Letters for Sunday — March 26, 2006

• Mea culpa

• Towards a better democracy

• Hawaii Air Ambulance’s commitment ‘unquestionable’


Mea culpa

I have to thank Johnny Rabasa (Garden Island Letters, March 22) for rushing to the aid of KIUC and clarifying the election tallies. I now understand that it was 5,651 BALLOTS (not votes) that were counted; something that was not clear to me in the original news article. Mr. Rabasa’s formula was excellent and I appreciate the time he took to do the math.

I DID vote in the election and hope that our new KIUC board members are a conduit for open communication and new ideas for both conventional and alternative forms of energy.

  • Trudy Bauman
    Kilauea

Towards a better democracy

Years ago, I lived in a small New England town that had a town meeting form of government. Periodically, a town meeting would be called and everyone who was interested would come to the town hall to listen to a discussion of the items on the agenda and then vote on whether the town should or should not adopt the various proposals. We would vote on all sorts of things: should the town spend a certain amount of money for a new fire truck, should the elementary school cafeteria be refurbished, should we hire two more policemen, and so forth.

All of the townspeople who were interested could attend and vote on pretty much every item on the town’s annual budget. The town meeting is probably the purest form of democracy in the United States and it is a form of government that dates back to the formation of our country.

As years passed and towns grew larger and became cities and cities organized to form states, it became clear that the town meeting form of government wouldn’t work for very large groups of people.

Therefore, in most places in the United States we have a representational form of democracy where we elect people to speak and vote on our behalf, the Mayor, the County Council, our State Representatives and Senators and our U.S. Representatives and Senators, and ultimately our President. The problem with this type of representational democracy is that sometimes it seems our representatives do not really vote in accordance with the will of the majority of their constituents. Is there a way to solve this problem? Is there any way that can provide us with something like the town meeting type of democracy where each person really can be heard on any issue they like? Yes, there is.

The solution lies with technology, i.e. the Internet. Modern communication via the Internet allows anyone the opportunity to virtually participate in discussions and to vote. To use Kaua’i as an example, the items that will be up for a vote by the County Council can be posted on a website that is available for anyone to see.

Anyone could enter their comments on the issues. On a given day, registered voters would cast their votes via the Internet. It would be a virtual town meeting. There may be some who would object that voting over the Internet would not be secure and could be open to fraud. However, we should consider that banks and credit card companies execute financial transactions worth billions of dollars via the Internet very securely. I think that if the Internet can be made secure enough for the banks and credit card companies it can be made secure enough for our votes.

I believe Internet-based voting has the potential to provide us with the purest form of democracy, the virtual town meeting. This type of system would ensure that everyone who wanted to could have their say and that they could cast a vote on any important issue. The technology to do this exists today. With modern technology, we have the ability to transform our government to a true democracy like that envisioned by the founders of our country. I would like to hear what other people think.

  • Richard McSheehy
    Kalaheo

Hawaii Air Ambulance’s commitment ‘unquestionable’

It is unfortunate that so soon after the tragic crash of Hawaii Air Ambulance plane on March 8 — a crash in which the company lost three members of its family — certain individuals have jumped on the opportunity to criticize and attack the company’s operations without bothering to check their facts. Hawaii Air Ambulance has always been there for the people of Hawai”i, helping to transport those in need of critical medical attention, no matter the hour.

While these individuals avoid directly tying their criticisms to the cause of the crash, they are participating in little more than extensions of speculation. The question of what caused the crash will be answered by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and its ongoing investigation. Until that investigation is complete, it is irresponsible to speculate. Period.

Over the 15 years that I worked for Hawaii Air Ambulance, both as a pilot and a member of its medical staff, I have always experienced impeccable safety practices in the air and on the ground. Every flight I experienced over the past decade and a half was exceptional and without incident.

I would not hesitate to fly again with Hawaii Air Ambulance.

The company’s CEO, Andy Kluger, in particular has always gone above and beyond to set the highest standards. He has no tolerance for sub-par performances and demands 110 percent from his crews. For this reason, he may not be the most popular among those who are unwilling to meet these standards … but those high standards are exactly what is required to run an aeromedical operation. To assure the public of the soundness of its aircraft, Hawaii Air Ambulance is conducting comprehensive voluntary inspections on its remaining four aircraft. These are in addition to the company’s regular FAA-mandated inspections and are absolutely necessary for certification by the very stringent Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).

Only about 60 of 400 aeromedical companies are CAMTS certified. Hawaii Air Ambulance is one of them.

This is a sad enough situation and we do not need people attacking the company and its employees. Their commitment to the people of Hawai’i and the safety of their flights are un-questionable.

Let’s allow the investigators, the ones with all the facts, to do their job.

  • Thomas S. Kosasa
    Honolulu
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