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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Letters

INOUYE

DEFENSE OF AKAKA HIGHLIGHTS PROBLEM

Regarding Dan Inouye's defense of Dan Akaka against Time magazine in the April 23 Focus section: As much as I respect Sen. Inouye, I can't let this pass.

In his opinion piece defending Sen. Akaka, Inouye is dead wrong. In defending Akaka, he cites all the things that are wrong with the legislative process as if they were good, and praises Akaka for taking advantage of all the loopholes and manipulating the system.

He says Akaka attaches riders to "must-pass" (his words) budget bills. This means he can't get his own stuff passed so he piggybacks on other people's work.

I admire Inouye's loyalty to his colleague, but it is misplaced. Akaka is useless.

Jon Evans
Princeville, Kaua'i

KROC FOUNDATION

COMMUNITY CENTER A BOON TO WEST O'AHU

Hawai'i and especially the community of Kapolei are very fortunate to be the recipient a of Kroc Community Center.

I am a former Hawai'i resident and graduate of the University of Hawai'i who was born and resides in San Diego. I have seen over the many years the generous gifts the Kroc Foundation has bestowed to several community organizations in San Diego.

The Kroc Community Center in San Diego is an amazing facility, servicing many aspects of the community: health, culture and arts, recreational, young and the elderly.

Ray and Joan have passed on, but their legacy continues. The West O'ahu communities will be grateful to the Krocs for generations.

Jim Tuyay
San Diego

ENVIRONMENT

THIRD KOKUA FESTIVAL WAS A GREAT SUCCESS

Under the Hawaiian rainbow at the Waikiki Shell, accompanied with occasional showers of blessing, came the delightful sounds of music that created an exciting setting for the Third Annual Kokua Festival on April 22.

In addition to the night's schedule, surprise guests Damien Marley, son of Bob Marley, and a poet slam-artist rocked the stage. This was definitely a fulfilling fusion of music that represented various cultures in the support of saving our environment through reducing, reusing and recycling, including Jack Johnson's "The 3-R's" song off his "Curious George" CD.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the Shell, numerous vendors displayed their artwork, new products and educational awareness of our environment. It was a pleasure to meet the "Seed Lady," a teacher from Sunset Elementary School who generously provided her booth visitors with an extensive array of planting seeds.

Rexann Dubiel gave me 10 packages of seeds for my students to plant during the last couple of days of school. Students learn about sowing seeds of life as life-long learners when they leave the classroom. Thanks, Rexann.

At another booth, Menehune Magic organic soil amendments gave away samples of organic compost made with manure for lawns and gardens. Perhaps this year my students' plants will survive throughout the summer and new school year.

And concertgoers were able to turn in their recyclables to the Kokua Hawai'i Foundation in hopes of winning cool door prizes, including an autographed guitar of superior quality.

I look forward to attending next year's Fourth Annual Kokua Festival.

Joyce Choy
Honolulu

PHONY

'HOST CULTURE' HAS BEEN APPROPRIATED

The "host culture" hoax is the most outrageous act of political theater playing anywhere in the United States.

Consider for a moment: Is the parody "culture" ignorantly promoted by the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Richardson Law School and Kamehameha Schools truly aboriginal, or is it a heap of decaying colonial/missionary rubbish? Consider the falsetto voice, guitar, Christian-style hula, 'ukulele, hymns sung to the "divine" Kamehameha, kingdom "law" and made-up-to-order "traditions."

Every unenlightened hustler trying to score votes or public money evokes his or her "love" of this phony "host culture."

There is an ugly psychological underside to it: a self-doubt possessed by Hawai'i's Asian immigrants caught in the middle that is damaging Hawai'i's authentic Native Hawaiian people. Hawai'i's citizens of Asian ancestry are paralyzed by fear that few tourists want to make an expensive trip to Hawai'i to experience Asian culture so they have plagiarized and distorted a "host culture," making it up as they go along.

Frederich Nicholas Trenchard
Hale'iwa

HAWAIIANS

RESTORATION OF 'IOLANI PALACE NEEDS SUPPORT

I'm following your coverage on the restoration of 'Iolani Palace and am baffled by the "no shows" to our historic restoration effort.

As a Hawaiian, I wonder where all these Hawaiian advocacy groups that proclaim their Hawaiian mana are. Where are these people who want to somehow build a nation or sovereign Hawai'i? Here's your chance to prove your loyalty to the people of Hawai'i and the fallen kingdom of Hawai'i. As my tutu-man used to say, "Put your money where your mouth is."

And, yes, I agree with the efforts of restoring our beloved Hawaiian culture, but in a fashionable way, the Hawaiian way with class and dignity. So now is the time to help restore Hawai'i's treasure, 'Iolani Palace.

Kapua Tani
Honolulu

HAWAI'I KAI

PROPOSED LANE WILL MAKE TRAFFIC WORSE

The proposed addition of a new turn lane from Keahole to Hawai'i Kai Drive will do nothing to relieve traffic.

It will further slow traffic in that area as even more cars attempt to merge onto Kalaniana'ole Highway at a time that will in turn increase the backup to Lunalilo Home Road.

