PROPOSAL WOULD BRING ACCOUNTABILITY
I commend Lt. Gov. Aiona on his proposal to create an elected secretary of state to oversee elections in Hawaii.
Hawaii's current election system is a bureaucratic mess. Members of the state Elections Commission are appointed by the majority and minority lawmakers from the state House and Senate, who also get to decide on a chief elections officer to oversee the commission. These individuals are beholden to the lawmakers who selected them, not to the people an elections system is supposed to serve: its citizens.
The lieutenant governor's proposal will help dissolve the maze that is our current elections system and create a single entity, held accountable by the same voters it's in office to serve.
Good public leaders should always be looking at ways to make government more accountable and efficient for its citizens. It can't be that bad of an idea. Thirty-nine other states have tried it, and they don't plan to change. We should.
JOHN HARRIS | Honolulu
BUILD THE ELEVATED SYSTEM OR NOTHING
Good grief! Enough with the at-grade rail rhetoric already. This recent attempt by the Lingle administration and others to subvert the rail project by calling for another costly series of public forums is ridiculous. There have already been dozens of public forums.
Has anyone given any thought to what at-grade rail would mean in a congested city? Buses pull into the curb when picking up passengers and traffic flows around it. Rail cannot so all following traffic will stop dead. When an at-grade train is in an accident, and there will be accidents, traffic will stop dead, again. Trains will back up for miles until the accident is cleared. Power failures will result in the same gridlock.
Bottom line? Build the rail people voted for and give up this misguided attempt to cloud the issue. If you don't build the elevated system then don't bother building anything at all. Just order more buses, create more traffic on the roads and think about how you will return the GET money to the taxpayers that the city collected to build a rail system.
ROBERT WINDISCH | Ewa Beach
RIGHTS NOT A MATTER OF AFFORDABILITY
As a father and the long-time partner of another man, I am incensed by Gov. Lingle's statement that Hawaii cannot afford to address discrimination against its LGBT residents. My children deserve the same legal rights and benefits that protect children in heterosexual families. By granting civil unions, the state will strengthen my family — and those of other same-sex couples — making it easier for our families to survive the current economic downturn.
PAUL GRACIE | Co-chair, Equality Hawaii
LET THOSE WHO CAN STIMULATE ECONOMY
Canceling this stimulus spending for opening day flowers, musicians and receptions in the spirit of austerity was a dumb idea.
The state's dire economic condition is mostly caused by the lack of spending and the doom and gloom attitude of our government leaders. If the traditional opening day ceremonies are paid for by those who can afford the spending (i.e. lobbyists and campaign war chests), they should continue this tradition.
They are doing what President Obama was criticized for when he suggested that public companies curtail their travel for conventions to places like Hawaii.
DENNIS KOHARA | Honolulu
NEW ADMINISTRATION REACTS APPROPRIATELY
What a difference there is between the reaction of the Obama administration and the previous Bush administration to natural disasters in the world.
In the latter, the First Lady called the first White House press conference on Cyclone Nargis that hit Burma. After a perfunctory statement, the next half-hour to an hour was a tirade against the Burmese government to score political points and a strings-attached offer of a measly $250,000. (Even Vietnam offered as much if not more and with no strings attached.)
In contrast, the reaction of the Obama administration was swift and concerned with humanitarian issues only. It appropriately began with the president himself, who not only pledged $100 million but immediately enacted a plan with teeth in it.
One hopes the previous administration's attitudes and behavior are gone for good.
MICHAEL AUNG-THWIN | Kailua