Letters to the editor: 04-14-19

Right to choose should come with consequences

I totally support a parent’s right to determine what is in the best interest of their children and family. However, with all rights come responsibilities, and the consequences resulting from the exercise of the right. Should the parents decide that their children should not be vaccinated (either at all, or on a medically/data-supported basis), then I offer that the following apply:

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1. They are not allowed to send their unvaccinated children to public school.

2. They are obliged to home-school their child, at their sole and un-reimbursable cost. The home school curriculum must be to existing state education standards.

3. If and when the children are certified from a licensed practicing medical doctor (licensed doctor in the state) that the children have successfully completed the required vaccination program, they can be admitted to the public school environment, at a grade level consistent with their level of knowledge, demonstrated by the child, as a result of objective testing results.

4. Each year medical doctors are to forward to the Department of Health data regarding the medical vaccination exceptions they have issued, or which are still in existence. Data would include items such as parent’s name, physical and mailing address, and reason for exemption. The Department of Health would provide a public database, by physician’s name, of the number of exemptions issued or carried forward. These measures are to help health professionals track down potentially at-risk populations should an outbreak occur and ensure that some doctors are not indiscriminately abusing the granting of vaccination exemptions.

L. G. Byrnes

Honokaa

Burial Council was roadblock on Alii Parkway project

Mr. Rick Robinson’s recent My Turn commentary contained several inaccuracies about the proposed Alii Parkway project. It wasn’t certain county council members that stopped this highway project, but the community at large and the Hawaii Island Burial Council.

The community requested several redesigns of the proposed highway, which held up the start of construction. The final nail in the coffin was the decision by the Hawaii Island Burial Council. They denied the county’s request to move several burials in the right of way in 2004. These delays resulted in the Federal Highway Administration funds being reallocated toward the Puainako Street extension in Hilo and improving Saddle Road.

The county could’ve spent $20 million to construct a bridge over the burial sites, but they decided that wasn’t financially prudent at the time, especially since the segment between Lako Street and Alii Drive was estimated to cost $40 million. This was on top of the roughly $6.3 million the county had spent on planning and right-of-way acquisition on this highway up until that point.

Mr. Robinson is correct that there needs to be traffic relief on Kuakini Highway though, but I don’t agree that constructing the Alii Parkway is the solution. The county has wasted too much taxpayer funds on this project with nothing to show for it.

The traffic relief focus should be on widening Queen Kaahumanu Highway extension/Kuakini Highway between Henry Street and Kamehameha III Road.

HDOT was working on planning this project up until a few years ago. Then they decided to focus on only safety and system preservation projects, which caused HDOT to suspend planning on this proposed widening project.

Sen. Dru Kanuha did introduce legislation this session that would’ve appropriated funds toward widening Kuakini Highway, but the Ways and Means Committee didn’t schedule a hearing. As a result, the proposed bill died. HDOT is also looking at floating an estimated $70 million bond. The car rental surcharge revenue would be used as a funding source. This would be used to construct one out five proposed capacity projects on Big Island. The problem is only one of the five projects is almost shovel ready (Saddle Road extension).

The traffic congestion on Queen Kaahumanu Highway extension/Kuakini Highway won’t be going away. It will be probably get much worse unless more traffic capacity is added. This means individuals, such as Mr. Robinson, should be contacting their legislators to make this widening project a priority.

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Aaron Stene

Kailua-Kona