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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 2, 2006

Letters to the Editor



I totally disagree with the proposal for the city to consider supplying a graffiti wall so the graffiti artists can spray their trade on this wall rather than on public and private structures such as freeway walls and commercial buildings.

First, graffiti just does not blend in with what Hawai'i is known for its beautiful environment.

Second, who will maintain this wall? Taxpayers?

Third, if they want to graffiti walls, then how about doing artistic murals that reflect a Hawaiian environment such as what artists Wyland and Lassen do?

Finally, why, then, don't they go graffiti their own homes?

This is Hawai'i. If they want to mar this beautiful island scenery with meaningless letters and shapes, then go do it in L.A. or on the East Coast.

Rick LaMontagne



I am a 17-year-old girl who knows that Hawai'i is an extraordinary place. Nowhere else in the world does the air smell as sweet; nowhere else is the view so overwhelming as here in Hawai'i. But looking out the airplane window, all I see are buildings and apartments that closely resemble the Mainland.

Being the governor of Hawai'i, Linda Lingle has the power of change. As a keiki of Hawai'i, I ask that she use that authority to justly represent the real people of Hawai'i. The people of Hawai'i also include the children, the future of Hawai'i.

In the past 17 years, I have seen many buildings go up, but there has to be a point where enough is enough. The beauty of Hawai'i is slowly being taken away year by year.

If you take away Kaka'ako, you will have taken away family barbeques, romantic sunsets and the pure fun of living in Hawai'i along with it. A horizon of buildings has already blocked all valleys and mountains visible from the water at Kaka'ako. No longer can a surfer sit and enjoy the peaceful view of pure nature.

Hawai'i means so much to the children. They cannot run around in shopping malls, movie theaters or concrete parking lots all day. We need the fresh air and vast open lands to live a healthy life. We need to preserve the little real land that we have left. We need to feel the grass beneath our feet, the sand in our toes and the water in our hair.

Please don't take away the beauty of Kaka'ako from the keiki.

Chelsea Iwami
Friends of Kewalo Basin



Isn't it true that before the gas cap went into effect:

  • The price of gasoline here was about in the middle of the range of prices on the Mainland, and while the gas cap was in effect, we were the highest in the nation?

  • And now, with the gas cap gone, our prices are again about in the middle of the range of Mainland gasoline prices, the price of gasoline having risen in the meantime?

    Shouldn't this show our fearless leaders that price controls don't work?

    Ted Chernin



    As a taxpayer and educator, I get mad every time I see commercials asking for donations so that disadvantaged kids can have school supplies.

    Given our incredible tax burden, I expect the state of Hawai'i to fully fund our public school system. This must include all necessary school supplies. Public education is a state responsibility, not a charity.

    To add insult to injury, most of the school supplies we purchased for our son were never actually used. This may have been good for Longs but was a big waste for us.

    I see a system that is crumbling and lacks modern educational tools but asks parents to supply copious, costly supplies that are not used. This makes lower-income parents accept a cruel, degrading "charity."

    Somehow people need to gain their senses and live up to their responsibilities. I say no to false, shameful "charity" and yes to responsibility.

    Being responsible seems dull, but there is a tremendous satisfaction that comes with doing a job well. Why do we deny ourselves the deep joy that comes from educating our children? We are indeed penny wise and pound foolish!

    David T. Webb



    Supporters of the Akaka bill indicate that the proposal for a separate government for indigenous Hawaiians would have no adverse effect on the state of Hawai'i. But a survey last week by the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i and other considerations may indicate the opposite.

    In 1959, 94 percent of the people of Hawai'i voted for statehood, including a majority of indigenous Hawaiians. But the institute's survey indicates support for statehood (in retrospect) for supporters of the Akaka bill has declined to 64 percent. We can only speculate, but it may be that publicity on the Akaka bill has had some effect in undermining support for the state.

    From a functional point of view, the duplication of public services to provide for both the state and the indigenous government would be expected to result in a decrease in efficiency and an increase in costs.

    Without any information as to how the indigenous government would operate and how it would provide public services, it seems a bit risky for Akaka bill supporters to indicate that the bill would have a positive effect on the state.

    Frank Scott



    "No private land, home or property will be taken away unjustly." So writes former Gov. George Ariyoshi in an effort to reassure us that the Akaka bill is a "not to worry" piece of legislation.

    Well, his inclusion of the word "unjustly" leaves me more worried than ever, especially since the Akaka bill does not require a vote of acceptance by the people of Hawai'i.

