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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sorry, wisdom's gone on furlough


By David Shapiro

There's more drama than learning in local education as we "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

• The Board of Education and teachers union question whether $50 million offered by Gov. Linda Lingle is enough to reopen public schools on "furlough Fridays." That's the old "no can do" spirit that made our schools what they are.

• U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is sending an aide to Hawai'i to meet state education leaders and visit schools. If he wants to visit on Friday, it'll cost him $160 million to open the doors.

• Kids from lower-income families may lose out on preschool because of state plans to quadruple costs. They've left behind as many K-12 children as they can, so they're moving down to the nursery schools.

• Lingle attended a Republican governors conference and predicted the party can win every statehouse up for grabs next year. She figures the GOP can trump the Democrats' universal health care with furlough Fridays for all.

• Questioning the design and financing of the city's $5.5 billion rail plan, Lingle says she'll slow-walk the project through the state's environmental review. Mayor Mufi Hannemann has already commenced his slow burn.

• The homeless in Kapi'olani Park have gotten around the city's ban on nighttime camping by staying on a grass strip between the park and road. Can't we put that creativity to work like hiring them to solve homelessness?

• A Honolulu police effort to shame DUI suspects by posting their pictures on the Internet started shakily when most Web browsers couldn't see the photos. I hope they made the programmer breathe into a balloon and walk a straight line.

• Big Island police will test giving drivers updates about road conditions by cell phone. Good sting. They'll text you the road info and then ticket you for reading messages while driving.

• Hawaiian rights opponents are suing to end property tax discounts for families on Hawaiian Homes lots. I think we can live with a tax break for folks who had to sit on a waiting list for 40 years to get it.

And the quote of the week from teachers union chief Wil Okabe on furlough Friday talks: "This is about the quality of education. It's not about money." Is he sure it's not about insulting our intelligence?

David Shapiro, a veteran Hawai'i journalist, can be reached by e-mail at dave@volcanicash.net. His columns are archived at www.volcanicash.net. Read his blog, Volcanic Ash, at www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Blogs.