Letters for Tuesday, April 24, 2007

• Open investigation would be healthy for Kaua‘i

• Workers need to enter Wal-Mart debate

• I can’t be against Superferry?

• On monarchy for ali‘i

Open investigation would be healthy for Kaua‘i

As one of the majority Kauai Medical Clinic physicians who have not signed onto this anti-SCR 170 campaign, I say: “Enough already with this Chicken Little routine!” SCR 170 does not call for the end of healthcare on Kaua‘i and it does not even call for a collapse of the merger between Hawaii Pacific Health (HPH) and Wilcox/Kauai Medical Clinic (KMC) unless there has been a clear breach of contract and no resolution can be worked out.

HPH has consistently claimed that it has honored its side of the merger with Wilcox and KMC. But neither the Attorney General nor the State Health Planning and Development Agency has exonerated HPH from misconduct in ongoing investigations. I will be delighted if HPH can demonstrate its innocence, then we can put these merger contract questions behind us and move on with our current organizational structure. But the current HPH and Wilcox/KMC campaign to stamp out this resolution before it is even investigated leaves me feeling that I am working for a company that is trying to hide something.

Since you claim to be innocent, HPH, you should invite the open investigation that SCR 170 calls for. This should have the positive effect of erasing public doubt of any breach of your contractual promises. If problems are identified with how HPH has proceeded since the Wilcox merger then let’s make the necessary corrections. I do not see how SCR 170 can do anything but benefit healthcare on Kaua‘i.

James McGreevy, MD

General Surgeon, Kauai Medical Clinic

Workers need to enter Wal-Mart debate

The debate over the proposed expansion of Wal-Mart to include a grocery section misses a key point, and I regret that citizen advocates for low prices have not considered it properly.

It is not enough to seek lower prices for goods. That goal must always be tempered by attention to wages and working conditions for all workers. The fact is that Wal-Mart is the largest corporation in the United States, recently overtaking Exxon-Mobil. Its control of market share allows it to impose tremendous downward pressure on wages, benefits and working conditions in the retail industry. This creates the very conditions in which working families become desperate for “lower prices.”

At this moment, employees at Foodland and Safeway are members of a union, and they have the ability to bargain for wages and benefits. The bargaining power of these workers will be dealt a harsh blow indeed if Wal-Mart, which is virulently anti-union, pays its employees considerably less than union scale and offers pathetic benefits, opens down the road and competes with these grocery chains. This does not only affect employees at Safeway and Foodland, however, union contracts have the effect, when they represent larger numbers of workers, of raising the bar for all workers. This effect will be diluted by a Wal-Mart Superstore. (Costco, by the way, operates on a strikingly different business model than Wal-Mart: it pays well and provides good benefits. In fact, some of its stores have been unionized. While it may put downward pressure on prices, it does not put downward pressure on area wages and working conditions.)

There are hidden costs associated with Wal-Mart’s low prices. It is not enough to argue about low prices, the long-term health of local business, and the preservation of the rural character of Kaua‘i. We must critically assess any impact on the ability of working people to bargain for fair wages, benefits and working conditions. The proposed expansion of Wal-Mart must be debated with this question at the forefront.

Katy Rose


I can’t be against Superferry?

I was so excited to read the commentary by Dennis Chun (“Superferry: Nobody asked us,” Guest Viewpoint, April 23) on his reasons for being against the Superferry. “Yes, yes, and yes,” I silently cried out in support of his three main points.

And then I reached his last paragraph, in which he summed up his feelings on the way the Superferry came to be foisted on the Neighbor Islands: “This is the … ha‘ole way.”

My heart, so high, immediately sank, as I realized that I, a person of Caucasian descent, was not meant to be included as part of his indictment. In fact, by implication, I am part of the manipulative, greedy, inconsiderate process.

Dennis, I concur that the process that put this project in motion was unethical, and I sincerely appreciate your effort to communicate your ideas, but in 2007, must “ha‘ole” always mean bad?

Mary Alexander


On monarchy for ali‘i

After reading Jonas Samu’s letter to the editor (“Insult to the Hawaiian Nation,” Letters, April 23), I feel I must write to correct some inaccuracies. Norway and Denmark are not true monarchies. Both of those countries are governed by parliaments (Norway’s is called the Storting). After finally gaining independence from Denmark, Norway wrote up a constitution. Yes, the people chose to have a king and chose Haakon the VII. I was an exchange student to Norway in 1961, and the people do love their royal family, but more than a few Norwegians told me that the royals had better behave themselves because, “We voted them in — we can vote them out.” The royal family plays a ceremonial role only and is expected to act as good-will ambassadors and champion worthy causes. Is this the sort of monarchy the ali‘i wants? Details really are lacking.

As for the plebiscite of 1959, wouldn’t more people have voted to remain a territory, if statehood was that repugnant to them? Or couldn’t people have written in “monarchy” to at least voice their objection? I was only 14 at the time and living in Michigan, but I was so excited that day and felt honored that Hawai‘i chose to join the union. My love of Hawai‘i dates that far back, and I now feel honored to be actually living here.

History never works out to everyone’s satisfaction. My parents were from Scotland, and, believe me, the Scottish never got to vote on whether to join the United Kingdom or not.

I do hope something can be worked out to satisfy all factions, but history doesn’t hold out much hope for that.

Christine Queen



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