    The Akaka bill, if passed, would be imposed on the people of Hawai'i by the government state and federal. Definition questions would either be decided by our state Supreme Court (and the justices who gave us "Broken Trust") or by the U.S. Supreme Court (which gave us the property-seizure approval of Kelo vs. New London).

    No, Mr. Ariyoshi, your reassurance does not make me feel one bit more secure. Frankly, it scares me to death.

    Paul E. Smith



    As the fate of the Akaka bill is apparently to be finally decided upon, it may not be a bad idea to review the origins of U.S. federal Indian law and the government's plenary relationship with American Indian nations. The meaning and effects of this historical policy should be a sign of the probable negative consequences of a future Hawaiian nation under the Department of the Interior.

    The 1823 Johnson v. McIntosh Supreme Court decision has long been recognized as the beginning of federal Indian law. Chief Justice John Marshall determined that the United States could not recognize Indian title to lands purchased by the plaintiffs from the Piankeshaw Indians of Illinois in 1773 and 1775. He instead ruled in favor of the defendant who held a land grant from the federal government. The decision articulated the U.S. theory of "aboriginal title," which established the government's plenary or ultimate authority over Indian affairs.

    Marshall's ruling secured dominion over native lands as the Spanish crown had done in the late 15th century. Marshall wrote that at that time, Indian nations' "rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished."

    In justifying this point in the Johnson case, the court was forced to revert back to the principle of "discovery," which was based on Christian dominion where title to lands was awarded to European nations to the exclusion of all others. Marshall's decision acknowledged the purported superiority of Christian nations and people over "heathens" and "savage tribes."

    This dehumanizing and racist element is the rationalized foundation of the Johnson ruling, and hence federal Indian policy.

    Unfortunately, the precedence for seizure of Indian lands did not end there. In establishing U.S. case law, the 1831 Cherokee Nation v. Georgia case and other key decisions came to set the legal standard for the subsequent treatment of Native Americans. The Cherokee ruling reduced the internationally recognized sovereign status of the Cherokee nation to that of a "domestic dependent nation." Andrew Jackson's exercise of the government's plenary power soon after led to the "Trail of Tears," or the attempted removal of the indigenous population east of the Mississippi. The rest of the 19th century is filled with similar horrors, culminating in the massacre at Wounded Knee.

    Most of the 20th-century U.S.-Indian relationship did not get much better. For example, it is well-documented that the uses of "blood quantum" quotas and "tribal rolls" have been divisive and genocidal. American economic development and acquisition of resource-rich reservation lands were the bottom-line justifications for these policies. And while some indigenous groups have certainly made significant gains in recent years, Native Americans in general are at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder today.

    The historical development of federal Indian law for American Indian nations and people has consistently meant the usurpation of their human rights, lands and resources when U.S. interests are at stake. This is the meaning of plenary power under the Department of the Interior and is the political and legal status the Akaka bill would fall under if approved.

    Tony Castanha



    The two political conventions last weekend showcased a major difference between the parties by their treatment of contested congressional primaries.

    At the Republican convention, the party was scrupulously neutral in its treatment of the two candidates for the U.S. House seat, giving Bob Hogue and Quentin Kawa-nanakoa equal time, equal treatment and back-to-back speaking slots so the attendees could decide for themselves whom they preferred.

    At the Democratic convention, the party blatantly sided with Daniel Akaka over Ed Case for the U.S. Senate seat, with the de facto head of the party, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, giving an introductory address strongly endorsing Akaka and not quite implying that Case isn't really a Democrat: "Unfortunately, there are some Republicans who have usurped the language of Democrats, just as there are some Democrats today who hide behind labels like fiscal conservative."

    The unequal treatment didn't end there, with Ed Case given a lukewarm introduction by a less prominent Democrat, Senate President Robert Bunda, with a time slot later in the day when the crowd had thinned out and fewer TV cameras were on hand.

    Apparently, the people running the Republican Party believe in competition between candidates in letting its members define what the party stands for and who should represent its ideals.

    The people running the Democratic Party, on the other hand, believe in letting a handful of the old guard preserve the status quo at all costs they're for equality in the Orwellian sense of "everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others."

    But don't just take my word for it Case essentially said the same thing: "We call ourselves the party of the people, of the majority of Americans, yet we too often allow ourselves to be co-opted by narrow perspectives or special-interest few. That is what is wrong with the Democratic Party: Because I don't agree with you, your solution is I can't be a member of the Democratic Party."

    A Democratic friend of mine, explaining why he refuses to vote a party-line ballot any more, said, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party the Hawai'i Democratic Party left me."

    Jim Henshaw