Letters to the Editor

Real rail facts

Bob Jones wrote in Midweek that Ben Cayetano’s “dislike of rail seems to be because it’s architecturally unpleasant and expensive.” OK. But his express bus lane alternative is crazy. Can you imagine one lane of King and Beretania reserved for buses? Or more buses competing for room on the H-1?”

A few facts for Mr. Jones and MidWeek readers, the source of which is Table 3-12 of the City’s Alternative Analysis: Two hundred express buses serving Leeward Oahu will easily fit in the Zipper Lane, which has a capacity of 2,000 buses per hour. In town, only 50 buses per hour are needed and will easily fit in each of the lanes of both King and Beretania streets. Two hundred express buses will remove 8,300 cars from the freeway and streets, and free up four freeway lanes. No traffic congestion with buses, while the $7 billion rail will worsen today’s congestion at the three H-1 bottleneck merges by more that 500 percent each.

Ben Ramelb, Civil Engineer (Retired),

A sweet deal

Re: Bob Jones’ column about a “Waikiki Gem”:

I concur with Bob Jones as I, too, remember the ghastly environment at the Queen’s Surf Cafe and Lanai prior to the current concessionaire taking over.

I also vividly remember the homeless as they camped out under the roofed cafe area with their sleeping bags and hibachis (yes, they had their own barbecue cafe action going on). By the way, the restrooms were atrocious back then, whereas now that I see them being power-washed and cared for by the new cafe principals.

Like one of my buddies said as we sat under a red Illy umbrella, “$10 for an omelet, beachfront in Waikiki, how can you beat that?” Throw in the live music entertainment Thursday through Sunday and, yes, it is a “sweet deal” – not for the concessionaire, but for the city that’s collecting more money from this site than they ever have, and sweet for the public because of the ono, fabulous food and ocean view to boot. But I sure would like to know what that unrelated issue Bob Jones was referring to with an attorney and the cafe’s principals.

The bad news is the lease will go out to bid soon, and now that it’s all prettied up someone is going to come in with a high bid and won’t be able to maintain the current status and then go behind on their rent, and the city will take a year to evict them along with all the loss of revenue. But that’s the flawed process.

Robert Martin,

Work vs. welfare

Just call me old-fashioned, or even that nasty “C” word conservative, in my thinking. I’m of the same era as Bob Jones and marvel that I could have grown up with such a different perspective on life. I grew up believing that you actually wanted to gain success in life, gained through your own hard work, and through that success, wealth and perhaps even community status. It was not considered to be something so abominable to become a solid business owner and/or to prosper from that business. If you failed at an endeavor, that failure was yours, not to be blamed on someone or something else. You took responsibility for you and yours.

This said, I tend to separate entitlements from community compassion issues. I donate to charity. I choose those that hold significance to me, and I direct my donations to those that I feel are most worthy. On the opposite hand, blanket welfare programs offering taxpayer monies to members of our community, and even to some who are not members of our community, I find appalling. Handouts made through government agencies are too often abused and too infrequently monitored.

I raised my children to believe that what you receive, you must earn. If you want a pair of Nike shoes rather than a generic pair from Walmart, go out and earn the money to buy the Nikes.

I find most entitlement programs are based on political points rather than need – I live in a low income area and I see many folks working hard to survive. At the same time, I go into a local grocery store and see a young, seeming able-bodied young lady, gold bracelets up to her elbow, three children under the age of 8 and paying for a cart full of high-priced groceries with an EBT card, while her “boyfriend” brings the SUV around to pick them all up. I, meanwhile, am waiting my turn with a package of hot dogs and a can of beans because that’s what our budget allows this week. No complaints, we like canned beans, but simply an observation.

I wrote to Patsy Mink’s office after one such instance, and was admonished that I did not have enough compassion for the children. That was bunk! I do not believe in food stamps; I believe in work. I do not believe in welfare; I believe in education and training. For those who are unable to work because of physical or mental limitations, age or medical issues, there are churches and charities that used to handle their needs through food, clothing, housing accommodations. Now those institutions are scaled back, and the government and taxpayers have assumed those responsibilities. I would rather see my tax dollars fix the potholes in my road than pay for the 15-year-old down the street with two illegitimate children.

Work hard, be responsible for yourself and your family, and please leave the taxpayers’ dollars to be directed toward the whole community’s welfare, not just the welfare of a few.

Nancy Calhoun, Waianae

Great toon

This is my nomination for Clay Bennett’s “Are you better off …?” cartoon as the best political cartoon of the century.

Rico Leffanta, Honolulu