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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 5, 2006

Letters to the Editor

MUSEUM

SAVE THE KULA KAI FOR FISHING VILLAGE

The state has spent a lot of money creating the Fishing Village in Honolulu Harbor. I would like to suggest that the state buy the vessel Kula Kai and move it to the Fishing Village.

About five years ago, I proposed using the old pumping station in Kaka'ako as a museum dedicated to the history of fishing in Hawai'i and that an older boat be placed at the facility as part of the display. I see an awful lot of space at the Fishing Village, and perhaps the people of Hawai'i could put together a museum that is dedicated to fishing.

My family goes back to the late 1930s fishing in the Islands. Dave Nottage, now on the Big Island, has a substantial amount of information on the older fishing boats in Hawai'i.

Chopping up the Kula Kai and taking it to the dump will destroy a valuable part of the history of fishing in Hawai'i. My company, Oceantronics, would be willing to coordinate this effort with the state, and I am sure other folks would be willing to participate.

Fritz Amtsberg
Oceantronics

HOUSING NEEDED

LEGISLATIVE DECISION ON KAKA'AKO A BAD ONE

The Senate and House vote to eliminate housing forever from the makai Ala Moana Kaka'ako land will cost Honolulu at least 950 housing units that could have yielded $3 million a year in property tax revenue.

In exchange, we residents get more years of blight in Kaka'ako and the prospect of no new property tax revenue.

Honolulu desperately needs more housing for all price levels. We have many adults with significant equity in current homes who want to downsize or move downtown and their equity can afford the unit price. Whenever one person moves up in home value, his old house makes room for another to move from a lower-value home to the newly vacant home.

What is abnormal is the legislative action to prohibit housing on open, undeveloped space in Kaka'ako that is perfect for higher-density use.

This prohibition demonstrates a selfish, protectionist and shortsighted reaction to special-interest groups that just do not want housing and people living anywhere near their waterfront playground.

The proposed development option would create new housing and significant additional landscaped and public access walkways, farmer's market sites and cultural exhibition areas, just to take one HCDA option. High-rise use of small pieces of this 36-acre area automatically allows for more open space for public amenities.

We need to increase the supply of housing in Hawai'i, period. With limited housing available, expect our children to relocate out of state regardless of the jobs our economy can offer.

Homeownership has become a right. I hope the governor has the wisdom to veto this bill and show that she supports housing and parks and ocean access even if the legislators do not.

Paul E. Smith
Honolulu

NO CONDOS

KAKA'AKO DEVELOPMENT MUST BE A PUBLIC PARK

Kaka'ako is once again on the front page with positive news. Our state is helping the homeless with an upgraded warehouse called the "Next Step." The other recent headline informed Hawai'i residents that the House and Senate advanced a bill to prohibit residential use of state land, killing the HCDA/A&B condo project.

Everyone wants this waterfront upgraded, and if Kaka'ako gets a new $37.5 million bio-laboratory, I doubt if anyone will ever want to buy a condo there since there is a potential safety hazard. The lab would be conducting bio-defense and emerging infectious diseases research.

The balance of the 37.5 acres must be restored and become a public park for the people. Please tell the HCDA to start over again. The public has spoken no condos on state land.

Ingrid Molina
Honolulu

KAKA'AKO

LINGLE LET US DOWN ON O'AHU DEVELOPMENT

Linda Lingle's disappearing act regarding Kaka'ako development exposes the vacuum of leadership in our governor's office.

In January, Gov. Lingle proudly announced "there is no greater legacy we can leave our children than a home they can call their own." Allow me to translate: "Home" means private luxury condo towers, while "children" means Mainland speculators.

While her work to protect the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is commendable, it is baffling that the governor would protect uninhabited atolls thousands of miles away and ignore predatory developments like Kaka'ako.

Chris Cramer
Honolulu

SURPLUS

WHAT ABOUT SPENDING IN STATE'S LEAN YEARS?

I am presently in Iraq and I have been reading with interest what the Legislature was going to do with the surplus, knowing all along what the answer would be. I see legislators plan to spend it on the usual things to pull at everybody's heartstrings: the homeless, the poor, the schools, etc.

All of these programs are funded at staggering levels in the regular budget. What this new level of spending is going to result in is a larger commitment to spending that extra amount, but where is the money coming from in lean years when there is no surplus? Will they have to raise taxes in later years to keep up with the commitment?

A wise jurist in the mid-1800s, Gideon Tucker, wrote something that still holds true today: "No man's Life, Liberty or Property are safe while the Legislature is in Session."

Larry Symons
Al Asad, Anbar Province, Iraq

SUSTAINABILITY

JAPANESE TOURISM OF 1990S A LESSON

As a lifelong Hawai'i resident, I am deeply concerned about the piecemeal decimation of our Islands to continue to cater to tourism at any cost. There comes a point at which we reach saturation and run the risk of truly upsetting a balance between a sustainable industry in tourism and creating another Miami.

We have set aside so many other ways to support our Islands to put all our eggs in the tourism basket. Do we remember what happened when the Asian economy tanked in the late '90s? The rest of the U.S. was booming and Hawai'i, which truly catered to the Japanese market, sunk right with Japan.

