Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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February 01, 2006 - MidWeek
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Union dangers

As a political moderate, I consider Karl Rove to be one of the most dangerous men in America, because of his oft-demonstrated pathological need to consolidate power at any cost. In a similar vein, I consider Randy Perreira, the subject of your Jan. 25 cover story, to be one of the most dangerous men in Hawaii - and for the same reason.

Men such as these (and they’re always men, aren’t they?) dress up oligarchies in democratic clothing, purporting to champion the causes of the ill-served, but in reality making the world a much better place only for a select few. Hawaii desperately needs to move beyond the era of heavy-handed union shakedowns and begin to serve broader constituencies, operating in harmony with 21st century realities rather perpetuating outmoded paradigms. There are good reasons why the AFL-CIO is splintering at the national level - pay attention to them!

David Kammerer

Laie

Selling Lingle

Lenny Klompus, MidWeek‘s Jan. 18 cover subject, is an example of what’s wrong with politics in our country. A man who admits he knew little about how state government works is now in charge of “packaging” and selling Gov. Lingle’s agenda as if it was just a product or a football game. In other words, it’s all about money and ratings.

Yet for all the talk about his marketing skills, the article omits his most dubious achievement: turning the Aloha Bowl into a “double-header.” On paper it looked great. He could (and did) charge fans higher prices for tickets and get more for the broadcast rights, while ESPN had a second game to show on Christmas without much additional expense. Some might say he was being opportunistic. Others might call it outright greed.

That ill-fated move by Klompus epitomizes the “magical thinking” of the Republican Party, in which “optimism” and “hope” supplant rational thought and common sense. And just like the Bush Administration with its penchant for backdrop propaganda (remember the “Mission Accomplished” banner?), Klompus likes to surround Gov. Lingle with printed phrases that sound nice, but are rhetorical sleights-of-hand.

Rich Figel

Kailua

Real tax relief

The city’s reaction to the public’s outrage over property taxes is a real education. With the notable exception of Councilmember Charles Djou, who is guided by sound fiscal principles, the City Council and mayor continue to dither, offering patchwork tax relief proposals with tortured formulae involving means tests, age or owner-occupancy.

But their proposals do have common characteristics. None includes any serious spending reductions and none gives us serious tax relief.

Unfortunately, there’s little recourse for taxpayers. The Honolulu City Charter, Section 3-401, specifically prohibits citizen initiatives for ordinances on tax issues. That means the only corrective action available to unhappy taxpayers is to wait until the next election cycle to throw the scoundrels out. But even then there is no guarantee that the next set of scoundrels will listen to us. How, then, do taxpayers make themselves heard?

It’s clear that taxpayers must be in the decision loop on tax issues. It’s time to amend the City Charter to allow citizen initiatives on tax ordinances, either to propose, amend or repeal such ordinances.

That would make government more directly accountable to taxpayers and would force the city to engage the taxpayers on exactly what taxpayers are willing to pay for, and how much they are willing to pay.

Let Honolulu Vote is a grass-roots group that champions a City Charter amendment allowing citizens to participate in their own government on tax issues. I realize that citizen participation sounds outrageous to some, but it’s one answer that works.

Let Honolulu Vote is circulating petitions to get an initiative on the November ballot changing the City Charter to allow tax initiatives. The City Charter Commission is currently reviewing and updating the City Charter, and is considering the same amendment.

Pick up the phone today and call 922-6188, and tell the Charter Commission how you feel.

Citizen participation in government. What a concept!

Robert Kessler

Co-chair, Let Honolulu Vote

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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