Increase will hurt those who need it most
Two years after increasing bus fares in the midst of our nation’s greatest recession, it is disgusting that the County Council just passed a bill to begin charging senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and students for taking the bus, while imposing a 100 percent increase for all others.
While county government is enjoying increased revenues, the end to furlough and entertaining salary increases for the mayor and certain other county employees, times are still tough for the average resident of Hawaii Island.
Everyone has been commenting on the dramatic increase in homeless people. The number of people on the verge of homelessness has skyrocketed, as well as the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Food banks are themselves begging for food because of our community’s overwhelming need.
For regular users, this annual bus fare increase of $520 per household member will force tough choices between shelter, sufficient nutrition, decent health care … in others words, having basic human needs. In return, the county gets less than 0.2 percent of the 2013 county budget for free zoo admissions and subsidies to play golf.
Council member Brenda Ford was the sole vote against this bus fare increase and one of only two votes against Mayor Billy Kenoi’s fare increases two years ago.
It doesn’t take a political scientist to see why the perpetually hardest working County Councilmember has won every primary and general election in which she has been a candidate. Unfortunately, Ms. Ford will not be running for any political office again.
Meanwhile, it appears the mayor and others on the County Council think that people who need bus service do not vote and this class of people is easy pickings. We’ll see. Most people who use the bus don’t yet know about the fare increases. They’ll first find out about it when they get on the bus on July 1 with their ID and are told, “Happy Independence Day — pay up or get off.”
As for the mayor and his County Council majority, wait until the next election. Then we’ll see who votes for this bill and who is going to be told to get off the bus.
Reduce threats to our lives
There are so many threats we should reduce, from the National Security Administration spying to the spectre of nuclear winter. Any step to reduce these threats to life is welcomed. Let’s not forget Monsanto’s destruction of the global food gene pool.
Dr. John Day