Letters to the Editor
HEALTHY STRATEGIES, YES, BUT NOT JUST ON TEST DAY
The Feb. 27 front-page article on easing the stress of the Hawai'i State Assessment exam named some of the healthy strategies schools are using to help students do well on the exams.
Our children and teachers deserve mental, emotional and physical health practices — a good breakfast, encouraging students to come to school on time, asking parents to be sure students get a good night's sleep, soothing music during the school day, muffins and juice, helping students have a can-do attitude — to be a part of every school day.
What matters on test day matters every day. And, support and self-management strategies like these are the precise focus of Hawai'i's Health Education Standards, a part of HCPS III that deserves to be taught every day, too.Beth Pateman
CITY SHOULD NOT BASE TAX ON VALUATIONS
I hope Honolulu's elected officials pause in the happy task of distributing their real estate tax windfall to consider its foolishness: A tax whipsawed by Hawai'i's gyrating real estate values has no place in determining Honolulu's budget. A budget should be intelligently and consciously set to progress predictably from year to year.
Isn't it time Hawai'i abandoned the tax-first, think-later mode? Neither the city's tax-first, budget-later real estate tax, nor the state's tax-first, plan-later GET increase serve Hawai'i well.
Private-sector condominium associations also distribute an operating budget over the relative values of each owner's unit, but they have a better approach. They budget first. Then they spread the budget over unit values, not vice versa.
Even better, associations use floor space to measure relative value. They do not penalize people who improve their property, or reward speculators who let them run down, as the city does. The city might assign a different per-square-foot value to different locations, but within those locations it should charge the same tax to the same area, not help speculators hold property in a junk state by lowering their tax.
Today's powerful computers can enable the city to budget first and then spread the budget over real estate values. Using objective square footage to measure each taxpayer's share, instead of today's subjective valuations, would save many times more than is needed to pay for those computers.George L. Berish
HOLD ON, NOT ALL OF US WATCH TELEVISION
Edgy Lee asserts in her Feb. 23 op-ed piece that what's happening at KHON affects us all. She's obviously under the mistaken impression that all of us watch local TV. Some of us manage to stay quite well-informed the old-fashioned way: We read.
Also, Lee is dreaming if she thinks changes in FCC regulations would make commercial TV programming at the local level any less banal than it already is. Better that the government simply tax commercial stations for use of the public airwaves and funnel the revenue to non-commercial stations.David M. Walter
HOMELESS CAMPERS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED
On a recent visit to Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park, I was very concerned to see a dozen homeless citizens with tents camping in designated picnic areas.
It was obvious that this practice had been going on for some time. One camper was running a small gas generator close to the tent, a potentially dangerous practice. In addition, the area adjacent to the diamondhead concession stand reeks of foul odor from improper use.
My concern is that park users should be able to use those picnic areas closest to the beach clearly designated as picnic areas. The park is certainly big enough to set up designated areas within the park equipped with facilities for use by the homeless.
Our public parks should be safe and sanitary for use by the general public. What is the city doing to address the plight of the homeless in our parks?
I see the city is finally renovating the old restrooms on Magic Island in time for the big Centennial Celebration & Carnival. What does it plan to do with all the homeless that weekend? Is it going to kick them out as it did the last time, causing a dehumanizing situation?Roger Izuka
SAVE THE NORTH SHORE FROM OVERDEVELOPMENT
A mall at Sharks Cove, almost losing Waimea Valley and now 3,500 new units at Turtle Bay. When is enough enough? It's time for people who care to band together and save the North Shore community, again, from overdevelopment.
The North Shore is a rural community as well a favorite recreational destination for the people of O'ahu and the second most popular visitor destination on the island. A development of this magnitude would take away its charm and its most important asset of "being country."Carol Philips
KING KAMEHAMEHA SHOULD BE ON QUARTER
I can only hope that the advisory commission decides on placing King Kamehameha on the back of the state's quarter.
It is only fitting that we commemorate the man, the legend and the symbol that represents the history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands.
Many of the other ideas represent the "tourism" aspect of Hawai'i. Let's take advantage of this opportunity to recognize the Hawaiian people and their heritage.Brian Matsusaka
ACADEMIC FREEDOM ALSO APPLIES TO UARC
The question of whether or not the University of Hawai'i should establish a university affiliated research center is really about academic freedom and equality for professors and students who want to do scientific and technological research for the military.
If anti-military studies and research are allowed, then so should pro-military studies and research. If open (unclassified) programs are allowed, so should closed (classified) programs. That's what equal opportunity should be about. Not just what anti-military factions want.
