Ice storm: Epidemic of the Islands

The Rev. Keith Ryder, pastor of Light of Promise Church, left, and the Rev. Robert Nakata of Kahaluu Methodist Church were featured speakers on the community mobilization panel at yesterday's Hawaii Drug Control Strategy Summit.

Groups propose
no-delay treatment

"Ice" panelists suggest
coordinating efforts through
a new office

The second day of the Lingle administration's Hawaii Drug Control Strategy Summit imposed a heavy workload on the 400 guests of the three-day conference.

Participants were divided into 17 groups to discuss ways of addressing the state's drug and alcohol abuse problems, including prevention, treatment, legislative changes, search and seizure laws, and community mobilization. The groups met for several hours to develop recommendations. The meetings were closed to the press.

At the end of yesterday's sessions at the Sheraton Waikiki, each of the 17 groups presented ideas, which included:

-- Fund and expand treatment so it is available on demand, without long waiting lists. Consider resources for the uninsured and the underinsured.

-- Treat drug abuse as a disease.

-- Change the state's wiretap and search and seizure laws so that law enforcement has stronger tools to prosecute drug dealers.

-- Establish an "umbrella office" at the state to oversee and coordinate the efforts of disparate private and public agencies. The office should identify gaps in existing services and provide solutions. The office should also oversee and coordinate funding and audit use of that funding for accountability.

Today, the work groups will meet again to refine those recommendations. At the end of the day, their final recommendations will be presented to the full assembly, which will vote on them.

Eventually, the recommendations will be put into a final report and a legislative package presented to the state Legislature.

Facilitators hired by the administration met overnight to review the teams' work and sort the recommendations into themes. The facilitators are being led by Lilly Bloom Domingo, director of the Hawaii Community Services Council's consulting and technical assistance arm.

At the start of yesterday's summit, Bloom summarized some of the discussions among Monday's work groups, including some skepticism about the summit.

Bloom said one group reported: "The summit is already a done deal. They know what they're going to do, and the summit and the rest of this is just window dressing." The criticism has been expressed privately by some people, particularly those providing drug treatment.

Claire Wood, who runs a Salvation Army treatment program for women with children, was concerned weeks before the summit that the emphasis would be on law enforcement at the expense of treatment.

Yesterday, Wood emerged from the work session grinning.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," she said. "I like the process and the direction of where things are going. This is an incredible collection of people under one roof, put together to solve this. I felt this afternoon was very productive."

But, Wood added, "the proof will be in the pudding of how the administration integrates all of these ideas."

"And it will be the kiss of death if they get this many people energized and involved and nothing happens," she said.


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