Letter to the Editor


POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don't burden students with state's budget problems

President Obama is expecting transparency and accountability in the distribution of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, restoring state support for education is one of its targeted purposes. Despite the state's budget deficit, funds from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund earmarked for education should, in fact, stay in education.

To plug the state's $90 million projected shortfall with federal stabilization funds, as proposed by Gov. Linda Lingle, not only jeopardizes the stability of our schools but will irreparably damage the future of our children. Already struggling to meet the federal demands of No Child Left Behind, our schools need all the help they can get.

In the recent rounds of state budget cuts, the Department of Education has done its fair share of cutting $56 million, plus recently agreeing to another proposed $30.7 million reduction. The Board of Education has requested that no funds be taken directly from schools, and while this was initially feasible, these additional budget cuts will likely affect our classrooms and children. Money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund will help restore many of these programs to our schools.

Taking the full amount of $90 million from the Department of Education this fiscal year (March to June 2009) will have a devastating impact on our children's education as schools will more than likely have to shut down. How will our seniors graduate?

The governor has the means to look at other funding sources. The governor should not put the whole $90 million burden on our children. Let's make sure the State Fiscal Stabilization money is spent on education as intended by President Obama.

Janis Akuna


Budget and Fiscal Accountability Committee

Board of Education

Medical marijuana law isn't workable

Things are finally looking up for the 13 states that permit the medical use of marijuana. It was encouraging to read the Star-Bulletin's March 20 editorial urging the state to create a distribution system for medical marijuana in the wake of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's comments indicating a more hands-off approach from the feds.

Now that the feds are backing off from interfering with the states on this issue, the Star-Bulletin has correctly identified the biggest deficit in Hawaii's 8-year-old program: lack of legal access to marijuana, seeds or growing facilities.

The bills that would have permitted a state-authorized production or distribution system have unfortunately died in committee. But Senate Bill 1058 HD1 is moving forward with creation of a task force to study barriers and obstacles in the state's program and to make recommendations to the Legislature.

Here's hoping that Gov. Linda Lingle will let this task force go forward instead of vetoing this bill as she did a similar one last year. It's past time for Hawaii's medical marijuana law to become workable for the 4,800 critically ill people who have come to rely on it.

Pamela Lichty


Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

Senators deftly avoid debating civil rights

Once again, 18 of 25 state senators chose to hide behind a procedural smokescreen to save themselves from having to openly debate HB 444, the civil unions bill, before the public.

I guess they wanted to make sure they didn't have to risk their re-election by having to declare an opinion and debate an issue on its merits. Granted, the issue was an emotional one, but, as Harry Truman famously said, “;If you can't stand the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen!”; Instead, these heat-aversive senators reportedly rationalized their unwillingness to pull the bill from committee as necessary to “;maintain good relationships with other senators.”;

Give me a break! If that's what inspired them to enter public service, I, as a voter and taxpayer, feel I've been defrauded. I naively assumed that they had signed on because they wanted to accomplish something through the legislative process. Guess I was wrong. “;Going along to get along”; should perhaps be their de facto motto. In demonstration of this point, a freshman senator who bravely spoke in favor of pulling the bill, acted as if she were going to have her head handed to her by someone, perhaps the red-shirted people in the gallery. These zealots ignored repeated requests by the presiding officer to remain silent. Perhaps the headline, “;Senators cave to bigots”; might not miss the mark.

Ken Sentner


Telcom's bonuses differ from AIG's

Gov. Linda Lingle has charged a windmill by standing in strong opposition to Hawaiian Telcom's proposed bonus payments to its employees. We're not talking retention bonuses to the overpaid weasels in the bailed-out insurance and banking industries. Rather, we're talking about $6 million to be distributed to everyday rank-and-file workers (some 1,500 for a job well done) in a struggling public utility that is trying to survive while competing with unregulated players.

The most disturbing part of this scenario is the governor's continued failure to grasp the big picture on yet another straightforward issue, or perhaps it's just another example of misapplication as the result of misunderstanding. Nonetheless, I hope that she doesn't have aspirations for higher office. Just imagine what she could do for (or to) us in Washington. Remember the absurd assertion that Obama's not really from Hawaii?

And by the way, what has “;Silent Duke”; Aiona to say on this and some of the other matters at hand? C'mon man, pick a position and stand with it!

Robert K. Kurlansky

Waimea, Hawaii




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