VIEWPOINT: Buying in to Native Hawaiian leadership in culture and science
By CLYDE M. SAKAMOTO
Haleakala is a sacred cultural, archaeological and historical site. Our "House of the Sun" deserves protection, respect and care. I believe Maui Community College's plan will accomplish this and also provide a path for Native Hawaiians to access educational opportunities to become cultural and scientific international leaders in solar astronomy.
To clarify The Maui News Dec. 10 article "Haleakala selected for solar scope," I would offer MCC's view and potential role in relation to the National Science Foundation's plans to construct the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope atop Haleakala.
For the first time since observatories have been constructed on Haleakala, the NSF process included an opportunity to offer mitigation proposals. Because the proposals addressed the use of a sacred Hawaiian cultural site, the college sought a solution to respond to this disturbance and temporary damage of this precious resource. To balance the presence of this solar telescope atop the summit, the college considered the past leadership of Native Hawaiians, who have historically been astronomers and used their celestial skills to navigate the Pacific.
MCC submitted a mitigation proposal to the NSF for program and curriculum development designed to support the achievement and success of Native Hawaiians in math and science, and to improve their social and economic well-being through advancement and job opportunities in high-technology trades, industries and openings related to solar observation atop Haleakala. Only if the ATST is constructed will the MCC mitigation proposal of $2 million per year for 10 years be funded. The mitigation proposal does not trigger the decision, but will simply be permitted if the ATST construction materializes.
GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS
In order to expedite the process of receiving, editing and publishing submissions to Letters on the Opinion pages, The Maui News has established the following guidelines:
-- Letters must not exceed 250 words.
-- Writers are limited to two published letters per month.
-- Handwritten letters are not accepted.
-- Every submission must include the writer's name, community and a phone number where the writer can be reached. The number is not published.
-- Letters submitted via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Virtual Newsroom on The Maui News Web site (www.mauinews.com) are given priority.
-- Poetry is not accepted.
-- All letters are subject to editing.
-- Viewpoints are limited to subjects particular to Maui County or the State of Hawaii, and the writer must have proven expertise in connection with the subject.
The Letters section is among the most popular features of The Maui News and submissions on subjects of general interest are welcome. Adherence to the guidelines above will allow for the publication of a greater volume of letters on a wider range of issues from a more diverse group of writers. Thanks to all contributors to the Letters section for your cooperation.
-- The Maui News
Over the last 20 years, MCC has acquired considerable experience in providing educational opportunities for Native Hawaiians.
These investments reflect our 21st-century commitment to Native Hawaiian leadership potentially spanning all sectors and horizons. Our university and college's strategic plans embrace our opportunity and responsibility to uncover and apply available and new resources to realize not only sustainable living wage careers in Maui Nui, but real leadership possibilities for Native Hawaiians. We see these possibilities for all of our students as well.
While our ATST mitigation proposal will focus exclusively on Native Hawaiian participants, the resulting impacts on ATST-related activities and applied research will present other opportunities for our students and community. Our goal will be to support Native Hawaiian students interested in acquiring the educational, cultural and scientific knowledge to lead solar astronomy, and to seek a Native Hawaiian Ph.D in astrophysics to lead our project.
MCC's ATST mitigation proposal outlines four objectives: To grow the capacity and number of Native Hawaiians majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); to increase the proficiency and skills of pre-college and post-secondary Native Hawaiian students in STEM; to cultivate and reinforce the intersection of Hawaiian culture and knowledge with STEM courses, programs, certifications and degrees; and to expand the job opportunities of Native Hawaiians for employment in STEM-related careers.
While MCC's proposal acknowledges the recognition of Haleakala as a sacred site to Native Hawaiian people, it also recognizes a tremendous opportunity to elevate Native Hawaiians into educational, scientific and research-based leadership roles that will not only direct the future of Haleakala but also the future of our entire planet. The college will enlist Hawaiian cultural resources, including our faculty and other respected community resources, the UH Institute for Astronomy and the National Solar Observatory's science leadership. Never before has there been such an opportunity to merge Hawaiian culture with the best scientific tools and other resources in the world, offered or considered, by the NSF.
I believe that buying in to promising futures for Native Hawaiians offers an opportunity that should not be missed. Imagine Native Hawaiian solar scientists with the mana of Haleakala expressing their historical and contemporary accomplishments based on solar research answering questions including global warming, weather prediction, crop production, telecommunications interruptions and energy impact.
