Letters to the Editor
UNION ORGANIZING PART OF CENTER CONSTRUCTION
The caption on your front-page picture of the Ala Moana Center construction site mentions that it was filled by coral dredged from nearby projects.
When I came to Hawai'i in 1942 to work at Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Dredging and Construction Co., a Dillingham subsidiary, was dredging seaplane runways at Ke'ehi Lagoon. Dillingham got paid for the dredging and for hauling the dredged material, which it used to fill the swamp on which Ala Moana Center was built.
In 1960, when it was under construction, the AFL-CIO building trades unions under the leadership of Jack Reynolds, Elmo Sampson of the laborers and Stanley "Maui" Yanagi of the carpenters forced the Hawai'i General Contractors Association to recognize the basic crafts unions and sign a contract with them. The Dillinghams were in the forefront of this because an extended work stoppage at Ala Moana would have been devastating financially.Harry Boranian
KEEPING MERCURY IN VACCINES A BAD IDEA
You had several errors in your editorial "Lingle poised to take smart steps on health." It is not smart to keep mercury in vaccines.
Instead of being phased out, mercury has actually been phased back into vaccines that children may receive, by expanding the recommendations for the flu vaccine to include pregnant women and children starting at 6 months of age.
It is unlikely that the bill would interfere with the delivery of the flu vaccine. Mercury-free flu vaccines are available through Aventis-Pasteur and did not sell out last year. It has stated that it will increase manufacturing to meet demand as needed. If there is inadequate supply of any mercury-free vaccine, the Department of Health can seek an exemption and mercury-containing vaccines can be given.
Contrary to your article, the amount of mercury in a typical flu vaccine (25 mcg) is not a small amount, but exceeds the EPA safe limit for an adult. Because of the mercury content, it qualifies as hazardous waste if it is to be disposed of.
Mercury in vaccines has never been adequately safety-tested, and many peer-reviewed studies have raised doubts about its safety. Gov. Lingle should accept Senate Bill 2133 and help restore public confidence in vaccines.Don King
TRANSPORTATION PANEL ALLEGATIONS INACCURATE
This is in response to David Bohn's June 24 letter, "Waste of money," which was so laden with inaccuracies that it was a waste of space in your paper.
Had Bohn researched the Honolulu City Charter's section 6-1704, he would have found his allegations about the function and duties of the Transportation Commission were all untrue. Commissioners are all volunteers and serve without pay in the interest of the public.
As the Charter requires, the commission has seven members: three of them are appointed by the mayor, three are appointed by the City Council and one is nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the council as chair of the Transportation Commission. Commissioners are appointed to five-year terms. Five of the seven commissioners have been appointed since the Hannemann administration came into office. The commission meets monthly. Agendas are posted publicly in advance as the state's "sunshine law" requires.
The commission's duties include overseeing all aspects of the city Department of Transportation Services. The commission:
We invite Bohn and anyone else to attend the commission's meetings.Joseph M. Magaldi Jr.
Chairman, Transportation Commission
DRIVERLESS BUSES MAY BE A BETTER WAY TO GO
To those officials and legislators pushing mass transit, please take a look at what Japan is doing with its Intelligent Multi Mode Transit System, which consists of driverless, magnetically guided buses operating in three-unit platoons on a dedicated road.
Running on environmentally friendly natural gas, MTS combines the mass-transit capacity of railways with the low setup costs of bus systems and makes the mass-transit system being considered already obsolete. It's truly the wave of the future.Yolanda Castle
HONOLULU MUST HAVE NEW WAY TO GET AROUND
I'm a Kane'ohe resident, but I support the mayor's efforts to build a rail system for exactly the same reasons he cites.
We need another way to get around downtown and beyond. And the answer is not more roads and more traffic lights, synchronized or otherwise.
An elevated rail system won't be affected by cars and traffic jams, bad weather, or intersections and stop lights. Buses get stuck in the same traffic as cars, and that's a problem because they can't always run on time.
I take rail transit whenever I'm in the Bay Area or in San Diego, maybe twice a month. And it's more convenient, dependable, easier and cheaper than driving.
Honolulu should build a modern rail system, too.Dianna Lee
DON'T DENY TRAFFIC RELIEF TO LEEWARDITES
I read with great amusement letters in opposition to transit using everything from fear tactics like hurricanes and tsunamis toppling down this light fixed-rail system to graffiti on the columns.
I particularly liked the townie who wants to increase the bus fleet by 20 or more buses and write on them "fixed rail." What a productive idea. Perhaps he's lucky enough to drive to work in 10 minutes. But just because you live in town and can get to other places conveniently, don't deny residents of Leeward O'ahu traffic relief.
The Leeward side is where young families starting out can afford a home. And it is extremely frustrating and hard on them because they now have to sit in traffic for hours to get to where they need to be.
I support transit and believe that it would improve everyone's quality of life. It's working elsewhere, why not here?Y. Hashimoto
PERSEVERANCE HELPED SAVE KAKA'AKO MAKAI
By now, all of you have probably heard that we won. Our bill (House Bill 2555, prohibiting the sale of public land and prohibiting residential use in Kaka'ako Makai) will become law because the bill was not on the governor's potential veto list. There is no chance now for her to veto since the deadline has passed. She is limited to only two options now: sign it into law or do nothing and it will become law on July 11.
