Saturday, January 8, 2005


Teens heed warnings
about meth danger


A survey of high school students shows a continuing decline in substance abuse.

USE of crystal methamphetamine by Hawaii's teenagers continues to drop, according to surveys by the state Department of Health. "Ice" remains a major problem in the islands, and the state should not relax its battle in schools and in the workplace against this dangerous drug. Surveys in recent years show that the effort has been effective.

A survey conducted in November 2003 and released only this week showed that 4 percent of public and private high school seniors had ever tried crystal meth, down from 12 percent in 1989 and 5.3 percent in 2002. Those who had used it in the previous month dropped to less than 1 percent from 5.5 percent in 1989 to 1.8 percent in 2002.

The use of ice can be surmised to have dropped even more in the past year due to a $14.7 million ice prevention package enacted by last year's Legislature. Governor Lingle did not sign the bill, which she regarded as overemphasizing drug treatment and downplaying enforcement of drug laws.

The Lingle administration was reluctant in releasing $1.8 million for adolescent drug treatment programs while it tried to determine whether the expenditures would be effective. The governor finally this week released $1.28 million for adolescent substance abuse treatment.

The 2003 Hawaii Student Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use Study showed that teenagers also are saying no to other harmful substances -- an encouraging trend. The use of marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and even alcohol and cigarettes was down significantly from 1998. High school seniors who had used Ecstasy in the 2003 survey amounted to 0.8 percent of those surveyed, compared with 3.9 percent in 2000.

"What's driving the trend is that perceived availability is going down and perceived harm is going up," says Renee Storm Pearson, the study's principal investigator and associate professor at the University of Hawaii.


Hannemann, Council
seem to be in concert


The new mayor is singing tunes of harmony as he takes the helm at City Hall.

MUFI Hannemann's musical harmonizing during his public inauguration ceremony matched the political rapport the new mayor and the City Council have been proffering since his election.

The unanimity is welcome relief after years of acrimony between administrative and legislative forces at Honolulu Hale. While a honeymoon period is typical when new people take office, Hannemann's alignment with key Council figures, such as budget boss Ann Kobayashi, suggests fewer conflicts and perhaps better progress on issues facing the city.

The mayor also appears to have won the favor of a majority of members, which will allow him a clearer field for his initiatives. However, the Council should not yield on every proposal the administration submits. There's a difference between getting along and going along.

Hannemann used his second swearing-in ceremony Wednesday, which followed the official oath-of-office ritual at an invite-only affair Sunday, to promise cooperation with the Council, city workers and state officials.

Before belting out a couple of songs on stage, the mayor said the "controversy, conflict and blame" of the past "must stop," prompting an "inspired" Kobayashi to reiterate problems she had had with the previous administration, saying she hoped she won't have to deal with the same issues again.

Though Hannemann has not yet delivered details on objectives beyond his campaign promises, there will likely be differences between him and the Council and among members themselves. As long as they are able to discuss them rationally, that's fine.

The Council has a duty to sift administrative plans to ensure what's best for the city and Hannemann appears willing to collaborate rather than dictate. Residents can do without the discord that had often clouded decision-making at City Hall, but still deserve careful examination of how their tax dollars will be spent.

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