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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 3, 2006

Letters to the Editor

KHON

ZIMMERMANN IS TOO BIG A TREASURE TO LOSE

I am outraged and saddened that KHON has let go a great treasure in morning show executive producer Wally Zimmermann.

As a publicist and I know I'm really putting myself and my own clients at risk of any future coverage on the station I cannot help but speak out on this particular termination by the new management.

Wally was the consummate professional to work with, a real newsman and a gentleman. Whenever I pitched guests for the morning show, he suggested ways to make their appearance more interesting, more impactful and more informative for the KHON audience. He could have just gone by the numbers and saved himself a lot of extra time and work, but he always looked for the extra punch to tell the story well. He dug up old clips, Googled the Web and even challenged me to go beyond my own plans to make the interview a better story visually, instead of just some generic sound bite.

I'm hoping they will reconsider and bring him back because he is a great asset to KHON and adds to the overall quality of its news programming.

Mona K. Wood
Honolulu

MENTAL HEALTH

COSTS ARE LOWER AT KAHI MOHALA

I feel compelled to "set the record straight" on the 11th report of the court master and recent articles discussing mental health services in Hawai'i, particularly at Hawai'i State Hospital.

I wholly concur with the problems the court has identified within the state adult mental health system in Hawai'i and the present and impending crises.

That aside, as chief executive officer of Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health, I am responding to specific references regarding the cost of care at my organization that I believe have been made due to lack of information. It is alluded to in the court report and quoted in papers that the state pays "extraordinary costs" to maintain beds at Kahi Mohala. In fact, costs for care at Kahi are less than costs for care at the State Hospital.

With Kahi, what you see is what you get (all the fringe benefits, all the indirect costs, etc). Within the State Hospital budget, you only see a portion of the information. I believe that if a direct cost and allocated cost audit were conducted for the State Hospital, one may be surprised at the actual costs of state-provided services versus those provided by a private not-for-profit.

If you were to comparatively evaluate Kahi and the state system, you would also discover there is a more efficient use of resources and lower overall "episode of care" costs.

The bottom line is that Kahi serves more people at lower cost than does the state.

Mark R. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health

KINGDOM

STATE'S SEAL SHOULD BE ON NEW QUARTER

It occurred to me that everyone wants his or her favorite item of interest on the state coin and has not considered what would exemplify what Hawai'i truly is: the only kingdom state unified for the people of Hawai'i.

The most heartening, impressive icon or logo is the state's seal. It stands to reason that it will probably be the most treasured and sought-after souvenir not only locally, but also internationally.

Douglas T. Mizuno
Pearl City

FREE SPEECH

POLITICIANS SHOULDN'T HAVE THE FINAL SAY

I agree with much of Hakim Ouansafi's commentary about the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (Island Voices, Feb. 26) and I respect and support the First Amendment right of Muslims to freely practice their beliefs.

But Hakim contradicted himself and proposed undermining the essence of the First Amendment when he wrote, "Muslims are not against the right of electronic and print media to publish as they see fit. However, no democracy or legal or political system should allow preaching of hate and insults for the sacred values and symbols of others."

Free speech dies if you allow government, if you allow politicians, to decide what subjects are off-limits for debate and discussion because politicians simply can't be trusted. I've been working at the state Legislature for six years now and I've time and again witnessed almost every politician there pandering for votes and doing things they know are wrong and trying to rationalize their behavior to themselves afterward.

One of my most sacred values is free speech, and Hakim Ouansafi inadvertently, no doubt with the best of intentions, insulted that value with his statement above. And yet, I fervently support his right to do so, because if we try to shut off speech that we personally find obnoxious, we might as well duct-tape everyone's mouth shut and confiscate their keyboards.

Jim Henshaw
Kailua

RUN FOR OFFICE

CASE DOESN'T NEED TO SEEK PERMISSION

I have one question for Lee Cataluna: Why does Ed Case need to ask permission from anyone to run for public office? It seems the "way things are done" here in the Democratic Party or even the Republican Party in Hawai'i needs to be changed. If this is a way to get folks to wake up and smell the roses, then so be it.

