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Letters 3-20-2013

Task forces

A reasonable structure recommendation

Two articles in Sunday’s West Hawaii Today illuminated problems associated with Hawaii government task forces:

The Hawaii Senate Health Committee voted to approve setting up a task force to study the potential Banner Health takeover of the Maui and Big Island hospitals from Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

The other article was about the Ethics Commission and problems with the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force.

Who sits on this hospital task force is of great importance. When members of a task force have a personal interest in the outcome, it reduces the effectiveness of the group for several reasons. One, opposing interests can lead to contentious proceedings and two, it can foster political horse trading where everyone gets what he wants — to the detriment of the taxpayers — and three, important information may not be revealed.

From personal experience, I believe the task force should include ordinary citizens who haven’t any direct connection to or financial benefit from the outcome. The task force would operate like a grand jury, asking questions of the stakeholders, who would present their positions and offer their expert opinions to the task force members.

A little over 10 years ago I sat on a task force studying the expansion of the courthouse facilities in Reno, Nev. The Washoe County Commission took applications from any citizen who wanted to participate. As far as I know no one was turned down and we ended up with about 18 members, none of whom had a direct personal or financial interest in the outcome. Despite their protestations, the Washoe County Commission declined to include a representative from the district attorney’s office, the judges, or any other stakeholder.

The committee met in midwinter, early evening, twice a week for about two months. We interviewed the stakeholders, their representatives and outside sources. Any one who wanted to present information was heard.

A few of the things we discovered that might not have been revealed had the task force consisted of stakeholders only, were that an existing facility could support additional floors, that each judge did not need his own courtroom because of the many cases settled before trail, and the courtrooms in the huge justice facilities being constructed in Las Vegas at that time were not complying with “national size standards” because of the additional cost.

We presented our findings to the Washoe County Commission in a short period of time and most of our recommendations were followed in the subsequent expansion of facilities.

The Hawaii Legislature has the Stroudwater Report that was completed while I served on the West Hawaii Hospital Board at a cost of $750,000, as well as at least four other studies that all pretty much offer the same recommendations. These studies have cost over a couple of million dollars.

The Legislature knows what needs to be done. If legislators want to delay their decision longer by having a task force, fine, but put lay people on the task force who are interested and impartial and will deliver an honest appraisal, not union members and hospital administrators or medical staff —who have their own interest to promote.

Give them a deadline for their report. The Legislature just might be informed and pleased by the results.

Michael C. Robinson



It’s who you are

When I moved to Hawaii in 1965, both kanaka and haole were derogatory terms.

Kui Lee spent much of his too short life trying to return kanaka to its original meaning, “born of the land.” Haole means “foreigner.”

I am a haole — I was not born here. It is the same in Japan. You are either a “nihonjin” or a “gaijin” native-born or foreigner.

These are descriptive terms. How can you be angry about being described as what or who you are?

Annette LaBonte


Banyan Tree

Not the right thing

As I watch the heavy equipment knock down the trunk of the 130-year-old banyan tree at the Catholic church, I ask myself why.

Now I’m listening to the chain saws tear through its flesh and feel like a family member is being dismembered. It’s so sad.

With all of the community concern surely there could have been some way to save this tree.

I was born and raised Catholic and always thought the church would do the right thing when it came to community.

I guess not in this case.

John Phillips


Solid waste

What are we to do?

I read with broken heart about the closing of the metal waste in Hilo and Kona.

We have enough metal junk on the sides of our roads as is. But now with this “saving money” idea the landscape will become more ugly.

What are folks to do, pile it up in their yard on empty lots? Or are we to do as many people already do, dump it along the sides of the road?

Or maybe there is a good old boy with a business that is ready to charge for removal?

Please, do not close these assets to us.

It is hard enough to enjoy a drive on our roads as is.

Candi Baker

Captain Cook