Letters to the Editor
THE LINGLE CARD
LISTEN TO THE HEART OR HEAD ON SEN. AKAKA?
For many Democrats, the choice in the upcoming Democratic Senate primary will be a very difficult decision.
The heart says that Daniel Akaka has served Hawai'i loyally and competently for the past 30 years, therefore he deserves to choose when to retire. Many also want to give him the opportunity to see his namesake legislation, as the only congressional member of Hawaiian ancestry, passed as the final chapter in his valuable legacy.
The head, however, says that it is highly unlikely that Sen. Akaka, if he wins this year, would run for re-election in 2012 at the age of 87. By that time, Linda Lingle will be primed to step into the Senate seat after finishing her second term as governor in 2010 and then will have had two years to campaign and fundraise.
Given the difficulty Democrats have had in finding a credible challenger in the gubernatorial race this year, it's hard to imagine anyone beating her in a race for an open seat. And having a Republican representing Hawai'i in the Senate may just be too much for many Democrats to stomach.John Cheever
BUS SERVICE CUTBACK MAKES PLENTY OF SENSE
This is in response to the letter from Napua Ahina entitled "Bus service cutback doesn't make sense." I do not work for TheBus, but let me address the concerns about "taking away much-needed bus stops."
The goal of TheBus to become more efficient by eliminating some stops is well-intentioned. The stops in mind for elimination are not the isolated "much-needed" stops, but the redundant stops.
While riding many routes, you will notice that some bus stops are less than 200 feet apart from each other. The average bus is 50 feet long; 200 feet is four bus lengths, or the length of two large electrical extension cords.
For instance, there are several locations within Waikiki where there are two bus stops on the same block. This is a redundancy. One example is immediately after you cross the canal on Kalakaua Avenue, on both sides of the street, with one stop at the beginning of the block and one at the end of the block.
Likewise, another example is on Liliha Street, as it starts at North King and it approaches North Vineyard. There is a bus stop in the middle of the block that everyone uses, then there is a stop at the end of the block that occasionally someone will be standing at. I measured it one day. These stops are about 150 feet apart from each other.
Having stops that close together is counterproductive. It ties up traffic, is not fuel-efficient and, worst, it makes your travel time on the bus longer. This is the measure of "being more efficient" that TheBus is working on, and I welcome a shorter period of time in getting to work in the morning than the current 75 minutes it takes me.Curtis J. Kropar
CASE COULD HELP END WASHINGTON GRIDLOCK
Partisanship prevents the U.S. Senate from accomplishing the urgent national agenda.
Forty loyal Republican senators refuse to budge from their party line. Across the aisle, 40 committed Democratic senators won't budge from theirs either. They lock horns on every bill, and the American people suffer from this legislative process by partisanship.
The public needs and deserves less partisanship in the Senate. We should build up the strength and power of the 20 senators, some Republican and some Democrat, who stand between the partisans. These senators in the center could seize control of the legislative process and do the business of the American people, not their political parties.
As a lifelong Democrat, I share much of Sen. Akaka's political perspective. And I recognize he has held steadfast to that perspective. But I'm sick and tired of Washington gridlock. Like Emperor Nero fiddling as he watched Rome burn, the Senate's two groups of partisans are focused on gaining petty political advantage while our problems worsen.
I think at this particular time our state and our country needs a strong leader more than a strong partisan. We need someone who can help the Senate's critical mass in the center move America forward by making the hard decisions that are often unpopular with partisans. That's the reason I'm backing Ed Case for U.S. Senate.Lunsford Dole Phillips
THEATER PROGRAM MUST BE CONTINUED
I wish to add my voice regarding Castle High School and its drama theater plight. What Ron Bright created for students in bringing his considerable talents as drama teacher and coach, and ultimately gifting our community and children with an outstanding theater on campus, has been and is extremely valuable.
Particularly as a target school for students who have a strong interest in the performing arts.