When we destroy the most pristine parts of our Islands to build more luxury resorts, golf courses, condos, etc. which provide low-wage jobs are we really taking care of our own people first?

We all know money is power and the developers are the ones with the money and they can hire very well-paid folks to do their lobbying to get what they want. They are experts at P.R., but do they really care about the people of Hawai'i, or do they build their project, offer a few crumbs to appease our concerns and laugh on their way to the bank?

We saw the power of the concerned voices with the victory with Waimea Valley. We can do it again if we all truly care about what is happening to these Islands we call our home and join together again to save the last vestiges of the most precious treasure we have: our land and our home.

Caroline Viola
Kailua

WITH A THREAT

BALKANIZE IRAQ AND THEN LEAVE

Today in Iraq, we keep hearing the drumbeat of civil war counterbalanced by the nuclear sword-rattling of the Iranians. Clearly, we need to focus on Iran.

Prior to the current Iraq War, Colin Powell counseled President Bush on the "Pottery Barn Principle" before going into Iraq: "You break it, you own it."

Well, we broke it. Now what do we do? We certainly are standing at the cash register paying for it to the tune of nearly $2 billon a week, 120 wounded and 15 dead.

The nation of Iraq is a fiction created at the end of World War I. An English bureaucrat took a red pencil and drew the borders on a map without a clue as to who lived there. While it was poorly done, it had to be done. Faced with the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and Winston Churchill's decision to move the English navy from coal-burning to oil-driven warships, Britain was keen to secure the oil thought to be in the region. Earlier, in 1914, Britain made Kuwait a protectorate to ensure that it had a port in the Persian Gulf. Upon trying to occupy and rule the infant state of Iraq, the British army suffered the same indignities, carnage and deaths that we Americans are enduring now. The British installed a puppet king and promptly got out.

Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, closely resembled the former state of Yugoslavia. The only thing unifying the separate ethnic and religious factions in the Balkan states was a hatred of the brutal dictator Josef Tito. Both men brought stability and order to their respective countries at a terrible human price. Now it is the American Army that finds itself trying to avoid using the same tactics that Tito and Saddam used, and we are being viewed by the Islamic world as modern-day holy war Crusaders and imperialists.

Iraq has become a magnet for hot-headed young Arabs and Muslims spoiling to fight Americans alongside disgruntled Baathists and Sunnis who fear what democracy could mean to what was once their control of the nation. It is even more improbable that democracy could even take root in the region given the mistrust between the Shia and the Sunni.

The solution, it would appear, is to permit the breakup of the nation. Give the Kurds their independence along with the oil fields and establish permanent U.S. military bases in Kurdistan.

Set up a provisional government for the remaining lands of northern Iraq, the lands encompassing the Sunni Triangle. Set up another provisional government for the southern lands occupied by the Shia.

Make it crystal clear to Iran, Syria and Turkey that if they attempt to annex any of these former Iraqi territories, we'll take the same action we took against Saddam when he invaded Kuwait. We'll have our bases in Kurdistan to supply the muscle to enforce the threat.

Iraq's broken. There is no good reason to try to glue it back together. Then we can focus on Iran's nuclear threat.

Creighton W. Goldsmith
Former U.S. Customs adviser to CENTCOM during Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait, Qatar and Afghanistan in 2002

RANT ON CORE CURRICULUM IGNORES HAWAI'I PROBLEMS

Teaching should not be limited only to what an individual teacher knows or feels like teaching. But that is the premise of professor Paul Deering's rant against a core curriculum in Hawai'i's schools, because he feels that students are doing just fine (Advertiser commentary, April 28).

A report by WestEd entitled "Student Achievement in Hawai'i: Final Report" dated July 1, 2004, found that the opposite is true. Here is a summary of the findings:

  • K-12 student achievement in Hawai'i is very low. Substantial improvement on the HAS, SAT-9, NAEP and SAT-I is necessary before performance can be considered acceptable.

  • Using NAEP as the primary measure of student achievement, students in Hawai'i perform very poorly as compared to the rest of the nation.

  • Hawai'i's national ranking is consistently at or near the bottom of states across various student assessment and performance indicators.

    Overall, four out of 10 students in Hawai'i's public schools are proficient in reading. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Caucasian students fare better, with a little better than half of all students performing at grade level. Proficiency levels in mathematics are much lower across all demographic groups and are near the bottom nationally.

    Public school students who take the SAT-I to qualify for entrance into college had the lowest combined verbal and mathematics score (951) out of 23 states with at least 50 percent participation rate.

    Therefore, despite professor Deering's claims, all evidence shows that the Progressive Education Movement where teachers leave children to their own devices in hopes they will somehow discover bodies of knowledge cultivated from worldwide civilizations throughout the ages is a terrible failure.

    Teachers like Deering may be averse to the discipline of teaching a curriculum that will allow Hawai'i's students a chance to be on equal footing with other students nationally and globally, but parents expect no less for their children.

    Laura Brown
    Education policy analyst, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii