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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 19, 2006

Letters to the Editor



Now, I realize that our president is telling us we are at war and that the U.S. military has been having difficulty for some time meeting its enrollment quotas but enough is enough.

The U.S. Army calls our home asking for our 18-year-old daughter at least 10 times a week. I have on at least 15-plus occasions kindly told them that she is in college, has no interest in the military and to please stop calling our home. All to no avail.

Yesterday, I finally snapped when the staff sergeant calling told me he had a right to keep calling and then he said sarcastically, "Thanks for supporting the troops." That was it.

I told him that my son has already served two tours in Iraq and that our family does support the military. I am sick and tired of what has become harassment for us by the U.S. Army recruiters.

They say that many military branches have the list and use it, but the Army is the only one we are getting harassed by and it refuses to remove my daughter's name from it.

I wonder how many calls the Bush daughters get from the U.S. military?

Stop this harassment!

Forrest Shoemaker



When I first came to Hawai'i 12 years ago, I was shocked by the amount of graffiti ruining the urban areas of Honolulu. As I moved around O'ahu, I noticed how widespread the problem is.

Stop sometime at any bus stop and you will see it covered in vandalism with indecipherable lettering, profanity and names. In fact, go inside a public bus and you will see the same on the seats and interior walls of the buses.

Go into public bathrooms at our beaches and parks or simply drive by construction sites and you will see graffiti thrown up on the walls and on the sides of privately owned trucks and equipment.

Many public high schools are covered in so much graffiti you would think you are in L.A. or N.Y.

The question, of course, is why do these young people do this? The answer is they have no respect for their home. They have no respect or pride in their Islands or the 'aina. And why do they lack such pride? Because they are not taught to have pride in their homeland.

A lot of lip service is given to "Hawaiian Pride" and "Island Pride." But such pride begins in taking care of your land and keeping your land clean and graffiti- and litter-free. Blaming tourists is ridiculous when you drive through Kalihi, Kane'ohe or Waipahu, areas not frequented by tourists.

We have to teach our young people to respect, love and preserve their homeland if it is to survive.

Shawn Lathrop



Some experts in Washington, D.C., say that Social Security as currently constituted will run out of funds by 2040.

Part of the American Dream has been Social Security benefits in which the dreamer thought that employee-employer contributions would be safe and available when needed. Not so. Funds were not kept separate and safe.

Bye-bye, American Dream. Just another Ponzi scheme.

Richard Y. Will



Recently, my 84-year-old widow neighbor called for help in the renewal of her Handi-Van ID card. I didn't realize the time-consuming process the permanently disabled elderly need to go through for renewal. It is a four-step process:

  • You need to get the Handi-Van application form.

  • You need your physician's certification for disability.

  • You need to take those forms or mail them to the City Hall registration office for approval. The approval letter will take 10 to 14 days upon receipt.

  • You need to take the approved letter to the bus pass office for a Handi-Van ID card.

    There should be two types of Handi-Van ID cards: one for the temporarily disabled and one for the permanently disabled, similar to the state of Hawai'i disability placard. The state placard for the permanently disabled is simple and involves only a two-step process.

    When I called the mayor's office, the secretary told me to write a letter to the mayor. As an 80-year-old person, I am aware of the many problems of the elderly requiring caregivers. The renewal process for the permanently disabled needs to be simplified and made easier.

    Takashi Omiya



    Sen. Akaka says he will give a speech every day to "educate" his colleagues about the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill, S.147. His speeches are filled with errors and distortions. This bill would be disastrous to Hawai'i and all of America.

    Therefore, a Web page at tinyurl.com/ne4mr has been created to provide corrections to and comments about Sen. Akaka's speeches. The site also includes the report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights strongly advising senators to vote against the bill, and the speech by Sen. Lamar Alexander citing that report.

    For a five-paragraph summary of what's bad about the Akaka bill, with extensive documentation of main points, see: tinyurl.com/5jp5r.

    Ken Conklin



    We have a 95 percent seat-belt compliance rate and HPD is starting yet another seat-belt compliance sweep along Honolulu roadways. What is wrong with this picture?

    Why not put that federal money toward the war on ice and other illegal drug traffic. There are infinitely better uses for those funds, including solving the many property crimes that plague our state. HPD could work on finding the thieves who are stealing plumbing fixtures and copper wire from our tax-funded public facilities and highways.

    Hawai'i is finally tops on a list that is positive, yet our law enforcement resources are wasted tagging the small minority of motorists who have yet to comply with the seat-belt law?

