The nice thing about opening day at the Hawaii State Legislature is that if you plant yourself on place, you’ll eventually see a whole lot of friends and aquaintances as the crowds float by in search of food and contacts, however brief, with the movers and shakers who will fill the building for the next several months. I enjoy this part of the ritual, but tend to ignore the official festivities and speeches, which are much better read later.
One of yesterday’s highlights for me was the sighting of former Star-Bulletin webmaster turned Office of Hawaiian Affairs media wizard Blaine Fergerstrom, who had camera in hand to record the activities of various official and unofficial groups of Hawaiians there for the day, from the protesters downstairs to the niceties upstairs.
And how quickly political winds change. Just two weeks ago, attention was focused on plans developed for a statewide program of early childhood education. After it’s public launch, the plan appeared fast-tracked for the Democrats majority package of priority bills.
But in a report yesterday, the Advertiser’s Derrick DePledge caught a quick reshuffling of priorities.
Democratic majority leaders in the House and Senate, meeting privately yesterday afternoon, decided to put UH repair and maintenance in their joint legislative package, which also will include initiatives on energy and housing.
Democrats had planned to have early childhood education in the joint package, but several lawmakers said it has apparently fallen out because of a lack of detail and questions about cost.
Just a day after a march to remember a victim of domestic violence, this morning’s headlines offered up the story of a brutal murder on a street in the heart of Kailua in yet another case of personal relationships gone tragically bad. It’s obvious that stiffer penalties won’t deter these traditional crimes of passion, but we’ve got to figure out what’s lacking at earlier points where intervention might be possible. It’s a tricky interface where personal relationships become public issues and demand public policy responses.
Advertiser writer and Star-Bulletin alumni Rod Ohira was able to pull together a good story on the shocking murder with far more detail than the competition.
A report released in November 2007, “THE COMMUNITY WIDE ACTION PLAN: TEN ACTION STEPS TO
INCREASE ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN HAWAI‘I BY 2010,” identified domestic violence as one of the major areas of community need.
But I also recall talking about the problem of parental assaults on children with friends from Australia, both of whom study this kind of violence. They were shocked that American’s response is to view these as crimes and to ratchet up the severity of punishment against those involved. They view such incidents not as shocking crimes, but as shocking lapses in the systems of education and support that should be provided to young people as they cope with the pressures and strains of family life. These were indictments of the public system more than of the family members. Perhaps we need to pursue that line of thought rather than immediately respond to the inevitable calls for longer sentences.
On a less intense note, the Library of Congress has added a collection of its photographs to the photo site, Flickr. Browsing it is a pleasure.