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Native birds in serious decline

Robyn Thorson’s essay about Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve raised some ancillary points we dispute ("Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve is template for the future," Island Voices, Star-Advertiser, May 8). Native birds at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge do not have populations that are stable or increasing. Our peer-reviewed paper, "Misleading trend analysis and decline of Hawaiian forest birds," showed that the study she is relying on to reach this conclusion is flawed because the data do not fit the model. We used a model that the data fit: Every species of native bird has declined on the refuge since the year 2000.

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We sent this paper to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii and the regional Portland office, but none of them even acknowledged receipt.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service thus continues to manage native forest birds at Hakalau based on flawed models and a willful disregard of independent analyses.

Leonard A. Freed
UH professor of zoology

Rebecca L. Cann
UH professor of cell and molecular biology

Farms better on Nanakuli land

The state Land Use Commission’s decision against rezoning 96 acres of agricultural land for a light industrial park in Nanakuli supports both agriculture and jobs in Hawaii ("Project could help Nanakuli," Our View, Star-Advertiser, May 2).

Contrary to the developer’s statement, that land grew an abundance of produce, providing farming jobs from 1967 to 1988 until the farmer was evicted for a golf course. Neighboring farmers had also faced previous evictions because of urbanization.

Farmers are taking a stand against urban creep, spot urban zoning that allows developers to purchase cheap agricultural land and to speculate on rezoning for profit.

Farmers can’t invest in expensive equipment without the protection of agricultural lands.

We import 90 percent of our food at our own peril. The next generation of farmers can provide food and jobs only if we are committed to a future for agricultural lands in Hawaii.

Candace Fujikane

PBS Hawaii can change lives

Life-changing television.That’s in effect how a former Vietnamese immigrant, profiled by Michael Tsai, described what it was like to watch a favorite program on PBS Hawaii ("‘Sesame Street’ taught woman to be a gregarious American," Incidental Lives, Star-Advertiser, May 9). Thuy Zipp said that through watching public television, she learned English and learned how to talk with people in her new island home.

I meet many people who are excited to share that they grasped new skills, chose their career, developed a love for the arts or gained important new perspectives via PBS Hawaii.

This nonprofit TV station’s newest educational initiative is HIKI NO ("can do"): The nation’s first statewide student news network, a partnership with public, private and charter schools, and a powerful vehicle for teaching 21st-century skills.

Television really can change lives.

Leslie Wilcox
President and CEO, PBS Hawaii

Cellphone bill a waste of time

Surely the City Council has better things to consider than a ban on cellphones or electronic devices while crossing streets? How far will government agencies go to protect us from ourselves? This is getting too absurd. The next step will be to ban friends talking, while walking together and using the crosswalk.

Lyn Stobie

Seniors put democracy to work

As Richard Borreca observed (“Pension tax idea galvanized potent voting bloc,” On Politics, Star-Advertiser, May 8), the pension tax met its end this session in the face of widespread opposition among older Hawaii residents. The reaction by seniors is grassroots democracy in the truest sense.

It is disappointing, therefore, that Gov. Neil Abercrombie should personalize the defeat of the flawed pension tax bills by taking a swipe at AARP (“Abercrombie obstructed,” Star-Advertiser, May 8). AARP brought attention to the flaws in the bills, but it was countless older voters who made their voices heard. AARP members believe that we must work effectively to address the state’s very real budget crisis. Because of a loss of projected revenues, however, AARP is very concerned that current retirees with pensions, including those with middle incomes, could be targeted in order to make up for this loss in the future. Let’s keep the focus where it belongs: fixing the state budget shortfall across populations as equitably as possible — without targeting older residents unfairly.

Barbara Kim Stanton
State director, AARP Hawaii

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