Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jun 2009
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Copyright: 2009 West Hawaii Today
Author: Margaret Wille


Every government agency has priorities, just as every individual has
priorities. Some priorities are imposed by those with higher
authority, some priorities are self imposed. With respect to police
and prosecutors, they too have priorities for enforcement. Every time
someone calls 911 and the dispatcher asks what is wrong, that
dispatcher makes a decision based on current priorities as to what 911
calls are responded to and in what order.

When a resident in my Waimea neighborhood called 911 to say her
husband was holding an intruder who was threatening he had a knife,
but getting a police car was going to take 20 to 30 minutes, our
neighborhood was distraught that the priorities at play were
inconsistent with the safety of our residents. Finally, the resident
had to let the intruder go and that criminal is still at large (in my
opinion) because of the law enforcement prioritizing that went on that

Not long after that incident, I read in the news about another
community where a similar incident occurred, but the resident was
killed when he let the intruder go.

With respect to enforcing the marijuana laws, the voters by referendum
set county priority policy. The argument that the law is void because
it is unenforceable is hogwash. This is not, as portrayed by the
county prosecutor, a "separation of powers" or "pre-emption" issue.
Yes, it might be if the voters said - do not enforce these state or
federal laws, but that is not what the referendum said, rather it
defined the enforcement priority level for this type of criminal conduct.

I am not surprised that the county prosecutor is still waiting on the
state attorney general to decide if the November referendum was legal
or not. If the referendum was clearly not legal - to be sure that
opinion would have been immediately drafted and made public.

And why, exactly, are we taxpayers spending money having the attorney
general write an opinion on a "grey area" speculative matter, rather
than focusing on critically important legal issues facing the state?
(For example, had the attorney general put his foot down with Gov.
Lingle and told her the Superferry does not qualify for preferential
treatment under the environmental laws, perhaps we would now be
looking forward to the Superferry's arrival here on the Big Island -
and in compliance with all appropriate environmental standards.)

Get it? Life is all about priorities.

Today the first "Pot Priority Report" is due from the County Clerk
concerning current marijuana law enforcement. And yes, there may be
problems implementing this new policy. However, instead of fighting
the new voter-decided enforcement priority policy, hopefully
implementation problems will be addressed in a candid and "adult" manner.

Margaret Wille

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