Letters to the Editor
'DISASTER DAY' WOULD SHOW US WHAT IT'S LIKE
Repeated stories of state preparations for disaster focus on officials and their plans and problems. The difficulty boils down to the simple fact that repeated admonitions to the public to be prepared are ignored. This won't be solved by more talk.
We have Admissions Day, Kamehameha Day, Kuhio Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day — lots of holidays. Why not a "Disaster Day" holiday?
Everyone could evacuate to their designated shelter, bring cookout stuff, see where they'd be housed, and end it all with entertainment, fireworks and a tailgate party at each of the evacuation sites. Guess what? We would really find out firsthand what it would be like, and people would:
WATADA DECISION WAS HONORABLE THING TO DO
It is painful to read the bitter reactions to Lt. Ehren Watada's statement refusing deployment to Iraq. As someone who opposed the war from its beginning, I was startled and grateful for his courageous stand, but I also knew that the likely prison sentence would be only slightly more difficult for him to bear than the reaction he would get from fellow soldiers, veterans and even those who had never worn a uniform.
Of course, there are many soldiers who speak of Lt. Watada's action as dishonorable and cowardly. If they did not, they would have to confront the enormity of their own contribution to this terrible, terrible war. Their comments are designed to wound, but they are also truthful when they say that soldiers cannot question commands. Armies depend on this extraordinary discipline imposed on their warriors, and it is a discipline that deserves admiration.
This is why I admire Ehren Watada. For there is no way that he could have sacrificed his connection with soldiers, his part in a time-honored tradition, his very being, except for the most important of reasons. Every soldier who has ever risked his or her life for fellow and country and has had to suspend his individual choices, and occasionally even the morality he was taught in church and family to do his duty, faces the possibility of coming to the realization that this war is unjustified — or worse, an evil.
For the rest of us who are not soldiers, we should be the ones confronting the administration and leading this country to face what it has done to Iraq and to its own sons and daughters.Jonathan Osorio
SHAPIRO'S HANDICAPPING OF CASE SEAT OFF BASE
In David Shapiro's June 21 column "Handicapping the wannabes for Case's seat," he stated that Mazie Hirono is making a mistake by heavily courting the women's vote. He also stated that it is "curious" that Emily's List is ignoring the men in the contest.
First, it is a policy of Emily's List to only endorse women.
Second, Mazie is not playing the gender card, but is continuing the important work of Patsy Mink in ensuring that women in Hawai'i have the same opportunities as men in all facets of life.
This is a goal worthy of any politician, male or female.Joshua Wisch
GIVE US INFORMATION ON GMOS' 'DANGERS'
It seems that almost every week there is some article in the paper about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the "dangers" of these products. I hear of constant cries from farmers and consumers alike that GMOs are all bad for us. I don't quite understand what the dangers really are as no one can really tell me what it is so bad for us.
For example, genetically modified papayas are supposedly "bad." Just recently there was a group of Greenpeace activists visiting a Big Island farm in full protective gear to rid an organic farmer of this "contamination" in her field. What really is the danger of this genetic contamination that they claim?
If there is really a danger of GMOs, instead of putting on demonstrations and eradications of the contamination, won't someone please give me some real data on this fear rather than constantly ranting about these baseless claims of dangers to stir up the emotions of the uninformed consumer?Joni Kamiya
TEACHERS' PAY ISN'T WHAT AILS OUR SCHOOLS
In response to Tom Delgado's letter of June 21, the facts are these: Public-school teachers on O'ahu make more than their counterparts in the private-school sector. It seems it's a frequent complaint leveled against the taxpayers of this state that we don't pay our teachers enough.
Perhaps Delgado could then explain why most private-school teachers wake up excited to go to work, while most public-school teachers wake up wondering if their union got them another waiver day.
Our public schools have many serious problems, but pay isn't one of them.Jonathan Hunter
SCHOOL UNIFORMS SHOULD BE FLEXIBLE
I am 14 years old and an eighth-grader at Washington Middle School. I, along with two of my classmates, Ebony Masaniai and Leilani Pelep, are working on a project called the Interdisciplinary Unit for school.
The problem is that if we have to wear uniforms, then we should be able to have different colors and styles to suit any weather. We have uniforms that have a huge logo in the front that is another problem. We want to have uniforms that have a small logo in the corner instead of the middle.
