“We need to consider what drug prohibition has done to the vital profession of law enforcement. It has divided police officers from the communities we serve, alienated us from young people, sent our call-loads through the roof, placed huge financial strains on police budgets and, sometimes, my colleagues have been injured or murdered while enforcing these drug laws. Every police officer should question whether the War on Drugs is worth fighting, particularly when there are other policy options that would result in less crime, addiction, disease and death.” That was David Bratzer, a Canadian police officer and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), who I interviewed in January while he was honeymooning on Maui. Last week, some out-of-town cops visited the Valley Isle with a different message. As reported in The Maui News, members of the Los Angeles Police Department and the California Narcotic Officers’ Association showed up for a “medical marijuana summit” in Kahului, where they discussed the evils of decriminalization. As previously noted in this space, SB2213, a bill that would allow “compassion center” dispensaries, is currently moving through the legislature. Among the measure testimony is a letter from Jay Fleming, also of LEAP. Here’s an excerpt: “As a former officer, I know the voice of police is crucial in the dialogue about drug policy. But in the case of medical marijuana, physicians, caregivers, and patients are the ones who should be making decisions about medical care. It is inappropriate for the police to substitute our judgment for that of physicians and those in need of the care of physicians.” Seriously, can we get some of these cops to move to Hawaii?…. Want faster Internet? Don’t tell me—tell Google. The tech giant plans to pick one community to test an “experimental high-speed fiber network,” according to a missive from Akaku. To nominate Maui (the deadline is March 26) go to www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi ….. On March 19, the County issued two press releases. The first was about Mayor Tavares declaring March Women’s History Month, and featured a quote from the Mayor touting the “major roles” women have played “in shaping the future of our community.” The second release was a response by the County to a gender discrimination lawsuit filed last week by the Hawaii ACLU on behalf of three Baldwin High softball players and their coach. The suit names the state Department of Education (DOE) and the County, and claims the softball team is being forced to play on an inferior field, a violation of Title IX, also known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. “The County does not discriminate on any basis,” says the release, adding that the County-owned field where the softball team practices “is in excellent condition and offers a number of amenities.” Last week, a judge disagreed and issued a preliminary injunction against the DOE and the County. According to the ACLU, a “court-appointed expert will recommend short term, immediate improvements to alleviate some of the more egregious disparities between the boys and girls playing fields.” This being Women’s History Month and all, that’s a good thing, right?….
Last week I attended a media conference on Oahu with Publisher Tommy Russo, mostly to hear remarks by John Temple, editor of the soon-to-launch Peer News. Peer News is the brainchild of eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar of Oahu…and that’s about all anyone knows. What will it look like? How will it fit into Hawaii’s rapidly shrinking media landscape? And, most essentially, how will it make money? Not by selling ads, said Temple. Instead, he said they’ll encourage users to participate, along with reporter “hosts,” in creating and discussing issues, in a forum that sounds like a heavily moderated, newsy version of Wikipedia (though Temple said that comparison may be misleading). As of this writing, the site remains under construction, but Temple said a launch is imminent. As a journalist, media consumer and Hawaii resident, I’m rooting for Peer News to succeed, even if I’m still not certain what, exactly, it is. If the idea is to get people to pay to read and interact with the news (I’m guessing, but as Temple said, “there are only so many business models”) I must confess I have my doubts—with few exceptions, news pay walls have failed wherever they’ve been erected. This is one case where I’d love to be proven wrong….
According to a survey conducted by Reader’s Digest and reported on this week in Pacific Business News, Hawaii has the 49th worst roads in the country, ahead of only Louisiana. Frankly, I’m shocked—who knew Reader’s Digest was still around?