OK, regents, do the right thing.Russel A. Noguchi
LIMITING MAINLAND GIFTS IS HYPOCRITICAL
The Democrat-controlled state Legislature passed a bill restricting contributions from Mainland individuals and companies to local candidates. Some Democrats are also calling for the governor to return all campaign contributions raised outside of Hawai'i.
But the fact is all four members of Hawai'i's congressional delegation receive a lot of their campaign money from Mainland contributors. Sen. Inouye collected 62 percent of his 1998 campaign war chest from Mainlanders.
Will the Democrats also demand that Sens. Inouye and Akaka and Reps. Abercrombie and Case return any contributions they have received from Mainland sources? I doubt it.Christopher Wright
WAIKIKI TO CHINATOWN
MAYOR, COUNCIL: SAVE THE E BUS
The thrust of Mayor Hannemann's State of the City address last week seemed to be that he was emphasizing substance over frills. But this is certainly not the case for the public transportation sector.
TheBus is presently concentrating on several rather silly initiatives: a marketing program to boost ridership (as if anything other than better service or lower fares will do that); a demonstration project to offer wireless Internet access on buses (the human sardines on the high-volume routes will certainly get a lot of use out of that); and a pilot program to sell newspapers on selected express buses (as if they aren't already available at bus stops).
At the same time, TheBus is undertaking a program to eliminate bus stops — not to improve service, but for the sake of fuel efficiency.
Meanwhile, TheBus has put its touted At Your Service Personalized Trip Planning Program on hold "until they catch up with all of the pending requests," according to TheBus' Web site, "due to an overwhelming response."
And despite popular clamor — as manifested in numerous letters to the editor, a petition signed by some 900 of Honolulu's citizens and the support of four neighborhood boards and the Waikiki Improvement Association — there is still no sign of the slightest interest on the part of city officials, elected or appointed, in restoring the E express route.
Indeed, the mayor even boasted about the cancellation of the $50 million Bus Rapid Transit project in his speech, as if the E bus cost anything even remotely approaching that amount. Are things really that bad at TheBus? So bad that they can't even answer their e-mail? So bad that buses can't make as many stops as they used to? Can it really be that the city can't even keep up the level of service (including an E express route in full operation) that we had only a little more than a year ago?
There seems to be plenty of money for travel to other cities and countries and planning meeting after planning meeting when it comes to amorphous future mass transit projects such as rail or ferry. These projects, of course, may well offer significant improvements to traffic congestion and citizen mobility at some time in the future, but they should not be allowed to distract attention — or funding — from our present public transportation needs. Current voters would prefer the immediate relief of the E's return to a vague promise of unspecified improvements sometime in the next decade.
The Save the E Bus Coalition has asked the mayor and the City Council to fully fund the E express bus route in the fiscal year 2007 budget. (The E, of course, was the popular but short-lived express service from Waikiki to Chinatown, along a unique route through the Ala Moana/Ward shopping area, Kaka'ako Kai and the Aloha Tower Marketplace.)
Honolulu's bus riders, the one segment of society that actually helps to alleviate traffic rather than to worsen it, deserve the respect, attention and support of their city officials. The mayor and City Council must stop neglecting TheBus and its riders and budget whatever funds are necessary to bring back service levels, including the E express route, to what they were prior to the last election.Julie Molloy, Laura Warfield
Save the E Bus Coalition
MY HONOURABLE FRIENDS OF THE ARTS IN HONOLULU, ALAS
Inspired by "The Funeral Speech" from "Julius Caesar" (Act 3, Scene 2) with apologies to William Shakespeare:
Friends, teachers, administrators, lend me your ears: I come to bury performing arts not to praise it: The critics of art live after them, the actors are oft interred with their prose, So let it be with performing arts. The noble critic Hath told you performing arts was expendable; If it were so, it was unfortunate And grievously hath performing arts answered it. Here under Castle Complex and the rest (For the critics are an honourable lot, So are they all honourable critics) Come I to speak at closing night. The plays were bold, fun and fine; But the critics say they were expendable; And the critics are an honourable lot. The arts hath brought praise to the Complex Whose values can be seen in children's faces: Does this experience seem expendable? When the audience did applaud the arts did shine: But can we measure that with scores and tests? The critics say it was expendable And the critics are an honourable lot. How can it matter that a child know The magic of a curtain call Take a bow, hit a note, make them laugh. The critics say it was expendable And sure they are an honourable lot. Bear with me, My heart is in the coffin with performing arts, And I must pause till it comes back to me.Richard "Mr. Mac" MacPherson
Performing arts teacher, Gifted and Talented Program, Castle Complex