Wednesday, April 16, 2014         

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As our community works together to raise awareness of the heartbreaking results of child abuse during Prevent Child Abuse Month in April, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is bringing to light how important it is to be vigilant and persistent in reporting suspected abuse and neglect.

Recently there have been several stories about children who were killed while in the care of adults who should have been protecting them. It appears that in two of these cases the parents were overwhelmed, and didn't have the knowledge and skills necessary to care for these children.

Each year, April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and this serves as a reminder of our nation's need to focus on healthy child development. Given our nation's rank in child well-being according to UNICEF, we need to focus extra hard this year.

As a mother of two young children, I decided to learn more about Pono Choices, the pilot sex education program for 11- to 13-year-olds in some Hawaii public schools.

Sex education is among the most personal issues addressed in schools. Families and community members have strong opinions about what, when and how such issues should be covered in schools.

Whoever it was that coined the moniker "The Forbidden Island" to describe Niihau, the label stuck and an air of mystery has hung over the privately owned island ever since. But mysteries soon run up against modern realities.

There are no paved roads, no cars, no stores and that's only the start of what makes "The Forbidden Island" distinct. Niihau is home to about 130 permanent inhabitants, nearly all of whom are Native Hawaiians, speaking a dialect of Hawaiian as their first language.

Our state is in a unique position when it comes to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Hawaii has long been the leader in health care, with many residents insured because of our Prepaid Health Care Act.

March 31, 2014, is a milestone date for Hawaii and the nation. It marks the deadline of the first open enrollment period for individuals under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As of this writing, it has been five months since I first attempted to obtain individual health insurance through the Hawaii Health Connector (HHC), and I still don't have insurance.

This month marks the final month of open enrollment and let me start by being honest: Things haven't gone as planned.

The Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s marked a turning point in Hawaiian history, when Native Hawaiians began in earnest to revive our culture, reassert our identity and reclaim our rightful status in Hawaii.

On March 6, a historic step was taken by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Board of Trustees: The trustees voted to adopt a plan that, in its final phase, will see OHA dissolved.

Many of today's labor laws and worker protections have their roots in the Great Depression. The late-19th and early-20th centuries were a time of economic and social instability that included labor strife and violence.

For some reason it seems difficult to get across the concept that when there is only so much of the pie to cut into wages, pension, health benefits, annuity benefits, sick leave, holiday pay, etc., that by dictating how much the employer will pay in one area, automatically means an decrease in other areas.

"Highest and best use."In real-estate appraisals the concept is simple: However a piece of land can legally generate the most money is its "highest and best use."

As many as 300,000 West Virginians are still wondering whether it's safe to drink the water more than a month after the local supply was tainted by a spill of industrial chemicals.

The obituary for U.S. manufacturing has been written many times. But as Mark Twain famously informed the New York Journal after various newspapers had reported that he was dead or dying, reports of manufacturing's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Ken Takeya is an experienced family caregiver, by anyone's standards. He started taking care of his wife when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease 71⁄2 years ago.

Caregivers sometimes find supplies or equipment delivered at the door that they had, in fact, expected. But, said Susan Reinhard, it would be nice had it come with instructions or, better still, an instructor.

State Rep. Angus McKelvey likes the metaphor: Finding the best fix for the Hawaii Health Connector is like trying to fix an airplane after takeoff. You have to do it very carefully, he said. That is the whole approach to the current version of House Bill 2529, originally a proposal to make the Connector a state agency.

The state Legislature is grappling with various issues surrounding the health of the Hawaii Health Connector, the online health insurance marketplace established under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Faced with high electric bills due largely to oil prices, many of our customers at the Hawaiian Electric companies are understandably turning to solar to reduce their costs.

The Hawaiian Electric utilities have never been shy about supporting expensive projects, which is one of the reasons why Hawaii residents suffer from the highest electrical bills in the country.

I was talking about government and the economy with then-state Rep. Brian Schatz, later lieutenant governor and now U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. "You're not saying that all you want government to do is fix the potholes and clean the bathrooms at the public park?" he asked me.

In preparing the executive supplemental budget, Gov. Neil Abercrombie set forth an overall strategy of maintaining a sustainable multi-year financial plan to establish a solid financial foundation for Hawaii.

Everyone can be forgiven for being confused about the meaning of "affordable housing." The expression is popularly applied to everything from heavily subsidized public rentals up to condos that are also described as "workforce housing," units priced for urban professionals.

The method hailed as the best way to end chronic homelessness was born of desperation more than two decades ago on the streets of New York City: Psychologist Sam Tsemberis despaired seeing his severely mentally ill, drug addicted or alcoholic patients cycle from the streets to jail, psychiatric wards, homeless shelters and back to the streets.