The turn lane does nothing more than provide a longer queue, no different from roping off a longer line at the theater.

Use the $2.8 million to study synchronizing stoplights along Kalaniana'ole instead of wasting it on this illusion.

Jerry Quimby
Honolulu

TRANSPORTATION

ETHANOL REQUIREMENT RAISES KEY QUESTIONS

As of May 2006, Hawai'i law mandates at least 10 percent ethanol in at least 85 percent of the gasoline (the mix is called E10) sold in our state. I have several questions for our legislators:

  • Where can I purchase 100 percent gasoline? One hundred percent gasoline produces a percent or two more energy than does E10, and with the pump prices now over $3 a gallon, I'd like to get as much value for my money as possible.

  • Some energy exports are now suggesting that E10 may go to $5 a gallon in the next year because of bottlenecks in the supply of ethanol across the country (including Hawai'i, where we import it just like crude oil). Why are we sticking with this mandate?

  • Can we relook at our headlong plunge toward a perpetually taxpayer-supported train system on O'ahu when it becomes clear that road traffic is easing as fuel prices make it too expensive to drive?

  • Any chance of reversing this legislative mistake before it makes the much-reviled gas cap seem trivial in comparison?

    Mike Rethman
    Kane'ohe

    PHYSICIANS WITH HMSA MUST BE BETTER REIMBURSED

    It is critical that the public i.e., the recipients, sooner or later, of healthcare understand that our healthcare system has some seriously flawed symptoms. And yes, one of those symptoms is medical malpractice reform, which is leading to an exodus from and an unwillingness to go into high-risk fields by physicians.

    However, one of the symptoms that I rarely hear being discussed is reimbursement.

    Chuck Sted, CEO of Hawai'i Pacific Health, did address this to some extent in his April 30 commentary "Hospitals in crisis right now." He urged voters to write to Congress to reinstate federal DSH, "disproportionate share to hospitals." But an equally important issue should be Hawai'i's "one-payer system," HMSA.

    In February, HMSA requested yet another rate hike. Which leads to question: If the cost of healthcare is rising so, then why was HMSA able to increase its reserves from $488.8 million in 2004 to $541.8 million in 2005? The typical health insurer's reserves range between one and a half to three months of its medical claims. Why is HMSA allowed to have four and a half months of its medical claims in reserve and still request a rate hike?

    HMSA had $1.5 billion in medical costs in 2004, or $120 million per month. That translates into a $180 million surplus in reserve and it wants a rate hike. For what? The doctors participating with HMSA haven't had a reimbursement rate increase in 10 years.

    And now you know another reason why doctors are leaving Hawai'i. How would you like to try to run a business where your reimbursement i.e., cash flow is decided by a monopoly and your costs of doing business rent, malpractice insurance, employee salaries, insurance rate hikes for employees, electricity, water, office costs, etc. are constantly rising?

    HMSA spends $87 million in administrative expenses, most of which, in my experience, are aimed at denying benefits, reducing payments to healthcare providers, deciding on some arbitrary "eligible charge," "provider adjustment" and increasing patient co-pays for everything from office visits, diagnostic screening, preventive services, surgery and non-formulary medications.

    How about using some of those savings to keep qualified, caring healthcare providers caring for the health of the "Health State"?

    Deborah A. Luckett, MPH
    Honolulu

    AFFORDABILITY

    HOUSING SHORTAGE: CAN WE TALK?

    I'm glad to see Honolulu's housing shortage being discussed in The Advertiser. The article in the April 23 Focus section was a good beginning. I would like to continue it and perhaps clarify a few points:

  • "Affordable housing" is often used to mean very different things. It can mean subsidized housing (as in, "20 percent of the units to be built are required to be affordable"), or it can mean a situation in which housing prices are generally affordable to average people and families.

    Although the former does benefit a handful of people, it drives up the cost of housing for everyone else, thus exacerbating the situation it attempts to alleviate. Politicians like to call this type of housing affordable rather than subsidized because it sounds like it's free and they don't want voters to realize it is really a tax on new-home purchases.

  • Converting existing rental complexes (whether private or public) to individually owned units would help provide additional opportunities for people to buy homes, but it does not address the fundamental shortage. The effects on overall prices would likely be imperceptible, and it would reduce the number of rental units available when they are already in short supply.

  • Building a rail system may accomplish certain things, but it cannot be expected to lower overall housing prices. As proposed, the rail system appears to be intended to decrease the difficulty of commuting from 'Ewa and the Wai'anae Coast. Easing the commute will tend to drive up the cost of housing farther out from town.

    If rapid and significant housing development is approved, the rail plan could allow greater numbers of people to live farther away and still have a reasonable commute. This is often referred to as urban sprawl.

  • One strategy that should be implemented is to allow, by right, residential developments in nonresidential zoning districts. This is a variation on what is sometimes called a "pyramidal" zoning approach, in which developments of lesser impact are allowed in zones that would normally allow developments of greater impacts.

    Ultimately we can decide to allow more housing, we can choose to actively reduce job growth until it is in balance with the supply of housing we are willing to allow, or we can do nothing and accept that many of our citizens and most of our children will be unable to afford to live and raise their families here.

    Ted Miller
    Honolulu