This is a great day for the people of Hawai'i. The people prevailed over big business, special interests and money. This is a prime example of democracy at work, which is defined as government by the people, for the people.
It's been a hard and long battle, for me, since May 2005. We persevered through highs and lows and were able to accomplish a tremendous win. We all need to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
I know for a fact that we have won this by people power. Without each and every one of you supporting this movement in your own special way, we could never have gotten the support of the legislators and now the governor to get this bill into law.
I hope that our successful movement will inspire all of you to not be afraid to stand up for what you think is right. If the cause is true to your heart, it will show, and the people will follow.
This last public oceanfront land in Honolulu will be preserved for our keiki for public use and from becoming another Waikiki.
I can finally rest easy, and as they would say in the firehouse, the incident commander has declared the fire extinguished. We all can go back to the station and stand by for the next fire.Ronald T. Iwami
Save Our Kaka'ako Coalition
OLDER DRIVERS SHOULD BE ROAD-TESTED AGAIN
I'm writing this to protect the elderly. There should be a new law for the elderly called "65 Stay Alive." At age 65, the law should require that seniors who are still driving be road-tested again to protect themselves as well as others. When you hit the golden years, your reflexes are not as sharp as they use to be.
The written and eye tests are not enough to ensure that older drivers know what they are doing behind the wheel. Going too slow on the freeway can also cause accidents.
I also care about my parents and hope we the citizens of Hawai'i will care too by implementing such a law to protect our loved ones.
65 Stay Alive. Aloha!Randy Perez
NEIGHBOR ISLE LESSON
NEED MEDEVAC COPTERS? PUT YOUR MONEY ON TABLE
If it was not about a matter of life and death, Rep. Ryan Yamane's June 30 Island Voices statement about the problems resulting from the pullout of National Guard Emergency Helicopter Services would give Neighbor Island leaders reason for mirth.
For decades, O'ahu benefited from the helicopter ambulance services provided for free by the National Guard. From auto accidents to difficult births, the Army helicopters were there for the residents of O'ahu.
Maui County residents did not receive such benefits. For 10 long years, we made our requests to the O'ahu-centric state Legislature, only to be turned down, year after year.
If O'ahu residents think they have a problem getting the emergency services that they need quickly enough, they should try to imagine the situation in Maui County. We have one trauma-grade hospital serving three islands, including some of the most remote communities in the state: the Hana Coast, the East End of Moloka'i and Lana'i. So Maui County decided to put its own money on the table, to make sure this essential state service was provided.
After a bruising fight through the Legislature, we won the right to pay for 50 percent of the cost of providing one helicopter to cover our three islands.
Rep. Yamane spoke of population expansion on O'ahu. Maui County's population has doubled since 1980, but the provision of essential state services — hospitals, EMS, schools, highways and harbors — has seriously failed to keep pace. You can expect us to have an attitude about it.
So excuse the chuckle you hear from the Neighbor Islands when statements are made about how underserved O'ahu is. If O'ahu truly has a need, and the state cannot meet it, then perhaps Honolulu should do what we did: Suck it up and put your own resources on the table.Alan Arakawa
TRADITION VS. SCIENCE
MAUNA KEA'S 'SACREDNESS' IS NOTHING BUT SUBJECTIVITY
Hawai'i is sacred and should be abandoned and left to the gods for their playground. Sounds farfetched? Not too if you consider the Hawaiian traditionalist movement's view on progress here. The conflict between "spirituality" and astronomy is one of the more recent clashes between progress and traditionalism.
Filmmaker and producer (that's how we give credibility to people, now, we define their career) Puhipau claims that "Mauna Kea is first born of cosmic forces, connecting Hawaiians to the beginning of time." Fantastic. That's the sort of ethnocentric thinking that creates division among us and fosters racism.
Allow me to submit that Mauna Kea has been here for millions of years and the Hawaiians landed less than 2,000 years ago. They may have been the first ones to the party, but we're all here now.
The idea of sacredness is purely subjective. Material cannot be sacred. No matter how high you stack the rocks (Mauna Kea is a stack 13,796 feet high) they can only be sacred in one's mind. That's a belief, not fact.
So what is sacred? Human life, by unanimous agreement — unless one murders or takes away another's dignity by violent force. The bond of parent and child? Even that's not a given. That unique relationship has to be forged in deep love.
So it seems that sacredness is earned rather than bestowed. One cannot simply point to an object and announce, "It's sacred, hands off!"
The nostalgic keepers of tradition have the people of our beautiful Islands mired in stagnation. They would label us trespassers on land and sea because of their tired beliefs. Living human beings (sacred, human life) are told to set aside the potential higher quality of life that science can give us so a stubborn handful of people can steep in tradition and bask in their stagnant lives.
Why do our brightest and best leave and not return? The brightest and best want change, want to improve their lives. Change and improvement simply cannot happen within the confines of tradition.Paul Flentge