What good is the process?

On Wednesday, the City Council pulled a fast one at the urging of city managing director, Kirk Caldwell.  Approximately seven hours after council members unanimously agreed to recommit Bill 51 to committee and let it die, they passed it.  This was after Chair Apo met with the Mayor during the afternoon hearing to discuss Bill 51.

Whether you support or oppose this bill, this method of passing legislation should not be allowed.  If bills can be pulled back into session and voted on again after lobbying by the Mayor and Managing Director, what good is the process of committee hearings and council meetings?

It is important for people to understand that there is no guarantee that rates for homeowners will go down just because this bill was passed.  In fact, they are likely to go up for everyone simply because assessed values have fallen and the budget deficit is expected to be at least $140M for next fiscal year.

The managing director is running for mayor.  The mayor is running for governor.  Bill 51 sounds like it will help homeowners save taxes.  Homeowners vote.  In my opinion, these are the reasons this bill was so important to the mayor and managing director that it had to be pulled out of the dust.

- Natalie Iwasa, Honolulu


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Friends of Kaiser PTSA salutes the “Kaiser High School Class of 2009”

Henry J. Kaiser High School held its on-campus commencement ceremony Friday, June 5th under sunny skies to award diplomas to its 258 graduating seniors. The ceremony featured music by the Kaiser High School Band, singing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” and welcome address by Beau Brians, class president’s address by Brian Freeman and valedictory address by Sarah Kern. The class presented a spirited rendition of “Lean On Me,” led by Toapasi Toetu`u. The presentation of diplomas was followed by a “surprise” fireworks display from an anonymous neighbor. This year’s class featured 18 students meeting the requirements for valedictorian. There were 34 summa cum laude, 29 magna cum laude and 44 cum laude graduates. Members of the graduating class earned over $2.4 million dollars in awarded scholarships.

Following the graduation ceremony and congratulatory lei presentations by family and friends, 200 of the graduates proceeded to an all night alcohol and drug-free celebration at the annual Project Grad ceremony hosted by parents of the graduates. Seven trolley cars caravanned the noisy graduates to Dave and Buster’s where they enjoyed dinner, dancing, entertainment from an improv group as well as a hypnotist, in addition to after-hours use of the D&B arcade. Final goodbyes, led by Jim Hutchinson, class counselor, were held at sunrise at Sandy Beach before the exhausted graduates returned to campus to be claimed by their parents. Congratulations and best of luck to all members of the class of 2009 in your future endeavors. Go Cougars!

Friends of Kaiser PTSA


Budget cuts jeopardize proposed Wailupe science center

The state’s budget woes and subsequent funding cuts to public schools may prevent the Department of Education from embarking on an exciting initiative in East Oahu.

The Education Department’s proposed conversion of the now-closed Wailupe Valley Elementary School into a science center is in jeopardy after a study found that it would cost some $2 million to retrofit and equip the campus.

Faced with the daunting task of slashing $468 million from public schools over the next two fiscal years, a Board of Education Committee on Administrative Services earlier this month was forced to recommend the return of the Wailupe Valley campus to its owner, the City and County of Honolulu.

Unless an outside donor were to step in and help support the center’s creation, it is likely – and unfortunate – that the school board will have to approve the committee’s decision and postpone indefinitely any plans for the envisioned science center.

Karen Knudsen

First Vice-Chairwoman

Hawaii Board of Education


Pedaling Toward a Bicycle Safe Hawaii - Same Roads, Same Rules, Same Rights

Lack of physical activity, particularly among children, has raised concerns about the health of young and old alike. Diabetes and other diseases once only common in adults are now routinely diagnosed in children.

In addition, we have traffic problems in many places on Oahu. People think nothing of driving a mile or two to drop their children off at school.

Approximately 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by car. Imagine the impact on traffic if those trips were made by bike or on foot.

On May 12, Hawaii will have its first-ever Bike and Walk to School Day. All schools are encouraged to participate in this event by asking parents, students and teachers to bike or walk to school. Participants can register at to be eligible to win a commuter bicycle.

Over the past several years, the federal government has allotted Hawaii funds to be used under the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. Approximately $3.5 million of these funds are currently available to schools and others interested in improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians near schools. This is a comprehensive program that involves engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation and encouragement to improve the safety of our roadways and sidewalks. Bike and Walk to School Day can be used to make a preliminary survey or evaluation of ways to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Let's get out of our cars and bike or walk with our children to school on this special day.

As a long-term solution to inactivity and traffic congestion, we need to look at how we design our communities and motivate people to travel from one location to another. Complete Streets is a policy that considers all users of our transportation system. Senate Bill 718, Complete Streets, has been sent to Governor Lingle. I urge her to sign it into law.

Natalie Iwasa, a.k.a. Bicycle Mom