CLOSER
If "talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk," a whole can of worms gets unleashed.
The good news: Husbands can no longer drive and talk with wives in the car — and vice versa. All children must walk or take the bus to school. No more family vacations by car. No more car dating. All proms must be traveled to by bus or train.
The bad news: No more HOV lanes. Every person must have his/her own automobile. (Auto dealers ecstatic.) Ambulances must be without medical helpers. Police must drive alone.
Frank Drews, the University of Utah researcher for the test, stated, "What detracts people when talking on a cell phone is the conversation, not (emphasis mine) holding the phone." As the kids say, "Well, duh."
Can't wait for the next study.Don Neill
BUILD NO MORE COAL OR FOSSIL FUEL PLANTS
Cynthia Thielen hit the nail on the head with her recent article on Hawaiian Electric's desire to build an electric generating plant at Barbers Point.
Build no more coal or fossil fuel electric generating plants in Hawai'i. We have alternatives and no better time to pursue them.
The Hawaiian Islands have the physical assets to be a leader among states in the production of electricity from alternative-energy sources. We need to do this. Reducing the demand for electricity and implementing sources of alternative energy is all one word to me.
Our goal must be to work within the constraints of our existing power-generating capacity by reducing demand (free solar panels for all, for example) and implementing alternative energy systems.
I thank Cynthia Thielen for being so visible on this matter. She has my respect and support.
Malama i ka 'aina.
ED SHORT | KAILUA
IF CASE SPEAKS LIKE A BUSH REPUBLICAN ...
Rep. Ed Case recently reminded everyone that Sen. Daniel Akaka voted to set a date to end the Bush war in Iraq, and that he didn't. That tells us a lot about where he stands.
War without end is a Republican thing because it is good for big business. Bringing the troops home safely is a Democratic goal.
The upcoming primary election is really much like a general election in this case. If Case speaks like a Bush Republican, votes like a Bush Republican, then ...Keith Haugen
JULY 4 SALE
NATIONAL ANTHEM USED IN AD INAPPROPRIATE
Last Friday, I heard a commercial on a radio station for a major mattress company. The commercial was promoting its Independence Day sale and used the U.S. national anthem as background music. This struck me as extremely inappropriate and in bad taste.
Our national anthem is not something to promote a sale. The Star-Spangled Banner accompanies just about every major American function, and at major sporting events a significant honor is bestowed on those asked to sing what is probably the best-known national anthem in the world.Courtney Harrington
MAKE SURE TRANSIT SYSTEM WELL HIDDEN
Yes, Mr. Mayor, we do need a light-rail system. But did we learn nothing from past mistakes? Poor planning gave us overly built Waikiki, which is often used as a bad example in land-use planning discussions ("You don't want to end up looking like Waikiki, do you?"). Did we learn nothing from the insensitive placement and construction of our freeway system?
Whatever is built will involve using eminent domain to provide rights-of-way and other sites. For the sake of how O'ahu will look for generations to come, please, Mr. Mayor, take the time and have the wisdom to plan and build a ground-level system that will both function well and have very low visual impact.
So, let's put in the rapid transit and work every step of the way to make it as hidden as possible. Use existing routes wherever we can, underground utilities as the new system goes in and landscape away any visual blight.
What may cost more today will pay big future quality-of-life dividends. Let's set a new standard for environmental, cultural and aesthetic sensitivity.Laure Dillon
TOO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT RAIL
The other day I happened to hear the mayor tell this guy that the majority wants mass transit. What majority? The people in the Central and Leeward areas? What about the people who live in other areas?
Everybody is going to pay for this system, but only a minority of people in the state of Hawai'i will benefit. I think the majority of the people in the Central and Leeward areas want something done about the traffic, not necessarily mass transit.
I still want to know what the fare is going to be and with this fare how many people will ride it regularly. Also, how much revenue is required to self-support this system?
It's really foolish to go ahead with this project when there are still so many questions unanswered. Maybe the answer is that because of the growth on O'ahu, traffic is something we all just have to live with. I still say improve our bus system first.Kenneth Ikenaga
HALFTIME SHOW WON'T HELP SELL UH TICKETS
I am amazed that those people who run the football program can't figure out why the ticket sales are dropping.