The issue is that we have only one type of T-shirt that only suits one type of weather.
This project is important to us because we want different types of uniforms instead of one color and one type with a huge logo on the front. We want jackets, tank tops and T-shirts so we could be ready for any weather. We would like to have different colors such as white, black, green and gray.
My partners and I took a survey at our school and the results show that out of 766 people, 618 agree that we should not have uniforms. My partners and I are writing this letter and making a petition to get 300 or more signatures to give to our principal to try to change his mind about our uniforms.Anelamaikalani L. Sigrah
HOW ISLANDS BECAME MONUMENT
While I join in applauding declaring the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a monument, I did want to clarify a statement made by one of your commentators (William Brown, "Sanctuary a victory long in making," in the June 18 Focus).
Museum keeper Bill Brown is generally correct regarding the history, but with his historical vantage point largely from the Washington, D.C. beltway rather than the Islands, he glosses over some important local issues and considerations when commenting on former Gov. Ben Cayetano's views.
It's important to consider that the Clinton administration was winding down when talk arose about using the Antiquities Act for the NWHI, with the Interior Department taking the lead on management, with assistance from the Commerce Department. The Hawai'i congressional delegation, except perhaps Sen. Daniel Akaka, preferred a sanctuary designation approach.
When Gov. Cayetano was briefed by then-land board chairman Tim Johns, DLNR deputy Janet Kawelo and other DLNR personnel on the NWHI proposals, he supported protecting the NWHI. However, he preferred the more open sanctuary designation for the following reasons:
As a result, the DLNR worked with the Clinton administration and the congressional delegation to develop a plan to protect the NWHI, while addressing the governor's concerns in the executive orders that eventually were issued. DLNR worked with the president's Council on Environmental Quality on the executive orders to include language that protected the NWHI, but allowed for an extensive public process that would also safeguard the state of Hawai'i's sovereignty concerns.
When I served as land board chairman, Tim Johns stayed on to work on the reserve issues as a member of the advisory council.
In the six years that have gone by, many of Gov. Cayetano's concerns have been addressed. The NWHI will be protected. An extensive public process has taken place since 2000, although more is always possible. The state will be a co-trustee of the monument along with Interior and Commerce. The Hawai'i congressional delegation is not opposed. The impacted fishermen will be compensated, and the broader NWHI fishing issues will be settled, although obviously not to everyone's satisfaction.
The largest issue remaining is the treatment of the state ceded lands interest in the submerged lands.Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
Takitani & Agaran Law Corporations, Wailuku, Maui
INDUSTRY IN TROUBLE
LOW-FARE AIRLINES BAD FOR INTERISLAND FUTURE
Hawaiian and Aloha airlines barely get out of bankruptcy when a predatory low-cost airline, Mesa, decides to enter the market with a new airline and prices below what can support real airlines. Soon letters to the editor are written gloating that Hawaiian and Aloha should be punished for their high fares and that Mesa's go! airline is doing the right thing.
The shortsighted opinions in these letters do not take into account the facts and realities of the airline business.
It has been amply proven over the years that three major interisland airlines cannot survive in Hawai'i. Two can barely survive. Each time the local airlines begin to break even, another new entrant comes in and starts up a cheap airline that eventually fails, leaving Aloha and Hawaiian weakened and close to (or in) bankruptcy.
The entire U.S. airline industry is in trouble. The majors are under attack all over the country by new entrant airlines that in turn usually fail as they start to mature, leaving the remaining airlines weakened financially.
Air fares (adjusted for inflation) in most markets are lower than they were in the 1960s, yet the airlines' fuel costs are 200 times as high as they were then (even adjusted for inflation, they are over five times what airlines were paying in the 1960s). Airfares should really be about three or four times as high as in the 1960s, not less.
The current low fares have caused many airlines to dump their pensions on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which in turn is about to go bankrupt. That will require a massive taxpayer bailout that will end up costing everyone.
If airlines had been able to charge reasonable prices, all this dislocation could have been avoided. But the constant attacks by low-fare airlines, whose costs are so low because they do not have the overhead, have depressed airline fares and caused bankruptcies and salary and benefit cuts that have hurt employees and the tax base of the state and federal governments in turn.Bob Gould