March 2005

Letters to the Editor may be sent to: Honolulu Magazine, P.O. Box 913, Honolulu, HI, 96808-0913,  faxed: 537-6455 or e-mailed: letters_honmag@pacificbasin.net



Associate editor Ronna Bolante’s article on the Islanders who had the greatest impact on our lives in 2004.

I want to compliment you and your entire staff for selecting the “Islander of the Year: the Hawaii Soldier.” They are all very deserving of this award. Cpl. Ruben Cortinas is a very handsome young man to grace the cover of your magazine. The photographer captured his eyes, like those of the three G.I.s guarding the Vietnam Wall—looking out for the safety of his fellow soldiers.

The Time Magazine “Person of the Year—The American Soldier” issue is prominently displayed in my home. This cover of HONOLULU will be displayed right along with it.

You mention where most of the troops by service are deployed, but how would an ordinary citizen like me contact any given unit and support a person or unit by sending packages, letters, etc.? I would like them to know how much we support and care for their safety but don’t know how to go about showing such support. Got any suggestions?

Gerald Mainer, Gambrills, Maryland

Editor’s reply: The U.S. military’s Web site with info on supporting troops is www.army.mil/operations/oif/FAQ.html.



Excellent issue, especially the articles about the medical school and Hawaii soldiers. (My son is a civilian contractor with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, in Iraq.)

Emily Bott, Wailuku, Maui



The U.S. waging war upon Iraq is an unfortunate mistake. Sending more than 16,000 Hawaii troops to war is an unfortunate circumstance. Declaring these soldiers HONOLULU Magazine’s Islander of the Year is an unfortunate decision. My heart believes in peace, not an unnecessary war.

Dietra Myers Tremblay, wife of an active duty Navy serviceman, member of Military Families, Speak Out, Honolulu




A. Kam Napier’s round-up of the lowest and oddest events of 2004.

Illustrating your Sour Poi Award to Evan Dobelle’s firing with a “Kill Haole day” image makes me question the bias of your magazine. With its overwhelming number of haole top-level administrators and professors, the University of Hawaii is hardly a bastion of “haole-haters.” Probably the best president the UH had was another haole. Granted, the firing could have been handled in a more elegant manner, but few at the University are shedding any tears at his departure (excluding the lucky recipients of his six-figure-salary appointments). Just who exactly was the victim here?

If anything, Dobelle represented the worst stereotype of the haole in Hawaii. He talked smooth, promised big, charmed, wined and dined, but ultimately failed to deliver. Personal extravagance, arrogance, superciliousness, and condescension toward the University and local culture do not endear a UH president to the Board of Regents or the community.

Kathleen Sato, Honolulu




A. Kam Napier’s Afterthoughts on local architects who worry about the quality of Island architecture.

On behalf of Dean Sakamoto, AIA, Jack Sidener, FAIA, I thank you for your editorial. As your article indicated, there appears to be a real apathy amongst our profession here in Hawaii regarding the creation of cutting edge design. One of the themes I was attempting to advocate was that being passionate about your craft is not a sin.

While talk is cheap, egos are large. We would be a lot better off if people were educated to understand that the ego of architecture is not to be contrary, but to be creative. A few classic examples: the new library that Rem Koolhaas designed in Seattle, and the Disney Performing Center by Frank Gehry in Los Angeles. Both are design icons that take a unique concept and encapsulate it into a point of pride within an existing environment, without diffusing the light and spirit of either place.

So, where do we go from here? The venting part is easy but not terribly productive. The design awards programs have turned out to be a simple numbers game. The bar for selection of the [local] American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards has been modified to accommodate the need to justify the program itself. Why is it that over the years, only one Hawaii firm has won a Northwest & Pacific Region design award, not to mention a National AIA design award? All one has to do to see mediocre architecture is drive through Kahala, with its made-to-order façades created out of synthetic stucco.

The media could play an integral part in challenging the general public to lay claim to a higher standard of design. One method would be to establish a forum comprising individuals from all parts of the design profession, including students. Each participant would bring examples of one good building and one bad building to discuss in an open round table debate.

Perhaps we can shake up the status quo in this little piece of paradise.

Christopher J. Smith, FAIA, president, The CJS Group Architects, Honolulu