Letters for Monday, June 9, 2014

• Prisoner exchange doesn’t make sense • Garden Island budget wreck • Pet owners responsible for dogs

Prisoner exchange doesn’t make sense

President Obama’s release of five high-level Taliban detainees — who were directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans — for the release of one American Army soldier who left his unit at night without authorization, and with some indication that he was deserting, was both stupid and unlawful. It was stupid because the soldier had created his own problem and even put his own unit personnel at risk attempting to find him. It was unlawful because the law requires that the president inform Congress at least 30 days prior to the release of any detainee from Guantanamo. 

The general reaction of U.S. military personnel is almost that of disbelief. Troops sat in stony silence at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan when the defense secretary announced the release. The government of Afghanistan also strongly protested the release. You would think that there would be someone in the White House who would have sensed the outrage of such an exchange. Apparently, there was not.


Joe Frisinger


Garden Island budget wreck

I am writing regarding Friday’s front page story, “County approves $179.2M budget” which says, “All that’s missing is Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s signature.” I would argue all that’s missing is sound fiscal management and a massive dose of common sense!

Everyone is complicit in this financial calamity, headed primarily by this administration’s continued request for more money. County spending has increased $38 million a year, from $141 million in 2008 to $179 million for 2015. That is $104,000 every day for the next year. What are we getting for our money? Are the roads better? Are the parks better? Are housing and rentals more affordable? What is being done to make life better for the average person? 

The council’s budget message says, “It has been referred to as a ‘reset’ year, where improvement in management and new ways to do business were encouraged in all areas of county government.” I’ve never heard of a “reset” year when it comes to spending more taxpayer dollars. What about the last five years? We can’t reset those. The 2015 “cuts” quoted of $2.3 million are made up of a $1.5 million deferral into the next budget cycle (not a cut) and $800,000 in actual expense reductions, which amounts to less than 0.04 percent. That’s almost a rounding error.

A council member says, “We’re still struggling – I mean, people out there … are not happy with these increases in taxes.” Another says, “No one recommended a balanced budget with cuts – no one – and I think we need to acknowledge that. Every budget that was discussed or approved at this table involved tax increases.”

Something is very wrong with our current state of financial affairs. A third party credit rating agency also thinks so and downgraded the county’s credit rating, likely making borrowing money more difficult and costly in the future. Perhaps more tax increases, fee hikes and revenue enhancements will be in order to cover the shortfall. 

As I wrote in a 2011 TGI guest commentary, “We are now spending at a level without a sustainable plan in place to pay for future years”. Four years later the county has burned through all of its general fund equity with no reserve fund in place and continues its same pattern. Something must be done. This is an election year, so please get out and vote for change, with aloha. 


Jeff Demma


Pet owners responsible for dogs

Once again, the headline above the fold in Friday’s paper concerns a dog that was killed by larger, aggressive dogs. A truly sad and appalling situation for our community. These are not isolated incidents as one happened in our neighborhood condo complex in April. One will most probably cite the breed of dog as the cause of such viciousness but all one has to do is read the fact that the fence was not high enough to contain the dogs and that the owner’s solution to their attack on another animal was to hit his animals with a pipe! What is wrong with people?

How do they expect an animal to behave well and be kind to other creatures when that type of treatment is not given to them and they are not taught proper behavior?

It requires a commitment on the part of the owner to training, socializing and controlling their dog whether large or small. This is not the middle ages where domesticated animals were just around for vermin control. We have a responsibility to treat them humanely, keep them safe and protect them and others in our community.

Check last year’s newspapers and see how many dogs were attacked by other dogs. I’ll wager it is more than the 10 dangerous dog citations that were issued. One wonders how that can be?

It would appear that there needs to be a better approach to pet guardianship.



Debbi Johnson



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