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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Letters to the Editor

NORTH SHORE

BROWNOUTS ARGUE AGAINST NEW BUILDING

Can we handle more development given the electrical brownouts on O'ahu?

Oaktree Capital would like to build 3,500 hotel rooms and condominiums on the North Shore. This is great for jobs there, but the consequences of this development far outweigh the benefits.

Tourists and locals will be hot during the summer months because HECO is unable to handle the demands now. The rural character of the North Shore will be damaged. The traffic will be a big headache during the large-wave season and weekends.

In addition, Stanford Carr said there is a critical need for family housing in Hawai'i Kai 200 to 500 million-dollar air-conditioned homes in Kamilo Nui Valley and Paiko Ridge Partners would like to build and sell million-dollar air-conditioned homes on 338 acres above Niu Valley.

Hawaiian Electric cannot supply the electricity now and in the near future. We need to unite to save the livability of O'ahu and Hawai'i.

Pat Hong
Hawai'i Kai

EFFICIENT

LOOK TO EUROPE FOR HOW FERRIES WORK

What's the big deal on the Superferry? Twenty million dollars has been set aside. Ports and islands exist.

Other countries in the world have used ferries to ply their waters for years. Take Greece, for example. I've been visiting Greece for 35 years. It has the old, huge, slow clunker ship ferries, carrying cars, commercial trucks and people. You can book a deck seat or a cabin if it's a longer interisland trip for overnight sleeping. This isn't rocket science.

Greece also has super-fast ferries for people, cars and trucks; and then Flying Dolphins, fast hydrofoils that are for people and their baggage only.

Why can't Hawai'i figure out the same type of travel that Greece has done and proven is a very efficient way to go from island to island? Not to mention all the other countries that have the ferries.

Private cars line up on one side of the docks by a certain time before departure, commercial vehicles on the other side. The space down the middle is for off-loading vehicles. There are restaurants and bathrooms there to keep everyone happy and fed before departure. Cars and people get off, people and cars go on.

Each trip has vehicle allotment, so the military wouldn't be able to hog all the space; it'd just be factored in like every other class of vehicle.

Empty space not booked is filled up within the last hour, on a first-come basis.

For goodness' sake, if Hawai'i government officials can't figure it out for themselves, then get on a plane and see how they do it in Europe. You all are not reinventing water travel. Maybe what you need is a combination of superferries and hydrofoils.

Jeanne Elizabeth Blum
Kihei, Maui

LEI IN OCEAN

TOSS FLOWERS ONLY

Lots of lei tossed in the ocean on Memorial Day. Lots of string tangling the reef today. When will we learn to snip the string and only toss the flowers?

Jan Newhart
Honolulu

AKAKA BILL

DON'T ALLOW HAWAI'I'S FUTURE TO BE DIVIDED

Please set the trees in the Akaka bill debate forest aside and remember the yet unborn who will pay for our choice.

Humans have only lived on Hawai'i's islands for 0.0000025 billion years, but we will live here for another 5 full billion before the sun burns out.

Please let those yet unborn be born as equals and neighbors. Let them inherit "local" and "American," whose magic is that both designations are open to all and denied to no one by bloodline anyone who adopts their principles and respects their neighbors is welcome.

Don't condemn Hawai'i's future people to a land already partitioned by bloodline.

My reasons are simple and endless: Croatia and Serbia, the slaughter of one African tribe by another, Nazis who believed that Jewishness passed through the mother's egg, and so on throughout all of humanity's short, cruel history.

When people live as one people, there is peace and prosperity, but as Abraham Lincoln brilliantly warned, a house divided cannot stand.

George L. Berish
Kaka'ako

ATTACKS

STOP THE SHARK TOURS

How many more shark attacks (and sightings that close our beaches) is it going to take for folks to get angry about the three shark tour boats going out from Hale'iwa chumming for sharks so they can make some money? The sharks are learning a new feeding behavior from these shark tours that seems very dangerous to those of us who frequent the North Shore beaches.

K. Bryant
Hale'iwa

NINTH GRADE

TRADE SCHOOL A GREAT WAY TO CURB DROPOUTS

The Advertiser's May 31 editorial describing the need to address the ninth-grade transition year in public schools was right on target. I teach in high school, and all the reasons mentioned for dropping out are accurate, in addition to many others.

The editorial was especially meaningful in bringing to light the need for alternative fields of study "career pathways" as opposed to a college-only mindset.

The failure to recognize this need is a major contributing factor to the low self-esteem and consequent despair many of our young people experience. Instead of the trades being regarded as a "plan B," we need to instill the inherent value of these careers at an early age.

The Building Industry Association and Honolulu Community College have both initiated programs to assist in this vital area. We as a community need to encourage and support our youth in their chosen field of study, whether it be college or trade school.

Hats off to you, Advertiser.

