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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Furlough Fridays


I continue to be appalled at the lack of flexibility in the teachers union to stop furlough Fridays. The governor should have never let this happen.

In the first week of March, my kids had four days of school. Wednesday is already a half day. On March 8, the teachers at their school had one of their (way too often) "meeting days."

March 12 was a furlough Friday. That will be 21/2 days of school for the week, followed by spring break. The fourth week of the month, a furlough Friday, comes in different flavor: Prince Kuhio Day. It will be 31/2 days that week.That is a total of eight full days and three half days. This is unconscionable.

One teacher I talked to about this said the lack of school days is one problem, but what makes it worse, "it is very hard to get momentum with all the three-day weekends." He said, "Learning with these furloughs is severely impacted."

Teachers should fire the teachers union reps immediately. If the teachers continue to support the union with their inflexible attitude toward any proposal from the governor, that makes the teachers complicit in this tragedy.

Patrick adams | Kailua



Your March 11 editorial cartoon about Rush Limbaugh was disgusting and untrue.

Rush did not say he would move to Costa Rica if the health care plan passed. He said that he would go there for treatment if U.S. doctors were prohibited from opting out of the plan so that they could treat patients privately. That is a possibility with Obama's plan.

There should be some truth in the cartoons you publish. You should be ashamed of this one.

richard pohle | Kula, Maui


Frank Doney (Letters, March 15) could not possibly be more wrong or insulting about me — who has health care — not wanting others to have health care. To frame this debate in that context is juvenile.

I want everyone to have health care. But then again, I also believe in personal responsibility for both my family and the words I write. There is a wide variety of reasons to question the current proposals that will be voted on soon; there is also a wide variety of positive changes being ignored for political reasons which would help millions of people be able to afford health insurance.

The demonization of those of us who work hard and make sacrifices in order to afford health care does not further the discussion or help the cause Doney seems to care about. As a matter of fact, I believe it ultimately hurts his cause.

kris schwengel | Honolulu



Better bring a punga!

I quickly learned to do just that when I went grocery shopping with my friend Linda while she was in the Peace Corps in Romania. Either you bring your own bag (a punga, in Romanian), or you can try to juggle your groceries back home, or you pay about 5 cents for each plastic bag you need.

A plastic bag is a product that stores should charge for.

christy martin | Pälolo



On March 9, Mayor Hannemann made a comment to KITV after he was questioned regarding a gubernatorial bid: "I still don't feel that the time is right and appropriate to put my personal agenda ahead of the business of the people."

If you are elected to public office by the people of Hawai'i, the business of the people should always come before your personal agenda.

I would like to know how there can be a right time for Hannemann to put his personal agenda ahead of the $5 billion-plus rail project he championed.

No one can argue that Honolulu's rail transit project is in the hands of the mayor. Hannemann should stay committed to the rail project, see that it gets implemented successfully, and help ease the traffic problems of Honolulu while also stimulating the local economy. If he vacates the mayor's seat, there can be no assurance on the success or even completion of rail in Hawai'i.

If Hannemann sees his rail project to fruition and ensures it is widely successful, I have no doubt his future political ambitions will easily come to him; if he follows this honorable course, the business of the people will have come first.

adam vokac | Honolulu



There's been much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands over furlough Friday funding.

How about if the Department of Education just collects back the Hawaii State Teachers Association's negotiated pay raise from last year, since that raise was contingent on implementing random drug testing among teachers, and nothing has been done yet.

Oh sure, I know, I know — it's a matter of privacy, or was it trust, or civil rights? Well, so is employment by the federal government, military service, law enforcement and many other professions, but those folks are subject to random drug tests as a condition of employment. It's not an unreasonable requirement for anyone occupying positions of great responsibility.

Even the students under our HSTA teachers' care, who flip burgers at McDonald's or stock shelves in Longs, are subject to random drug testing. What makes the HSTA think it should be above that? It certainly can't be Hawai'i's statewide educational achievement scores.

g. bev garrett | Kan[0xeb]'ohe



There are plans in action to close statewide more than 50 Department of Human Service and Med-QUEST locations and to cut the staff by more than half.

How ironic that many of the workers that work with so many people in need now will become the people in need themselves. The welfare worker may soon become the recipient.

This is a time that human services are needed more than ever in our state's history.

Food stamps and Medicaid are in demand more now than ever. People are losing jobs, which means they lose their medical insurance. People being furloughed may need EBT (food stamps).

I feel in lieu of downsizing human services that state workers earning six figures or more income need to take pay cuts.

The first state pay cut should come from University of Hawai'i-Mänoa football coach Greg McMackin, since he is the highest-paid employee in the state; he makes approximately $1 million a year.

For the welfare of the Aloha State, it's time for those with an abundance of wealth to become heroes, and for all of us to contact our elected officials and plead to get their priorities straight.

James "Kimo" Rosen | Kapa'a, Kaua'i