I taught as a special-education teacher at Castle High for several years. Ron Bright and Greg McCall, another excellent special-ed teacher, gave our students wonderful opportunities, backstage as well as onstage. A unique setting for academic and psychological growth in every arena: math, history, literature, cultural enrichment, teamwork, industrial arts, demonstrating artistic talents, science, gaining of self-respect, respect for others, tolerance of others, learning, feeling and a sense of personal pride.
The value of such a very fine theater program and experience must be permitted to continue at Castle High School or any school. It's one of the brightest stars we have as an educational tool for students and teachers alike.Karin Kosoc
HERE'S HOW TO MAKE STREET FLOW BETTER
Kapi'olani Boulevard is quite wide but flows terribly. The biggest problem is that vehicles often block the right and left lanes, leaving only the center lane to move consistently well.
There are a number of reasons why this occurs, including the large number of curb cuts (i.e., driveways) along the road, buses stopping for passengers, etc.
Functionality could be improved dramatically by eliminating left turns (especially into driveways) along the stretch from downtown to McCully. This would inconvenience some drivers, but it would double the number of free-flowing lanes along the roadway.
Ideally, left turns would only be allowed where a left-turn lane could be located separate from the through lanes, even at major intersections. It is simply a case of employing the best possible management of our existing transportation resources.Ted Miller
RETURN THE 'RAINBOWS' TO UH FOOTBALL FANS
Here's just one reason why I hope, with spring practice just around the corner, we will start the 2006 season by announcing the return of Rainbow Warriors football.
This is a business, revenue-driven reason. Remember the uproar about 20 years ago when "Coke" was replaced with "New Coke"? And remember the tremendous publicity and boost in sales when "Classic Coke" was brought back? The same would happen if the Rainbow Warriors were revived. Publicity and excitement would fill the air. Many season-ticket holders who have left would return.
And if the "H" logo could be modified to include a rainbow, clothing apparel and souvenir sales would skyrocket, going way beyond the already tremendously improved revenues brought about just by the "H" alone.
I already know next season is going to be exciting, and more wins will be bringing more fans to the stadium. As "Rainbow Warriors," however, the anticipation, enthusiasm and excitement would truly be even greater.Stephen Chinen
POLITICAL INTERFERENCE NEGATES COMMENTS
Sen. Clayton Hee's comments about a wider search for a UH president would make sense if it were not for his political interference into the affairs of the university, a regular habit rather than an exception, it seems, by local politicians.
Finding a president with the profile Hee suggests seems almost comical and improbable given how "Downtown" has yet to allow the university the autonomy promised and required by any president and/or the university community to achieve levels of excellence desired.
Given the administrative and budgetary chaos at UH recently, our current president needs support rather than political innuendo or criticism.Vincent Linares
RESORT PLANS WOULD HARM RURAL LIFESTYLE
I'm sure the planned Turtle Bay development would be wonderful for the owners. What about Hawai'i residents? How are that many more resource-sucking tourists getting to the North Shore?
I've seen nothing about planned infrastructure improvements, especially roads. That road (only one, a narrow two-lane) hasn't had improvements since Kamehameha's time, has it? And if changes were made, how would that affect the rare rural lifestyle residents of O'ahu are rapidly losing?
Pity those living along there now.
Let's keep the tourists in Waikiki, where they belong (and Hawai'i already destroyed), and for Pete's sake, stop renting them cars!John Wilber
DEMOCRATIC PLOY SMELLS OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION'
Hawai'i and Rhode Island Democrats are taking old plays out of Political Corruption 101, only on a national scale.
A rich Rhode Island CEO contributed the maximum legal amount of money to Rhode Island Democratic Senate nominee Matt Brown. He then gave $6,000 to the Hawai'i Democratic Party, which in turn gave $5,000 to the same Rhode Island politician.
