EQUALITY HAWAI'I GRATEFUL FOR SUPPORT
Equality Hawai'i is grateful for the strong support of the House of Representatives in passing HB 444. Our legislators acted wisely in putting Hawai'i on the map as the first state to approve of civil unions for heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The LGBT community in Hawai'i achieved this step in equality because so many heterosexual allies came forward and made their support of our community a priority. We are in everyone's families. We contribute productively to our society. We love our families. And today we have even more reason to love our Aloha State.
We hope that Gov. Linda Lingle will support equality and make history as the first governor to sign into law a truly equal civil unions bill.Tambry R. Young
Co-chair, Equality Hawai'i
VOLUNTEERING GOOD WAY TO EARN RESPECT
You recently labeled as "demeaning" the suggestion that teachers and other school personnel might work the three remaining school furlough days voluntarily ("Work-for-free solution really doesn't work," April 27). Why, then, do we heap public recognition and honors, often and deservedly, on those who volunteer in other areas where need and opportunities exist?
How is it "demeaning" to give one's self to ease the concerns of parents, fill the needs of children and lessen the burden of the individuals — yes, our governor — responsible for the fiscal health of our educational system? Wouldn't the generosity of those involved raise our estimation of them rather than diminish it? Surely their own pride and sense of self-worth would benefit.
What better "lesson" for children than learning that their teachers care so much for them and value the education that will prepare them for happy, successful lives as to work for them unpaid? The truth is that they would be paid: our respect, admiration and gratitude, for which there is no accounting.Marie I. Boles
OREGON DOES ALL ELECTIONS BY MAIL
Oregon does all of its voting by mail. According to my sources, about 80 percent of the registered voters return ballots.
It seems to me that vote by mail is the most effective, efficient and fraud-free way to conduct an election. Voting by mail returns control of the election process to the voter.
Let's see what happens with this current election for the vacant House seat.
Oregon has proved that a state can save time and money by doing it this way.Sam Wallis
Hilo, Big Island
IMMIGRANTS LESS LIKELY TO BREAK LAWS
I'm happy to answer the question posed by Richard Saas' letter ("Why is law against illegal aliens bad?", April 29).
Supporters of Arizona's harsh new immigration law claim that it is a crime-fighting measure. However, the American Immigration Council's Immigration Policy Center reports that crime rates have been falling in Arizona for years despite the presence of unauthorized immigrants. A century's worth of research shows immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born.
According to a 2008 report by the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, the total crime rate declined 13.6 percent in the 19 highest-immigration states (including Arizona) from 1999 to 2006, compared to a 7.1 percent decline in the other states.
The truth is that states with high immigration have the lowest crime rates and that unauthorized immigration is not associated with higher crime rates.
Combating crime related to human and drug smuggling requires more trust between immigrants and the police, not less. Yet the undermining of trust between police and the community is precisely what Arizona's new law accomplishes. Immigration policy is not an effective means of addressing crime because the vast majority of immigrants are not criminals.Maile M. Hirota
SAFETY NET SAVED
KūPUNA CARE GETS LAST-MINUTE REPRIEVE
Our Legislature, save one dissenting vote, overwhelmingly stepped up to preserve senior safety-net services by passing Senate Bill 2469. Without adequate funding, Kūpuna Care, the statewide program that allows frail homebound elderly to remain in their homes safely, was in jeopardy. Many would have been denied the basics — food, transportation to the doctor, and a bath. Without these services, more seniors risk impoverishment, caregivers experience burnout, and the cost of Medicaid rises.
Kūpuna Care services are more critical than ever given increased demand and rising costs. Yet, the program has struggled without a base budget increase since 2002.
Confronted with the worst budget shortfall since statehood, legislators had the wisdom and courage to use the Rainy Day Fund for its intended purpose — public health and safety — despite pressure to divert it for other uses.
AARP commends the leadership of finance chairs Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and Rep. Marcus Oshiro and the legislative Kūpuna Caucus, especially Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland.
On behalf of Hawai'i's families, mahalo to legislators who voted to help our kūpuna age in place, with dignity. We strongly urge Gov. Lingle to sign the bill and release the funds.Barbara Kim Stanton
State director, AARP Hawaii
VOTERS ARE TIRED OF 'BUSINESS AS USUAL'
It is refreshing to see that, apparently, a large number of people are fed up with the "business as usual" attitude of the entrenched Democratic Party old guard and the various public employees' unions. According to The Advertiser ("Djou leads Democratic rivals," May 2), Hanabusa believes "she has a superior grassroots field operation — aided by her supporters in organized labor and allies of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye," but the indication in the poll is that she is trailing. That's good news for those of us who are fed up with politicians who are in the employ of public union leaders.
Even many Democrats are recognizing that government has gotten too big. Unions block any move to modernize government programs because of their stance that modernization means less jobs. Their answer to the bloated cost of government is to raise taxes. This in turn means it is more difficult for small businesses, which provide jobs to those who are not on government payrolls, to survive. The waste in government has got to stop.
We cannot continue to spend money we do not have. A vote for Hanabusa is a vote for government as usual and an even bigger deficit passed on to our younger generations.Diane Vanderzanden
SET RANDOM TRAP AT MāNOA INTERSECTION
How about random speeding check points?
Where? Mānoa — at the five-way intersection at Lowrey Avenue and Mānoa Road.
When? Any time of the day, but particularly in the early afternoons after school and work.
There are nice cool trees in the park near the school where the police could set up a camera to catch the speeders going into the valley on that straight stretch of road towards Paradise Park.Thomas Amina