Monday, April 20, 2009


BREEDING DISCONTENT: Did you ever take a substantial vacation on the mainland and upon return feel like you not just traveled 2000 miles but 25 years back in time, especially in terms of our various island institutions’ mindsets.

It’s simply amazing to see our legislators refuse equal state-granted civil rights for gays and lesbians while almost every state- even those with constitutional bans on same-gender “marriage” – have granted civil unions either voluntarily or upon court order... Most- even some the most rabid bigots- are slowly and inexorably giving up the monopoly on the word marriage itself.

It boggles the mind how while more states each year ban corporate campaign contributions and enact “CleanElections” public election financing, many of our lawmakers are actually trying to raise the corporate money ceiling and repeal even the pilot public finance program on the Big Island.

So much for the islands’ reputation- no not the ad-nauseum repeated “big lie” that we are “anti business” – of being the most progressive of all states, especially in the second congressional district.

The disconnect is even worse when it comes down to the most traditionally reactionary of our institutions- our police departments.

This week Larry Geller at Disappeared News has been highlighting the Big Island’s PD’s use of a taser to break up a high school fight. Despite the fact that reports on their lethality blanket the mainland press, our PDs- especially here on Kaua`i- are living in some world where tasers are still considered “non-lethal” and, instead of being used as they should be- only to avoid using “deadly force” (read: gun)- they are used for crowd control.

But don’t try to point these things out or you’ll be pilloried if not tased yourself..

Take the case of Maui State Rep. Joe Bertram III, (D-11th Mäkena, Wailea, Kïhei), who “dared” to echo our- and the US General Accounting Office’s – objections to and ridicule of the nationally discredited laughing-stock of the ‘just say no” aspects of the useless and lost “war on drugs”- the D.A.R.E program.

According to Derrick DePledge’s “Notebook” blog post last Friday

Bertram sent a letter to Maui police on Wednesday suggesting, in these tough economic times, that they stop funding Drug Abuse Resistance Education and the marijuana eradication task force program.

The representative, who wants to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, wrote that DARE has
proven unsuccessful and the marijuana eradication program “infringes on the privacy of medical marijuana patients and the noise is a disturbance of the peace.”

Maui police, in a press release today, were not down with the ideas:

The Maui Police Department’s response from Deputy Chief Gary Yabuta is, “We were quite aware of Representative Bertram’s position on the legalization of marijuana issue; however, we find his criticism of the DARE Program offensive.”

Offensive? What kind of response is that- is that the best they can come up with?

Seems like they’ve been taking PR lessons from Kaua`i Chief Darryl Perry who started off on the wrong foot when he and then Police Commission Chair Tom Iannucci wrote some equally-inane, provocative newspaper articles.

When local columnist Juan Wilson dared to criticize their attitude they refused to clean up their act and in fact made sure Wilson’s column was killed by the sycophantic local newspaper.

Bertram is certainly gutsy, brash and outspoken and it’s possible he pissed off the MPD and PD’s in general when, according to another blog post from DePledge last week, he had the temerity to condemn the practice of arresting so-called “on line predators” for soliciting not actual minors but under cover police detectives

He called it an “imaginary crime” and later said that although it was “a poor choice of words” according to DePledge, “he would not back down from his main criticism of the law, which he described as the policing of thoughts since no minor was involved”

Attacks from local rhetoric-spewing Republican boss Willes Lee notwithstanding, it’s only in the last decade or so that American jurisprudence has allowed the once ridiculed notion of having “thought police” to become an actuality.

Of course Bertram was absurdly painted as being “pro child molester” even though he was defending a once-sacred constitutional right that has been tossed aside but this couldn’t have endeared him to many in law enforcement who chose the expediency of shredding the constitution over the legitimacy of good police work.

On the neighbor islands we occasionally elect not just unabashed progressives but intellectually honest legislators. It’s no mistake that we sent Patsy Mink to D.C. for years and have sent Gary Hooser, Mina Morita, Kalani English and others to butt heads with the likes of Sam Sloam and even Democratic representatives of the right-wing-nut privileged, mainland transplants who populate Honolulu.

So it’s especially head-scratchingly baffling that, despite the obvious bent of the electorate, at the same time we allow our governmental institutions- our councils, planning departments, police departments and the like- to operate like a hunting party of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals?

It’s understandable how city and county-based legislators are so blinded from hanging out in the city core all the time and hearing exclusively from people on O`ahu that they can think they are serving the will of the whole state. The city people have the access that rural O`ahu denizens and more so ocean separate neighbor islanders don’t.

So what allows the neighbor island institutions to be so reactionary when the people are seemingly a lot more intellectually honest?

Ordinarily, at least over time, local institutions will catch up with the will of the people. It takes a particularly uninvolved apathetic populace to countenance a fully entrenched corrupt institution that maintains the status quo.

And we “laid-back” islanders certainly resemble that remark.


say what? said...

It was once a sacred constitutional right to use the Internet to lure what you think are children for sex? I did not know that. My God, what other sacred constitutional rights have we allowed to erode away?!

Andy Parx said...

I shouldn’t answer disingenuous trolling, but to reiterate- there’s no actual crime, just the thought of a crime. I call them the lazy cop laws- rather than use the information that is gained and do the leg work and surveil the person until they actually attempt to meet with an actual minor they simply entrap the “potential” predator. It has nothing to do with the specific type of crime, no matter how heinous. It’s not a crime until it’s actually attempted. Just because enforcing rights in the constitution presents difficult and troubling circumstances doesn’t mean they shouldn’t apply.

Anonymous said...

Andy, I guess you haven't seen Chris Hansen's To Catch a Predator

On top of that, the person Joe Bertram did this before he was busted :

Police told the Maui News that Marcantonio arranged the November 2007 meeting after numerous e-mails, a telephone call and a sexual demonstration via Webcam.

In a nutshell your defense of Joe Bertram is disgusting !

John Powell said...

You're outraged that the cops don't put actual minors at risk. I suppose that in your world the cops would wait until the kid had actually been molested.

The "thought" of a crime is some lowlife dreaming about sex with a minor. It becomes an "attempt" when said lowlife sets up a rendezvous and shows up.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, I too will be inviting being called "disgusting", as Mr. Bertram and Mr. Parx have been called.

You know what? That's okay. This is a discussion concerning law enforcement policy and its constitutional underpinnings, or lack thereof.

I suppose the most vehement reactionary stance to this comes from parents. I understand that; however, that does not make this a neatly black and white issue.

In such an environment of: responsibility, or lack thereof, conflated with internet technology, I'd think there is a whole lot of gray area.

It certainly invites civil discussion of these POLICY issues. Emotionally-tweaked reason that arrives at labeling people concerned with constitutional law, as "disgusting" (or "commies" or "terrorists", for that matter) is dangerous.

However, the U.S. constitution, when upheld, enforces your right to do so.

John Powell said...

I agree that there's something troubling about the cops trolling for pedophiles, but "hoping" that a troubled 13 year old is going to turn these guys in doesn't seem like a real option, and I'm not sure which constitutional provision is being violated.

But really, objecting to "labeling" and calling for civil discussion makes me wonder if you've actually read any of Andy's posts.