Letters for Wednesday — March 15, 2006

• The death of Pat Tillman

• Article raises questions

• Charter articles were factually incorrect

Law must be changed

Deborah Camara’s unsettling March 8, 2006, letter reveals how it’s the legislature’s fault for the way sexual harassment laws are written. Most people in Hawai’i expect women to act with some aspect of a responsible adult, but “Hawai’i state law (Hawai’i Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapters 368 & 378, and Hawai’i Administrative Rule (HAR) 12-46-109*), as described by Ms. Camara, debases women to the level of children. Maybe this is why men don’t have to resort to making sexual harassment complaints.

Men are adults, so men behave like adults; therefore, when a situation arises that needs to be changed or corrected, men change or correct it and ugly lawsuits are avoided. The law should be changed, or judicial precedent should be established to require women to behave as responsibly. Sometimes it’s hard being an adult, but how hard is it to excuse yourself from a conversation among coworkers especially when it doesn’t concern you?

For you “special” women with “abnormal psychological issues,” tell your coworkers how you avoid watching television, movies, and all printed media because of all the vague and explicit sexually suggestive materials. Explain how you avoid going to the beach, grocery stores, and all other public areas because women dressed provocatively threatens you, how a boy and girl holding hands and kissing intimidated you, and how a man wearing a “fanny pack” traumatized you for life. Your coworkers will then know that you’re not an average person but someone with “abnormal psychological issues” requiring special consideration; however, for all you other women exploiting this law, your days are numbered because the average person will not put up with these frivolous lawsuits for much longer.

Ms. Camara is easily “astonished” by the lack of knowledge most people have regarding current sexual harassment laws, but it’s because most people assume that women, except those with “abnormal psychological issues”, are responsible adults capable of behaving as such.

Regarding Detective Sunia’s claim, it would be different if she was directly or indirectly threatened or if the actions were directed at her, but they weren’t, she was just part of an audience. If she knew she was so frail (which I doubt is the case), she shouldn’t have allowed them to accept her as part of their group. No coworker would entrust her with personal information, while conversation and activities among coworkers would be limited around her; thus she would be treated with the professional demeanor they would address the public or any other outsider.

It would be a shame to have gender segregation in the workplace just because of the actions of few women who use being part of an inner circle of coworkers opportunistically for personal gains. The law must be updated to protect the workplace against frivolous and time-consuming lawsuits, and this can start by accepting that women should be treated as adults.

  • Edwin Ramos
    (Student UH Manoa)

Article raises questions

The article about HGTV’s series including some Kaua’i homes in which one owner stated that her house site “used to be a cow pasture” leads me to ask this question: how many other dwellings on the island used to be pasture, sugarcane or pineapple fields?

Kaua’i’s residential population has almost doubled in the past 25 years (see DBEDT and U.S. Census statistics) and our infrastructure has remained basically the same due to fiscal constraints. Many people are questioning the continuing growth on Kaua’i; I wonder how many of them have themselves moved here from other places? How many cars have they brought with them? How has the construction of their homes impacted local people who can now barely afford to continue to live here? Have these malihini provided new and rewarding job opportunities to us locals or have they been displacing us?

Are not many of the voices opposing any further development coming from those who, now that they have arrived on Kaua’i, feel they have the right to pull up the drawbridge behind them? Maybe some of those malihini voicing the loudest concerns about growth, if they love this island so much, should return their house sites to previous agricultural use and consider just going back home…

  • Ann Leighton

Charter articles were factually incorrect

On March 12 and 13, The Garden Island ran two front-page articles on the Kaua’i County Charter Commission dealing principally with the matters the Commission is presently considering for submission to the voters in the November General Election. This series was well conceived as a means of bringing to public attention the important function being performed by the Commission, but the article appearing on March 13 was disturbing because of its undue emphasis on one matter and on the unjustified conclusions it reached on that matter.

The March 13 article headline proclaimed “Commission mulls giving self more power” and went on to say that the proposal to make the commission a permanent one would give the commission political power that would rival that of the mayor and council.

To put this matter in perspective it is one of about 50 subjects under consideration by the Commission and there are many with more significance. The measure was suggested because under the Charter presently a new Commission is convened every ten years and much time and energy is consumed in adopting new rules and procedures and overcoming the loss of continuity. Clearly it would improve efficiency if the Commission were a standing body.

Of more concern, however, is that the articles were factually incorrect. The Commission really does not have any power. Its function is to consider operations of the County government and listen to suggestions from County officials and the public for improving such operations. The Commission is authorized to present for citizens’ vote those matters it believes warrant consideration by the voters. It is the voters, not the Commission, that have the power to change the Charter. And the Commission’s right to present measures to the voters is not exclusive — both the County Council and voters by petition have the same opportunity.

It appears that a purpose of the articles might be to disparage the purpose and integrity of the Commission rather than, as they should, supporting the efforts and the process involved. The Garden Island owes the public an explanation of its statements and we hope it will express its recognition of the public interest being served by the Commission.

  • Walter Lewis

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