More specific information will be available to interested Native Hawaiian participants as our mitigation proposal progresses toward actual funding. Interested students may want to begin by considering our new bachelor of applied science in engineering technology program starting in the fall of 2010. Contact Kulamanu Ishihara at 984-3272 for information.
* Clyde M. Sakamoto is the chancellor of Maui Community College.
VIEWPOINT: Education first and the rest will follow
By SEN. GARY HOOSER
While recent financial projections indicate a slowing down of the economic decline that has hammered our state and the nation over the past 24 months, there is no doubt that the coming 2010 legislative session will be exceptionally challenging.
Absent strong, thoughtful and forward-thinking leadership, there is a very real possibility that the session will devolve into a fractured and frantic tug of war between various special interests, each competing for the limited available resources. It will be education versus gambling versus mental health versus economic development versus the homeless versus environmental protection versus rail transit versus tax increases versus public workers versus county transient accommodation tax funds versus - you get the picture, and it is not a pretty one.
The challenge of balancing the budget will have proponents coming at the issue from all sides. Some will argue to starve the beast and advocate for more across-the-board cuts, increased layoffs, furloughs and reductions in public services. Others will push for tax increases to increase revenues, stanch the bleeding and provide much needed support for safety net services, education and other vital services provided by government. Most will be looking at the picture through the narrow lens of their own particular special interest or kuleana that they are responsible for protecting.
This is the fundamental challenge facing the state Legislature in 2010: How do we set priorities?
Is it the chicken or the egg?
Faced with dramatically declining tax revenues and forced by budget circumstances to make the tough decisions, it will and always has come down to setting priorities. Do we focus on the problems and challenges of now, or do we invest in our future? Or do we try to do it all and spread our resources out - a little here and a little there?
I have come to the conclusion that it is all about the egg. We must take care of tomorrow.
In setting our priorities, we must resist the urge to be all things to all people. Yes, we have many areas charged with our care and protection and, yes, we cannot ignore the many competing and vital interests. But as leaders, we must have the courage to say that some areas of our government, some areas of responsibility we are charged with, are more important than others.
A strong and diverse economy will provide the resources to achieve all of our goals. The sustainable pathway forward starts with educational excellence and will lead to success in all other areas.
An intense and unrelenting focus on creating and maintaining a culture of educational excellence in Hawaii should be our state's number one priority. Focusing first on the very young and then extending our efforts through to the university, leadership at all levels must be supported, re-energized and given the tools necessary to do their jobs. If we can accomplish this one thing, then many, if not most, of our state's other challenges will begin to be surmountable. Research clearly shows that when educational levels rise, incomes also increase, and there is a natural and related reduction in poverty, crime and health-related costs. Knowledge-based and high-tech businesses seek out communities that have strong educational foundations and the high quality of life associated with positive natural environments.
Supporting education must be our first priority. We must keep our eye on the prize of achieving educational excellence because from that all else flows.
* Sen. Gary Hooser, of Kauai, is the state Senate majority leader and a 2010 candidate for lieutenant governor.
DEATH OF WELL-KNOWN MAKAWAO DOG IS SAD
I was saddened to read that Chase, Gary Moore's and, later, Steve McCullough's dog, was stabbed to death ("Maui Nei, Dec. 17). He was a friendly dog that everyone in Makawao knew and loved.
Ron Youngblood's column said that the man that stabbed him has been charged with cruelty to animals. The man should not be allowed to own an animal while awaiting trial. Nobody walks their dog and carries a hunting knife, that is unless they plan to go hunting.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE CUT BY BUDGET CUTS
It has come to my attention that because of state budget cuts the Molokai Adult Mental Health will be shut down in the beginning of the new year. So, all of our mentally ill patients will be either put in jail, which is state and federally funded, or in the hospital, which is state and federally funded.
So, honestly, it doesn't make sense.
ALL WATER OPTIONS ARE NOT BEING CONSIDERED
As I read about the fight for water, I can't understand why conservation, reuse, rainwater capture, runoff and desalination are not discussed. Access to water countrywide will only be exacerbated over time. Water is central to everything we do and there is no substitute for it. We cannot live, grow food or produce energy without it and we would have no economic output without it.
I have been coming to Maui for 30 years and now stay three to four months and have been astonished by the waste of water on the islands. The resorts and golf courses use too much water, with sprinkler systems often running after heavy rainfalls. There are 50 million toilets that leak daily in the country. How many are on Maui? There are relatively inexpensive technologies which exist to reduce water consumption by golf courses, resorts and farmers and detect leaking toilets, the cost of which would be recovered within a year. Rainwater capture systems and desalination plants are also part of the solution set.
