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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

Letters to the Editor

PROGRAMMING

PUBLIC BROADCASTING IMPORTANT TO ISLANDS

The change in ownership at KHON2 and the ensuing turmoil should remind us that at the end of the broadcast day, commercial television and radio stations are always accountable to their owners through high ratings, strong advertising revenues and profitability. KHON2 is not alone. All commercial stations are in business to make money.

These are interesting times in the media universe. Things are moving and changing faster than anyone could have imagined. But it seems to me that some things should remain simple and basic, like truth and impartiality.

This points to the ever-increasing importance of our Public Broadcasting System and their affiliate stations such as our own PBS Hawai'i and Hawai'i Public Radio.

Unlike commercial stations, public broadcasting is in business to bring us programs that reflect many diverse points of view, uninfluenced by commercialism. This is something we should demand and support in our Public Broadcasting stations.

Imagine, something on radio or television that isn't trying to sell us anything. Note to self: send in a donation to HPR and PBS Hawai'i.

Stuart Yamane
Kane'ohe

RIDERSHIP

BUS DOESN'T WORK, WHY SHOULD TRANSIT?

I am a senior at Kamehameha High School and have recently researched the city's plan to create a new mass-transit system and the City Council's approval for a tax increase to help fund the system.

I live in Nanakuli and travel by school bus to Kalihi every school day, so I know what it is like to sit in morning traffic on the H-1 and H-2 freeways. The traffic is really terrible some days, and sometimes I wish that there were fewer cars on the road.

However, O'ahu already has a mass-transit system, and apparently, due to the increase in traffic, this system has been somewhat unsuccessful. TheBus Co. has buses that service Leeward Coast commuters to town, yet there is more traffic now than ever.

It seems that most people prefer to use their own cars rather than help alleviate traffic by taking the bus. If the people of Hawai'i are presently against the use of public transportation, what reason does the city have to assume that commuters will fully use a new mass-transit system?

Traffic is predictable. I know that if I leave Nanakuli at 6:30 a.m., I will probably reach school at 7:30 a.m. All commuters should know by now how long they sit in traffic every morning and they should know the heavy traffic hours. Commuters can easily lessen traffic during these high-traffic hours by leaving their homes earlier.

I think some sacrifices must be made, and I would rather sacrifice an hour of sleep in the morning to beat the rush than sacrifice the "$450 a year for the 15 years (the tax) is in force," as reported by the Tax Foundation of Hawai'i.

Jerica Manoa
Nanakuli

MCCLAIN CRITIC

PROFESSOR MIGHT TRY BEING A LITTLE HUMBLE

Professor Joel Fischer engages in the age-old faculty hobby of placing the blame for UH's academic positioning squarely on the shoulders of the administration. He takes it one step further by stating, "I know that we will not progress with more years under (interim President David) McClain."

It has been my academic experience that student learning outcomes are hindered just as much by faculty who assume that they know all truth (even to the extent of having a "prophetic" ability to see into the future) as by poor administration.

Transparency is a valid issue in creating first-rate education, but so is faculty humility.

Norman Wright
Hau'ula

WHALE SEASON

SUPERFERRY SHOULD GIVE A WIDE BERTH

If the Superferry were required to stay north of Moloka'i on its daily voyages from Honolulu to Kahului Harbor during the whale season (Dec. 1 to May 1), it would save the lives of many whales. Also, on its daily voyages from Honolulu to the Big Island, if it would stay west of Lana'i and Kaho'olawe, it would save many whales.

By staying out of the National Whale Sanctuary, far fewer whales would be run over and killed. This is simply common sense.

Not long ago, someone dumped excess fish from a lay net catch into the water, blood and all, off Honolua Bay and there were numerous sharks in the area for about a week. The beaches were posted with "Shark Warning" signs. So picture sharks all over the place attracted to injured whales from Dec. 1 to May 1 each year and ask what this will do to tourism and the lifestyles of local people who like to swim and surf in the ocean.

Jet skis and parasailing are banned in the whale sanctuary during whale season, and the Superferry should be, too.

Bob Babson
Kihei

HISTORY

HAWAIIAN ARTIFACTS SHOULD NOT BE HIDDEN

I visited the Academy of Arts recently to view the artifacts of Hawai'i and our Polynesian cousins. My three grandchildren and I had a wonderful time and were much impressed with all we saw.

Then my eldest granddaughter, Kawena, asked, "Papa, how come Hawaiians hide our things in caves?"

Not expecting to hear these words from the mouth of an 11-year-old, I said, haltingly, "Because they think it's the right thing to do."

Then came the response: "But why?" Nothing more was said.

On the way home, I thought how interesting her observation was. Indeed, our cultural artifacts and heritage are buried or interred by a select group of Hawaiians, while others share their cultural objects, opening the light of knowledge of our past ancestors, no matter how these originals were obtained.

To hide one's history or anything pertaining to it is divisive, depriving the children of the next generation their connection to a past, giving them reason to exist in the present and succeed in the future.

Kaha'i Topolinski
Waipi'o

NOT ENOUGH

FORMULA FOR SENIORS' TAX RELIEF NEEDS FIXING

So if you're under the age of 60, you get an additional $40,000 exemption, but if you're over the age of 60, you only get an additional $20,000 exemption. What's up with this?

Do the property value increases of seniors' homes go up at a slower rate? Does the City Council think that seniors can better afford to foot the bill for additional taxes?

Shame on our City Council!

Richard Eaton
Hau'ula

EDUCATION

STATEWIDE TESTING HAS NO STICK TO IT

Contrary to Beverly Creamer's article, statewide testing has no ramifications at all for students who do not perform well. As a 20-year teacher, I urge you to make your readers aware of this problem.

