Letters to the Editor
BILLS TARGET HELP FOR HAWAI'I KEIKI, KUPUNA
Your Jan. 27 editorial noted the importance of a sustained focus on Hawai'i's keiki and kupuna. Gov. Linda Lingle's administration wholeheartedly agrees.
That is why the governor has proposed the 'Ohana Tax Relief Act of 2008. The proposal targets help to those families who have young children and also have the responsibility for taking care of aging parents. It gives parents with children under 18 an additional $1,000 per child income-tax exemption, money that can be used for the myriad of expenses of raising a young son or daughter.
The 'Ohana Tax Relief Act also significantly increases the tax credit for dependent care expenses — the costs of caregiving for an aging or ill parent or child-care expenses. The tax credit could be as much as $5,000 per dependent in a household.
In addition to this proposal, Gov. Lingle has significantly increased funding for her Quality Care early-childhood education program. She has invested $25 million additional per year in federal and state funds to support more children in preschools.
And the governor has offered the Retirement with Dignity 2008 Act that ensures the first $25,000 of retirement income is not taxed by the state, allowing seniors to keep their hard-earned pension dollars.
These are but three of the ways Gov. Lingle has sustained her focus on the young and old in our community who most need and deserve our support.Linda L. Smith
Senior policy adviser, Governor's Office
CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
ALL MUST WORK TO HELP ISLES' VULNERABLE KEIKI
In his Feb. 4 commentary, state Judiciary Administrative Director Thomas Keller objected to statements I made in an article about the murder of 23-month-old Cyrus Belt ("Mom wasn't likely to lose custody of Cyrus," Jan. 29).
Keller assumed I was referring to the Judiciary's handling of child abuse and neglect cases, which I was not. Moreover, Cyrus' case was never heard in Family Court. To clarify, my comments were about federally approved best-practice standards the Department of Human Services follows when investigating allegations of abuse or neglect.
Keller also wrote that when judges reunify children with parents who demonstrate sobriety, the court continues to monitor the family's progress for "up to a year before a case is closed." Based on our experiences in Child Welfare Services, however, judges usually close cases involving parental drug abuse in six months or less.
As we move ahead, I am sure everyone in the child-welfare system, as well as the public, agrees that we must accelerate efforts to protect vulnerable keiki.
There is nothing we can do to bring back Cyrus, but I know that by working together we can save other children from harm.Lillian Koller
Director, state Department of Human Services
CELEBRATE TOP SCHOLARS, NOT JUST TOP ATHLETES
The United States has the finest institutions of higher education in the entire world. It's wonderful to think of the thousands of the brightest, most gifted individuals who make it to these universities. How is it that the high school students who are celebrated most for getting into these schools are the athletes?
I'd like to know if anyone from Leilehua received a scholarship to MIT. Is Harvard going to have a student from Roosevelt? Will someone throw a shaka during their commencement walk at Stanford?
I want to know which bright young scholar is going to come back here and help us find new industries to compete with tourism. Who will have the ideas to make our schools better? Who can concoct a magical mixture that will stick to our potholes?
Sure, I'll root on the likes of Timmy Chang and Chad Owen and feel lucky when they stay at home. But I really want to know who is the next Barack Obama. The next Ellison Onizuka, Sun Yat-Sen.
There was a headline recently that read: Prolific JC QB signs with UH. Do you think we would ever see: Promising transfer from KCC to enter Richardson School of Law?
I encourage the powers that be to have events honoring our students who have been accepted to universities. Maybe The Advertiser could print them all.
And to those of you who are not going to college and are not moving to Las Vegas, thank you for taking jobs here in the Islands, spreading your aloha and making this a great place to live.Mark Ida
OBAMA WOULD LEAD COUNTRY WISELY, WELL
Friends of Hawai'i, we all have the rare opportunity to caucus in support of our own Barack Obama, a man of great integrity and compassion, who will lead our country wisely and well.
If you want to learn more about Barack's special qualities, visit his Web site. Then find out your Democratic caucus location, and get there early on the evening of Feb. 19.
This is the chance to lend your voice and energy to say that honest, ethical, transparent and cooperative government is the change that we insist upon.
