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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Letters to the Editor

SYMPHONY

BALCONY SEATS SHOULD ALSO BE AVAILABLE TO US

Regarding Mrs. Jean Toyama's May 23 letter about the Honolulu Symphony balcony seating: I, too, love sitting in the balcony for concerts, but am not a season ticket holder. I did want to attend several of the performances toward the end of the current season.

However, when I went to the box office and requested balcony seating, I was politely told that balcony seats weren't being offered. Surprised that the concert would be sold out, I was informed that ground-floor tickets were all that would be available until the floor was filled. I passed on buying the only seats left at $60.

With our symphony's current financial problems (even with the recent infusion of $4 million from the Legislature), I would think it would be eager to sell a seat anywhere in the hall.

F. David Wagner
Honolulu

SPECIAL NEEDS

EDUCATIONAL HELPERS ARE THERE FOR THE KIDS

After two years at Washington Middle School, I've watched the educational assistants assisting the physically impaired special-needs students to, from and in their classrooms.

The other day, I caught a glimpse of Nathan, an educational assistant, pushing a wheelchair while a student walked ahead, with braces on both legs from his ankles to the top of his knees, at a fairly fast pace (for him), a gigantic smile on his face.

There are numerous scenes of this type that I've witnessed daily, and that is why, as this school year comes to an end, I want to publicly extend a thank-you to Nathan, Faith, Keith, Anthony, Linda, Charles, Melissa, James, Roger and all the educational assistants employed by the Department of Education.

There is no way "A Child Will Be Left Behind," not on your watch!

Patrick Keliinui
School safety manager

DAMAGE RISK

DEFENSE OF NU'UANU DEVELOPMENT IS WEAK

Julia Kane, in an Island Voices article, attacked Nu'uanu residents for being concerned about an issue that has potential safety and property damage risks. She demeaned their legitimate concerns and said there's nothing really to worry about it all boils down to "a perfect case study of NIMBY."

She tried to bolster her case by saying in the most intense recent downpours, not a single home was flooded and no loose boulders were found. Why? Because the trees are still there the developer hasn't been able to remove them yet and create conditions that would likely lead to flooding and loose boulders crashing into homes.

She said the city would have to pay the developer fair value if the land is downzoned, and that would be squandering resources. But the city will have to pay time and again for injuries and damages to property if it puts Nu'uanu homes at risk of mudslides, boulders and flooding by permitting this hillside development.

Look at the horrendous amount of money that must now be spent to remedy the Round Top mudslides. Compensating the developer now might be the most prudent financial decision the city could make.

Elizabeth McCreary
Honolulu

EDUCATION

DRUNKEN DRIVING MUST BE FIXED IMMEDIATELY

I'm an 8th grader at Washington Middle School on The Na'alakai Team. I am writing this letter to you because I strongly feel that drunken driving is a huge problem that needs to be fixed immediately.

This issue can be easily avoided if people just had more knowledge on what's going on around them. Everyone needs to realize how much drunk-driving accidents are affecting innocent people.

My friend Ashley was one of many who has been affected. She was in a car accident caused by a drunk. She got hit so hard that her knee was popped out of place. She was hospitalized and put into therapy.

Even after all that therapy, Ashley's knee kept her from doing the things that she could've been doing. She was very lucky to have had such a minor injury. Others experience broken bones, paralysis and even death.

Just one drunken driver can change a person's life within a split second. Imagine that! That thought scares me and brings chills to my spine.

That's why I feel that I have the responsibility to inform the community about driving under the influence. To do so, my group and I have decided to pass out fliers in numerous areas. There will be facts and statistics to make it clear to people that this is a big issue.

Ayana Powell
Honolulu

ECONOMICS

IOLANI CHAMPIONSHIP A THING TO CROW ABOUT

Wow! Twice Iolani bowls them over at the National Economics Challenge Championship. At Roosevelt High School in the early '50s, we did not think much about "economics," so when a high school from Hawai'i is the nation's best, wow!

Their teacher, coach, "the colonel" and to me a true waterman Dick Rankin should be real proud of his team and his accomplishment.

I bet there are many young families asking the question, how do I get Kimo and Lehua into Iolani? Wow!

Bob Hampton
Waikiki Beach Activities

BLOOD AND BAIT

SHARK SIGHTINGS WILL ONLY BE INCREASING

As reported in your May 22 issue, four sharks were spotted in the Chuns Reef-Laniakea area along O'ahu's North Shore. This is not an unusual occurrence of late and in fact there has been a number of recent shark "encounters."

There are more turtles now that they are a registered endangered species. To add to the equation, shark tours are offered in these North Shore waters so people can swim in cages for viewing and photo opportunities. As the sharks are attracted with blood and bait, I don't think it takes an oceanographer to figure out there will be more shark sightings in our future.

