Smith’s Union Bar

Let’s not lower the bar for Chinatown

I’m baffled by Civil Beat’s article “Can Hawaii’s Oldest Dive Bar Survive Chinatown’s Invading Hipsters?” (Oct. 1.) It’s one thing to make a “kids these days” argument against hipsters, but it’s another thing to pit small business against small business.

As a daughter of a small business owner, I find it odd that Smith’s Union’s newest owner signed a one-year lease and is shocked to learn that his rent will increase upon renewal. Did it ever occur to him to sign a five-year lease to grandfather his rent, and then negotiate terms with his landlord in advance of its expiration?

Why does he and this article’s author choose to target The Manifest, which just celebrated its ninth year in Chinatown, as the reason his rent has increased? Why not blame his landlord and the surrounding 4-Star restaurants, the yoga studio upstairs, the new condos a few blocks down, or the rail looming on the horizon for ushering in spiked rents?

Gentrification is a complicated issue, and to attack one bar across the street for his poor business decisions is lazy at best and slander at worst. Can’t we support keeping a historic dive bar open without knocking its neighbors and patrons who, “hipster” or not, are clearly invested in the area?

This article puts a tear in my beer and makes me want to take my money somewhere else. Thankfully, The Manifest opens its doors to locals of all walks of life, so I’ll be making my toast to them.

— Emily A. Benton, Honolulu

The Harbor

It takes a village

Why doesn’t Bumpy Kanahele help them out with advice on how to start a village on land given to them by the state, like his community in Waimanalo? Last I heard, they were thriving and self-sustaining. Don’t think they hired an architect to design. Thought most work was done by community members.

— Ku’ulei Thompson, Kailua


Seek a better solution than an ill-defined surcharge

Just listened to the podcast (“Pod Squad: Teachers Union Leader Makes Case For ConAm,” Oct. 1). Well done, Corey Rosenlee was well-prepared and eloquent and we in the audience were challenged – “what’s the solution”?

The solution is not to approve a constitutional amendment where the subject and intended results are poorly defined. The basic problem is that the politicians who run the budgets cannot be trusted. Unless the Ledge is given specific instructions which are enforceable quickly in court, new revenue generated will go to education as promised, yet the budget mavens will switch existing DOE funding to some other “worthwhile cause” with a net effect of no increased funding.

Rosenlee: “most other states have a property tax surcharge to fund schools” – there is nothing wrong with our approach.

Rosenlee: “Vote yes to properly fund school education.”

The solution is a properly worded proposal for a property tax surcharge to substantially increase net funding for education. The real problem is to create and pass language that accomplishes this goal so the politicians who are so adept in gutting bills and replacing them with new stuff that has never been seen in public before and gutting reserve funds they deem bloated cannot divert these funds.

— J. Douglas Kilpatrick III, Honolulu