Even if there is a halftime show, it will not improve the ticket sales because the people do not go to UH football games to watch the halftime event.
I believe that the people who run the program forgot that we are on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and you only have the population on O'ahu to sell most of the tickets to. How many people on the other islands will be willing to buy a season ticket and commute to O'ahu to see eight games?
Why don't they just admit that raising the price of the season tickets — the premium seat charge — was a bad idea.Calvin Takeuchi
OH, MY LUCKY STARS
All right! I'm ecstatic that the Hawai'i Winter Baseball League is back and that all the HWBL T-shirts, jackets and caps that I've been wearing since 1997 are now relevant again. Now if only the Stars come back to Hilo.Leslie Ching
BIG ISLAND HAS PUT LIMITS ON PROPERTY TAX INCREASES
The June 26 issue of The Honolulu Advertiser included an article by Christie Wilson entitled, "County pots full, for now." Although Ms. Wilson's article was very interesting and informative, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the chart in the article entitled, "Property-tax relief by county."
This chart calculates the tax bills for each county on a $600,000 property, after applying applicable exemptions. It leads one to believe that homeowners in Hawai'i County pay more property taxes than homeowners in other counties.
Admittedly, a homeowner in Hawai'i County pays more taxes on a $600,000 home than one does in other counties. However, because the median property value in Hawai'i County is far below $600,000 and because our valuation increases are limited to just 3 percent annually, the average homeowner in Hawai'i County actually pays less property taxes than the average homeowner in any other county.
The median price for a single-family home in Hawai'i County on Jan, 1, 2004, was $235,000. That year, recognizing that home prices were beginning to escalate, the County Council passed an ordinance that limited assessment increases on properties in the homeowners class to
3 percent. This meant that tax assessments on a $235,000 home were limited to $242,050 in 2005 and $249,311 in 2006, even though the market value of the home is now $435,500. The owner of this $435,500 home (current median price) pays $885 in property taxes.
The 3 percent growth limit on assessed values provides homeowners with welcome relief at a time when property values are skyrocketing everywhere. Although this benefit was mentioned in Ms. Wilson's article, it was not given the credit it deserves in keeping property taxes affordable for homeowners on the Big Island.William Takaba
Director of finance, County of Hawai'i
HULA TRIBUTE TO HONOR OUR LATE KUMU WAS AWESOME
I am writing while my heart is full of joy and emotion. For the past several months, past and present haumana of Hui O Kamalei came together to prepare for a hula tribute to honor our late kumu, Kamalei Sataraka. This effort required many hours of hard work, the support of our halau leadership and the patience and sacrifice of our families.
As the weeks turned into months, we all seemed to want to hold on to the past as waves of change overwhelmed us. Through it all — sweat, tears, frustration and joy — we survived.
On Saturday, June 24, our efforts culminated as we delivered the final performance of the afternoon at the 33rd Annual King Kamehameha Hula Competition. As we entered the arena, there were hugs, tears and a feeling that we truly were ready to give this performance our very best effort. We danced with all of our heart, and when we were finished, we knew we had honored our kumu. We had paid tribute to her beauty, creativity and her ability to delight audiences with excitement and something unexpected. The final highlight was having our efforts acknowledged by placing first in the combined 'auana division.
It was my privilege to have been a part of this special event. I renewed old friendships and made many new ones. We grew together, shared memories, laughter and tears. Ultimately we danced not as individuals but as one, as Hui O Kamalei.
I express my sincere gratitude to the State Council on Hawaiian Heritage, to Keahi Allen and all those whose efforts make the King Kamehameha Hula Competition possible.
I extend my fondest aloha and mahalo to the alaka'i and haumana of Hui O Kamalei. Thank for allowing me to be a part of this tribute to our beloved Kumu Kamalei. I am in awe of our accomplishments, and I will carry these treasured memories in my heart forever.Felicia Hau'oli Williams