Wake up!

Fred Asmus
Hale'iwa

WEST O'AHU

FIX THE INFRASTRUCTURE BEFORE DEVELOPMENT

I often wonder if we really have a Planning Commission that OKs this uncontrolled growth on O'ahu.

Ten thousand to 15,000 more homes proposed for West O'ahu means 20,000 to 30,000 more cars on the road. To propose that the homes be built around a transit system that does not exist and that no one rides does not solve the problem.

Perhaps if the prices of these homes were raised to pay for the infrastructure or the developers were required to help pay for it by lowering their profits, then we wouldn't have any more of this nonsense. I am sure glad I live in town.

Bobby Chang
Honolulu

HAWAIIANS

HISTORICALLY, 'FIRST COME' DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING

Perhaps the May 23 letter from Hank McKeague was nonsensical in its charming yet persuasive views on Hawaiian sovereignty. Hank's notion, which is shared by many, is that since the Hawaiians were here first, they should get "undisputed sovereign status of independent, all-supreme power and authority in Hawai'i." He compares Hawaiians in Hawai'i to the Japanese in Japan, the Chinese in China, the Swedes in Sweden and the Russians in Russia, saying at the same time that it's not race-based rationale.

People have migrated because of climate changes, political persecution, to gain land, or just plain wanderlust. We can't divvy up the world according to who was where first. Let me give you an example.

Let's take the inhabitants of a few small islands on the edge of Europe who now call themselves British. Until recently, these people proudly dominated the world with a vast British Empire. But actually, the only Britons left in Britain are the Welsh (many of whom want independence from Britain), because the original Britons were pushed into Wales by the Romans 2,000 years ago.

The "real" identities of the other peoples inhabiting these small islands are just as confused. The Irish were originally the Scots who sailed across the sea and settled in Ireland. These Scots were themselves originally Picts, who came from what would one day be called England. But England only came to be called England after it was conquered by the Angles, who came from Germany. As did the Saxons, who then conquered the Angles. They were then conquered by the Danes and Vikings, who came from Scandinavia. The whole lot were then conquered by the Normans from France, who themselves were the original Vikings or Norsemen.

When these mongrels arrived in the New World, they re-branded themselves as Americans. They weren't really Americans, of course, as this name applies to the indigenous people of the Americas, who themselves came from Siberia.

First come, first served? Get real.

All of the labels we use to define our race and nationality are mere conceptual constructions. Geneticists have demonstrated that we are all Africans under the skin, so let's embrace each other as brothers and sisters.

Let's start seeing ourselves as inhabitants of one world, not separate countries defined by arbitrary lines on a map, or as separate peoples defined by the "I was here first" or the violent "King of the Hill" notions so many of us want to employ for our own agendas.

Paul Flentge
'Aiea

GASOLINE

WE SHOULD DETERMINE THE PRICE

It is interesting that Roy Kamisato (May 22 letter) and others have recently written to The Honolulu Advertiser in favor of reinstating the gasoline price cap. His argument is that the only way to keep "Big Oil" from making "obscene" profits is to regulate the price.

His discussion has the aura of being based on sound economics. However, let's review some basics of price regulation:

If the regulated price is too low, producers would fail to make a profit and they would stop producing, resulting in shortages. If the regulated price is too high, then the producers would charge the highest rate allowed, consumers would not get a good value and the producers would have no incentive to be efficient.

The "right price" is somewhere in between.

Apparently Mr. Kamisato thinks the government, instead of market forces, can determine that exact "right price" where supply is plentiful and producer profits are reasonable. His faith in government is greater than mine.

He cites the experience of the Public Utilities Commission regulation of electric rates as an effective process. He may not have noticed, but the PUC operates like a wholly owned subsidiary of HECO; virtually every rate increase request is granted.

The economic principle at play here is the law of supply and demand. Mr. Kamisato has addressed the supply side only.

On the demand side, consumers of gasoline (unlike electricity) have a great deal of control over their purchases.

In general, gasoline between suppliers is fungible, and consumers can choose which gas station to patronize. However, the average Hawai'i consumer doesn't appear to care that much. I have noticed that within a few blocks, the price varies as much as 15 cents per gallon, yet all the stations are selling gasoline. In fact, Costco can be as much as 25 cents below the other suppliers but consumers still buy from the other stations.

In addition to price shopping, consumers have other alternatives to their current situation. They can buy more fuel-efficient automobiles, they can take the bus, they can carpool, they can ride bicycles, they can lobby the Legislature to reduce the gasoline tax, etc.

The result is that the consumers have a lot they can do to mitigate the perceived high price of gasoline from the demand side. However, it appears that the majority of the consumers are indifferent to the issue, and the ones who care, like Mr. Kamisato, want to rely on the government to solve their problem.

John Faris
Honolulu