The idea that someone, anyone, needs to ask permission before running for public office needs to be addressed not by snide comments but by the entire population of this state. Do we want to allow the party in power to continue to dictate whom we can vote for?

Wayne Brindley
Kapolei

MALPRACTICE

DATA SHOW AWARDS BASED ON EMOTION

I feel I must respond to Mr. Patrick Shea's letter of Feb. 27. In it, he states he is against Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt's endorsement of a bill capping damages for medical malpractice. Mr. Shea states that Mr. Schmidt's "conclusion that emotion is related to the magnitude of a jury's award ... is speculative."

Unfortunately, Mr. Shea's statement is incorrect. Independent reviews have shown that not only is the amount of damages awarded by a jury often based on its sympathy and emotions and not the actual damages, but that many verdicts are not based on whether or not there was malpractice, but instead are based on the outcome of the cases.

It is important to remember a bad outcome does not necessarily mean bad medicine. The practice of medicine and surgery is often high risk, often involving decisions that must be made in seconds, without the use of information that later becomes available retrospectively. Unfortunately, bad outcomes are inevitable, despite the best medical care being rendered.

There have been numerous, peer-reviewed published articles in the medical literature attesting to these statements; I would be happy to provide references. It behooves us, whether we are practicing medicine, awarding damages or writing a letter to the editor, to make our decisions based on verifiable, accurate and unbiased information and not on our emotions.

Joseph W. Turban, M.D.
Emergency medicine physician, Kapolei

IT'S PONO

AKAKA BILL IMPORTANT TO NATIVE HAWAIIANS

The 9th Circuit Court has agreed to rehear the Kamehameha Schools admission policy matter. "Keep Kamehameha Hawaiian" is not just a T-shirt slogan; it is necessary to preserve Princess Pauahi's legacy.

The Akaka bill is closer to a vote in the U.S. Senate. It would grant indigenous people status to Hawaiians. It would protect Hawaiian-first and Hawaiian-only organizations, institutions and agencies. It would prevent lawsuits that currently threaten OHA, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and other entities.

We all need to support Kamehameha Schools and the Akaka bill. It is pono. It is right.

Anne Sabalaske
Honolulu

PROPERTY TAX

SO WE HAVE TO BORROW MONEY TO SURVIVE?

Let me get this straight, please, because I'm perplexed.

My real property tax has more than doubled since the 2003 tax year, without any noticeable increase in city services. But, according to your Feb. 25 report of Mayor Hannemann's State of the City address, when I have trouble paying the city's demanded $3,804 fee for living in my modest home, this year, Mayor Hannemann has a bold answer to solve my problem: Go borrow the money to pay the tax (from my friendly local bank).

Well, I'll give that some thought. Especially the next time I vote for a mayor.

Pamela Garrison
Kailua

BOTTOM LINE

GAS CAP LAW ISN'T WORKING OUT FOR ME

Tell me, why do our elected officials complicate things so much? Heck, all I want to know is, how has the gas cap law affected my pocketbook?

Before and after the gas cap's debut. For six months before the gas cap went into effect, I spent $540 (23 fill-ups). Highest price per gallon paid was $2.66; lowest was $2.19. Average cost per fill-up was $23.48. For six months after the gas cap, I spent $560 (22 fill-ups). Highest price per gallon paid was $3.39; lowest was $2.46. Average cost per fill-up was $25.45.

OK, now please, someone, tell me again how am I benefiting from this law?

Tim Baier
'Aiea

NU'UANU STREAM

KAYAKING DEATH MISUNDERSTOOD

Regarding the articles in The Advertiser over the past week about the man who died while kayaking the Nu'uanu Stream: Yes, the accident was tragic, but not because these men were acting recklessly.

When we participate in sports like kayaking, surfing and windsurfing, we put ourselves in harm's way. Smart, responsible athletes acknowledge that danger and respect it.

