Sunday, December 31, 2006


17 Questions for Hawaii in 2007

Why 17? Well, it's the most arbitrary number I could think of.

I'm sure that you have questions as good or better than mine. Anyway, here's my year-end list. Posting it is something of a catharsis, why keep this stuff bottled up inside? That's why bloggers blog.


Q: Why is it that the Manoa Innovation Center and the University of Hawaii, since they are located in rainy Manoa, still do not use rain water to flush toilets? Why can't the rest of us use this abundant, free resource in our homes?

Q: Why are we requiring ethanol to be mixed with gasoline when it isn't made here, so we must burn foreign oil to bring it to Hawaii? Growing corn for fuel generally requires more energy input than you get out. Even when there is a slight net energy gain, we surely lose that by importing it from outside Hawaii. Wouldn't it be environmentally ethical to require it to be used only when we are able to produce it? The Philippines requires that diesel fuel must be mixed with coconut oil starting in March. But they already have a coconut industry there, so it makes very good sense (and the oil is said to improve the efficiency of diesel engines).

Q: We've got the waves, how come still no wave power generators? Europe has had installations running without problems and we have lots more waves than they do. Wave power generators don't mess up the skyline with rotating turbines. People tend to forget they are there. Tourists hardly visit the one in Scotland anymore, according to the editor of the local paper. They don't pollute in any way. So how come we're not using waves to generate energy here in Hawaii?

Our Legislature

Q: Why do we still allow legislators to take corporate handouts while in session? It's so blatant, particularly when powerful committee chairs let corporations write their bills and vote for them while holding their hands out to receive contributions. Legislators did it last year and in previous years. Let's be honest and call this bribery, and then put a stop to it.

Q: Why are corporate executives allowed to pose as "interns" and lobby legislators right inside their offices for the entire session? These executives are either embedded lobbyists or corporate spys or both. No need for more ethics commission rulings on the subject, the legislature should just give up the practice since it brings the integrity of lawmakers into question.

Q: How come conference committee chairs can overrule months of testimony, deliberate in secret, and only announce the results at a public meeting? When will democracy come to Hawaii?

Our Governor

Q: Why does the administration persist in holding up funds for badly needed social programs? Why not pass a law to restrain this damaging practice?

Q: The people have spoken--no war on drugs in Hawaii. At meeting after community meeting, the people have said that they prefer education, prevention and treatment. So call off the dogs and get with empirically proven programs in schools, communities and workplaces.

Q: When will we reduce the number of prisoners by emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation in the community, so that we can stop shipping them to Mainland private prisons that are unregulated by the states in which they are located and problematic in so many ways?

Health and Safety

Q: When will we deal with our driving-under-the-influence problem? A very discouraging feature article in the December 31, 2006 Dining Out section of the Honolulu Advertiser headlined "'Rush Hour' now begins daily from 4 p.m." begins with an invitation to drivers to get smashed before driving home:
Honolulu motorists wanting to take a detour to avoid H-1 gridlock at the end of the work day can now steer their vehicles toward Jackie's Kitchen--Asian Grill & Bamboo Bar.

The Ala Moana Shopping Center restaurant recently introduced "Rush Hour," daily pau hana specials from 4 to 7 p.m.

.   .   .

During "Rush Hour," this means 10-ounce martinis will cost only $5 and 22-ounce draft beers (except Kona Longboard) will be priced at $4."
Well, it's an advertising section, but shame on the Advertiser anyway. According to the blood alcohol content calculators found on the Internet, a 150-pound man staying an hour and having just one oversized martini would likely be just short of legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of around .07. A woman would be over the limit. Having a 22-ounce supersized microbrew could result in a score of .05 or better.

Yikes! It is socially irresponsible to promote drinking and driving. Didn't anyone mention that to the editors?

Again, shame on you, Advertiser. Get with the program. People are being killed because they or others drive impaired. You can do without the few bucks you get for that article in your advertising section. And Jackie's: you can come up with a better name for your happy hour than "Rush Hour."

Q: When will we deal with Hawaii's medical insurance company problem? As insurance reimbursements decline and payment for valid medical procedures is repeatedly denied, doctors in many specialties are giving up and leaving the state. You don't want to be in an auto accident on the Big Island right now, a doctor may not be available on call to put your bones back together.

Letters to the editor and articles describe the problem, which is a national issue. Even our president alluded to it in his own way:
"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
- GWB, Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
Well, Hawaii is losing its doctors and it's no laughing matter. Insurance companies raise premium rates when they can, they also cut payments to doctors while building obscene reserves and paying large executive salaries. Why not fix this? We're not afraid to regulate insurance companies. We should deal with this problem in 2007, before a natural disaster strikes and finds hospitals unprepared.

Q: Why do we say we have a budget surplus when we still don't have a civil defense system that will protect us in emergencies? Even if you know where your nearest shelter is located, do you know who has the keys to get in or what supplies and facilities will be waiting for you? This is assuming that somehow we'll get word about the storm or tsunami in time, which is still somewhat doubtful. Sheesh. We were prepared (water, flashlights, radio, batteries) but there was no news to tune to.

The Economy

Q: What is it about "affordable housing" that our city and state governments don't understand?

Taxes and other costs of living are going up so fast, and so little is being done to make affordable housing available, that it's predictable that next year will see a surge in homelessness. Why not reduce the tax burden on homeowners and also, separately, provide property tax incentives for landlords who demonstrably rent at affordable rates? Why not discuss and implement serious measures designed to rapidly cure this problem? It really isn't rocket science.

Q: When will those state housing units that need to be repaired actually be repaired? Why not in 2007?

Q: Tourism provides us with low-paying jobs and ships profits out of the state. High-tech benefits mostly those who are promoting it, apparently. So why are we not studying how to create a model of an island economy that is sustainable?

The dependence on tourism is pervasive. While it supports us at present, we could be studying how to create an alternative future. It probably will include a little high-tech but not much. We need a plan.

There's no use complaining about our poor public educational system while it perfectly suits our current needs--that is, to prepare graduates for a life making beds, sweeping floors and waiting tables. Singapore developed and implemented a plan for economic growth that was very successful. Hawaii is not Singapore, but we could be thinking like they did and upgrade ourselves for the future.

Q: The AARP did a great job identifying intersections with walk signals that change so fast that they don't give pedestrians a chance to get across the street. Yet none of these lights, as far as I know, has been fixed.

How high must the body count go before our transportation departments fix a known problem?

Q: Speaking of intersections--why is it that you never see police enforcing the crosswalk law? What good is it to have laws if they are not enforced? Motorists know that their chances of being caught cutting in front of a pedestrian in a crosswalk are zilch, so they don't hesitate to do it. Motorists speed because, even with tough new laws, they know the chances of getting pinched for speeding or tailgating are close to zero.

Ok, that's 17, time to stop. Have a Happy Holiday and hope you'll visit here again in the coming New Year.


Awesome job and thanks for summing up my top 17, yes 17 is a very fine arbitrary number, regarding Hawaii. You not only saved me time from typing it up but let me know I am not alone in having these same EXACT questions.

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