Finally, to encourage conservation, water needs to be priced to capture the true cost of the value it provides, the energy used to move it, the technology required to clean it and the replacement cost of the infrastructure to provide it. We have taken water for granted and the plain facts are that there is no economic substitute for water and we are using it faster than nature replaces it.
COUNTY WORKS HARD TO PROTECT RESOURCES
The Dec. 4 editorial was horrendous.
First of all, comparing ocean activities businesses to transient vacation rentals is like comparing apples and oranges. These businesses are conducted on our natural resources, so who should control those that do business there? County of Maui, that's who.
The writer of the editorial sides with these owners who want things done their way. Never mind if the business is sold to a member of any mafia organization in the world. The intended buyer could get permit approval before the transaction is completed. But they want to be able to sell it to anyone.
The approach that the county is anti-business is ridiculous.
The county administration must maintain control of who gets the permit to operate at one of our natural resources. That is what the whole issue is about. Anyone owning a liquor establishment could not sell their license with the business. The intended buyer would have to get one for himself. The owner of any kind of real estate would not allow a tenant to sublet without his consent and approval. This is the common sense way of doing things.
Saying things that the editorial expounds on is really a shot across the bow at the county administration. That kind of an editorial needs a response and this is mine.
Gordon C. Cockett
SURPLUSES WERE CALCULATED BY CBO
"Budget surplus, uninsured numbers are wrong" (Letters, Dec. 17) decries and engages in divisive propaganda. The writer claims President Bill Clinton's budget surplus is only projected and that it is "mere wishful thinking."
The actual budget surpluses for 1999 and 2000 were $122.7 billion and about $230 billion, respectively. The projected surpluses came from the conservative, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculations and were based, in part, on the fiscal policies then in effect. Incidentally, the Republican Congress can claim partial credit for these surpluses.
The letter writer accuses President Barack Obama of having socialist goals with respect to health care, ignoring that we already have socialist health care. Emergency rooms are required to treat anyone ending up there. Guess who pays for this burgeoning service?
While we now pay far more at the back end for emergency treatment, the current health care proposals seek to make us pay far less for early treatment at the front end. For this common-sense cost containment to work, virtually everyone who might end up in an emergency room needs to contribute.
LOSS OF WELL-KNOWN DOG IS HEARTBREAKING
Picture this: A brown-and-white, beautiful clown of a dog is sitting on the sidewalk on Baldwin Avenue in Makawao, greeting people as they pass by, bringing smiles to people's faces.
He was an ambassador of sorts and was loved by all who met him. His name was Chase and he was killed in a cruel fashion by a man who said Chase attacked him. I don't know if this is true or not, but it goes against everything I know about this dog, and I am heartbroken that Chase met his end this way. He deserved better.
My heart goes out to Chase's adopted family, who so kindly took him in when Mr. Gary Moore passed on. I offer my sincere condolences, and thank you for giving Chase a good home for the last three years of his life.
BUDGET DEFICITS CAME DURING BUSH YEARS
Sorry, Dec. 17 letter writer, but according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (as reported by The New York Times on June 9) "[W]hen Bill Clinton left office in 2001, the budgets for 2009-2012 were expected to have an average surplus of $850 billion. But the 2000 stock market crash, 2001 recession and 2002-3 jobless recovery reduced tax revenue and increased safety-net spending. The economic growth under George W. Bush did not generate enough tax revenue to pay for his agenda, which included tax cuts, the Iraq war and Medicare prescription drug coverage. The recession that started in late 2007, like earlier downturns, has reduced tax revenue and increased safety-net spending."
Let the chips fall where they may, but when you make sweeping allegations, try please to have your facts right. The largest budget deficits in history that we now face are carry-overs from the Bush years and nothing else.
M. J. Duberstein
INCREASE IN TAX ON COMMISSION PAST DUE
The state government has insisted that the drastic cut in education was necessary because there was no choice. There were no other funds or sources of income to be found.
The governor is only now proposing an increase in the general excise tax that insurance agents pay on their sales commissions from 0.15 percent (not even two-tenths of one cent on the dollar) to the same 4 percent that the rest of the businesspeople in the state have been paying for years.
It is not really a tax hike but rather a source of income that should have been tapped long ago out of fairness to all Hawaii businesses.
Parents and business people, let's follow this and make sure that investment in our kids (the future of Hawaii and America) is enough to make it happen.
