Your newspaper recently reported on Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s threat that property taxes would have to be increased by 30-43 percent if the rail general excise tax surcharge isn’t extended ("Mayor’s tax warning not about shortfall," Star-Advertiser, June 26).
His office said it was unable to produce data supporting those figures, so it clarified that those figures reflect current construction, plus operating expenses and $4 billion for University of Hawaii at Manoa and central Kapolei extensions.
Since no extensions have been voted on by the City Council and no environmental impact study has been done, why even bring this up? How can we trust the mayor?
In 2007 we were told the rail system would cost $3.7 billion.
Does anyone know what the real cost for the current project is?
How about operating expenses?
As your article implied, the mayor and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are in full spin mode.
It seems the goal is to keep taxpayers utterly confused, and keep digging fast.
Environmental court good news for Hawaii
Hawaii’s decision to establish a judicial tool to enforce environmental laws calls forth the establishment of the state Land Use Commission, on which I served some decades ago.
Once again Hawaii’s current decision demonstrates its leadership capacity in matters pertaining to clean and healthful human existence.
City seems to need more ambulances
Listening to Emergency Medical Services and fire dispatch, I have come to the conclusion that the City and County of Honolulu does not have enough ambulances.
There are many times when all ambulances are on calls, and more calls are coming in. Calls stack up because there are only so many ambulances on Oahu.
The city and/or state needs to look into this critical situation. Hopefully, they will see the need and approve funds for these needed units.
The Fire Department is sent on about half of the calls that EMS responds to. This is good because we, the citizens of Honolulu, have one of the best-trained fire departments in the world.
Why not combine the ambulance department and the Fire Department? Buy more ambulances, then put a firefighter/EMT and a paramedic in each ambulance. This might be expensive to do, but what price do you put on a life saved?
Robots replacing high-tech workers?
Mike Meyer says there is a need for more high-tech workers in Hawaii, and that there are "good-paying jobs" for people with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education ("Science-based programs help fill tech jobs in Hawaii," Star-Advertiser, Tech View, July 9).
If so, this is contrary to trends in the mainland, where there is a glut of unemployed STEM-educated U.S. citizens because their jobs are given to foreigners at lower pay — or increasingly to robots that are cheaper yet.
Indeed, on the same page, a high-tech analyst, talking about the simultaneous failures of computers at United Airlines, the New York Stock Exchange and The Wall Street Journal, said, "Humans can’t keep up with all the technology they have created. It’s becoming unmanageable by the human brain. Our best hope may be that computers eventually will become smart enough to maintain themselves."
That day is fast approaching, if not already here.
Full unemployment is our only reasonable goal.
Use closed schools to house the homeless
The city and state should work together to clear up any issues and reopen the schools they closed to house the homeless.
The schools already are safe, secure structures. They have kitchens, bathrooms, sinks that could easily be retrofitted to be showers, and parking.
They all have bus service, with grocery stores nearby. Bikes could be used, or vans could be offered for travel to doctors.
There is ample space in these schools for social services and child care. The libraries could be converted to community rooms. The possibilities are endless.
The homeless children would then have access to good schools and caring communities.
FROM THE FORUM
Readers of the Star-Advertiser’s online edition can respond to stories posted there. The following are some of those. Instead of names, pseudonyms are generally used online. They have been removed.
“Bill set for veto despite advocacy,” Star-Advertiser, July 6:
>> Kathryn Xian’s claims that current law is not being used was proven wrong as Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro has already used current law to prosecute pimps and has several cases pending prosecution. Changes in current law would hamper or prevent pending cases from being successfully prosecuted. This bill deserves the governor’s veto.
>> If Kaneshiro is against it, then it’s probably a good law.
“Closing of left-turn lane is harming businesses,” Star-Advertiser, July 6:
>> I continue to be filled with excitement and wonder as the reality of the railway continues to move forward with that magnificent concrete structure moving toward Honolulu. At long last, the people in the west will be given an opportunity to get into town and back without having to sit in horrible gridlock traffic. As far as the businesses who claim they are losing business due to the construction, we should realize that they are simply trying to get some money out of the project.
>> Sarcasm, I hope.
“Environmentalist angry at sight of plastic bags,” Star-Advertiser, July 7:
>> Hawaii should let its voters vote on allowing the regular plastic bags use. These environmentalists are the minority.
>> No, they shouldn’t let the people vote on this. I’m no eco-fascist, but sometimes laws need to be made by lawmakers — what a concept! Why? Because when left to the masses, people often don’t see much farther than their pocketbooks or convenience. In a few years, people will look back and think, how did we ever use so many plastic bags? Remember smoking in restaurants and on airplanes? Same thing.
“Horner gives up position leading Board of Education,” Star-Advertiser, July 8:
>> He needs to resign from the rail project, too, as it is almost as messed up as our schools are.
>> He is a good, honorable man.
“State might limit Mauna Kea access,” Star-Advertiser, July 8:
>> Typical. The state resolves the protester problem by limiting access. If that works, then they can limit access to banks. That would stop bank robbers. What’s wrong with just arresting the lawbreaking protesters?
>> You’re talking apples and oranges. The state has jurisdiction of the Mauna Kea land but the state doesn’t have jurisdiction over the banks. Some of the protesters were arrested. Where were you?
>> Like Govs. Linda Lingle and Neil Abercrombie before, who said all the right things to Hawaiians to get our vote, and then screwed us over royally when they were in office, Gov. David Ige will see what happens when the “host culture” no longer has any aloha for him.
“CEO defends massage deductions,” Star-Advertiser, July 9:
>> The thing is that his company, Sandwich Isles Communications, was contracting with the federal government to provide telecom and Internet services at exorbitant rates. Part of Albert Hee’s justification of the exorbitant rates was the high cost of doing business. If he was inflating his cost like the government is claiming, the government should re-examine the breakdown of his cost, nullify some of those costs and demand that he reimburse the government because of all the disallowed costs. The “per line” cost was many times higher than anywhere else in the country.
>> This guy needs some serious jail time. He’s not even remotely sorry.
>> If I were Hee, I would have tried to get a plea deal. His accountant will go down with him.
“Drama teacher’s lessons went beyond stage,” Star-Advertiser, July 9:
>> In 20 years with the Department of Education, my wife and I had the pleasure of seeing dozens of the Castle Performing Arts Center productions, and were awed by them all. We also saw many of Ron Bright’s post-DOE shows, where his magic continued to grow. Our deepest condolences to the Bright family. His legacy lives in the thousands of students who gained performing talent, confidence and good character through their fortunate association with Mr. B.
“State, city say they will work together on homeless,” Star-Advertiser, July 9:
>> An elected official puts himself in harm’s way, which appears to have woken up not just his constituents, but more importantly his colleagues. It remains to be seen if they follow through on this or if it is all just a charade to appease the public and make us think they are responding.
How to write us
The Star-Advertiser welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (~150 words). The Star-Advertiser reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include your area of residence and a daytime telephone number.
Letter form: Online form, click here