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Letters to the Editor

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Automatic discharge is not the answer

The Star-Advertiser’s editorial, "Misdemeanor monitoring misguided," inaccurately portrays my position on House Bill 1070, which calls for a year of monitoring — followed by automatic discharge — of misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor offenders on conditional release from the State Hospital (Star-Advertiser, Our View, March 15).

While the prosecutor’s office would like to see changes made to the bill, it is not opposed to the bill’s intent, which is to help clear a supervisory case backlog that can keep some offenders under state oversight longer than necessary.

However, when it comes to public safety, the prosecutor’s office does not believe automatic discharge is the best answer.

A better alternative would be to set an automatic hearing, at which time a court would decide whether offenders are no longer threats to themselves or the public.

Equally important, the prosecutor’s office believes that if there is a breakdown in the system, it is not so much the result of statutes but the state Department of Health’s failure to do its job.

Under current law, the Department of Health can seek to discharge an offender from supervision at any time by informing the defense attorney of the offender’s status, which could result in a filing of a motion with the courts.

The prosecutor’s office does not keep defendants on conditional release. The courts make that decision.

If there is a backlog of cases, the Department of Health needs to make that a priority and dedicate resources toward clearing that backlog. Anything less fails to serve the public — and those on conditional release.

Keith Kaneshiro
Prosecuting attorney, City and County of Honolulu

 

Concern about isle shorelines not trivial

As co-founder of Beach Access Hawaii, I have to take issue with Cynthia Oi’s "Under the Sun" column, in which she refers to shoreline vegetation, beach access and other coastal matters as "trivial disputes" compared to the destructive power of natural disasters ("Our current problems will seem puny if a major tsunami ever hits the islands," Star-Advertiser, March 17).

If anything, the tsunami in Japan demonstrated the need for Hawaii to develop a comprehensive shoreline management plan for the entire state.

True, it would be costly to build sea walls or retrofit existing buildings, as Oi wrote in her column. But it wouldn’t cost anything to establish a moratorium on shoreline building and put a halt to seaward "creep" of oceanfront mansions that are being rebuilt as close as to the sea as legally possible.

If those multimillion-dollar houses wind up being washed away, it will largely be government workers who have to clean up the mess.

The property owners’ insurance policies will cover most of their personal losses. But that insurance payout will be shared by everyone else who buys insurance. It’s the rest of us who will pay for their hubris.

Rich Figel
Kailua

 

People cleaning bay much appreciated

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the volunteers and community members that are cleaning up Kealakekua Bay.

I am the owner of the big blue house that ended up in the bay and I am so sorry for everyone’s loss and for the devastation caused by the tsunami.

I am sad that I cannot be there right now to help all of the wonderful people in our community return Kealakekua Bay to the breathtakingly beautiful place that we all cherish.

We have been coordinating with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and private salvage and demolition companies from Honolulu to remove the house from the bay in order to minimize damage to the environment.

We are also feverishly contacting organizations, trying to find government, volunteer, and private organizations that may be able to help with all aspects of restoring the area to its former condition.

Kelly Edwards
Kealakekua

 

Response to tsunami in Hawaii admirable

My wife and I were visiting Oahu from Oregon when the tsunami hit the islands.

On behalf of both of us, I want to say how impressed we were with the preparedness and information-sharing by the government and media.

We first became aware of what was happening when we turned on the TV in our rented condo at the Waikiki Banyan about 9 p.m.

Of course, we were glued to the broadcasts the rest of the evening.

The announcements of developments were calmly and timely shared to help both locals and visitors (we like being called visitors instead of tourists) figure out what to do.

We also learned what that speaker in the kitchen ceiling was for when warnings were broadcast to each unit in our hotel.

The hotel staff was well-trained in tsunami preparedness. I learned a lot about tsunamis by taking this unexpected crash course.

The Star-Advertiser also deserves kudos for the followup coverage of both the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the impact on the Hawaiian Islands. Speaking as a former journalist, the coverage was extraordinary.

Thanks to everyone involved for helping us feel protected.

And our hearts go out to the Japanese people still dealing with this terrible disaster.

John Clay
Keizer, Ore.

 

Have compassion for the homeless

I have been homeless since 2004 because I lost my Section 9 housing.

I read all the letters from people talking about moving the homeless, kicking them out of parks and off beaches and even fining them, making homelessness a crime.

I applaud the churches for helping the homeless with their needs like food and clothing. But, come on people, can’t you see what we need is affordable housing?

I have to live in temporary homes because I have a mental disability, which is helped by medications and therapy. We are always put in with substance abusers who end up abusing us and selling our things for drugs.

I have my child here so I don’t want to leave Hawaii. So for the sake of humanity, even if you don’t believe in God, have a little compassion for those people who have nowhere to go.

Jessie Meredith
Aiea

 

FROM THE FORUM

"Passenger saves careening city bus," Star-Advertiser, March 17:

» This story headline could have been totally different today. Thank God that there were people who automatically took action to avoid a serious outcome. How many prepare for such an unforeseen action? It’s not like there are drills for this. But, somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind and heart, these people got up automatically and took the next step to stop more bad things from happening.

» I recall that the state Department of Transportation only recently undertook a project to inspect and cut down trees at risk along Pali. They need to review how they missed this one, perhaps they did not cover a wide enough area, given the size of some of the trees.

» Imagine what that tree would have done to a sub-compact car.

———

"House OKs $21 billion draft budget," Star-Advertiser, March 17:

» To sum up the story: Get ready for more taxes!

» I want to see spending cuts, but I don’t know if it is possible, I also want to see cutting all those tax breaks they handed out before they raise taxes.

» Every year as far back as I can remember, the Legislature has always found new ways to raise revenues, but never to reduce the size of government. You should not be so surprised that so many people are angry with government.

» No welfare checks for bums that aren’t mental or handicapped. I overheard a couple of guys talking at a bus stop in Waikiki. Neither were from here; one had been here for two months, the other for a couple of weeks. The two-month guy was giving him the low-down on how to get state money food stamps and where to get good drugs, and gloated how he comes here every year for six to eight months at a time, living off the state for free.

———

"Disasters sap tourism," Star-Advertiser, March 18:

» The reality is that Hawaii is useless except for tourism and a naval base. And the naval base ain’t what it used to be. We need to worship tourism because without it we are a ghost town. Our future is not looking too great right now. Meanwhile, taxes are going up because our politicians don’t want to let go of their dreams (trains and big construction plans) and business is sagging, sagging and sagged.

» I don’t think Hawaii tourism has seen the worst of anything yet. Just wait until the average round trip airfare from the mainland is over $2,000. Who will come to Hawaii then? With increasing fuel costs, I don’t see how airfares will ever really go down again. It’s all about math and physics, not how pretty Hawaii may be.

» When it rains, it pours.

———

"Six federal grants promote electric vehicles in Hawaii," Star-Advertiser, March 18:

» None of this would happen if not for millions of taxpayer dollars being thrown about. Once the grants run out, and they will, watch it disappear. Then the eco-politicians can move down next to our landfills, which will be overflowing with the fruits of "green": poisonous batteries and mercury-laden fluorescent bulbs.

» Hooray! Electric cars. Now can we have electric air conditioning in our 90-degree-plus public school classrooms? Mahalos.

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