Letters for April 20, 2015

• ‘Desecration’ of Mauna Kea depends on your definition • Another opinion on pit bulls • Hints of the news to come

‘Desecration’ of Mauna Kea depends on your definition

I find it somewhat ironic that Mauna Kea is now so sacred when, not so long ago, Hawaiians weren’t treating it as such. Early Hawaiians dug quarries high on the mountain and took vast numbers of basalt stones for use in the making of tools and fishing gear. They harvested untold amounts of koa wood from its slopes for canoes. That, and the introduction of the Polynesian rat they brought with them when they first settled the islands, was directly responsible for the forest ecosystem collapse. Maybe worst of all, they decimated local bird populations that lived on the slopes, causing the extinction of many species — and just because they wanted their ornate feathers for decoration.

Sacred? I guess that depends on your definition. And it’s why it seems disingenuous to me for some Kanaka Maoli to say the building of the 30-meter telescope would desecrate Mauna Kea, when for hundreds of years they were doing exactly the same thing.

Steven McMacken


Another opinion on pit bulls

Back when I sold homeowners insurance in San Diego in the early ‘80s I recall there being a question on the application about whether there were specific canine breeds on property, including pit bull, German shepherd, Rottweiler and Doberman. If there was, the application was given further scrutiny and in most cases turned down by the lower cost preferred carriers. Owners of these dogs had to pay more to find coverage, if they could at all. Insurance companies simply could not assess the owner or each specific dog and blanket decisions were made, based on each particular breed’s claims history. The high cost or unavailability of insurance kept many people from owning these breeds.

While the discussion always seems to be whether it is the breed or the owner, it has to be both. It takes a lot of effort to train a dog to be social and respectful of other animals and people. Many people do not have the time to do this. Most dogs also have a historical purpose — what jobs their ancestors did were bred into the dog. Pit bulls have incredibly strong jaws to lock down on their prey. My guess is it is very difficult if not outright impossible to override this innate trait permanently. When our well-behaved 5-year-old German shepherd barked and approached the postal carrier at our open front door, we lost our home mail delivery service in San Diego.

The pit bull dog is a good pig hunting dog, which is one reason they are plentiful here. And they are not neutered as this is believed to take away from the dog’s hunting ability. Many people do not want to neuter their dog for breeding purposes or other personal beliefs. If neutering reduces maulings, maybe we need to look into this a bit more.

I do not recall being asked about whether I owned a specific breed dog on my homeowners insurance policy application here many years ago. Apparently claims paid on dog bites must not be that significant enough to warrant it. If a fatality occurs, the reaction by government and insurers will likely be swift. But it appears this topic is so sensitive that this will be put off until more people get badly hurt. When the insurers get involved, all large “potentially dangerous” dog breed owners will pay a lot more. I would prefer this issue be openly discussed and managed proactively before someone else gets hurt. And we all pay for it.

Steve Mickle


Hints of the news to come

Near future headlines we may see if things continue the way they are now:

– A shanty town of former small-time B-and-B operators has sprung up under the Wailua bridge. “We were just trying to make a modest living renting out a room in our house,” stated one former operator from the doorway of his cardboard shack. “Unfortunately we couldn’t make our mortgage following closure actions by the county.”

Later in the week members of the Council and Planning Department attempted a walk-through of the shanty town to determine the best way to demolish the cardboard and tin structures. Unfortunately they were met by shouts of “Go home anal retentives!” by the now homeless B-and-B operators.

– In a stunning development, Ernie the Auditor is elected as the new county manager, following overwhelming passage of the County Manager System initiative. Within weeks the budget needs of all departments are reduced and balanced.

In a brief interview Ernie states, “There is no need for all these fancy expensive doo-dads. Just live like ordinary people have to, make do with what you have, and get local workers to do county projects. No more expensive outside consulting studies either.”

Ernie then refuses the use of a new county vehicle stating, “My 2003 model is running just fine.”

Molly Jones



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