Drug issues dominate Lingle meeting
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
|Gov. Linda Lingle, at Kailua High School last night for her first "town hall" meeting, assured Windward residents that her administration is doing its best in dealing with Hawai'i's crystal meth epidemic.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
Sessions held by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, such as one in Hilo last night, are supposed to give people the chance to talk about the crystal methamphetamine epidemic and other drug problems. Lingle's meetings are aimed at more general topics. But it was clear that the problem of drugs was the main issue for at least half of the more than 250 people gathered at a humid Kailua High School cafeteria last night.
Waimanalo Neighborhood Board member Andy Jamile said his community is torn by the ice epidemic. "Neighbors gotta turn in neighbors, family members gotta turn in family members," Jamile said.
Lingle then explained her position that treatment isn't the only answer to the state's drug problem. "We think the major focus has to be on the prevention side," the governor said. "That's why we're supporting voluntary drug testing in the schools so that we can help these young people before they get so far down the road that there's no hope."
Kailua resident Doug Stancil said he and others in Windward O'ahu have been scouring the region, urging store owners to stop selling drug paraphernalia. He asked what the state could do.
Lingle said that while getting rid of drug paraphernalia might entail more than passing a ban on the sale of such items, she would explore the idea further.
One woman questioned what the state was doing to help the spouses and children of those who are in prison for drug and other criminal offenses. Lingle said she would look into the issue.
The governor also promised the crowd that her administration and those on the county and federal levels will be open to all suggestions when Aiona holds his drug summit next month.
Drug issues dominated discussion, but a variety of other topics also were raised. They ranged from housing for the poor to a second access road into Kailua High School and a sewage treatment plant in Waimanalo.
Lingle told reporters afterward that the purpose of the sessions is not just to listen to suggestions about what the state can do on such problems, but about her telling the public that it also shares in the responsibility of improving Hawai'i.
Lingle's next talk-story session will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Farrington High School.
Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at email@example.com.