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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 9, 2006

Letters to the Editor

HOKULI'A

USE EMINENT DOMAIN TO ACQUIRE BYPASS

Regarding the March 3 article "Race on to settle Hokuli'a suit": If, among other things, a major motivation for this special-interest legislation is to acquire a "necessary" bypass road, which may, in the long run, accelerate the disappearance of viable ag lands from actual production, why doesn't the state or county acquire the right-of-way by eminent domain?

Although it may be costly, it may be cheap in the long run, as to not do so may very well threaten the state's overall ability to retain the minimal degree of food and economic self-sufficiency that it now enjoys.

Clarence Ching
Kamuela, Hawai'i

EXCELLENT JOB

MCCLAIN RIGHT CHOICE TO LEAD OUR UNIVERSITY

I would like to address Sen. Clayton Hee's March 6 commentary about the "rush" in hiring Dr. David McClain as the next permanent University of Hawai'i president.

First, I wish to echo a comment that we've already heard, that we launched a nationwide search a number of years back and look at what we wound up with. Nowadays, universities have to resort to the use of corporate headhunters to sort out the candidates, and our previous UH president was "the best" that the headhunters could come up with?

I am a faculty member in the UH community college system, and I can vouch for how incredibly demoralized the entire faculty was for a number of years under Dr. Kenneth Mortimer and before the arrival of Dr. Evan Dobelle. I will give Dr. Dobelle credit for having revitalized the morale of the faculty, at least initially.

The job of being a university administrator is incredibly difficult, a nearly impossible task given all of the constituencies that clamor for attention and whose needs must be satisfied.

Dr. McClain has been in the UH system in a variety of administrative posts for a number of years and from all accounts has done an excellent job and just as importantly is well-liked and admired. One of the regents has pointed out that he already knows the ins and outs of the system and can hit the ground running in a permanent capacity.

I, for one, would rather have a sincere and well-meaning administrator from within the system rather than a highly touted one from outside the system who would undoubtedly clash with some of the existing constituencies and who might be more politically "malleable" due to his recent arrival in the state.

John Shen
Kane'ohe

PRESIDENT

OUTSIDER WOULDN'T WANT TO COME TO UH

In response to Sen. Clayton Hee's March 6 Island Voices commentary: Why bother conducting a national search for a new UH president? After the way the University of Hawai'i, this community and especially the UH regents treated President Evan Dobelle, why would any outsider even want to consider leading a university that appears to reject progress?

In addition, no university president can be successful and exact "change" with his or her lack of autonomy, coupled with constant micromanaging by local politicians, UH professors, UH students and the current regents.

It is no wonder UH wishes to bypass such a search. No qualified and exceptional national candidate would even consider accepting the president's position as it exists at this time, with the possible exception of Dr. David McClain. Makes me wonder why he would even consider accepting the job.

K. Stern
Honolulu

EXPENSES

FOSTER PARENTS HAVE GONE WITHOUT A RAISE

At this time of year when the mayor and the governor are thinking of ways to spend the budget, I think the foster parenting program should have some consideration. Do you know that foster parents have not had a raise since 1990? That is 16 years.

The mayor has set aside 40 percent of his budget to go for raises. Raises for whom? If I had foster children in 1990, we would certainly be living better then than we are now with the same amount of money $529, does not go a long way. This is supposed to be used for rent, food, electricity, school supplies, field trips and all the other little things that kids need. If they are older children, then they require even more.

So if there are any foster parents out there who do not know about this, now you do. So please write to your legislators.

There are always advertisements on the TV from the governor and mayor asking us to support the foster parenting program, but let's see them put some money where their mouths are.

Susan Hickman
Honolulu

PRICES

SEN. MENOR OWES US GAS CAP EXPLANATION

Finally, they seem to get it. That is, Democrats get it with the exception of the father of the gas cap, Sen. Ron Menor who also, coincidentally, is running for Congress to replace current U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

After consumers have suffered for months under the gas cap law, paying higher prices and sitting in long lines as people try to get the lower prices the day before a higher gas cap price takes effect, Sen. Menor says he suddenly has new amendments this legislative session that will reduce prices up to 16 cents a gallon.

Why did Sen. Menor wait until now to recommend these changes that he says will save consumers millions of dollars in the price of gas? If he knew these changes would do what he says they will do, why did he wait so long after the gas cap law took effect and was found to not be working before he had this bright idea? Could there be a link between him running for Congress and constant complaints from the public that his law was not working?

If he waited until now when he knew all along that he could save consumers 16 cents a gallon, he not only owes the people of Hawai'i, particularly on the Neighbor Islands whom he hopes to represent in Congress, not only an apology but also a rebate for all the gas we have overpaid for since his law took effect.

Well, Sen. Menor, fess up!

Fred Gartley
Kane'ohe

EXEMPTIONS

SENIORS ALSO DESERVE PROPERTY TAX RELIEF

Do I read the city's plan for property tax relief correctly that those of us over 70 will get no increase in our exemption of $120,000?