All of the men kayaking that day were professionally trained and very experienced not only in kayaking on world-class rapids, but leading trips down those rapids.

The men had scouted Nu'uanu Stream the previous day to make sure the conditions were suitable. Each of them wore a personal flotation device, all were first-aid/CPR certified and the other two actually kept the victim alive until the paramedics arrived.

Here in Hawai'i, people surf 20- and 30-foot waves. It's definitely not unheard of to surf even bigger waves. Where's the public outcry about recklessness and danger? Cars all over the island are sporting "Eddie Would Tow" stickers. Big-wave surfers are revered as fearless, brave and adventurous.

For those professional, experienced river and ocean paddlers, surfing a wave like Pipeline is much more dangerous than charging that river. None of those men would ever attempt to surf the North Shore on a big day because they know their capabilities and limits. That would be reckless for them.

On the Mainland, people kayak and whitewater raft on bigger, faster, more dangerous rivers than the Nu'uanu Stream, and those men each had the training and ability to do it safely. The truth is, this man did not capsize charging a rapid; he became unconscious and overturned in an eddy, the calm water in between two rapids.

Among his friends in places like West Virginia and the Grand Canyon, where he guided for over 20 years, the victim was known as "River Tom" because of the amount of time he spent on rivers and because of how much he loved doing it.

It is very important to reflect and respond to this incident with perspective and an open mind. His fellow kayakers both maintain that he was alert and acting normally until he fell unconscious and subsequently capsized. It is very likely that a medical complication contributed to this man's death. He was, after all, 62 years old. Sixty-year-old surfers are admired because they are still active and doing what they love to do. "River Tom" was no different.

If conditions on the East Coast of the Mainland created 20-foot waves, the public would react strongly and critically to anyone who surfed them. Growing up on the East Coast, I can tell you that that is exactly the public reaction when surfers go out in big-wave conditions that a hurricane creates. The rainy conditions last week created epic river kayaking on O'ahu, and these men were excited to take advantage of them. Unfortunately, one of them died.

But just because whitewater rafting and kayaking are uncommon here does not mean the men were reckless. When surfers die on the waves in Hawai'i, we remember them and honor their lives by continuing to paddle out into the water. We shouldn't treat this incident any differently.

Rebecca Cummings
Pearl City

ISLE WATERS

RECREATIONAL FISHERMEN MUST NOT BE DENIED ACCESS

I have been following House Bill 2881 with great interest since I am a recreational fisher. HB2881 basically states that before closures of marine protected areas are implemented, the DLNR is required to show supporting scientific data.

For once we fishermen are able to support something positive (instead of fighting special-interest groups' plans to close off waters to fishing).

My husband and I taught our children at an early age to swim in, fish properly and respect the waters surrounding our Islands. As adults, they continue to enjoy the ocean and are now having children. We would like to pass on the same opportunities to our grandchildren.

Fishing is our hobby, our passion as it is for a large group of individuals statewide. We fish every weekend regardless of whether the fish are biting. It is our sport and social activity. We have made many new and lasting friendships and look forward to the day when we retire and can fish whenever we want to.

This dream, however, is continually being threatened by the DLNR's arbitrary plans to create no-fishing areas. This is why I commend the legislators for holding a hearing and allowing testimony for HB2881, which would ensure fishermen that DLNR's decisions on any future fishing restrictions be scientifically proven.

It is important that the resources not be depleted, but for the DLNR to only focus on closing areas off to fishermen (and not the scuba divers, dolphin tours and reef walkers who also negatively affect the resource) as its "magic" solution for marine management woes does not seem scientifically sound or fair.

Fishermen were told in a public meeting that closing fishing areas was preferred over any other management solution since it is easy to enforce. Is this what management is all about? Do we have to give up our passion just because it's an "easy" way out?

We fishermen have to unify, become proactive and get involved in the process before it's too late. When closures become a reality, it won't be a temporary measure but forever.

Kathy Kikuta
Honolulu