Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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February 27, 2008 - MidWeek
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Missing the train

Jerry Coffee and Rick Hamada keep missing the point on rail transit. All along, those that understand urban planning and sustainability have understood that rail is about growth, not reducing traffic.

In Hawaii, we have to ask ourselves, How will we grow? On Oahu 3,500 to 4,000 new households are created each year. Where will they live? “No growth” is not an option. We have an affordable housing crisis because we are not producing enough homes to meet the demand. Oahu, was producing over 4,000 housing units in 1993, even in the middle of the Gulf War. In 2004 and 2005, the housing industry produced less than 2,500 units. In 1993, the median price of a home (overall single family and condo) was about $250,000. Today the overall median is over $450,000 but leveling out because last year the building industry produced near the 4,000 units needed to keep up with demand.

Will we continue to build homes over our agricultural lands? We can build out (urban sprawl) or up (higher density in the urban core). I applaud our elected officials who have supported rail transit for choosing to protect our open spaces while keeping housing prices under control. Rail transit is a key infrastructure component that will allow us to build up. HOT lanes that Mr. Coffee is so fond of encourage urban sprawl. Tampa is a perfect example of urban sprawl and what we don’t need more of in Hawaii. Furthermore, if rail transit is planned with housing in mind, the city and state can trade land use and zoning entitlements in exchange for affordable housing along the route.

If we don’t plan for this type of growth, new housing supply will decrease and island-wide prices will increase. More and more middle-class people will be forced to get government subsidized housing or leave the island or be homeless. It costs about $300,000 to subsidize one affordable rental unit. Multiply that by the 10,000 units the state says we are short. That’s three billion dollars of tax payer subsidy and the problem still is not fixed! Why don’t we hear Mr. Hamada or Mr. Coffee moaning about that?

They are good people, but maybe when you already own your home you lose the perspective of the renter or first-time homebuyer. Too often those people are young teachers, fire fighters and police. I’ll pay my half-percent GET because I want them and my kids to be able to afford a place to live on Oahu ... and the alternative is far worse.

Craig Y. Watase
President, Mark

UH: books first

Thanks to Dan Boylan, Bob Jones and Rick Hamada for addressing the third rail with the subject of football at UH, and the money going to the quarry. As an alumnus of UH-Manoa, it is distressing and disheartening to see the lack of focus on the educational aspect of the university verses the outlandish salaries paid to the coaches. Salaries now have been raised across the board to be in keeping with other institutions of higher learning, apparently the higher learning of playing a sport. Where is the outcry to pay instructors to be in keeping with other institutions of higher learning? Where are your priorities people?

The tailgaiters of Hawaii focus on the quarry as their own children leave the state looking for more prestigious higher education and employment opportunities. As the major state institution of higher education, the focus should be on educational excellence, not a post-season bowl game.

As a short-term hot topic, soon to be replaced with the news of Brittany or Paris or whatever, it is astonishing how many persons have said, after our legislators toured the campus, “I had no idea the physical condition of the campus was so bad.” Why do the television news broadcasts have sports news and the newspapers have a sports section while there is no educational section in either while education is such a large part of each tax dollar? The physically isolated state of Hawaii is dependent on UH to provide higher education to those unable to afford mainland universities. It behooves anyone with a voice to stay on the subject of focusing on what is important at the university ... it’s education, stupid.

Peggy Frierdich

Unhealthy lighting

Bob Jones was correct when he said that compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) didn’t “feel right” to him. As a person with seasonal affect disorder (SAD), I know that different people have different needs for different kinds of light.

When SAD was being researched, 30 years ago at the National Institutes of Health, the project director, Norman Rosenthal, found that some subjects who became ill in winter needed a warm supplemental light, some required a cool, blue light and some needed a full-spectrum lightbox. All required brightness of 10,000 lux to correct their brain chemistry. Dr. Rosenthal kept two lightboxes in his office for the benefits of visitors: One was cool blue, one was warm, and some patients, like me, preferred both at once.

In my own attempt to be “green,” I tried CFLs more than 10 years ago as a reading lamp, and found that they start out plenty bright, but gradually lose brightness without one noticing. When I felt ill, and was holding the newspaper just forward of my nose, I realized that the twisted bulb wasn’t adequate, no matter how long it lasts.

I found the warm color of the CFL to be welcoming at first; but Bob found it wanting. Our body chemistry is different - we are different genders, for one thing. That means our brain chemistry is different, and the light energy affects our brains through our eyes.

I am predicting that when incandescent lightbulbs are phased out, there will be a public outcry.

I use them in my dawn simulator, which is a computer controlling a rheostat. I must have this for my health, but CFLS are fluorescent and cannot be used in any kind of dimmers or rheostats.

Some people find that regular, cheap lightbulbs are not right for them. They must have full-spectrum lightbulbs. CFLs are not full-spectrum.

Thanks to Dr. Rosenthal and his research, schoolrooms are now brightly lit from Barrow to Minsk and beyond. His book, Winter Blues: What It Is and How to Overcome It, has just been re-issued in a new revised edition. After 15 years, it still sells.

I know that Jade Moon is a fine reporter, and I wish her well, but her new job as spokesperson for CFLs just doesn’t tell the whole story. She and Hawaiian Electric need to do their homework about lighting needs, not what the government wants us to live with.

Beverly Kai

Christian influence

In his recent letter, Bert West brings up some salient points regarding America’s failure to live up to her Christian heritage. The truth is America has fallen short of the Christian ideal in more ways and at more times than may be comfortable to admit.

But we should be wary of any attempt to lay at the door of Christianity responsibility for all of America’s egregious misbehaviors, while at the same time denying it any credit for this country’s positive contributions and successes. To do so would be to besmirch the lives of Rev. Martin Luthor King, Rosa Parks, George Washington, George Washington Carver, Peter Marshall, Noah Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Paul Brand, and C. Everett Koop, to name but a few. These names cannot begin to cover the tip of the iceberg that is composed of dedicated Americans who were also dedicated Christians. If we truly wish to assess whether America is or is not a Christian nation we must be willing to consider Christianity’s influence objectively.

Steve Klein

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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