The overarching goal of the public nonprofit East-West Center -- established in 1960 by Congress -- is to promote cooperation and understanding among nations in Asia, the Pacific and the United States.

A friend of mine used to say: "Managing is nice, being managed is not." This is especially true in academic institutions like the East-West Center. Fereidun Fesharaki has been highly critical of the EWC's present management and its president, Dr. Charles Morrison

As times change, so must institutions. With the growth of Asia, the core public diplomacy mission of the East-West Center -- promoting deeper understanding and relations among peoples of the Asia-Pacific -- is more relevant than ever.

We are heartened that U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Hawaii's congressional delegation successfully steered some $17 million for the East-West Center for the current fiscal year ending in September.

Back in 2011, when the University of Hawaii at Hilo began its concerted push for funds to build a permanent home for its College of Pharmacy, it released "Emergence of the College of Pharmacy," a book about the birth of the institution, a photo depicting a river of lava on the front cover. The idea was to use the metaphor of volcanic emergence, which seems suited to the Hawaii island setting.

Those born in the mid-1980s and later, the fabled millennials, don't care much for political labels. A series of polls taken late last year show that about 45 percent consider themselves to be independents. Another 33 percent say they are Democrats and 23 percent say Republican.

Recent national research suggests that Gov. Neil Abercrombie's scaled-back, dual approach to early learning — focused on getting the neediest kids into a variety of public and private programs — fuels the best educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and offers taxpayers a stronger return on their investment.

Whether the trend toward timeshare sales and condo-hotel conversions represents a blessing or a curse depends upon whom you ask.

Honolulu commuters may be in for a bumpy ride if the City Council goes ahead with Mayor Kirk Caldwell's plan to sell advertising on the exterior of municipal buses.

Laws limiting outdoor advertising are designed to protect what the 9th U.S. Circuit Court described "as perhaps the state's most valuable and fragile economic asset — the natural beauty upon which Hawaii's tourism economy relies."

Finding a safe haven to regroup turned life around • IHS chief notes blessings, generosity that aid mission

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Hawaii, schools should update their curriculums to reflect that fact, and include more positive depictions of same-sex couples and their children, the contributions of gays and lesbians to society, the history of the gay-rights movement and other topics important to the LGBT community that have been neglected in the past, advocates say.

For all the talk about supporting local agriculture in Hawaii, ranchers and farmers in the islands sometimes feel besieged. While contentious debates over GMOs and pesticides garner more headlines, theft remains a persistent problem, especially for the small operations that are less able to absorb the loss of livestock, fruit, vegetables and plants.

This past Friday, Nov. 8, marked the 25th anniversary of the historic "Save Sandy Beach Initiative" vote in 1988, when Oahu residents took a stand to defend the wild nature of the Ka Iwi coast and said "no" to a city-approved, luxury subdivision that would have stretched more than a mile along the mauka side of Kalanianaole Highway from Sandy Beach Park to the 11th hole of the Hawaii Kai Golf Course.

Now that the sculpture "Forgotten Inheritance" is back in full view at the Hawaii Convention Center, the urgent debate that rightly focused on the artist's right to free expression should give way to a broader dialogue that also raises awareness about how Hawaii's indigenous culture is depicted in art, commerce and daily life.

Residents who have followed the homelessness issue might watch the high-profile discussions on keeping the sidewalks clear, and assume that's the only thing that's been happening.

My father came to the Islands from northeastern Kansas with the Air Force and married a local girl just after World War II. He grew up on a farm during the Great Depression and gleaned some degree of native wisdom.

Each of us has the fundamental and constitutional right to practice our religion as we see fit. Freedom of religion is one of our most cherished, shared values, and it protects all of us.

Clara-Joyce Olds was mourning the death of her father from early-onset Alzheimer's disease in 1996, after having cared for him during his last days. "If I ever get this disease," she told her husband Mark, "I want you to put me in a home. I don't want to be a burden to you."

Since the 1980s, when Congress passed mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, federal prison populations have swelled.

The Affordable Care Act, talked about in the abstract since it became law three years ago, will become concrete reality to most Americans within six weeks, when the various state and federal health-insurance exchanges go online.

State leaders finally have drawn a crucial line in Hawaii’s fiscal sand. Now what? • Growing our research economy will help finance huge wave of public retiree costs

Through decades of political control, Hawaii's Democratic Party has been regarded as a "big tent" — but now, it is letting it be known that discipline is required.

Public school students head back to the classroom tomorrow and, other than noting their friends' new clothes or the names of their new teachers, things are probably going to look just about the same as they remember it from the other end of their brief summer break.

Hawaii is in the fourth and final year of this $75 million federal grant. An element in the selection of Hawaii for one of the grants was its commitment to move toward the Common Core State Standards.

Will you take into account the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye’s wishes when voting in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in August?
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