A&B NEEDS TO OFFER SUSTAINABLE JOBS
The Advertiser (Jan. 30) reported on a "reprieve" granted by Alexander & Baldwin to its HC&S plantation. What about reprieve for Maui streams sucked dry by A&B for a century?
A&B's board meeting was an opportunity to show some responsibility on water and reform its selfish, destructive ways. Instead, we got "business-as-usual," and more blackmail threats against the Water Commission and the public.
A&B should stop passing the buck and start respecting the law and our precious water resources.
A&B claims its "greatest resource is water," yet admits wasting more than 25 percent of the water from its inefficient system. It also has available alternatives in its agricultural wells, but deprives streams and communities of their only source.
Meanwhile, A&B is planning a treatment plant to sell stream water to Maui residents and help A&B develop thousands of plantation acres.
That's not how you treat your "greatest resource" — at least if your business is sustainable farming, rather than water banking and profiteering.
We have aloha for plantation workers, but don't appreciate A&B holding them (and our sympathies) hostage in its bullying campaign. The best thing A&B can do for everyone, including its workers and shareholders, is provide sustainable farming jobs for the future, beyond plantation jobs of the past.
ISAAC MORIWAKE | Attorney, Earthjustice
LEGISLATURE'S SILENCE SANCTIONS HATE, FEAR
More than half a century ago, Executive Order 9066 snatched Americans of Japanese ancestry from their homes, livelihoods, and dignity. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the incarceration in Korematsu v. United States, noting: "We are not unmindful of the hardships imposed by it upon a large group of American citizens." The court did not address the real injury. The court relied on law and procedure to sanction hate and fear. Justice was denied.
Sadly, our 25th Legislature did not address the real issue when it failed to pass HB 444. The Legislature invoked politics and procedure to sanction hate and fear. What is even worse is that they did so anonymously.
Even with the lessons learned from the Japanese-American Internment during World War II, our Legislature chose to hide behind politics when they should have boldly stood strong to make sure that justice is never denied a group because of who they are. Our representatives had an opportunity to validate equality, but they chose to be silent as the moment passed.
SHAWN L.M. BENTON | President, Japanese American Citizens League, Honolulu Chapter
OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE SHORTCHANGED
High school seniors throughout the nation compete annually for National Merit scholarships, and less than 1 percent of them become semifinalists. This year Hawaii's private schools produced 59 National Merit semifinalists, and the public schools produced only eight.
The disparity is even worse than those figures indicate because private schools have only one-fourth as many seniors as public schools. Statistically speaking, more than one in 40 private school seniors qualified as National Merit semifinalists, compared with less than one in 1,000 public school seniors.
This appalling disparity cannot be excused. Yet apologists for the Department of Education are likely to keep trying. They often say that private schools have more money. But in fact, the great majority of private schools charge tuitions that are comparable to or less than the average cost of educating one public school student for a year.
The people of Hawaii are getting a bad deal for their public education dollars. They have paid for the equivalent of a powerful new computer. But when they got home and opened the box, all they found was a typewriter.
If a private company engages in this kind of business practice, it's fraud. When government does, it is viewed as normal.
JOHN KAWAMOTO | Honolulu
PROHIBITION WON'T WORK AGAINST POT
Skip Miller's sermon on the dangers of marijuana ("Marijuana too damaging to be legalized," Jan. 31) is a compendium of distortions and discredited drug war assertions.
The idea that legalization would increase substance abuse flies in the face of the evidence. We were warned that legalizing medical marijuana would dramatically increase teenage use, but an authoritative UCLA study showed that teenage use has actually decreased.
Miller's claim that cannabis is a "gateway drug" has been thoroughly undone by a number of scientific reports, including a 12-year study from the University of Pittsburgh.
And there is no medical evidence that cannabis causes cancer. In a large study presented to the American Thoracic Society in 2006, even heavy users of smoked marijuana were found to have no increased risk of lung cancer.
There are a couple of good bills before the Legislature that would decriminalize marijuana. They cite a report we commissioned in 2007 that found that Hawaii would realize millions in savings by decriminalizing pot; if we were to tax and regulate it, there would be substantial revenue.
Mr. Miller should consider the approach we took to cut tobacco use — education. Maybe he should begin by studying the evidence himself.
PAMELA G. LICHTY, MPH | President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii