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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Call to serve the public

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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A frog shrieks in Mānoa. Who you gonna call?

Forget Ghostbusters; what private exterminator wants to track down a single coqui frog in a lush valley at night? Perhaps a very expensive one.

No, this was a job for the much-maligned species known as the state government employee. A Department of Agriculture inspector, an expert in coqui behavior, plucked the noisy critter off its perch last week, before that one frog turned into a thousand. The residents of Melemele Place were greatly relieved. Was it worth the effort? Yes, for the same reason it's worth the effort to have inspectors hunt down fire ants, varroa mites, Asian citrus psyllids, nettle caterpillars and a whole host of other pests that can do real harm to the agriculture industry and our economy: to protect the public interest.

So, when listening to the shrieks of pundits (and editorial writers) complaining about the size of government, it's useful to remember that some of that government actually works. And it's not just frog-hunters. We recently saw public safety professionals expertly jump into action when a tsunami threatened, a reassuring reminder that these people know what they're doing. We could go on.

There's a proposal in the House to restore about 30 agricultural inspectors lost to budget cuts. Is this worthy of support? Yes, unless you're a coqui frog.