Letters to the editor


POSTED: Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jail time not best for drug crimes

Hawaii is one of many states grappling with overcrowded prisons. Throughout the nation, states facing budget shortfalls are pursuing alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. A study conducted by the RAND Corp. found that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.48 in societal costs.

There is far more at stake than tax dollars. The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out, but society as a whole does, too. Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education in antisocial behavior.

Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax dollars. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is. Destroying the futures and families of citizens who make unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone.

Robert Sharpe

Common Sense for Drug Policy, Arlington, Va.


Union nonvoters perplex reader

With all the angst caused by the government employee furloughs, I find it incredible that so many Hawaii State Teachers Association and Hawaii Government Employees Association members who were eligible to vote on the issue failed to do so.

On a question so personal and so profound, fully one-third didn't even bother to cast a vote.

I don't get it.

Bob Lamborn



Mayor has firm hand on budget

Richard Borreca's Oct. 25 article “;Why the furloughs?”; correctly stated that Mayor Mufi Hannemann opposed pay cuts or layoffs for county employees represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association, and supported furloughs as a prudent alternative. However, some readers may have misinterpret- ed the article as suggesting that Hannemann also helped engineer furloughs for public school teachers.

I would like to clarify that he and the other mayors were not involved in negotiations with teachers, as the schools are not under county control. Hannemann strongly opposes furloughs that take instructional time away from our children.

Also, Borreca wrote in his Oct. 21 column “;Hannemann's dream could become nightmare”; that budget problems due to the poor economy could prove unpopular for the mayor. The flip side is that tough problems require effective leaders, and, as everyone knows, Hannemann does not shrink from difficult challenges. Recognizing that the economy was faltering, the mayor last year directed the city's budget staff to develop prudent spending plans with a two-year view, and mandated a 4.5 percent spending restriction on city agencies this year. He also restricted pay raises for permanent city managers and cut his own salary by 5 percent, which his Cabinet appointees matched. The city does face challenges, but we're moving in the right direction with strong leadership.

Kirk Caldwell

Managing director, City & County of Honolulu




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