NOISE IS BAD FOR HEALTH; TURN DOWN THE RADIOS
Cars blasting their radios needs to stop. It's time to give Maui back its peace and stop the madness with the bass pounding in our ears and in our neighborhoods. Go to ww.lowertheboom.org. Look and learn, Maui.
Noise is bad for our health and I love my health.
ABERCROMBIE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT STATE'S WOES
It's hard to believe that Rep. Neil Abercrombie wants to be governor of Hawaii when the first thing he does is cost the state of Hawaii millions of dollars for a special election.
What kind of politician is this that knows the state is in a financial crisis (even our schoolchildren are having furlough days because we don't have enough money coming into the coffers to sustain our schools) and yet, for his own personal gain, would not hesitate to cost us millions to fund this election.
This is not someone I would vote to be our governor. He is basically saying he doesn't care that he is creating more financial problems for our state. Is this someone you would vote for? Think about it.
LAWS MORE FRIENDLY TO OUTSIDERS THAN LOCALS
We need to stop the monopoly of a few individuals who think they are too clever for the public to recognize. The ones who are bringing in outsiders to buy up all the lots and control all the corporation shares and so-called commercial and ag properties, making it nearly impossible for homegrown Hawaiians and locals to run small businesses or enterprises.
The tourism and visitor industries are dominated by Mainland capitalists and investors who do not keep the money over here - the ones that Gov. Linda Lingle strategically positioned in seats of power to disrupt the local pull and confidence. She's switching up laws and ordinances to accommodate outsider businesses and using the taxpayers to make up for the state funding shortfall that her associates and staff mismanaged through negligence.
Edward Hoapili Ka'ahui Jr.
SPECIAL TREATMENT PROMISED FOR PASSAGE
Yes, folks, corruption and racketeering are still alive and well in America. For a preview we saw the votes on the proposed health care bill being bribed and paid off right before our eyes. We had senators vowing to vote against the health care bill based on their beliefs, do a flip-flop after they got personal deals slung their way.
The president said we would have all the debates out in the open and on C-SPAN, but once again he lied to the people. The sessions were behind closed doors and off-limits to Republicans while they were wheeling and dealing and twisting arms until they had the 60 votes they needed. They were promising senators special treatment that no other states got, funding for their special projects and earmarks that only benefited their state. They twisted the wording and made certain contractual obligations cloudy. All and all, it worked, and we now see how our so-called democratic system works.
Once again, the Democrats are racking up more debt than this country can afford and many buffoons say OK. I can't wait until the next election when the Republicans will run on the basis that we need to reduce taxes and bring this deficit back down instead of running this country into bankruptcy with runaway spending.
Steve W. Kear
IMPORTANT LESSONS TAUGHT IN 'INVICTUS'
As a response to the Dec. 19 letter concerning the movie "Invictus": I want to recommend the 1999 Anthony Sampson biography on Nelson Mandela.
Mandela was a man ahead of his time who serves as an example of forgiveness of his enemies and someone who learned to live a life for the larger good, even though he had many reasons to take revenge when he was elected to a position of power in South Africa.
Hopefully, we can use his life as an example of a commitment to understanding our enemies. Mandela used the following words from W.E. Henley's Victorian poem "Invictus" to shape his perceptions of his own future: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." In my opinion, we can all learn from the lessons in "Invictus."
Malia S. Johnson
EDUCATOR'S DEMANDS ARE UNREASONABLE
It is incomprehensible that teachers are demanding paid time to prepare their classes and to do their homework.
As far as I am concerned, preparing the lessons, correcting assignments and tests, and recording grades are all part of being an instructor. We did it after school before leaving the campus or at home while our children did their own homework.
Teaching and instructing are choice vocations and are not to be considered only as a job that is done when time spent outside the classroom is reimbursed financially. Consider for a moment the sacrifices done by our parents that keep the schools functioning, and they never ever ask for financial compensation.
Educators are getting too unreasonable in their demands, which continue to entangle the furlough situation. Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, too, are blamed for this unbending attitude. This is a horrible legacy to be left by the Republican Party.
DOE HAS LOTS OF ADMINISTRATORS
For years there has been confusion as to just how many administrators there are in the Department of Education. Even if the DOE could get its facts together and disclosed exactly how many administrators there are in the department, I don't think it would be believed.
If Marion Higa, the state auditor, were to be asked by the state Legislature to do the analysis, I believe it would have credibility. She should also determine how many teachers are working outside of the classroom. There certainly is justification for some of these positions but, in dire economic times, priority has to be given to actual instruction.
