LEEWARD COAST ALSO A PRIORITY FOR CITY
Leonard Leong commented (Dec. 9) about our plans to install traffic cameras in Käneohe and made a case that the Leeward Coast deserves them, too.
We couldn't agree more. We have 133 traffic cameras that enable us to monitor traffic and, in most cases, adjust traffic signal timings. We add about 19 cameras to the network a year based largely on the expansion of the fiber-optic infrastructure that links the cameras to our Traffic Management Center. The Käneohe cameras were made possible by the cooperation of the city and Hawaii Department of Transportation that allowed us to tap HDOT's fiber-optic cables that service the H-3.
On the Leeward side, we have reached Waipahu and have installed but not yet activated cameras along Fort Weaver Road. Future work is planned for Kapolei, Waipio and Mililani with the expansion of the fiber-optic network. We'll eventually reach the Waianae Coast.
With regard to emergency preparedness, our completion of the Waianae Coast Emergency Access Route last year provides emergency responders with a way around Farrington Highway closures.
Waianae Coast residents certainly deserve the best the city can provide and Mayor Mufi Hannemann has made that a priority of his administration.
WAYNE Y. YOSHIOKA | Director, City & County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services
STORY ON ASSESSMENTS MISLEADING
Your Dec. 13 article, "Tax assessments mailed this week," may confuse some readers because it contained incomplete and misleading information. For example, there was no mention of the property tax rate. Changes in the assessed valuation alone do not determine tax bills, as the article implied. It is only after the tax rate is determined by the City Council in June, after much scrutiny and debate, that the combined effect of assessments and tax rates will be realized.
The article also incorrectly stated that homeowners automatically receive higher exemptions as they get older. Age-based exemptions were simplified in recent years: $80,000 for homeowners younger than 65, and $120,000 for homeowners ages 65 and up. The only automatic exemption change is when a registered homeowner reaches age 65. What was not stated is that exemptions for ages 75 and older also require that total household income does not exceed the low-income limits established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
While we appreciate efforts to educate the public about the real property assessment process and the exemptions available, it is important to provide correct and complete information. Please visit our website at www.realpropertyhonolulu.com to learn more.
RIX MAURER III | Director, Budget and Fiscal Services
LINGLE HAS DELIVERED MUCH IN PAST 7 YEARS
We were disappointed to read David Shapiro's Dec. 7 blog, which took an unfair swipe at the myriad of achievements of the Lingle-Aiona administration over the past seven years.
When Gov. Linda Lingle took her first oath of office in December 2002, she promised to reform the way government does business by creating greater transparency, accountability and efficiency. She made good on those promises.
Because of her leadership, the administration saved Lake Wilson from an ecological disaster, helped implement the largest conservation archipelago in the United States, eased animal quarantine restrictions, dramatically reduced fees for businesses and consumers, overhauled child protective services, made sure child pornographers were properly sentenced to jail, improved the transportation infrastructure, made good on promises to Native Hawaiians and positioned Hawaii as a world model for renewable energy development, to name a few.
When the voters went to the polls in November 2006 to decide if Gov. Lingle should have a second term, the response was overwhelming she won reelection by the largest margin in state history, and she won in every district in the state 51 of them.
Today, the administration faces its biggest challenge yet overcoming a billion-dollar budget deficit during a global economic crisis. Gov. Lingle will lead us through these troubled times, and our state will emerge stronger as a result.
We encourage Mr. Shapiro to take these facts into account the next time he weighs in on the administration's performance.
BARRY FUKUNAGA | Chief of staff
LINDA SMITH | Senior adviser-Policy
LENNY KLOMPUS | Senior adviser-Communications
LEGISLATION INCREASES COSTS, BUREAUCRACY
Isn't it about time to be honest about health care legislation? Supposedly it is to control costs and cover those who cannot afford insurance.
First, there is no real cost control. There is nothing dealing with improving the efficiency in the delivery system to cut the cost without somehow limiting (or eliminating) services. All the cost provisions are smoke and mirrors dealing with governmental money transfers (mostly getting more through a series of taxes) in an attempt to obscure the ultimate cost.
In fact, it will add a huge new federal bureaucracy (an estimated 20,000 new government employees) just in the administration (in excess of $2.5 billion payroll per year). But nothing to effect better, more efficient delivery by hospital, doctors, etc.
There is no count about how many require government support (estimates are 7 to 47 million) and (if they could be identified) they could easily be added to the Medicaid roles by simple legislation. Why the huge "debate" (Democrat caucus)?
The present legislation defies all imagination in its absurdity it does nothing to control costs and invents huge new expenditures to cover those it deems may need help. So what is the big legislative production really designed to do? The answer is power from you to the federal bureaucracy.
DOUG WORRALL | Kahuku
TASK FORCE GIVES A TASTE OF OBAMA PLAN
Francis Nakamoto (Letters, Dec. 8) has missed the point. The mammogram recommendation made by the federal Preventive Services Task Force is not the issue; it is the method and the performance of the panel.
The case is a stunning example of (multiple vector) failure by a government-appointed health care panel. If President Bush were still in office, its dicta would still be wack. The task force was created by politicians; it has been politically influenced. It is an accurate preview of what we might expect with a government-run health care system as proposed by President Obama and his sycophants. The abysmal failure of our politicians to reliably accomplish anything except the creation of debt makes mockery of any argument that government can do better than this health panel whose input even President Obama scorns.
No one can tell us with a straight face to expect any better than the federal Preventive Services Task Force debacle from any politician-created health agency. We need health insurance reform, but we should not take an unwise path toward a creation of the immoral debt burden and incompetent political bureaucracy that will be created by a government takeover of our health care system.
C. B. Simons | Honolulu