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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 24, 2006

Letters to the Editor



There has been much debate about how to manage the fisheries of our state. We need to prevent the depletion of our ocean resources and reach a consensus on how to do it.

When fishermen say there is plenty of fish left, I take that with a boulder of salt. Commercial fishermen cannot be self-regulated; it is a conflict of interest. It is like the fox saying the chicken coop is fine.

Fish catch reports are misleading because in the old days, there weren't fancy sonar or spotter planes. Now the fish don't have a chance. Fishing on a commercial level has become sophisticated to the point that depletion is possible.

Historically, "sustainable yield" always gets exceeded. Fishermen, unlike farmers, don't replant. Continual harvest of a natural resource always results in depletion.

All you fishermen out there what do you give back to help replenish what you have taken? You reap what you sow. If you make a living by just harvesting a natural resource, your duty, your obligation, is to make sure you help with that resource's health and survival. If not, it is the American bison story revisited.

Take personal responsibility for our fisheries become a vegan.

Arthur Reppun



Regarding the news that John Carta has been charged with the illegal trafficking of artifacts from the Kanupa Cave on the Big Island (Honolulu Advertiser, March 18): Hui Malama director Eddie Ayau incorrectly stated to a reporter that by virtue of being the group that was originally awarded Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act repatriation rights in 1997, "we are the legal owners of these things."

Section 3 of NAGPRA addresses ownership by saying that "The ownership or control of Native American cultural items which are excavated or discovered on Federal or tribal lands ... shall be in the 1) lineal descendants, or 2) in the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization on whose tribal land such objects or remains were discovered."

Note that the law specifies that ownership is only applied to objects recovered from federal or tribal lands. Kanupa Cave resides on state lands. While Hui Malama had the "right of possession" through NAGPRA, it did not gain "ownership" of the objects.

For Ayau to state that Hui Malama "owns" the objects is not only legally incorrect, it is highly presumptuous. How dare he claim ownership to things that no member of Hui Malama is connected to through direct lineage. At best, groups that have right of possession hold a sacred guardianship of such objects, but to claim ownership is not legally or culturally appropriate.

In addition, Hui Malama was not the sole repatriation recipient; the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Hawai'i Island Burial Council and Ka Lahui Hawai'i were also named and participated in the process.

Nanette Naioma Napoleon



I oppose House Bill 2589, which would give psychologists prescribing authority after only 450 hours of training or 12 weeks of school fulltime.

Neighbor Island residents, the poor and Native Hawaiians are predominately the ones who would receive lower-quality care via this bill. It is not fair to discriminate types of medical care just because someone lives on Maui, Hawai'i, Kaua'i or Moloka'i.

The idea of giving an "adequately trained psychologist" a prescription pad is like giving an "adequately trained mechanic" who never went to pilot school a gassed-up Boeing 767 full of passengers. It doesn't matter if the mechanic spent seven years studying how to repair airplane cabin cooling systems or reading pilot journals. Nothing short of pilot school with thousands of hours of training under the supervision of pilots gets you a commercial pilot's license to fly human beings.

Mechanics don't go before legislatures seeking approval of shortened training on the grounds that they only intend to fly mental patients in rural areas.

This is essentially the equivalent of what HB2589 would force Native Hawaiians in rural areas to accept exposure to the dangers of lethal drugs prescribed by psychologists with less than 10 percent of the medically related class requirements.

I urge the Legislature to protect my loved ones, both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians who have psychiatric illnesses, from the dangerous consequences of this measure.

Jeff Akaka, M.D.



It is unfortunate that the rich manage to get what they want just by taking it. Sure, Judge Randy Ibarra's decision slowed the Hokuli'a developers down, but it didn't stop them.

Here in my state, I have watched indifferent mindless development literally bulldoze our homes and our history, then watch helplessly as the affluent bully us from our parks and our beaches.

Don't let this happen to your tiny islands. Don't let Hawai'i's beauty and precious natural resources be plundered so that a few may live in palatial splendor.

Duane Ellen
Columbia, S.C.



I would like to respond to Earl Arakaki's March 22 letter, "Aiona view on ice shows war abandoned." Obviously, Mr. Arakaki is not in touch with the "war on ice."

It was just several days ago that Lt. Gov. Aiona spelled out in The Advertiser what kind of things have been done by the Lingle-Aiona administration. The war on ice doesn't begin with ice. Mr. Arakaki says that the ice problem should "not be lumped together with alcohol and pakalolo. These other 'drugs' pose problems, but not like the far-reaching effects of ice." The problem starts with a minor taking that first alcoholic drink or that first hit of marijuana and progresses to crystal methamphetamine.

