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Friday, July 25, 2014
July, 2014 Letters to the Editor
By Letters to the Editor @ 12:50 AM :: 3792 Views

Anti-GMO Movement Fails to Produce Information

Dear Editor:     July 25, 2014

The recent GMO petition hearings of July 23-24 were again interesting, especially when the SHAKA movement’s hierarchy state that a moratorium period when no GMO crops can be planted, will not affect the current 600 plus employees, because the companies can grow other crops.  If these corporations wanted to grow other crops they certainly would not do it in high-cost Hawaii.

Is he saying that these “manipulative corporate interests”, his term, should compete with our small local farmers?   He must not be aware that the small local farmers use some of the same pesticide cocktails that Dr. Pang is concerned with, and registered by the EPA, as the GMO growers.

Of further interest, is the SHAKA organizers commitment to giving Maui County residents "unbiased, factual information that is not controlled or manipulated by corporate interests."  That’s good, since SHAKA has failed to produce any factual information to date that they haven’t manipulated to falsely justify their cause.

Don Gerbig

Lahaina, Maui

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For Act 201 to Work, Replace Office of Youth Services Executive Director

Dear Editor,      July 6, 2014

The support and passage of House Bill 2490 (Act 201) is certainly a needed step to remedy the growing juvenile delinquency problem is Hawai'i. Having spent time working at the State Office of Youth Services overseeing the implementation of juvenile delinquency prevention programs with funding from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), I'm glad that more is being done to prevent youth from being incarcerated when a majority of time the incarceration is unnecessary and even cause more harm to the individual in the long run.

It is with regret, however, that I state that while the policy is a good move, the issue of leadership is what will stonewall the effort. I am proud to say that I've had the opportunity to work with highly enthusiastic and supportive individuals across the state in different government agencies and in the non-profit sector, and they put in a tremendous amount of effort and in terms of their contractual obligations, have far exceeded those obligations. However, it is the leadership of the primary funding agency- the State Office of Youth Services- who I don't trust with being able to carry out this measure. The Office of Youth Services (OYS) is staffed with mostly smart people who excel in the work that they're tasked with and help in serving the community well, but quite frankly, I feel that the leadership of David Hipp as the current Executive Director of the office has allowed for the decay of the Hawai'i Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) to take place despite the rhetoric that he conveys to the State Legislature.

Under the existing leadership of the OYS, I've seen service providers who are being funded using State funds receive five percent budget reductions while the Executive Director still feels necessary to make frequent travels to the neighbor islands for 'meetings'. I also saw an excessive abuse of sick leave and administrative leave that the Executive Director refused to challenge the staff or even the labor union that advocated for it to continue. Another problem I've witnessed is the lack of accountability for OJJDP-funded contracts to begin late without an honest explanation to the State Department of Human Services (DHS) Director explaining that the contract review process did not in fact take as long as stated. And finally, my concern about the leadership is that the OYS has individuals with collectively almost a century of experience and training in the field and the Executive Director was essentially an outsider brought in under former Governor Lingle's administration who brought in the ability to disregard the words of expertise and common sense by the staff of the OYS.

The point that I'm trying to address is that this is a terrific measure to implement, as I believe that it has the ability to create a long-lasting impact in the reduction of wards in the HYCF and being able to reduce the overall expense of incarceration. However, my concern is that the leadership to make this happen will make render this measure either inefficient or impractical. The only solution I see to making this long-term plan work is to replace the Executive Director.

I have prided myself in my life and more-so now in my campaign as a person who wants greater efficiency and common sense in government because I have seen a tremendous amount of inefficiency and waste of money in government that could be used towards other pressing matters. I encourage you to read the Disproportionate Minority Contact report on the OYS website that concludes that Native Hawaiian youth are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system, and other studies show that Native Hawaiian adults are overrepresented in the adult justice system. Other initiatives are being explored and launched to address these issues but at the end of the day, we have to not look at the results but what brought about those results. I say with absolute certainty that the people deserve better and are capable of getting better, but to get those results, we need to hold government managers accountable. And I absolutely believe that if you can get a new leader in the OYS- preferably someone who is already inside of the OYS- then Act 201 could be a success, and perhaps the improvements could be made in even less than the five years as endorsed.


Christopher K.J. Lum Lee

Candidate for OHA O’ahu Trustee

Related: Act 201 Reforms Hawaii Juvenile Justice System 


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