Trash bins are not public dumping receptacles
Regarding the "mahalo/auwe" to the dog walker in Aina Haina who picks up the dog's waste but then deposits it into trash bins (Kokua Line, May 8). Those trash bins are the property of the City and County of Honolulu, NOT private property owners as the writer implied. If this is correct, can you please educate your readers, especially for the benefit of that individual who thinks the trash bin is "his"?
Answer: Actually, it's not correct.
"The carts are issued by the city for the exclusive use of the residents of a particular home," said David Shiraishi, city refuse collection administrator.
Dumping poop into someone's trash container is akin to dumping it into his yard.
Except for the city repairing broken parts on the carts, residents are responsible for their maintenance, Shiraishi said.
"It isn't appropriate or neighborly for others to make use of household refuse carts as they sit at the curb for pickup, especially when the waste is gross and malodorous," he said.
He noted that many residents wash their carts regularly.
"Some go to extremes in maintaining cleanliness, such as freezing their garbage and timing the arrival of our truck to toss it in at the latest possible moment," he said.
Besides dog poop, fish guts are another item that sometimes end up "abandoned in strange places," Shiraishi said. "Can you imagine if this were to end up in someone's cart without authorization?"
Q: I read a story about President Bush letting seniors at the lowest income levels and those on disability sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan after the May 15 deadline without having to pay a penalty, but I haven't been able to get any more details, especially for those on disability. Can you find out?
A: It's a very limited group of people who won't be penalized if they enroll in a Medicare prescription drug program after tomorrow.
First, according to the Medicare Web site (www.medicare.gov), only low-income beneficiaries who qualify for the "Limited Income Subsidy" after tomorrow will have a "one-time opportunity" to enroll in a drug plan immediately after they become eligible for the subsidy.
In a White House news release, Julie Goon, senior adviser to the Health and Human Services' secretary, estimated that about half of the 5.7 million eligible people who had not enrolled in any drug plan as of last week would qualify for the Limited Income Subsidy.
Those people -- as well as those with disabilities -- would have to apply for the subsidy through the Social Security Administration.
The risk is that you would not be approved for the subsidy.
In that case, if you then enrolled in a Medicare drug plan, you would have to pay the penalty for not meeting the May 15 deadline, warned Pamela Cunningham, coordinator of the Sage PLUS health insurance information program, which is part of the state's Executive Office on Aging.
To be eligible for the low-income subsidy on the mainland, an individual must have a gross annual income below $14,700 and assets worth no more than $11,500. For couples, the income limit is $19,800 and the asset limit is $23,000.
The limits are higher in Hawaii, Cunningham said: the gross annual income limit for an individual is $16,905 and for couples, $22,770. The asset limits are the same as for mainlanders.
People with disabilities would also have to meet the income qualifications, Cunningham said.
It's difficult to know exactly how many people in Hawaii who would benefit from enrolling in the Medicare drug plan program have not yet enrolled, because some may already have very good insurance coverage.
Cunningham says she just hopes anyone with high drug costs will meet tomorrow's deadline because doing so would save them a lot of money.
The Medicare call center phone line -- 1-800-Medicare (633-4227) -- will be open until midnight tomorrow, Hawaii time, to take calls from Hawaii residents, she said.
To the strangers who helped themselves to various landscaping plants in Kaimuki, most likely in preparation for May Day activities. They were a diverse group, male and female, driving cars from Honda Elements to BMWs, arriving day and night. If they suddenly became sick, they should ask their physicians to test for exposure to various pesticides. You think the landscape got that way naturally? Duh! -- Hawaii Homeowner
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