Wednesday, September 13, 2006

September 25 Program: Kat Brady: Women Behind Bars

Kat Brady serves as Coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, a community initiative working on developing effective interventions for Hawaii’s offenders and to improve the quality of justice in Hawaii.

She is the only community member of the Judiciary Intermediate Sanctions Working Group and is a justice advocate who is activity engaged in bringing the community voice into venues where it has rarely been heard. She also works to increase public participation into reforming public policy. Her areas of focus include environmental, cultural, gender, juvenile and social justice issues.

President's Letter: September 2006- Sitting on Top of the Hill

The race for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional seat has been dominated by one bit of ugliness–the younger challenger thinks the incumbent is too old to serve in Congress. I wonder, if he succeeds in the election, will he remove himself from office when he reaches the same age, and give up his seniority just so a younger person can move in? Of course not. By the time Ed Case reaches Daniel Akaka’s age, he’ll likely accumulate something called “wisdom” and realize the folly of his earlier argument.

Age is an issue elsewhere on the November ballot. There is a State Constitutional amendment to remove an arbitrary and discriminatory limit on the age of state justices and judges. Kokua Council strongly recommends that its members support this amendment. Look for it on your ballot and please vote “yes.”

Hawaii presently requires that judges retire at 70. This is not only a violation of civil liberties but also a waste of valuable judicial talent, experience, and yes, wisdom. There are plenty of examples here, on the Mainland, and around the world of judges and other professionals (even members of Congress) serving way past that age.

Some of the most learned opinions are penned by, well, the most learned judges, not the ones springing fresh from a few years of law practice. We have a special name in Hawaii for our respected elders: kupuna.

Each of the cultures that comprise our community has a history of respect for those who are able and willing to carry on with their jobs when they could instead be comfortably retired. We don’t believe in discarding the valuable resource they represent. If someone is good at what they do, let them continue to serve. We should recognize that they are not “over the hill” but are in fact sitting on top of it.

So vote “yes” to remove age discrimination in the judiciary.

Editor's Note: Other ways to review fitness of judges regardless of age. The Judicial Selection Commission reviews judges who wish to continue in office at the end of each term. This review includes an examination of the judge’s performance and solicitation of public comment. The Hawaii Commission on Judicial Conduct investigates reports of judicial misconduct.

Notes from August 2006 Meeting - Disaster Planning

Hurricane Katrina taught the entire country a lot of painful lessons about hurricane preparedness, and the tough job of evacuating the elderly, sick and disabled. While the Federal and State appropriated funds to plan and prepare here, the two disasters last winter, sewage spills on Oahu and the dam breaking on Kauai diverted some of the money. Most activity is in the planning stage.

"(We) at least identified 30 public facilities mostly schools, across the state that we can start designating and then equipping as a special needs shelter," Teixeira said. The idea is that Farrington and other large high schools, like Castle and Kaimuki, have lots of space and a full-service cafeteria, so they have the room to accommodate both the general public and those with special needs.

In the meantime, if you live in condos, find out what is planned to prepare for disasters. If you live in homes and have to evacuate (or condos) here is what they suggest you need to have ready. Will you need help? Who are the people who can help you? Before you leave your home, turn off the utilities, take along an inventory or pictures of your possessions, vital records, insurance coverage, 3-5 day supply of food, water, medications, flashlight, toilet paper, batteries, radio, sleeping gear packed in something you can carry or wheel. If you have a caregiver, she should accompany you with enough supplies of her own. Notify family or friends where you will be.

It will take years to fully implement an effective disaster program. With new housing developments and schools being built as the population grows, the plans must be constantly revised.

Civil Defense can always use volunteers and will train. Call 523-4121 if interested.