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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 29, 2002

Good signs portend a smooth transition

OK, it was a perfunctory hug and an air kiss, but it was a welcome sign to those who wondered if the new Lingle administration would have to reinvent the wheel when it takes over Monday.

Until their cordial meeting at the state Capitol this week, it appeared that Gov.-elect Linda Lingle wasn't much interested in Gov. Ben Cayetano's offers of help in facilitating the transition between their appointees. And Cayetano seemed intent on rushing through a number of last-minute actions in spite of Lingle's request to put them on hold until her administration could review them.

Chief among them was Cayetano's effort to negotiate the construction of a new jail next to Halawa Community Correctional Center, to replace the aging O'ahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi.

A number of prison plans have surfaced during Cayetano's two terms, but none has gotten off the ground. His proposed new jail makes sense in that the OCCC facility is no longer adequate.

But prison philosophy is rapidly evolving, and it's evident that simply replacing the jail would do nothing about the 1,200 prisoners being warehoused in Mainland prisons, and it fails to address a recent trend toward wider use of drug treatment instead of incarceration.

We'd suggest that the change of administrations is a good opportunity to begin the prison discussion from Square One.

Another last-minute Cayetano action has been the hiring of a law firm to pursue charges that O'ahu oil companies have been seriously delinquent in paying taxes. Because the firm is retained on a contingency basis, it makes sense for Lingle to allow it to continue.

Lingle, of course, won the support of the oil companies because she pledged to see the cap on gasoline taxes repealed. But failure to pay taxes is another story; we hope she follows through with this effort.

Lingle's suggestion that she might retain a couple of Cayetano appointees strikes us as open-minded and forward-thinking. And all of this good will and cooperation suggests that her administration will hit the ground running. Her supporters expect nothing less.