I am a Peer Education teacher in a public high school, and part of my curriculum is focused on drugs and advocating for healthy decision-making regarding this issue. I, along with my colleagues in other schools, have had the opportunity to work alongside Lt. Gov. Aiona with a project called "Protecting You, Protecting Me." Our high schoolers teach the elementary school students about how to protect themselves against the dangers of alcohol.

Not fighting the war on ice? On the contrary, if we can prevent children from drinking alcohol and teach them to make good decisions about any other drug, what is the likelihood of them doing crystal methamphetamine?

April Nakamura



Too many injured workers in Hawai'i remain on disability longer than needed because they do not receive the necessary treatment. Reforming the workers' compensation system could change that.

Businesses in Hawai'i pay the highest workers' comp insurance rates. Reforming the workers' compensation system could change that.

Why, then, does the Democratic-controlled Legislature time after time refuse to even consider such reforms? All legislators manage to do is to perpetuate Hawai'i's anti-business reputation and ensure our cost of living remains one of the most expensive in the country.

There is no excuse for our Legislature's failure to clean up our failing workers' compensation system.

Jerry Jordan



This is a response to the March 17 letter from Lois Ha-maguchi, the governor's communications manager. As Mayor Hannemann has publicly stated, we were well aware of the governor's desire for the city to collect the excise tax surcharge for transit, even though it seemed like an unnecessary and expensive duplication of the state's excise tax collection. For example, the state collects the transient accommodations tax and gives the counties their share of that.

However, in the interest of cooperation and finding a traffic solution for O'ahu, we agreed to pursue a change in state law that would allow us to collect the transit tax surcharge.

We met more than a dozen times with state Taxation Director Kurt Kawafuchi or his staff to seek ways to do that at the lowest cost to taxpayers. We took the hit when we considered contracting the tax collection out to a private firm. We helped draft legislation for introduction in this session of the Legislature to change the state law to reflect county collection of the tax surcharge. And we even set aside dollars in our FY07 budget for the city to administer the entire surcharge.

Contrary to Hamaguchi's statement that the mayor was publicly silent on this matter, he testified before three legislative committees in favor of the change, and the governor did not. The Legislature chose not to change the law.

Now that legislators have made that decision, we call on the Lingle administration to work with the city to prepare the mechanism for collecting the tax surcharge for the city. The time for finger-pointing and the blame game is over.

We pledge our continued support for finding the most cost-effective way to provide the local funding mechanism for a transit system whose necessity becomes more apparent each day.

Mary Pat Waterhouse
Director, Budget and Fiscal Services, City and County of Honolulu



Two recent articles written by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker are quite interesting and make several important points about public policy. Gladwell contends that we really do know how to "fix" many complex social problems, but we do not use the good data available to understand the problem fully, get confused by conflicting points, overreact, overlegislate or miss the point entirely.

His analysis is pertinent to Hawai'i's existing income tax structure and how several of the proposals being considered at the Legislature continue to hurt the poor. The good news is that there is an easy fix. We just need to do it. It is the earned income tax credit, the most efficient strategy to reduce poverty in Hawai'i.

Gladwell researched the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness and found that the vast majority of people living in shelters do so for a relatively short amount of time and, if provided keys to an apartment, would not be homeless anymore; most do not return to the shelter. He also found that this simple solution saved millions of dollars on medical care since homeless people are overrepresented in hospital emergency rooms and are very costly patients when treated.

This simple solution may be politically unpopular, but it makes the point that some intractable problems are not really that difficult to resolve.

So how does this relate to Hawai'i's record of overtaxing its poor people? Legislative proposals to increase the standard deduction for all taxpayers is not an efficient strategy to help the poor. It may be politically popular, but it is not an efficient or effective policy strategy.

Hawai'i's general excise tax hurts the poor every day and every time they shop. This tax proportionately hurts a poor person much more than a richer person since the same tax amount is placed on every item sold and purchases are not adjusted for the income level of the buyer.

To properly target the solution of the tax structure and help the poor, the Legislature should pass the earned income tax credit. It focuses only on low-income working individuals and families and is a much better cost/benefit policy than increasing the standard deductions for all people, which costs more and targets the needy less. The tax credit does exactly what it is designed to do: help Hawai'i's poor. Let's do it this year.

Susan M. Chandler
Professor and interim director, Social Sciences Public Policy Center, University of Hawai'i