For Tuesday, July 6, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 6, 2010
I was taken aback by Gov. Linda Lingle's chief of staff's comments on the city's forum on homelessness. As a former CEO of a nonprofit that works in servicing this needy population, I think it's critical that we minimize the politics and reinforce bipartisanship when it comes to rebuilding our social safety net. I attended the forum.
Throughout I saw a broad spectrum of seriously engaged community leaders, including people who are supporting all three major candidates for governor. This wasn't about politics. This was about trying to solve one of the toughest and most important social problems that Hawaii faces. Homelessness is an urgent moral and economic challenge, and it's great that the city convened this meeting to work on it. We need increased partnerships and participation, not more partisan warfare.
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Gov. Linda Lingle should veto any bill passed on the last day of the legislative session without reasonable hearings being held. No veto will reveal that she supports the use of such tactics by Hawaii legislators.
The leadership of the House of Representatives should be sent a clear message that such deceptive practices destroy the trust of citizens who rely on an open, democratic political process.
If Gov. Lingle does not exercise her veto in such cases, this will be her legacy. Failure to take any action by July 6 would be the most demoralizing alternative available to the governor.
The state and the city of Honolulu could have solved the homeless problem years ago, if only they had wanted to. We could have imported thousands of good trailers from Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Homeless families could live in these units while getting back on their feet. Yet our government would rather build places for family housing that cost $250,000 to $700,000.
We really need to rethink temporary housing.
"We Will Ride" is a group of hundreds of young people, organized through Facebook and other social media sites, with one simple message: If you build rail in Honolulu, we will ride. We were proud to stand with Mayor Mufi Hannemann when he announced the release of the rail transit Final Environmental Impact Statement because that milestone took our community one giant step forward in bringing an elevated rail system to our island.
We have a major stake in rail because our generation will benefit the most from rail transit. By the time rail starts operating, many of our members will be in the workforce. We do not want to be stuck with only two options to commute to work: riding in a car or bus. We want elevated rail because it will be a fast, reliable alternative to sitting in traffic on the H-1, Farrington Highway, Kamehameha Highway or Dillingham Boulevard.
With our state strapped for cash, I feel it was a mistake for Gov. Linda Lingle to sign House Bill 2688, which allows money in a state environmental health education fund to be used for sanitation programs and activities, including monitoring Hawaii's restaurants and food establishments.
The reliability of the state's food safety inspections can be adequately handled by the state's nine health inspectors for Oahu's nearly 6,000 markets and restaurants.
All that's needed is a change in policy of how the rules that protect the people's health and safety are enforced. Instead of waiting for a third serious violation to occur before an establishment is shut down and fined, it should happen immediately upon the first violation.
Even if a restaurant is full of customers during lunch hour, everyone leaves and the restaurant is closed and fined.
Once word gets out that this is how things are done to protect the health and safety of the public, compliance will be the norm and maybe even fewer inspectors will be needed.