These graduated exemptions were established to ease the financial load of those of us as we grow older. I would think that we deserve an increase in our exemption as much as those who are younger.

As it now stands, those over 70 will bear the full brunt of the tax increase. Many of us are still contributing to our community through volunteer work by assisting our church outreach projects, museums, hospitals, drives, parks, exhibits, education, schools, events and neighbors. As a result, we add to the Islands' economy as well as relieve the city and state of many financial burdens.

We also serve as a focal point for many people who come to the Islands to visit. If we were not here, they would go elsewhere.

Possibly the decision-makers do not feel that we deserve any consideration and can be written off as not worthy of consideration. I wonder if they know that a large percentage of us vote?

Gordon Links
'Ewa Beach

SCHOOLS

AFRICAN-AMERICANS ALSO SUFFER BULLYING

I was very pleased to see that the DOE's Safe Schools Advisory Committee was finally acknowledged publicly in your Feb. 14 article on bullying.

Inasmuch as our committee has been quietly meeting since last spring, I've been among those who felt it imperative for the general public to know about this much-needed effort to combat bullying and harassment of vulnerable students in our state.

However, when I finished the article, I was shocked that there was no mention of the harassment or physical abuse often directed toward African-American students.

Long before I retired to Hawai'i and served on state, federal and county civil rights commissions, the local NAACP and women's advocacy groups, I held the strong belief that all marginalized groups should support each other.

It does a disservice to our diverse community when the treatment of gay students was the only one specifically mentioned.

Faye Kennedy
East Honolulu

PUNAHOU PRESIDENT

ROD MCPHEE LEFT A GIANT MARK

One year ago, relatives, friends and colleagues joined hands and hearts to bid farewell to one loved and respected beyond measure, Rod McPhee.

Today we reflect on Rod's life and legacy. Who was this prominent educator, and how might we learn from his journey to greatness?

Many knew Rod as the long-time president of Punahou School, "one of the architects of modern Hawai'i education," an active community leader involved in innumerable charitable works, a loving husband and father, an encouraging mentor and a kind friend.

Rod accomplished much before arriving in Hawai'i. In the mid-1950s, he joined with his friend and fellow education visionary, John Gardner, to convene the first-ever White House Conferences on Education. Then, after earning his doctorate at the University of Chicago, Rod joined the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

From Harvard, Rod and wife, Sharon, returned to Chicago, where Rod served as superintendent of the Glencoe public schools. At that time, Rod received national attention for his book, "The Organization and Control of American Schools." This prompted Rod's first visit to Hawai'i in 1965.

During this visit, Rod was a featured presenter at the Governor's Conference on Education, marking one of the first times in Hawai'i that public and private school leaders worked toward common education goals. Here Rod met Punahou President John Fox, his first connection with the school he was destined to lead.

Later, when Punahou trustees searched at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago for candidates to replace the retiring Dr. Fox, only one name appeared on all three lists: Dr. Roderick F. McPhee.

In 1967, a letter sent to the McPhee home in Chicago sat unopened for months while Rod and Sharon spent the summer in Palo Alto where Rod was teaching at Stanford. Upon returning to Chicago, they opened the door to the phone ringing. It was Punahou calling to inquire why Rod had not accepted their invitation to become its next president.

Sharon was not sure about moving to Hawai'i. Rod loved to tell about the days when his speech team from Kohler always beat Sharon's team from Chippewa Falls. After they were married, Rod would say, he never won another debate. Fortunately he prevailed in this case. In 1968, Rod and Sharon, welcomed at Honolulu Harbor by the Punahou Band, began their 26-year tenure at Punahou School.

Rod lived a life that continues to inspire us. As a leader and a teacher, his influence in education, public service and business resonates even now, one year after his death.

We expect our heroes to achieve greatness worthy of our emulation, and to teach us a lesson even as they are leaving us. Rod's last public speech in November 2004, to accept an award as chairman of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, ranks among his finest, as insightful and inspiring as the man himself.

For us, it is Rod the man we remember best and miss the most. He loved children and books and travel and good conversation and good friends and Yogi Berra and the Green Bay Packers and, above all else, Sharon.

Our memories recall images of friendship, respect, wisdom, enthusiasm, generosity, vision, optimism, excellence, fairness, civility, aloha words that might seem trite for all their unabashed goodness if they weren't all so truly Rod.

Rod often told his students that "if you are part of a community, be a part of it."

He modeled this throughout his life. Both he and Sharon, as education ambassadors, connected schools to the larger community finding elegant ways to include the voices of educators in the most important community initiatives.

More will be written about Rod later. For now we express gratitude to a leader who inspired us to deeds more noble than we dared dream of for ourselves.

Jennifer Higaki | Punahou, Class of 1999
Robert and Diane Witt
Hawai'i Association of Independent Schools