There are neither rewards for top performers nor penalties for students who fail to learn in our schools. This is true not just of the Hawai'i State Assessment exam, but is rampant throughout our system.

The Department of Education has consistently put off requirements that our middle school students even pass a single course in order to be promoted to high school. For years, we have been told the passing will be required "next year," even though we have had a policy in effect for 20 years banning social promotion.

The HSA exam started out to replace another as a graduation requirement that would have forced us to make huge improvements in real learning by students. I recommend that, lacking the backbone to make success on the HSA a graduation requirement, we instead fund scholarships for students who score well on the tests. Lacking the stick, the carrot may suffice to instill student ownership of this exam and their learning.

Steve Stephenson
Volcano, Hawai'i

NEW SCHEDULE

GIVE POLICE OFFICERS PERMANENT SHIFTS

I'm writing in response to Major Terence Yuen's letter of Feb. 21. As a current HPD police officer who is married to an HPD police officer, I find his remarks arrogant regarding his ability to buy a home, raise a family and live on a small salary. Thirty-three years ago, sure, but not now.

It's inevitable that we are moving to the 5-8 schedule, but hopefully it will be with permanent shifts. The major says the general public does it, so why can't we? Not a problem. The problem comes if management decides to rotate the shift. The general public doesn't change shifts every six weeks and days off every four weeks. That is really difficult for a family to live with.

So, the 5-8 schedule has its costs, too. It's just not the monetary costs that management looks at, but the personal costs that parents look at of not being able to correct their children's homework, eat dinner with them and tuck them in to bed every night.

So what is more valuable, money or family? We shouldn't even have to ask.

Shellie Paiva
Waipahu

CAMPAIGNS

OUT-OF-STATE GIFTS SHOULD APPLY TO ALL

Sen. Daniel Inouye has consistently raised more than half of his campaign funds from Mainland individuals and companies. For example, 62.4 percent of his campaign funds in 1998 and 55.4 percent for 2004 were from out-of-state corporations, unions and individuals.

Why did the Democrat-controlled state Legislature only raise a hue and cry when Gov. Lingle began raising Mainland campaign contributions? If they want the governor to return contributions from those outside of Hawai'i, they should demand that Sen. Inouye do the same.

Marian Grey
Hawai'i Kai

RENEWABLE SOURCE

STATE, HECO MUST INVEST IN OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY

Gov. Lingle's energy initiative does not go anywhere near far enough to make a useful dent in Hawai'i's oil dependence.

Hydrogen technology is great, but hydrogen must be either derived from natural gas or generated via electrolysis. Natural gas is in declining supply like oil, and electrolysis requires electric power from another energy source. Nearly all of Hawai'i's electricity currently comes from oil. How is the state going to obtain hydrogen with no reliance on fossil fuels?

The plan for ethanol development is targeted only to replace 20 percent of automotive oil consumption by the year 2020. Given the increasing demand for automotive fuel, this will leave Hawai'i using just as much oil for transportation in 15 years as it does today. Anyone who thinks that our state will be able to afford that much oil at that date, if it is even available at any price, hasn't read a newspaper in the last year.

The only technology that appears to have any hope of providing renewable energy on a large scale here in Hawai'i is not even mentioned in the governor's plan: ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). This technology was demonstrated at the Kona renewable-energy lab years ago.

That project operated at low efficiency but was based on now-outdated turbine technology. A plant built with a modern Kalina-cycle turbine is projected by OTEC proponents to be capable of far greater efficiency, and OTEC, unlike wind or solar power, is not weather-dependent and is therefore capable of baseload (i.e., always on, like an oil-fired turbine) power generation.

A local network of OTEC plants would be more than capable of providing enough electricity for local usage as well as hydrogen generation, perhaps even enough of the latter for export.

The state and HECO need to invest heavily in OTEC while they still have the finances and oil-based energy availability to do so. A negligible ethanol production facility and hydrogen from smoke and mirrors is a sure recipe for total economic and social ruin.

Roger Davis
Technical staff, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

COMMUNITY PLANNING

KAILUA VOTED TO KEEP B&BS OUT

The Feb. 27 op-ed piece concerning bed and breakfasts and transient vacation rentals exemplifies a problem that exists in planning the long-range future of a community, especially one with a nice beach like Kailua.

The problem is that some people feel a valid course to follow is one based upon the short-term profit that can be extracted from the character or amenities of a community. But what does it mean for the long-term future of that community?

This shortsighted entrepreneurial spirit either consciously or subconsciously ignores the fact that residents of a community in the United States have the right to plan for what they feel is the proper future of their community. We have a Sustainable Communities Plan for the Kailua area that was adopted after precedent-setting resident involvement in its preparation, and which has been approved by both the City Council and the mayor.

In the case of bed and breakfasts and transient vacation rentals (TVRs), the matter was widely discussed in the late 1980s and determined that they are not compatible with a long-established residential community such as Kailua. They were considered as inherently inconsistent with residential living. This was done in the context that they are permitted in tourist areas that are designated elsewhere on the island. As a result, any new B&Bs and TVRs were prohibited in Kailua as well as in many other communities.

According to proper zoning law, the existing ones at the time were allowed to be phased out over time referred to as "nonconforming" uses. It appears that any that were subsequently established were by people who did not know the law or who disregarded it.

A failure to follow the established long-range Sustainable Communities Plan and zoning for the area is contrary to the community's democratically adopted desires. It is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Kailua, whether it has been done by some homeowner or by a business group interested in increased profit.

If some residents of Kailua feel that there is reason to modify the long-range plan for the community, such as changing it to a tourist destination, then the proper way to do this would be to follow the established procedures to revise the existing plan, not to break the law or end-run the City Council and mayor by appealing to the state Legislature.

Charles A. Prentiss
Member, Kailua Neighborhood Board, Planning and Zoning Committee