    It's ironic that there is no mandatory helmet law for motorcycles, and adults are allowed to ride in the back of pickup trucks with no belts. Those activities are so much more dangerous than being in the airbag-protected cab of a car, yet go unregulated.

    Let's get our priorities straight and put our hard-earned tax dollars to things that matter catching real criminals and locking them up.

    B. Cho



    Emperor George W. Bush's plan to deploy the National Guard to secure our border and, at the same time, to allow these so-called "guest workers" into our country reeks of doublespeak.

    What is the point in securing the borders at all if we just allow more and more illegals to come into this country to do the dirty work? Those political hacks in our nation's capital are full of hot air; they are only there for the power and money nothing else.

    Phil Robertson



    Last year, the City Council doubled the fine for graffiti from $1,000 to $2,000. It also banned "graffiti tools" in public parks and can hold parents jointly liable for any vandalism caused by a minor child under their care.

    But conventional law enforcement methodology isn't necessarily working to stop these vandals. The unfortunate reality is that even if the City Council were to double the criminal fine for graffiti again, it probably wouldn't deter many more vandals.

    Rather than continue to increase fines, we need to look to creative solutions to really fight graffiti. In particular, I have proposed three ideas that have been successfully applied on the Mainland that deserve attention.

  • Graffiti wall: I introduced a resolution calling for the city to look into establishing a legal "graffiti wall." Other cities such as Los Angeles and Redmond have found a legalized outlet for graffiti can reduce the amount of illegal graffiti.

  • Anti-graffiti cameras: After seeing the successful use in Phoenix, I asked the HPD to look into using mobile anti-graffiti cameras that utilize motion sensors to photograph vandals in areas with a propensity for graffiti. While I don't like the idea of returning the van cams to the roadways, I do think using similar technology to fight graffiti is an interesting project we should look into.

  • Graffiti bounty: Establishing a bounty for individuals who help police identify graffiti tags helped police in New York fight graffiti crime. I introduced legislation asking that the Honolulu police be given the same powers.

    Your recent editorial accurately pointed out that the fight against graffiti requires a collective community effort and quick removal of the vandalism. Conventional law enforcement methods are simply not enough to properly fight our community's frustration with graffiti.

    Vandalism hurts all of us. It saps the taxpayers' financial resources to clean up graffiti and it damages the natural beauty of our Islands. Just as graffiti vandals are getting increasingly creative in their choices of locations to tarnish, we need to get just as creative in fighting back.

    Charles K. Djou
    Councilman, District IV



    I was surprised to find that the state of Hawai'i had an "abandoned" 35,000- to 40,000-square-foot warehouse that it didn't need.

    With the tight market for industrial warehouse space, in many cases going for more than $1 per square foot per month plus tax, this space could have been rented to produce needed revenue for the state.

    That said, it is good that they found a good use for it. But I have yet to see any mention of how much money was spent to upgrade it to a temporary housing facility. I am also curious to know why the work was done with all new fixtures and materials when the state maintains a surplus property branch that has access to U.S. government property such as furniture, fixtures, building materials, tents, clothing, etc. I have seen no mention of any attempt to tap this valuable resource.

    How about the work that was done? I didn't read about any of the homeless people kicking in to do any of the work or being asked to. Of the hundreds of people who are to live there, are there none with skills? If not, could any have been trained on the job so that they would be a step closer to employability?

    It is good that they have designated smoking areas. A person with a two-pack-a-day habit can be a nuisance in a warehouse, not to mention a fire hazard. We need not mention the $200 to $300 per month to feed the habit, or what else could be done with that money.

    At some point before (or after) this state goes bankrupt, our elected politicians will realize that providing homes for the homeless makes homelessness easier and more attractive. It is a Band-Aid on a broken arm.

    A business approach is the solution to the issue: identification of the issue and its roots, prevention through long-term planning, aggressive attention to cause and effect, and funding with proper controls.

    I refer to it as an issue rather than a problem. An issue is an opportunity; a problem is a sign of defeat. This same logic could address our prison overpopulation, methamphetamine use and, yes, graffiti.

    Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against homeless people. I was one when I first arrived in Hawai'i in 1963. I worked nights in a place with a shower, slept on the beach during the day and had an apartment within a month. I couldn't afford 75 cents for a pack of cigarettes or a buck and a quarter for a six-pack of Primo. I had a goal.

    Most of the people on public assistance, in our prisons, homeless, drug-addicted, etc. were born since 1970. What did we do then to avoid today's problems? What are we doing today to make these non-issues in the future? Don't blame the homeless; they are the result, not the cause.

    Bob Freeman