Debbie Pollock
Honolulu

JOHN B. KELLEY

CYCLING COMMUNITY HAS LOST GREAT LEADER

If Hawai'i had an unofficial ambassador of cycling, it was John B. Kelley. In his kind and humble way, John was a leader, advocate and sportsman who strengthened the cohesion within the cycling community and helped pave the way for motorists and cyclists to coexist harmoniously.

He was the backbone of the Hawai'i Bicycling League for over a decade, and because of John, bike advocacy exists in Hawai'i along with bike education for kids and community rides.

There isn't a cyclist in Hawai'i who has not benefited from the endless and tireless volunteer efforts of John B. Kelley to promote the safe cycling and community involvement. Now that John is no longer here, we must all step up to fill his shoes and continue the legacy he left for us.

Please share the road, be a true sportsman in your competitive and recreation riding, and be the concerned friend that exemplified John's approach in life.

We will sorely miss you, John. Ride well.

Atomman Kimm
Honolulu

PLANT IMPROVEMENT

DESPITE THE LEGEND, TARO RESEARCH MUST CONTINUE

The ancient Maya believed that they came from corn that the gods molded their bodies from ground kernels of corn. Wisconsin's Professor John Doebley notes that "perhaps the Maya were right; without corn, there'd be no people (in the Americas)."

Taro's legends are similarly profound. It is god-like to Irian Jayans; Samoans view it as a gift from the skies; Tahitians attribute it to the feet of man. Most Pacific people are right; without taro, there'd have been no people (in the Pacific).

Both corn and taro are ancient energy-rich plants. Known as "amphidiploids," they evolved through species hybridization millions of years ago. The most accurate estimate for corn is 4.8 million years, from rice-like ancestors. Ongoing studies by Fijian and Australian scientists show that genetic variation among 2,206 different taro varieties traces them back to Papua New Guinea, many years before it was inhabited by man.

But Homo sapiens evolved from chimpanzees. According to a recent study published in "Nature," this occurred in Africa about 5.4 million years ago. We share 98.8 percent of the chimp's genes. For thousands of years, our species also hybridized. We're hybrids, but not from corn, nor from taro.

Plant improvement is a century-old responsibility of the University of Hawai'i, as it is of Land Grant universities in all 50 states. Products of this crop improvement are true gifts to growers worldwide. But they do not come from our incantations or flutter down on the wings of mythological stillborn cosmic babies. They evolve due to our hard work.

Thanks to these genetic improvements, U.S. corn yields have risen from 3,300 to 8,800 pounds per acre in only the years since Hawai'i became a state. Here in Hawai'i, the continued evolution of corn and taro must involve searches for genes providing resistance to diseases, insect pests and abiotic stresses. We're losing the battle with taro, now 90 percent imported.

So, with due respect to protesters, let's separate our myths from the facts, and keep improving taro and all of Hawai'i's crops.

Jim Brewbaker
Kailua

CONSENT DECREES

MENTALLY ILL DESERVE GOOD CARE

I am writing in response to a March 29 letter recently brought to my attention entitled "Consent decrees aim too high."

As I first read the letter, I was a bit taken back by the perspective of the author. A person in this role, above all others, should be advocating for the best care possible for our most disadvantaged citizens.

The broader implications of the position taken by the author would relegate a group of our citizens to second-class, mediocre care simply because of the diagnosis they carry, in sharp contrast to those suffering from other illnesses.

Consent decrees do not aim too high, but provide an opportunity for states to dramatically improve care to this forgotten, discarded group whose members are labeled mentally ill. The states that struggle the most are those where the gap between the levels of care that is being provided and the level of care that should be required is the greatest.

As a society, we set our visions too low for this group of individuals. By doing so, we contribute to the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the mentally ill, cleave physical from mental diseases (as if the latter were "flaws in character" instead of biological diseases) and perpetuate archaic notions of mental illness and treatment.

Should Hawai'i be held to lower standards of care than other parts of our nation? Is that what the people of Hawai'i deserve? It is specifically that level of apathy that both stigmatizes those with mental illness and prevents the public from understanding that mental illness is a treatable biological disease.

The state should not see a consent decree as a threat but a rare opportunity to change both attitudes and services for those suffering from mental illness.

The author is correct in his statement about finite resources. The accuracy of his statement will be borne out as long as there is overreliance on expensive in-patient care. Hawai'i will not be able to sustain, much less expand, its investment in community care.

Hawai'i is at a critical point as we approach disengagement from the long-standing federal suit for the adult mental health system. The system must be moving in a more economically sustainable direction that of reducing the overreliance on inpatient care to have the resources to create the community infrastructure necessary to maintain those with mental illness outside of hospital settings.

I concur with the writer's observation that the present process has broken down into adversarial oversight, but having read all of the court reports, I do not agree that the compliance standards are at all obscure or overreaching. In fact, from my perspective, the goals are modest in terms of service development.

All other fields of healthcare aim at delivering the highest-quality standards of care and continuous quality improvement. Are somehow those with mental illness worth less than others in need of medical care in our society? Aren't the people of Hawai'i deserving of our best efforts and best possible care?

Mark R. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Chief executive officer, Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health