Sounds kind of like certain businessmen in Hawai'i who were convicted of giving friends and family members $4,000 each so that they in turn would contribute $4,000 through a false name to a Honolulu mayoral candidate to circumvent Hawai'i limit laws. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were funneled into the campaign this way.
The Matt Brown campaign took in $25,000 with the help of Massachusetts and Maine, in addition to Hawai'i. If the Brown campaign was in Hawai'i, that $25,000 may be enough to investigate a Class B felony money-laundering charge (knowingly transferring or acquiring over $10,000 when the proceeds are from illegal activity and that activity involves concealing the true source of the funds). This is not unlike a Hawai'i corporate executive who pleaded guilty to felony money laundering a few years ago for doing the same thing for the mayoral race.
In any event, the party shouldn't be supporting specific Democrats in primary elections in the first place, because all the candidates are from the same political party. However, history shows that the Hawai'i Party as a whole likes to pick favorites in primaries (e.g. Hirono vs. Case; Akaka vs. Case).
On the other hand, if they really weren't supporting a specific candidate, as the party's chairman indicates, then that means they could have been doing it to make a profit of $1,000.
The third alternative is that dates and amounts are pure coincidence. Oops, we didn't mean to accidentally cut a $5,000 check from the party account to a Mainland candidate in a primary election.
It seems that whichever side of the aisle you're on, party politics is politics as usual. This year, a wise voter should look for independent candidates who are less tied to political parties or institutions and are more accountable to their constituents.Charles P. Izumoto
INCENTIVE TO WORK
FOCUS STATE TAX POLICY ON POOR
OK, "Hawai'i must raise standard tax deduction (March 3 commentary by Sen. Robert Bunda)." Social and economic justice dictates such an action. So while the Legislature looks into this long-overdue change in state tax policy, it should take this opportunity to develop a more comprehensive plan to address the issue of poverty in Hawai'i.
While tax policy is clearly not a cure-all and while there are other critical issues, the process needs to start somewhere. Since everyone knows there is a budget surplus and that the Legislature seems intent on using a big part of it to benefit the taxpayers, the cards are on the table. The hand that Sen. Bunda revealed plays naturally to the role of tax policy in dealing with the issue of poverty.
A simple idea can serve an initial unifying thread: Government should find ways to stop making work a burden on the poor. This just might keep a lot of folks from falling deeper into poverty or even from becoming homeless. Tax relief should be focused more on the working poor instead of the already rich.
As Sen. Bunda so accurately depicted, Hawai'i has one of the highest income tax burdens on the poor. Add the excise tax on everything and it's a wonder more families are not so deep into poverty that homelessness is not a greater problem than it already has become.
Sen. Bunda's commentary references the Feb. 22 Advertiser article "Families in poverty pay state taxes, too." This article begs the question, why do we tax those living below the poverty line anyway? The senator correctly points out that we must do something about the fact that families in poverty pay state income taxes, and he refers to a recent report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which found Hawai'i to be one of the worst states for taxing the poor. Using the same methodology, if all we do is increase the standard deduction, next year's center report will still show that Hawai'i is embarrassingly bad at taxing the poor.
According to an analysis done by the Honolulu social research and consulting firm 3Point, a single parent raising two children currently pays state taxes when her income is only $9,800 (third worst in the U.S.). Increasing the Hawai'i standard deduction to 50 percent of the federal amount would start to tax this family at $10,800 (fourth worst in U.S.). It helps, but since the federal poverty level for this family is $15,577, it is clear more must be done.
A state earned income tax credit almost made it out of last year's Legislature and should be passed this year. Since the credit provides an incentive to work and rewards low-income earners, not penalizes or demoralizes them, it would be a good part of the plan.
A state earned income tax credit of 20 percent of the federal amount would increase our single parent's tax threshold to $20,000 (15th best in the U.S.). The budget surplus provides a jump-start for dealing with the issue of poverty. Now it is time for the Legislature to work for a better future by making it pay to work.Wayne M. Tanna
Professor of accounting, Chaminade University