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Letters 2-24-2013


Stop Aila’s plans

DLNR Chairman William Aila seems to think he is above the law. First he pushed the PLDC, which allowed him to ignore county zoning laws for state projects. Then he unilaterally shut down all kayaking in Kealakekua Bay, severely impacting the economy of the area.

Now, according to your paper, he is pushing SB 1342, an expansion of search and seizure laws that allow the state to seize assets of people who commit petty misdemeanors such as trespassing on state lands or being in a state park after hours.

In 1992, when I was a reporter for an NPR program called Crossroads, I did a story about one of the first search and seizure laws in the country, in Oakland, Calif. The Oakland Police argued the use of asset forfeitures was necessary, despite clear constitutional prohibitions against it, because the assets being seized were an integral part of the commission of the crime.

The case was against a woman whose house was being used by her son and others for selling crack cocaine and marijuana. Neither the woman nor her son was ever charged, but a judge allowed the seizure anyway, and a bizarre prosecution ensued in which the house itself was listed as the defendant.

Police departments all over the country learned from Oakland and are now prosecuting buildings and cars and other nonhuman things in large numbers.

The police department that seized the asset is allowed to keep the money raised by selling it, so there is a built-in conflict of interest in these programs.

But at least there is a plausible rationale for seizing a drug house in a drug case. Aila’s argument is that the penalties for committing petty misdemeanors are not enough to stop the crimes, but instead of asking that the penalties be increased, he is pushing a constitutionally suspect expansion of asset forfeiture laws.

Or maybe he is just trying to raise money for the DLNR police?

In any case, if you want to stop Aila from running roughshod over the law (again) you could write a letter to Karl Rhoads, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where SB 1342 goes next, or join the Hawaii ACLU.

Matt Binder



Creating the People’s Republic of Hawaii

The gang who can’t shoot straight (DLNR) managed to be in two featured articles Feb. 20.

Our illustrious Senate plans to solve the PLDC issue by transferring the personnel to DLNR and extend to the DLNR the power to confiscate property without due process (civil forfeiture).

Welcome to the People’s Republic of Hawaii.

Ken Obenski



A group effort

A short time back a letter praising an old man appeared in your column.

I am that man. I was so very fortunate to have a group of dedicated local volunteers. They should be commended for the improvement through hard work they have created at the entrance to Honokohau Harbor. It was typical of America in the past.

They have my sincere appreciation. Let’s all pitch in and make things better.

Les Thuet