Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Musings: Where There's a Will, There's a Way

The wind was from the southwest, and gusting wildly, when I awoke just as day was breaking. I weighed my odds of getting wet and figured they were high — after all, it had been raining through the night, and in this kind of wind, an umbrella is useless — but decided to chance ‘em anyway.

I did get wet, and jogged in a few places to get ahead of the sheets of rain I could see flying in, but the drops tasted sweet on my lips, and overall, it was incredibly exhilarating.

I doubt the Hawaii Superferry folks would use the same adjective to describe the giant swells that again broke the lines of its barge at Kahului Harbor — for the third time — causing it to delay its test run until this afternoon.

Aw, gee, shucks, what a shame. And another big swell is forecast for Thursday, which could scuttle their arrival plans yet again. Poor tings, dem. Yet those plucky Superferry folks are still planning to proceed, according to today’s Advertiser.

You have to wonder just how many times Superferry can postpone sailing before ticket holders, excited though they may be to experience Hawaii’s version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride — “hold on to your hats, because away we goooooooo….” — will say, “enuf already” and book a flight on go!, Aloha or Hawaiian.

You also have to wonder just how, as one friend points out, they’re going to get people and cars on and off the ferry when it’s bobbing up and down crazily as those mammoth swells roll in, and so is the barge (“and never the twain shall meet”) — assuming, of course, the barge doesn’t come loose again while in use.

But hey, surfers are happy and Warriors fans are still happy — uh duh, do we really need a front page Advertiser article to tell us that? — so go ahead, Mr. Superferry CEO John Garibaldi, and put on a happy face.

I know a number of Superferry opponents are chortling as nature claims her due. I think by now I’d get the message that I wasn’t wanted in Kahului Harbor, but then, Hawaii Superferry never did ask for permission to come, and that’s the first step in Hawaiian protocol.

Of course, there are those non-believers who still scoff at such concepts as divine retribution and hoailona (heavenly signs), but whatevahs. If you know, you know. You no can fake da chicken skin.

I understand disbelief. Truly I do. I felt it myself when I started reading a front page article in Sunday’s Advertiser that ran under the headline: ”Big Island Winning Meth War.”

I’ve seen that kind of hype printed before, and still wasn’t convinced as I read through the first part, which reported the police statistics that are typically trotted out to convince the public that the cops are either doing their job, need more money or both. Drug wars are not won or lost by law enforcement alone; it’s a much more complicated issue than that.

But I pressed on, because I wondered if Mayor Harry Kim, whom I admire greatly (despite testifying on behalf of Superferry at the Maui trial) had made true progress since declaring war on crystal meth seven years ago.

Lo and behold, under the sub-heading “multi-pronged approach,” I read about new residential programs that had opened for children and adults, a drug treatment aftercare program for Native Hawaiian men, community-based initiatives, a new police lab, youth education and prevention programs, money spent to train and certify drug counselors and open Boys and Girls clubs in rural areas.

No, the problem hasn’t been eliminated, but the Big Island does appear to have made a major dent. Most important, it’s looking at the root cause of ice use, rather than following the tired of old model of lock ‘em up and throw away the key.

The article includes this quote from Jan Sears, co-coordinator with the North Hawaii Drug Free Coalition: "We've come up with a shift in our basic focus to now look at how we can create and maintain healthy communities, and not so much how do we fight crystal methamphetamine. We've grown out of a one-drug issue to an overall community health issue."

Wow, now that's major.

The piece ends with this comment from Billy Kenoi, Kim’s executive assistant and man who led the county-level effort to combat the ice problem: "We've got to stop making excuses for not helping our kids."

So I got to wondering, if the Big Island could do it, using mostly federal money, why is that Kauai still has no residential drug treatment center for kids — even though it's been five years since Mayor Bryan Baptiste took office and pronounced ice the island’s number problem?

Why is it that Baptiste chose to build the island’s first such facility at the old dog pound, which former Humane Society Director Sherry Hoe said wasn’t worth fixing up for animals, and so raised $5 million to build a new animal shelter instead?

Why is it that the project was so poorly planned and engineered that it is currently mired in such deep opposition from the Westside community that OHA Trustee Don Cataluna vowed, at a county council meeting, that he would fight the facility until his dying breath rather than let runoff from it destroy the Hanapepe salt pans, where Hawaiians have gathered salt for centuries?

Why is that the county has spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars converting the dog pound into a residential youth treatment center that is still unable to open precisely because of that salt pond controversy?

Why is it that the mayor’s office didn’t even send a representative to the council’s Aug. 1 committee meeting to update council members and the public on the issue?

And why is it that we don’t have all those other programs that have been implemented on the Big Island, even though we’ve also gotten federal grants and employ a county drug czar?

The answer is simple. It all comes down to political will, and the ability to execute it. In short, we’ve got Bryan Baptiste at the helm. And the Big Island has Harry Kim.



Larry said...

Before the last election I put together a "Harry Kim for Governor" website, not knowing much about Harry except what he had accomplished. And of course, the Dems didn't pick a candidate (Randy who?) until the very last minute.

So I leave you with the idea. Start a Draft Bryan Baptiste for Governor bandwagon rolling and move him out of Kauai.

Just kidding. Good luck in getting education, prevention and treatment in place.

Joan Conrow said...

Now that's an idea! :)

maybe Harry will run for guv next time around. As Shaggy sings: "you gotta have hope!"

Anonymous said...

Cruising in Neutral
Brian for Governor!