Questioning The Questionnaires

Campagna’s assertions aren’t serious

In your “Candidate Q&A” with Sherry Campagna (July 8), she said, “Inaction should not be an option for the United States as the country with the strongest military in the world. It is my opinion that without heeding this moral charge, we are doomed to repeat mistakes made during the times of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot when faced with dictators such as Assad, Modi, and El Sisi.”

Who are the so-called progressives supporting Campagna, who is clamoring for U.S. military action against India, Egypt and Syria — comparing the present leaders of these countries to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot?

Modi, the new Hitler? Assad, the new Pol Pot? El-Sisi, the new Stalin? The real question is how can anybody be taking Campagna seriously?

— Susan Wong, Kailua

Doubts about Moriwaki’s leadership

Given my experience with Sharon Moriwaki it was very strange to see her speaking on behalf of open and more transparent government (“Candidate Q&A: Sharon Moriwaki,” July 9).

In her Civil Beat comments, she said that “Legislators should be held more accountable for their votes and actions and the legislative process more transparent” and that she supports the appropriation of “sufficient funds to televise and publicize all legislative committee meetings and floor sessions to be broadcast statewide.”

As co-chair of the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, a quasi-public/private agency, Ms. Moriwaki has proven to be anything but open and transparent. While the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum is supposed to include “representatives from business, government, and the community” to support its mission of designing “a flexible, forward-looking energy strategy,” the truth is that the community does not have a seat at Ms. Moriwaki’s table.

In fact, under her leadership, the HEPF has been an impenetrable closed-door operation, housed at the University of Hawaii, and composed primarily of government agencies and energy-related businesses. It has consistently ignored the “community” as part of its supposed membership, and it has been as “transparent” and “open” with its budgets and discussions as the vaults in a bank.

Her operation of HEPF does not give me much hope that she’d be any different as a legislator.

— Robin Kaye, Lanai City

Tax Break For Military

Why favor one group over another?

I don’t understand why the City Council felt compelled to offer this generous property tax break to active military in Hawaii when local residents are struggling with home ownership, including kupuna on fixed incomes (Council OKs Property Tax Break For Active-Duty Military Personnel,” July 11).

Military have generous housing allowances not given to local non-military residents, and are able to access low interest favorable VA home loans. Being a resident of Hawaii all my life, many of my friends have worked in jobs that have risked their lives; i.e., firefighters, police, correction officers, etc.

Our teachers have sacrificed their own family needs with low salaries to educate our children. Many of them are unable to purchase homes for their own families. 

Let’s not favor one group in Hawaii. 

— Jackie Hong, Aiea

Cops And The Homeless

Improve on impressive efforts of local law enforcement

I would like to comment on the June 25, 2018, article on law enforcement and the homeless (“Law Enforcement’s Struggle To Help Honolulu’s Mentally Ill”).

I am a psychiatrist and addiction medicine physician that has lived and worked in Hawaii for 23 years. I have worked closely with the homeless in my community as they have presented in crisis either at the hospital, outpatient clinics or homeless shelters.

I have been impressed with law enforcement’s compassion and restraint dealing with those suffering from serious behavioral health conditions (mental health and substance use disorders that exist in 40-70 percent of the homeless populations, according to national studies).

I understand and appreciate law enforcement’s policy to safely detain a person with a behavioral health disorders, avoid arrest in lieu of bringing the person to a hospital or evaluation center where they can seek treatment. The legal underpinnings of this approach, from my understanding, relate to the person lacking the appreciation of the wrongfulness of their behavior.

The problem with this approach is that persons with these serious behavioral health disorders have impaired brain functioning in terms of insight into their illness, judgment, working memory, impulse control and planning. These deficits are often chronic and slow to respond to treatment.

And tragically those same brain disabilities cause the sufferer to often reject the treatments that are offered. Because of this pattern persons that are diverted from the legal system to the behavioral health system are not able to be adequately helped to maintain any lasting recovery from their chronic illnesses.

What does work, according to national research and my experience here in Hawaii, is to actually have law enforcement arrest and charge individuals for the offense that brings the person to their attention.

Then the court can find the person unfit to stand trial, or acquit and commit them to the Department of Health for custody, care and treatment. This legal leverage provides the external motivation many of these disabled folks need to comply with treatment. This approach works. The problem is that it costs money to staff an adequate behavioral health system.

The Adult Mental Health Division of the State of Hawaii Department of Health is overwhelmed with the task and cost of caring for persons remanded to Hawaii State Hospital and there is a lack of adequate budget left to staff and coordinate the spectrum of services the homeless behaviorally health disabled population deserves.

The family court also has statutes such as the Assisted Community Treatment act that can provide leverage to assist a homeless person to engage and maintain behavioral health stability. Using this approach also takes coordination between agencies and funds that are not yet adequately available.

There are efforts underway in Hawaii to coordinate behavioral health care with the legal system and these should be expanded to involve more providers and stakeholders to utilize leveraged contingencies to assist this most vulnerable population in meeting their goals of health and wellness.

— Michael J McGrath, M.D., Kaulua-Kona

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