For Friday, August 13, 2010
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 13, 2010
The Kalanianaole Highway tragedy in Waimanalo is only the most recent of many deaths that were absolutely preventable.
If a driver chooses not to drink before driving, if he chooses not to speed, if everyone chooses to wear their seatbelts, then accidents like this one might have been avoided.
This year we secured $16.3 million to begin long-awaited traffic and safety upgrades in Waimanalo. Included will be new left-turn lanes through intersections that will better separate oncoming traffic, new sidewalks for pedestrians, and guardrails to stop drunken drivers from careening into houses.
However, the most important thing we can do is remind people that they alone are responsible for the consequences of their decisions.
No amount of highway improvement can compare to simply asking someone to think twice before they get behind the wheel.
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The city's sewer upgrade settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comes with a price tag of about $4 billion over 10 years. That's almost as massive a public works project as the proposed rail at $5.6 billion.
Rail is touted as a job creation project. Yet there's been deafening silence about job creation for the mandated sewer upgrade. It seems to me that plenty of permanent jobs will result, considering that we'll have to maintain the system. Why aren't we talking about those jobs as a stimulus to our economy?
Whoever the new mayor is going to be -- and two of the three front-runners support rail -- he will automatically assume a $10 billion debt on our behalf. Can Oahu citizens pay?
Gov. Linda Lingle's candidate for Hawaii Supreme Court was rejected and she huffed that Katherine Leonard was "a victim of bias that had no merit or basis," and that senators "represent the height of hypocrisy."
Well, governor, the gay community, in part because of your civil unions veto, continues to be "a victim of bias that has no merit or basis."
All I can say, Ms. Lingle, is, "Ain't karma grand?"
Whenever I see a homeless person, my heart bleeds. Why? Why should I care?
Because this is someone. Someone's father, mother, brother, sister, aunty, uncle. Someone's cousin. Someone's friend.
I know the problem of homelessness is complicated. There is no cure-all, no simple solution. We kick them out of parks, they move around. We pass laws, they look for loopholes. We establish shelters, they don't like the rules.
To the old man who sits at the bus stop by Central Union Church every morning, to the woman and her cart full of belongings by the Waikiki Library, and to the hundreds of others in similar situations, I wish I had a magic wand. Unfortunately, I don't. You have my sympathy.
Gov. Linda Lingle's criticism of the emergency $26 billion jobs bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday is a sad statement that puts her political agenda above helping Hawaii's residents.
First, the bill will support classroom education in Hawaii. We always talk about the importance of education, and when we are being given funds to build and improve education, the governor responds with unproductive criticisms.
Second, we are getting necessary funds to improve access to provide basic health care for low-income and disabled residents.
Third, the bill injects money from out of state into our local economy.
Last, the bill is deficit neutral. Congress made difficult decisions to cut money from other programs to fund this bill.
Gov. Lingle talks about the need to tackle the federal deficit, but she does nothing to urge Congress to rescind the Bush tax cuts for the most wealthy upper 2 or 3 percent of income earners.
The economic recovery and job growth remain fragile. Continuation will require responsible, reliable and effective leadership that seeks positive, balanced solutions.