Letters for Monday, December 25, 2006

• A mourning husband

• The service industry

• A cool yule

• Aloha appreciated

A mourning husband

I am the husband of Elizabeth Brem, one of the women who died in last week’s accident (“Two dead after fall at Opaeka‘a,” Dec. 20). I am not interested in debating fault here. However, I went to the site the morning after this occurred and there are a number of facts in these postings that are just not correct and I felt the need to correct them.

First, there was not a sign in front of the trail that Liz took. There was a sign in front of the other trail (the one to the left) that warned that it was hazardous and should not be entered. Unfortunately, there was not a sign or obstruction in front of the trail to the right — the one which happens to be much more dangerous. After I visited the site I understand that the Danger sign was moved in front of both of the trails and a chain has been put in front of the trail Liz and Paula took. I applaud the state for doing this and preventing another tragedy occurring on this trail.

Second, this is not a remote trail. The entrance to the trail was about 30 feet from the road that runs past the falls turnout. The trail they took connects to a large clearing that is itself connected to a turnout off the road where cars park periodically.

Third, the danger of the trail is not obvious because trees obscure the steep grade on the cliff side of the trail.

My wife valued access to nature. Ironically, she had been recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the California Coastal Conservancy by the Speaker of the California House of Representatives. This foundation purchases coastal land to ensure its availability for public use. She would be the first person to avoid any action that would prevent public access to this world’s natural beauty.

But I will leave it to all of you to consider whether there is some minimal obligation to warn visitors to your island of dangerous conditions that are so close to public access points that are predominantly used by tourists.

I also feel compelled to address the implications in some of the posts that my wife’s actions were in some way reckless. Liz was the most rational and contemplative person you could ever meet. Her whole life had been planned out in detail — from her beginning as the daughter of an illegal immigrant from Colombia through her attendance at Yale Law School and becoming the only Hispanic woman partner at the largest law firm in California. Liz did not make a reckless move in her life. And although at times I find myself having a tendency to want to blame her, I realize that her character would not allow her to take on needless risks that could result in her leaving me and our boys alone.

I would like to end on a positive note. The visitors bureau and police department — in particular Officer Sherwin Perez — did an extraordinary job of supporting me during this incredibly difficult time. You should be very proud of how they represented your island. I will be forever indebted to them for their kindness and sympathy. I was in Kaua‘i by myself and am not sure how I would have made it through arranging my departure without their support.

Monte Brem

Encinitas, Calif.

The service industry

Charles Kawakami (“Limiting the size of big box stores,” Guest Viewpoint, Dec. 15) says that his vocal opposition to “big box retailers” is “self-serving.” I couldn’t agree more. Many of the opponents to the Big Box Evil are either rich enough to not need the lower prices everyone seems to be afraid of, or have some sort of personal motive.

The people who stand to lose the most are not mom-and-pop stores but “medium box retailers” like Safeway, Foodland and Longs (yes, Longs is not a local company — they are based in California).

As demonstrated a million times over, consumers benefit economically from competition. And while people claim that anything less than a Costco or Wal-Mart will close, a store that provides good service will continue to flourish. After all, when I want a carton of milk, I won’t want to drive to Lihu‘e and brave the masses at the checkout stand. It will be much easier to go down the block to a mom-and-pop shop.

My advice to Mr. Kawakami is to increase the customer service at his stores. Thanks to countless incidents of obscenely rude and indifferent employees, I’ve already sworn never to shop there, long before the evil Wal-Mart Supercenter showed up. And I know I’m not the only one.

Being successful in the business world is more than just trying to legally ban your opponents. It’s also about making us, the customers, happy.

George Wright


A cool yule

In response to William Rusher’s column this morning (“The War Against Christmas,” Dec. 23), I would like to remind readers that the Christmas tree is not a Christian icon. It is a remainder of the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, which occurs on Dec. 22 or 23, the shortest day of the year. It was a time of great feasting and celebration. A lot more fun, actually, when the pagans ran it.

By the way, the only thing I’ve read of a complaint about a Christmas tree display was when a Jewish rabbi protested. I cannot be precise about the particulars since I did not save the article. The trees were removed and then replaced in the following days.

As for Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation,” I highly recommend it to all intelligent readers of the Forum. It is my opinion that only the voice of reason will save us from the religious fanatics — Christian, Muslim or Jew — who seem hell-bent on blowing the planet to smithereens.

Have a cool yule.

Peace and love,

Bettejo Dux


Aloha appreciated

I would like to bring your attention to the most wonderful place in Lihu‘e. There is a small church, Immaculate Conception, on Kapa‘ia Road.

The parishioners are the true meaning of welcome and love to everyone.

We stayed at the Pono Kai Resort. I was not able to tape a program on KVIC. The station said they could not do it, as the “clients” paid for their advertisements. Time Warner told me to have my hotel copy it. The hotel said the lobby VCR was broken.

Just one word at the church and Sister Florence Remata offered to do it, as did a parishioner, Virginia Santos. The people invited us to a Halloween party and luncheon, and treated us like family.

They opened their arms and hearts to us. As I told Sister Florence, when visiting the places from channel KVIC, all the people seemed to be interested in is how much you spend.

At the fruit store, a wonderful person, “Mitzi,” offered to help us. We also met her baby brother at Bubba Burgers. These are warm, caring Hawaiians we had the pleasure to meet.

So mention the really nice places to see to tourists, that they will remember forever.

Thank you,

Virginia and Leonard Amoraso

St. Petersburg, Fla.


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