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POSTED: Saturday, March 07, 2009

'Aloha spirit' doesn't extend to homeless

I'm fairly new to these beautiful islands, so maybe that's why I thought it was a joke when I heard of the measures pushing for homeless people to be sent back to the mainland. Upon reading further news about this, as well as other letters describing the homeless as being “;eyesores,”; I realized that this idea was for real, and I must say it seems absolutely ridiculous and lacking in compassion for our fellow human beings.

Furthermore, I can't believe the attitudes towards the homeless I see expressed in the newspapers every day. I've lived in several cities on the East Coast that also have large homeless populations, but not once have I heard of someone proposing to send them out of state as a means of “;helping”; them out. It all reeks of phoniness, and only continues to solidify my observation that this “;aloha spirit”; so often spoken of extends only to those who were born and raised here or those who spend all of their money vacationing here.

Bonnie Clayton Barber

Honolulu

               

     

 

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Public funding would keep elections clean

Removing corporate influence from Hawaii's political decisions through comprehensive public funded (voter-owned) elections is a popular idea that's been ignored for too long. Maine, Arizona and others have seen huge successes—but every time Hawaii legislators get a chance, they conveniently ignore it. House Bill 661 establishes such a program for Hawaii County Council, and I call on Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, to ensure that it is heard this session.

Hawaii needs a voter-owned elections system at all levels.

Cathy-Anne Young

Manoa

Mayor's budget only makes things worse

Mayor Mufi Hannemann is having problems with his measly $1.8 billion budget and he has to sock it to us—again—to make it work. On top of this growing insanity, we have agreed to let him push onto us at this time an unfathomable multibillion-dollar rail program. Lawmakers could easily relegislate the general excise tax increase we got shoved down our throats. These economic times certainly warrant this possibility. Wouldn't that cash balance Hannemann's budget and then some? We need a multibillion-dollar rail project right now like we need a cut in the grade of pothole filler.

Is there anyone out there or am I all alone in this thinking? Where is the outrage? The bottom line is if everything stays on its present course, our home values will be down so far and our foreclosures up so high, Hannemann would have to raise our property taxes 1,000 percent and he'd still come up short and we'd still have potholes. Maybe Hannemann could provide us with more transparency like line item by line item up on the city's Web site. It could be a simple PDF. The president seems to think that is a good idea, doesn't Hannemann? Come on, it's time, speak up or forever hold your peace.

Jim Cone

President

Matrix Media of Hawaii Inc.

Honolulu

Isle economy needs wise budgeting

President Barack Obama and Congress support investing in infrastructure and have fast-tracked the economic stimulus bill to create jobs. Gov. Linda Lingle and the Legislature support investing in infrastructure and have fast-tracked improvements like school repairs, roadwork and harbor work to create jobs.

Now Mayor Mufi Hannemann has proposed his budget, which includes a healthy dose of infrastructure for waste-to-energy, roads and rail transit, also to create jobs. The ball is in the City Council's court now. Let us hope Council members have learned from the examples set by federal and state leaders and will fast-track our island's infrastructure improvements. We need these improvements and the jobs they will generate now more than ever.

Lei Matsuura

Honolulu

Please release money for suffering elders

The federal government seems to have the magical power to create money. Shovels full of it will be coming to states as economic stimulus assistance. Hawaii, along with other states, must generally balance their budgets, and so legislatures apportion funds according to a budget.

Kokua Council is concerned that in the competition for federal funds, our legislators not forget that frail and vulnerable elderly are still owed services previously cut by the governor's office.

Lawmakers allocated funds to slash waiting lists for programs such as Kupuna Care, a statewide partnership between the state, the counties and community agencies to assist Hawaii's older adults to live independently and safely at home.

If services such as household chores, home-delivered meals, personal care (assistance with bathing and toileting) and transportation are not available, people cannot be discharged from hospitals, or must be re-admitted when they can't survive independently in their homes during their recovery.

The Legislature appropriated $525,000 in 2007 and $500,000 in 2008, but sadly the governor has not released the funds for these basic services. Presumably she has other priorities for this money, since it's hard to make a million dollars simply disappear. This diversion is at the expense of our elder citizens and their loved ones.

By withholding these funds, not only has the governor increased suffering, but she has added to the expenses piled onto Hawaii's already overburdened health care system, which must hospitalize or institutionalize those who could remain in their homes at much lower expense.

Kokua Council asks that the Legislature pressure the governor not to hold Hawaii's kupuna hostage any longer. The funds should be released without further delay.

Larry Geller

President

Kokua Council