LETTERS for September 21 issue
Students adopt Houston classrooms
The students of King Kamehameha III Elementary School have started a recycling program that will run through Oct. 2. All proceeds will be sent to a Houston classroom that has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
We would like to CHALLENGE businesses and their employees to match our donation, so that we can provide more classrooms with supplies.
Last year, with our two-week program, we raised $250 and donated those proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation Hawaii.
Our students feel great pride and happiness knowing that they are making a difference. Are you up to making a difference? You can contact me at Ktwitch524@aol.com for more information.
KAREN TWITCHELL, King Kamehameha III Elementary School
Will incoming traffic be routed onto the bypass?
Regarding the recent letter “West Maui community needs traffic solutions,” if I had a nickel for every article I’ve seen in this paper over the last 20 years about the bypass, I could have built it myself. It had already been delayed for 20… 20 years ago!
There have been studies and meetings, and mistakes, and consultants up the ying-yang, and still we keep telling the powers that be that it was always – and still is – a STUPID, WASTEFUL IDEA! What we need is an ALTERNATE ROUTE. Even our infamous mayor, who was trapped over here for ONE night last fall, agreed – at the time – but not a peep since.
And NOW guess what? They are, in their infinite wisdom, about to make another ridiculous move. Word has it that the plan is to divert traffic coming into town at Launiupoko and force it onto the new section of the bypass being started by Hawaiian Dredging. Honest – it’s exactly what I was told by someone who should know.
The theory is that not enough people use the bypass, so let’s make everyone – even those who live in Lahaina proper – take the mauka route and go out of their way to come down Lahainaluna Road (which, of course, is never busy) to get home to Lahaina.
What if someone listened to those of us who have previously suggested a bypass sign people can actually see?! Put a LARGE sign over the highway a mile before the bypass access that says: “RIGHT ONE MILE TO KAANAPALI, HONOKOWAI, KAHANA, NAPILI, KAPALUA.” One with BIG letters and maybe even an arrow!
But who am I kidding? Like I said, if I had a nickel…
BUTCH FOWLER, Lahaina
Resident needs a handicapped parking spot
What can you do if you are a resident owner of a condo, and you need a handicapped parking spot, but your property does not have any and refuses to accommodate your needs?
And then an employee tows your vehicle with your handicapped placard clearly displayed in the front window?
BOB JENKS, Maui Sands I, Honokowai
Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA protections for some 700,000 DREAMers, including nearly 600 in Hawaii, is cruel and inexcusable.
DREAMers are not criminals – they are young people living and working in the country they call home. They are invaluable members of our communities, and now their safety is at risk.
It is our job to do everything we can to protect them. As the president continues stoking fear and hate, I won’t stop fighting to give immigrants the opportunities to succeed, like the ones I had when I first came to this country.
But right now, I need you to stand with me.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO
Militarizing police under a cloak of secrecy
In a move that will further militarize police departments across the country while decreasing accountability, the president issued an executive order that strips away limits on weapons of war that the Defense Department can hand over to state and local police forces.
The president’s order expands an existing Pentagon program that authorizes the transfer of military-grade tactical weapons, surveillance equipment and vehicles to civilian police departments, eliminating restrictions on the types of weapons that can be transferred and vastly reducing oversight of the program.
The weapons program became notorious when police fitted with battle gear were photographed pointing assault weapons at protesters in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. After the images went viral, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order that placed restrictions on the program and established reporting, oversight and training requirements for law enforcement agencies requesting the military equipment. The Obama-era order prohibited weapons like bayonets and grenade-launchers from being transferred to local law enforcement. Reversing the ban, the Trump order places weapons designed to be used by soldiers on battlefields in the hands of police, opening the door to intimidation and abuse of civilians that could result in a chilling effect on public dissent and protest.
At the same time, abuses will be harder to detect. The president’s executive order will scrap minimal transparency requirements that had applied to the already secretive program, leaving the public in the dark about dangerous weaponry flowing into their communities.
It took a strategic campaign by journalists and open government advocates to pry information from the Pentagon and local police departments to get basic figures on the amount and type of equipment that local police and sheriffs received, exposing just how prevalent the program is across the country. Now, even those minimal accountability measures have been stripped away.
Contrary to the administration’s claims that the program will make us safer, expanding the weapons transfers while reducing accountability exacerbates the threat to public safety. Just last month, a government watchdog agency released a shocking assessment of the Pentagon program, exposing how easy it is for military weapons to fall into the wrong hands.
Posing as a fake law enforcement agency, investigators requested and received over a million dollars in rifles, pipe bomb equipment and night vision goggles after the Defense Department failed to verify the identity of individuals receiving the equipment. By expanding the program and decreasing safeguards to prevent abuse, the president increases the likelihood that dangerous weapons could fall into the hands of individuals who intend to do us harm.
It now falls to Congress to push back against the creeping authoritarianism evidenced by the president’s decision to further militarize law enforcement while shackling oversight.
To preempt this administration’s misguided actions, Congress must, at a minimum, assert its oversight authority and put in place requirements to ensure that if any transfers are permitted, they are subject to transparency mandates, and that the Pentagon and police departments remain accountable to the public.
LISA ROSENBERG, OpenTheGovernment