Letters to the Editor
PRODUCE AUCTION HOUSE WOULD PROMOTE LOCAL AG
As a professional agricultural researcher for the past 25 years, I was deeply satisfied to read about the renewed calls for support of locally produced crops ("It's time to support local produce," May 18).
Hawai'i's diversified agricultural community was tarnished with the label of a losing industry when corporate farming of sugar cane and pineapple closed shop and idled much of our best farm lands.
As fuel prices surge and food costs follow close behind, the importance of locally grown food is now appreciated by many.
A major stumbling block for many local producers is the need to pass produce through local distributors to gain market share in larger retail outlets.
Farmers can bypass this system at local farmers' markets, roadside stands and pick-your-own operations. All these options require a lot of time and marketing skills, attributes that many busy growers have difficulty with.
One outlet that is not currently an option for local farmers is an open fresh-produce auction house. The Superferry has enhanced the potential to bring crops from the Neighbor Islands to a centralized auction house in which retailers both large and small can compete for local produce.
It has always confused me as to why fish auctions are common and successful but an auction for farmers has never existed in Hawai'i. To enhance and expand local farm production, we need an efficient auction house that allows for competition among retail sellers.Joe DeFrank
PLANT NATIVE SPECIES, NOT ORNAMENTAL TREES
I read with interest the story about a Kane'ohe youngster who staged a protest when trees at his townhouse complex were cut down ("Kiawe trees come down, but they don't go quietly," May 30).
Of even greater interest was the reaction by the townhouse complex's manager, who maintained that the now-gone kiawe trees (an introduced species) will be replaced by ornamental and more-forgiving trees.
This sounds to me like an excellent opportunity for the Yacht Club Knolls townhouse complex to plant native trees.
Perhaps the young protester-turned-arborist could do a school project on trees that may have been found in Kane'ohe before development.
Perhaps the townhouse complex could emerge as a leader in landscape design in our Honolulu, where it seems developers turn too quickly to plants and trees that look the part. Perhaps the townhouse complex and its residents could help with the fight against invasive species and find a more natural way — or Hawaiian way — to beautify the landscape.
It may be unreasonable to plant only native (let alone endemic) plants or trees, but imagine our Honolulu if we did.
So few of us enjoy the opportunity to walk through old-growth forest with koa, 'iliahi or 'ohi'a and watch native honeycreepers in the branches above.
But we ought to at least find a way to come close.John Kamalei Titchen
MILEAGE FEES SHOULD REFLECT HIGHER GAS PRICE
I recently attended court as a witness, and was surprised when I received my witness mileage fees.
I informed the clerk that I drove in from Wai'anae, and was disappointed in the judicial system for not compensating those subpoenaed for court in a reasonable manner.
I did some research and found that court mileage fees have not increased for several years.
If gas prices are going up, so should our compensation for mileage. Is it worth being a witness and taking time off going to court?Lopaka Kealoha
4-DAY WORKWEEK COULD EASE TRAFFIC ON O'AHU
I was president of Pacific Dynamics Construction on O'ahu for many years.
One of the management decisions we implemented was to work four 10-hour shifts instead of five 8-hour shifts.
I believe the company is still working these shifts.
If this were adopted by businesses on O'ahu, traffic would drop immediately as there would be one less day of commuting.
We worked Tuesday through Friday, and the workers had a three-day weekend every week. When holidays came along, they were four-day weekends. All the workers loved this schedule.
One side benefit to the employer is that there is one less day of setup and one less day of cleanup.
The benefit to the worker is the savings in commute costs, Companies could adopt any day to start their four-day week. Try it, you will like it.Don Moody
HAWAI'I SHOULD BE DESALINATING SEA WATER
I am taking up your invitation to "join the conversation," but I fear it is more like a rant. Regarding your May 31 editorial on water conservation, I will continue to use as much water as I need to and whenever I want to. Why?
Because I am paying for it. Anything I have to pay for, I will do as I please.
You are probably right and conservation might get us through this dry patch, but what of the future?
I first came to Hawai'i in the 1950s, and while attending Kalakaua Intermediate we were herded on a weekly basis to the school's auditorium to watch the Pan American newsreel — that was the technology then. As a seventh-grader, I still remember how impressed I was when shown this new idea — the miracle of water desalinization. How many years have passed since?
I am not a fool, so don't tell me there's not enough water. I live on an island and it is surrounded by water. We just have to get the salt out.
We have the technology and resources, but choose not to use it. We choose instead to wring our hands and look for better forecasts.
Be more positive, and demand that our leaders in politics and private industry do so in your editorials.Wyman W. Ling
TOD PLAN FOCUSES ON COMMUNITY'S NEEDS
As a lifelong resident of Waipahu and an active community participant in the transit oriented development plan for Waipahu, I was disappointed in The Advertiser's May 25 article, "A whole new Waipahu."
The TOD plan does not create a low-rise downtown Honolulu, but focuses on community values and needs.
The Waipahu community recognizes that change is inevitable with mass transit.
That's why I make it a point to participate in this community-based planning process. With proper planning, over time we can maintain the characteristics that make Waipahu special, provide more housing opportunities for our families, and create a much-improved and livable Waipahu community for the generations to come.Romeo Garcia
STATE INCOME TAX
PROCESSING COST LIKELY EXCEEDED PENALTY FEE
For tax year 2007, I paid (promptly on April 18) some $9,800 in Hawai'i state income tax. I recently received a notice from the Department of Taxation announcing an additional assessment of $4.69 as a penalty for underpaying my estimated taxes. That's not a typo; the penalty is under $5.
I have no estimate of the cost the state has already incurred to calculate and process this action, but I'm sure it far exceeds the expected return.
There will also, of course, be further expenses for sending me an official billing notice and processing my payment.
Additionally, if I file an appeal or request a waiver, I'm sure the state's expenditure rises dramatically.
While I certainly applaud the state's effort to ensure that I pay all the taxes and penalties I owe, at what point does their apparent zero-tolerance policy become an exercise in ineffective management and deplorable stewardship of our financial resources?
Is it really a defensible use of resources to process and pursue such a manini action?Paul Scheftel
A LOT HAS CHANGED SINCE LAST HAWAI'I CONCON
A ConCon is a step-by-step process, each step involving the people of Hawai'i.
First, we must, through our votes, say we want a ConCon. If more than half the voters vote "yes," the Legislature can call a special election for delegates. If a special election is not called, then the delegates must be elected at the next general election in 2010.
At the ConCon, elected delegates discuss and propose to voters suggested amendments to our State Constitution. This is not a "tinkering with" or changing of the Constitution; it is a review and discussion of the document. The last time this took place was 30 years ago. A lot has changed in Hawai'i since then.
Any suggested amendments will appear on the ballot in the general election following the ConCon for public approval or rejection. Nothing happens unless the people want it to happen.
Yes, there is opposition to holding a ConCon. Some will point out that it will be costly. Others may say it's only "more politics." Purists simply won't like the idea of messing around with a "sacred" document. Adherents of the status quo don't like the idea of change or "public" interference with the legislative process.
But the people of Hawai'i get a shot at this privilege only once every 10 years.
There is a group called "It's Time Hawaii" whose members are undertaking to promote ConCon "yes" votes. It appears well-organized and well-intentioned.
Let the debate commence.Cec Heftel
Member, Makiki Neighborhood Board