Join me on caucus day to say that Hawai'i wants Barack Obama as our next president.Jenny Leistikow
CLINTON RIGHT WOMAN TO BE NEXT PRESIDENT
I support Hillary Clinton for the next president of the United States, not because she is a woman, but because she is the right woman. She is the right woman, in the right place, at the right time. She will change the course of politics in the United States from the purview of a few gray-suited men to the politics of free discourse open to all.
She will unite a divided and soul-sick America, because she listens first and acts out of understanding, not grand preconceived notions of what is true.
She has listened to veterans and their healthcare woes. She has visited the troops in every conflict from Bosnia to Iraq, and has truly listened to military commanders in the field and their soldiers. She recognizes that it is they who know better how to prosecute and end wars than their civilian leaders in Washington. She has listened to active-duty and veteran military women who suffer from the disgracefully high level of sexual assaults in our nation's armed forces.
I support Hillary Clinton because she can do much to elevate women out of the gutter of political, cultural and economic violence and thereby elevate us all.Ann Freed
OBAMA COMMITTED TO COLLABORATIVE EFFORT
I am getting very tired of hearing pundits evaluate the difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and say he has essentially all charisma and no formulated plan for his solution to problems such as the economy.
What he offers is his pledge to bring together people and listen to everyone and work out problems collaboratively so that solutions have a chance to pass through the legislative process.
That is what is different about the Obama candidacy and why so many young people are finally motivated to believe in government.
When you listen to Sen. Obama at rallies, it is evident that his speeches are eloquent and masterfully delivered. But it is his spontaneous replies to questions that demonstrate that he actually listens to the question and then answers in a manner that shows his quick reasoning and his skill at presenting a logical and convincing response.
That is why the voters trust him. We hear authenticity in his message and we want to elect him to the presidency to work with the best and the brightest to begin to solve the crucial problems facing our nation and our planet.Sherre Ftaclas
AIRLINE LUGGAGE LOGIC MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL
I've always had a hard time figuring out the logic of the airlines regarding luggage weights.
Until now, with no surcharge you could have had two bags weighing up to 50 pounds each, but if you had only one bag that weighed 52 pounds, then you would be charged a fee for the excess weight.
Now United (soon to be joined, one expects, by the other airlines) has imposed a $25 charge for that second bag.
What about the passenger who has no checked bags? Should he or she receive a $25 rebate or credit? And what about an ever bigger factor in reducing loads and using less fuel on flights: a passenger's body weight. Should someone who weighs 300 pounds pay more than someone who weighs 150 pounds?John Wythe White
POTHOLES GETTING WORSE ON WINDWARD SIDE
The same morning that Kalani Melvin's letter appeared (Feb. 8) regarding alleged improvements in our roads since the Hannemann administration took office, I was discussing how terrible Windward roads are with another Kailua resident.
The Harris administration's attention to roads was mediocre, but the current administration's is only a slight improvement at best.
Our potholes get bigger every day with the recent rain and construction.
There are huge puddles in all of our potholes each time it rains, which means drivers often drench all pedestrians nearby and frequently get flat tires.
I encourage the mayor to visit the Windward side, and drive on the roads in Kane'ohe, Kailua town and Lanikai to see how dangerous it really is on our streets.Eliza Talbot
A SIMPLE THANK YOU CAN BE WORTH MILLIONS
Running late for a Boy Scout meeting due to heavy traffic and heavy rain, our car stopped at a busy intersection behind a luxury car to aid a woman who just had a tire blow-out.
The three men in my car and two Marines from another car helped change the woman's tire and direct traffic.
Surprisingly, the woman did not display any sign of gratitude or appreciation to these men.
The gentlemen who came to her aid will continue to live by their ethics, whether it be as an Eagle Scout or as a Marine, and do what is right even if there is no appreciation or gratitude. I am proud of these men and their unselfish deeds.
Some other people need to realize that simple, but sincere, words of gratitude and appreciation don't cost any money but are worth millions.JoAnne Yamamoto
HATE TRAFFIC? MOVE CLOSER TO WORKPLACE
What the city needs to do about transit is nothing.
People need to realize that if they choose to live in West O'ahu and work in town, then a long commute comes along with that. These people freely choose these circumstances of their own accord. If traffic is that much of an issue in your life, then I suggest you size down and live closer to Downtown, or work in your hometown or somewhere opposite to the flow of traffic.
People need to stop looking to the city or state for the solutions to their problems.
If you hate traffic that much, stop being a victim and do something about it — move.Kimo Mack