State of state
INITIATIVES BRILLIANT HELP FOR NONPROFITS
While listening to Gov. Lingle's final State of the State address to the people of Hawaii, two initiatives struck me as brilliant and resourceful options: expanding the SEE Hawaii Work program and allowing workers on unemployment to volunteer their time at a nonprofit entity.
As a private organization, The Friends of Iolani Palace has relied on government support in the past to help meet expenses.
Given the recent cutbacks in state funding, The Friends now relies much more on revenues generated from palace tours and sales in our gift shops. However, it is very expensive to bring on new staff to meet the demands of expanding public hours.
The Friends depends heavily on a dedicated corps of volunteers from all sectors of the community, and some of these individuals have turned into great employees.
We also participate in the SEE program and do our small part in providing job opportunities to those on welfare.
These two initiatives announced by the governor will significantly assist us in recruiting potential new employees without increasing our payroll expense.
I applaud the governor's actions as an example of how state government can still help Hawaii's nonprofit sector in very lean times.
KIPPEN DE ALBA CHU | Executive director, Iolani Palace
SUPREME COURT'S MOVE IS A DISASTER
The Supreme Court has really gone and done it this time.
In the holy name of the First Amendment, the five conservative justices on the highest court in our land have pretty much turned our country over to the Almighty Corporation. Companies and unions can now spend money without limit to support or oppose politicians and issues.
If a United States senator thinks the federal government should more closely regulate banks, the banking industry can throw unlimited dollars into a smear campaign to defeat that senator in the next election. You think the Swift Boating of John Kerry was a disgrace? Well, folks, we ain't seen nothin' yet!
This is a disaster for our democracy, and if conservatives truly believe all that love-of-country rhetoric we keep hearing, they should be just as outraged as the rest of us.
That's expecting a lot, but perhaps they will see that this time it's different. This time we are all in trouble.
JIM LOOMIS | Haiku, Maui
DENYING EQUAL RIGHTS HURTS CHILDREN
As a physician, I have witnessed firsthand the odious effects of discrimination against gay and lesbian families. Same-sex couples, many of whom are raising children, do not receive the same protection under the law as heterosexual married couples. Children of gay and lesbian families can enter legal limbo and be forced into the foster system if the biological parent should die and the other parent is not legally recognized.
Those individuals who oppose equal rights for all Hawaii's families claim to be helping children, but are actually doing great harm to the children of many Hawaii families.
I urge the Legislature to pass the civil unions bill, which is supported by a multitude of Hawaii's civil rights and religious organizations. All families in Hawaii deserve equal dignity and respect under the law.
DR. JOSHUA HAWLEY | Kailua
STATE OF THE STATE
ISLES DEPEND MORE ON OIL THAN WE THINK
After listening to Gov. Linda Lingle's State of the State Address (Jan. 25) while I was driving my truck to Hilo, I realized I'm living in a state that will soon be in a "state of shock!" Why do I say this?
Because her entire speech was one big promotion and plan for subsidizing so-called "clean, green energy" sources and one big prohibition and penalization of gas and oil (implying they are "dirty" and unreliable sources of energy). She is not only misrepresenting the cleanness, efficiency and American availability of oil and gas, she is also suppressing all the failures of so-called "green energy" states and ignoring reality.
Look around you, Hawaii, as I did as I drove into town: 99 percent of all our land and sea transportation is dependent upon gas and oil; 100 percent of our airplanes; more than 90 percent of our machines and electrical generation plants, etc. This is our present reality! Thus our governor needs to push our federal government to drill for our trillions of barrels of oil to achieve "energy independence" and press for better deals in getting us more of it at a cheaper price.
GERALD WRIGHT | Pähoa, Hawaii
CITY TAKING ACTION ON TENT DWELLERS
We recognize and share Michael McGuire's concerns about tent dwellers in Kapiolani Park, and assure him we're taking action on this issue (Letters, Jan. 25).
Overnight camping is not allowed in the park, which is closed at night. Unfortunately, some have skirted this rule by pitching their tents during the day and removing them at night. McGuire suggested that a "no tents" law is needed, and we agree. Prior to publication of his letter, the city administration introduced a bill to the City Council that would ban tents from all city parks unless authorized by permit.
Permits are already required for camping in designated parks, so this change would not affect recreational campers who abide by the rules. But it would make very clear that illegal camping will not be tolerated in city parks, day or night.
LES CHANG | Director, Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation