We must find way to keep symphony alive
On paper, the Honolulu Symphony is experiencing financial woes, but in the Blaisdell Concert Hall, you'd never be able to tell. Every program is inspiring, the musicians are in top form and the stage is ablaze with music that feeds the soul.
It's often the case that soloists who perform with our orchestra, such as Renee Fleming and Monica Mancini, come away impressed with the musicianship in this group. This is why renowned conductor Andreas Delfs chose to be a part of this wonderful artistic movement.
The symphony gives us a chance to hear — live — the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms. It showcases homegrown talents such as The Cazimeros, C&K, Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom and Keali'i Reichel.
It plays work of living composers, such as Michael Giacchino ("Lost," "Ratatouille") and Donald Womack (University of Hawai'i).
If we as a community choose to let this thing of great value slip through our hands, it would be a sad day for Honolulu.
If we want the city to persevere to greater things, to become a destination city, to provide the quality of life people yearn for, then we must find ways to help the symphony thrive.Ruth Shiroma Foster
Anti-rail side doesn't give out accurate data
The issue of spending money on public outreach should be clarified. The rail-transit project is the largest capital improvement project ever planned in Hawai'i. It is important that the public be given accurate information.
The anti-rail camp and its misleading Web sites are not reliable sources of factual information. They promote fear and often contain distortions and data taken out of context.
Rail opponents are fond of saying "the city's own consultants admit that traffic will be worse in the future even with the rail project." They fail to point out that with future population growth projections and 60,000 new homes being built in the next 20 years, street traffic will only continue to worsen.
Implementing the rail system chosen by the expert panel will provide commuters with an excellent alternative to driving, since the system will operate in its own right of way, elevated above the city streets.
These consultants have their work cut out for them because they must continually correct all the anti-rail misinformation that is being disseminated.Ken Meade
Make today's transit systems more efficient
We already have a very extensive and expensive mass-transit system. People drive it every day. The problem is that during certain times of day some routes are very congested with cars mostly carrying one person.
We are not alone. Most urban areas have the same problems and a growing number have implemented creative solutions. For example, London has a successful "congestion pricing" program with tolls that increase when traffic is heavy.
Other ideas: free bus passes to everyone who works Downtown, free parking lots served by express buses, timing traffic lights, removing traffic lights and adding overpasses, additional HOV lanes, tax credits for companies with successful congestion-reduction programs such as flexible work schedules or increased public transit usage, and there are many more good ideas waiting to be explored.
There is no single solution. Let's get creative and make our existing mass-transit system work more efficiently.David K. Richardson
It's a shame to spend money, ruin O'ahu
The article by Sean Hao in the Sunday addition regarding new rail system was right on ("Rail line will alter city's landscape").
It would be a shame to spend all this money and ruin the look of the island.
I am very familiar with The Bay Area rail system. They did a fine job in laying out the system and there are very few unsightly elements to it. So I know it can be done.
Frankly, I have a strong bias against the system. It may well be needed, but the handling of the Superferry, the two-boat commuter service and the bus system tells me we probably do not have enough talent to handle a system this complicated. and we will be creating a fiscal nightmare.
I know I am right and I also know the system will be built, and I know your children will be paying for it for years to come. But what I am really struck by is the Manhattanization of the Honolulu skyline by more and ever-taller buildings, and there is nary a peep from the press, politicos or the citizens.
My take: Why worry about an elevated track when we won't be able to see anything anyway due to the more-than-40-story condos in front of the track that will be blocking the ocean and mountain views?
Everyone in their heart of hearts knows I am right, but self interests will no doubt prevail.Ted Ray
Guard unit deserves best possible vehicles
This year, Hawai'i Army National Guard's 29th Combat Brigade deploys to Kuwait. We are proud of their service, but are extremely concerned about their safety and welfare as they fulfill their missions to provide port security and to escort convoys to Baghdad.
The men and women of this unit, who will devote one year of service to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, are our heroes. All of them will make personal sacrifices to carry out their military responsibilities.
While there are many views about the war, I think we can all agree that we need to provide our troops with the best possible equipment to execute their missions.
Currently, the 299th Cavalry Regiment will provide convoy security from Kuwait to Baghdad. Unfortunately, they will not have the Army's newest and most sophisticated vehicle, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, but will be using the Up-Armored Humvee.
Given the recent security changes in southern Iraq, which include increased insurgent attacks, IED ambushes and roadside bombs, I believe that we are doing a disservice to the Guard by not providing them with the newly deployed V-hulled MRAP, which increases protection and survivability for members of our Guard.
I encourage everyone, especially family and friends of the Guard, to write, call and meet with our U.S. senators, U.S. representatives, the governor and the Hawai'i Army National Guard's leadership to make sure the units are fully protected against harm's way.Richard M. Smylie
Charter schools prove they make a difference
I am the principal of Connections Public Charter School.
Public education in this country is based on principles surrounding equity, access and opportunity for all. Charter schools are public schools.
Why are students at charter schools not worthy of the same support as students in traditional public schools? How do we explain this to families who have chosen to send their children to our schools?
Charter schools are providing an opportunity to bring high-quality education to many in our state who have not benefited from our public schools.
Charter schools can provide opportunities for educators to implement innovative programs to improve student learning and achievement.
With our smaller scale, direct parental involvement, autonomy and site-based decision-making, charter schools in Hawai'i are living proof that freedom and equitable choice for parents, innovative opportunities for educators and explicit accountability for student achievement make a difference in the education of our children.John Thatcher
Isle concert audiences should try to dress up
I could not agree more with Helen Rummer's April 17 letter on a dress code for concert lei presenters.
I should also point out concertgoers should also observe some kind of dress code.
Yes, we live in Hawai'i and dress codes are much more lax than in Mainland cities.
We must remember, however, that dressing up shows that we honor and respect the musicians and the music itself.
This honor and respect also excludes crying babies or chit-chat during concert time.
The musicians have worked hard to present beautiful music and deserve our best.Rosita Sipirok-Siregar