Criminal Justice Reform

Don’t blame capitalism for the woes of our prison system (April 21, 2018)

Kevin Landers’ Coastal Voices piece editorial about our failed criminal justice system (“Hawaii Democrats Have Failed Criminal Justice Reform.”) made some useful points. However, the piece was undermined by the comments about the brutality of “capitalism.” Mr. Landers’ organization styles itself the Democratic Socialists of Honolulu. Although our record on human rights may have much to criticize, I don’t think Americans should be taking instruction from socialists.

Razor wire at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Anyone familiar with the history of the last century knows about the brutality of regimes such as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the Peoples Republic of China.  I can’t think of any country that attempted to replace “capitalism” with “socialism” that did not become a brutal dictatorship

In our country the term “socialism” is growing in popularity while we hear more nasty references to the word “capitalism.” It seems that the left in this country has drifted from the liberalism of John Kennedy to the progressivism of Barack Obama to overt Marxism. More rational people need to stand up and oppose this new Marxist socialism. Free countries and free markets go hand in hand.

— Tracy Ryan, Chair, Libertarian Party of Hawaii, Honolulu

The Price Of Rail

The project comes with costs no one is talking about (April 21, 2018)

I am very concerned about the cost of operating the system (“How Will Honolulu Pay To Run Rail Once It’s Built? The City Still Doesn’t Know”). Back in 1992 when I was active in the anti-Fasi rail, we had estimates that the true costs per rider were about 10 times the standard bus fare. At a meeting with my professional organization two years ago, HART was telling us they expected “fare box revenues” to cover 40 percent of the operating costs. I believe this to be a sham for at least two reasons.

First, I expect that they are assuming that middle to long-term maintenance will be handled by bond floats rather than through revenues. What happens, for instance, if the software begins to fail 10 years after operations begin? Will there be techs capable of fixing 10-year-old software or will new software be needed? Will the new software require changes to the hardware? Second, who will be covering some of the maintenance costs associated with the system?

I called TheBus to report leaking roofs over a pair of benches at a nearby bus stop. I was redirected to the city. Who paid for the concrete traffic lanes on Kapiolani Boulevard — TheBus or the Department of Transportation? In other words, I strongly suspect that costs such as security at the train stations will be off-loaded to the county through added costs to the police department. Who will control the homeless people who will almost certainly use the seating and shelter at the stations?

— Andrew Rothstein

Younger Voters

About those 16- and 17-year-olds (April 21, 2018)

I find this article (“Lowering The Voting Age Should Be Our Next Great Cause”) timely and thought provoking, as I had just sent letters to the editor to several Hawaii newspapers about a preregistration program that Hawaii and 12 others states and the District of Columbia have.

Its purpose, reaching out to 16- and 17-year-olds, is to engage, educate and promote active participation by our youth in civil matters.

Perhaps it is time to remove the “pre” from registration?

Just a thought.

— Julianne Perry Lee, Makawao

Trailer Parks Are Not the Answer

Permanent housing is the only way to bring the homeless back into society (April 23, 2018)

News of “Oahu’s first trailer park” is troubling (“Oahu’s First Trailer Park Just The Latest In New Wave Of Public Housing”) Yes, Hawaii’s housing market is critically underdeveloped and options for housing are slim even without trying to house the homeless. But while these temporary shelters may seem innocuous, and even helpful, they are a bad investment.

Placing a vulnerable population in a separate makeshift area only ostracizes them further from the community. This completely neglects the purpose of Housing First. Providing housing is supposed to be a way to allow formerly homeless individuals and families to adopt new cultural norms, find satisfaction, and improve willingness to utilize health services — all outcomes that are only possible with permanent housing. Instead of taking a well-calculated risk to create opportunities for stable living conditions, we waste housing development money by funding ineffective side projects.

I do not believe that “trailer parks” are the best our state can do. If we continue to ignore the source of the problem, not only are we incurring a financial burden by absorbing the public cost of homelessness, but we are also sending a message that Hawaii, a place praised for its aloha spirit, does not care about its people.

Charissa Tan, Honolulu

Write a letter to Civil Beat. Send to and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. The opinions and information expressed in letters are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.