Public workers need to consider taxpayers
Roland Clements asserts that criticism of unionized public workers is unjustified and claims private benefits are a result of the labor movement ("Government workers are not the problem," Letters, Star-Advertiser, April 7). Clements misses the larger point. Public sector employees are beholden to the taxpayers’ ability to pay.
The majority of the state budget is dedicated to payroll, pensions and benefits enjoyed by public employees and must be considered in budgetary planning. Otherwise, why would HGEA agreeing to a pay cut be headline news when private sector pay cuts have occurred throughout this recession?
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Boost GET to assure good care for elders
The state is falling short of meeting basic services required by our community. Current kupuna care services fall short of meeting the critical need. Most of these services have wait lists. Demand for these vital services, which have a major impact on the quality of life of frail elders and their caregivers, will continue to grow. The cost of these services is relatively low compared to other expenditures of the state.
In order to meet our moral obligations to the vulnerable, the Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs strongly supports an increase in the general excise tax, even a temporary increase of half a percentage point. An increase in the GET is the only viable vehicle that would raise enough revenue to overcome the current budget crisis. The tax is broad-based, and therefore spreads the burden of paying for our state services on everyone, including the tourists who visit our state.
Chairwoman, State Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs
Single casino would quickly become more
I enjoyed reading Jack Seigle’s commentary in which he listed his reasons why he is against most forms of legalized gambling in Hawaii ("All things considered, a single casino in Waikiki is worth a try," Island Voices, Star-Advertiser, March 27).
I agree that Waikiki needs more evening entertainment. However, his proposal doesn’t take into consideration the percentage of tourist dollars taken from our existing attractions that would go to pay for gambling losses.
Also, Seigle is dreaming if he thinks that only some residents would visit the casino. Tell that to those who can’t afford the time or money for a trip to Las Vegas. And it is wishful thinking to surmise that gambling outlets won’t grow exponentially as soon as one is legalized.
Parliamentary-style elections likely best
I can respect ex-mayor Tony Santos’ disagreement with your editorial supporting instant runoff voting ("Instant runoff voting a bad idea," Letters, Star-Advertiser, April 8). However, it is his argument that I find most disagreeable.
Santos says that instant runoff voting (IRV) results in electoral winners having less than 50 percent of the vote. Exactly! Elections that reward only a majority vote are undemocratic, penalizing the interests of minority voters (those who fail to vote for the most popular candidate and policy positions).
The most deeply democratic electoral systems are the parliamentary-style systems that include not only IRV, but proportional representation (PR), which provide representation to a vastly larger proportion of society’s stakeholders and allow more creative minority ideas into politics.
For example, it is only in PR-type systems that Green parties have been allowed into governments, providing an otherwise non-existent ecological perspective into the most pressing of society’s and government’s policy issues.
Rail cars patterned after existing systems
Michael Richards is incorrect in saying the $574 million for construction in the core systems contract for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project is for customized rail cars ("Are custom-built rail cars needed?" Letters, Star-Advertiser, April 8).
Those funds cover the cost of the design, manufacture, assembly and delivery of 80 train cars for the rail system, as well as the design and installation of power, communications, train control and the operations control center.
While the city clearly wants its rail cars and core systems built to certain specifications, they will be modeled after existing systems, such as the one in Copenhagen, which has the reputation as being one of the best in the world.
Because Honolulu’s rail cars will be patterned after existing vehicles, they will be easier to assemble.
We’re not starting from scratch here, as Richards’ letter suggests.
Engineering and construction, Honolulu Rail Transit Project