LAWMAKERS ARE NOT WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE
As the health care debate drags on in the U.S. Congress, it has become abundantly clear that the legislative process in this country has broken down. At every level, politicians (they can not be mistaken as leaders) of all stripes have sold their souls to their campaign contributors and special interest lobbyists. Our corporate-controlled media seem to be colluding with what's going on by not exposing the facts and the money taken by the corrupt politicians.
Legislative solutions for the good of the people are a rarity. The only time the elected politicians seem to not bicker or let go of their lobbyists is in a grave crisis situation.
When Social Security was on the brink a few years ago, the legislative solution was to appoint an autocratic blue-ribbon commission whose mandate could not be amended or voted down in Congress. The same thing was done for the military bases' closing ordinance as no legislator could be counted on to vote for the country's overall interest over their narrow personal interest. Are these solutions really the way our Founding Fathers had intended for the legislative process to work?
Health care system, as bad as it is, is not yet broken. Hence the naysayer Republicans and obstructionist Blue Dog Democrats do not want to participate in any constructive debate to reform it. Damn the public or the country. It has to get much worse before we will have a meaningful health care industry reform.
PERMITS SHOULD REMAIN NONTRANSFERABLE
On the transferability issue with ocean activity permits on public lands, I hope the public really understands what is at stake here.
The operators, supported by the Chamber of Commerce and hotel association, want the right to freely transfer their permits when they sell their business, without any say by the county. The County Code states: "Permits are nontransferable." By not allowing it, the county is called anti-business.
The real issue is about who should control our public resources, and not just today but for generations to come.
Unless the representatives of these two organizations can honestly tell us that the hotels and businesses they represent allow the transfer of permits, licenses or contracts without their involvement, please do not insult our intelligence.
These representatives do themselves and their organizations a disservice by not offering a balanced voice for the whole community. Auwe!
NEW TESTAMENT DOES NOT ADVOCATE VIOLENCE
The Dec. 19 respondent to my Dec. 13 political correctness letter offers bizarre and irrational statements indicative of a lack of knowledge of his subject. In place of specifics, he offers only generalities, which cannot prove the validity of his claims.
Does he not know that the New Testament is an intrinsic segment of the Bible? Does he not know that the New Testament has guided the development of humanity for 2,000 years? Does he not know that when mankind strays from the preachings of the New Testament, the evils we have seen and survived over the last 2,000 years occur? Does he not know it is the imperfections of man that have caused these evils?
I challenge him to find one quote in the New Testament that advocates for or suggests the validity of murder, rape, robbery, vengeance, hate, war, etc.
I take time to refute the respondent's claims only in the interest of dissuading anyone who reads his letter from accepting his ramblings as truthful.
Francis Michael Patrick Lydon
PROGRAM PROVIDES IMPORTANT SERVICE
The state budget picture looks bleak, but caring for our older loved ones and supporting family caregivers is just too important to ignore. Supporting those who care for the less able in their families is surely in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. That support will help people stay in their own homes as they age.
The Kupuna Care Program is one of those money-saving things we don't often consider until we suddenly have to face the issue when a loved family member becomes disabled. No one can do the things they need better or more economically than family.
The holidays are a great time to do something nice for family caregivers who take care of aging or disabled friends and family members - with little regard for themselves. In that spirit, please call or write our state lawmakers and ask them to provide adequate funding for our Kupuna Care Program.
NEWSPAPER NEEDS TO CHANGE TO SURVIVE
The Maui News, as many small daily newspapers, has had to substantially reduce its costs. Workers have been encouraged to take early retirement, to take cuts in pay and to otherwise help the bottom line.
The world outside has changed. Younger people do not read newspapers. They do not submit classifieds, as they used to, because of Craigslist. And they are not partial to the advertisers who support paper print. The handwriting is on the wall: Change or die.
And yet most dailies seem incapable of change, unable to change or resistant to it. You cannot simply trim the fat around the meat, you must change the meat itself. We don't need a different or leaner meat, we need a different kind of food.
We need a new format. We need better writing from local writers. We need more objectivity. We need a paper with better content and one that is fearless in pursuit of truth, fact and decency. We need a paper that is not implicitly controlled by local politicians or advertisers or by the unsubstantiated abstractions of our fathers.
The Maui News needs dimensionality, spice, narrators, as well as reporters, and less mindless filler.
Newsprint is competing with mercurial and plastic streams of electrons. The interaction of these electrons is beguiling. How is passive print to effectively compete? Only through beauty, creativity and artistry. Old business models, are like the bony hands of corpses - they have lost their grip.