Pubdate: Wed, 01 Oct 2003
Source: Honolulu Weekly (HI)
Contact:  2003 Honolulu Weekly Inc
Author: Robert M. Rees


Perhaps inspired by an opening invocation that compared the City Council to the
great visionaries of the Old Testament's Book of Numbers, the Council outdid
itself at its monthly meeting of Sept. 24. Right off the bat, by a vote of 9-0,
it passed Bill 53 to increase bus fares but retain services. The consensus came
hard. As Donovan Dela Cruz noted, "The problem is we are listening, but
listening to everyone."

The bill was crafted by Ann Kobayashi and Nestor Garcia (pictured), but what
saved the day was a fare "circuit-breaker" installed in a floor draft by Dela
Cruz and Barbara Marshall. It provides that those who meet federal guidelines
for "extremely low income" are eligible for a monthly bus pass at only $30.
This bureaucratic nightmare won't work, but it insulates the Council from
complaints that it wasn't listening to the needy.

The Council smartly rejected Mike Gabbard's attempt - made at the suggestion of
City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo - to curtail
freedom. Resolution 03-212 urged the state Legislature to support a less
stringent wiretap law, mandatory drug testing in schools and repeal of Act 161
that requires probation for certain first-time nonviolent drug offenders.

Carlisle, perhaps forgetting that Garcia as a state representative had been
instrumental in passing Act 161 in 2002, described the new law as "bunk" and as
"a transparent attempt to empty prisons of people who should be there."

The tough testimony in favor of the resolution from Carlisle and state Attorney
General Mark Bennett didn't help because both failed to mention the Drug
Summit's refusal of the week before to support what Carlisle and Bennett were
recommending. Some found this omission to be disconcerting and wondered if the
Council and the Drug Summit shouldn't be in accord.

It was Garcia, with a second from Marshall, who moved to send the resolution
back to committee. Charles Djou, a former representative who had opposed Act
161 while in the Legislature, saw the motion to recommit as a personal affront
to Carlisle. Said the right-wing Djou, "Our own City Prosecutor wants this. We
should be voting on whether to back him up."

The vote "to back up Carlisle" was 7-2 against. The resolution will be
recommitted for 30 days, but it will be back again in October when the Council
will take another pass at it.
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