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Letters to the Editor

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State doesn’t own hurricane fund

State Insurance Commission Gordon Ito says the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund will be needed only if a hurricane strikes and an inadequate amount of private insurance is available. Therefore, Ito says, the state should use the fund to address the state’s fiscal crisis.

The fund is not owned by the state. It was not derived from taxes. The people who paid into the fund are the owners. The state is just a fiduciary holder of the fund and should use the fund when needed for the purpose for which it was intended and nothing else.

Let’s not start using special funds for whatever so-called crisis we decide to support. Ito and others who want to raid special funds should create their own special fund and offer it to the state to use for any purpose. Call it the Special Fund to Use for Any Purpose.

Russel Noguchi
Pearl City

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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813


Instant runoff voting a bad idea

Instant runoff voting (IRV) would a do gross injustice to Hawaii voters ("Let’s try instant runoff voting," Our View, Star-Advertiser, March 24).

IRV has not proven to be successful and, in fact, has been repealed in a number of communities where it was being used. The evidence shows that IRV does not do the things its supporters say it does.

It does not provide for a majority winner, as your editorial states. In elections held in San Francisco, Oakland and San Leandro, Calif., last November, none of the winners achieved a majority of the votes cast in the respective elections.

Finally, IRV generally results in voter confusion, and more ballots are spoiled than in any other election.

I hope the voters of Hawaii reject the use of IRV-styled elections.

Tony Santos
Former mayor, San Leandro, Calif.


Don’t punish travel writers

House Bill 548 would make writers and publishers of travel guides liable for the actions of readers who come to Hawaii and trespass on restricted property.

While we want our visitors to remain safe and obey our laws, punishing the free speech of travel writers is certainly the wrong approach. Efforts to sue travel publications have already been struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.

Instead of hurting the industry that helps bring guests to our islands, my fellow legislators should focus on enhancing and increasing those areas that can be enjoyed by residents and tourists, and swiftly prosecuting those who do not obey our "kapu" signs.

Rep. Gene Ward
District 17 (Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley)


Are custom-built rail cars needed?

Whether you are pro- or anti-rail, you have to wonder why our rail transit system is going to cost more per mile and per capita than any other rail system ever built anywhere in the world.

The first contract awarded should be an eye opener: $574 million to design the rail cars.

Apparently, despite 200 years of railroad car design, not a single existing design would work, and we have to pay more than half a billion dollars to have custom railroad cars.

We couldn’t license a design from Singapore, Japan, Europe or any American city?

This is not a trivial amount — it is 10 percent of the entire cost.

A custom-designed and -built car means custom maintenance, parts and engineers — forever! You know that is going to cost us.

lt may be a good idea, but we cannot afford the pipe dream our city leaders are planning.

Michael Richards


GET hike would hurt businesses

As a licensed contractor and small business owner on Oahu, I am required to pay 4.5 percent of my gross income every month to the state of Hawaii, in general excise tax, regardless of  whether my business is profitable or not.

I pay thousands each month, and the only deduction I am allowed are the amounts paid to subcontractors, who are required to pay the same 4.5 percent on their gross income. There is no exemption — and no other deductions for cost of goods and services such as employee wages, Federal Insurance Contributions Act, workers compensation, Temporary Disability Insurance, comprehensive health care, liability insurance, materials, office expenses, automobile expenses, etc.

I’m sure that to the average union government employee, a raise in the excise tax doesn’t mean much. But to many hard-working small-business owners, it may just be the kiss of death.

Bill Emery



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