Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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May 31, 2006 - MidWeek
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Shockingly bad

I’m sure I’m not the only one who was “shocked” and horrified by your cover story about electroshock therapy. The cover photo, for one thing, was in such poor taste, showing Dr. Celia Ona and the executive director of Kahi Mohala, Mark Mitchell, literally beaming with delight with the patient, who is seemingly oblivious to anything.

We mental health consumers and advocates have been struggling against stigma for decades. More often than not, the media has helped perpetuate misinformation. I can count 50 people who would not recommend 21st century ECT. We deserve an apology.

Laurie Meech

Honolulu


Shockingly good

I would like to thank Alice Keesing and MidWeek for your excellent cover story on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I congratulate Dr. Ona and her staff at Kahi Mohala for providing this procedure and her courage to speak out on an issue that is so controversial.

For several years prior to my retirement from the Army, I was the primary provider of ECT at Tripler Army Medical Center. My experience with ECT was positive and similar to Dr. Ona’s.

Because of cost, prejudice and stigma, less than 10 percent of individuals who could benefit from ECT will be given the opportunity to receive it. Hopefully, your article will help to diminish that prejudice and make this procedure more available for those with severe and disabling depressive disorders.

Dr. Gerald Evans

Mililani


DOE fails math

Jade Moon’s column in the May 17 MidWeek uses incorrect numbers to deflect blame from the Department of Education to the Legislature regarding the poor condition of Hawaii’s public schools.

Ms. Moon reported that the huge repair and maintenance backlog is the result of inadequate amounts appropriated by the Legislature in the ‘90s, that in those years the Legislature threw paltry sums of money at the R&M backlog - $30 million and $40 million a year - and that this caused the backlog to balloon, and that schools have never been able to recover.

The amount, in fact, was much, much more. State budgets for fiscal years 1996-99 show that in these years alone the Legislature appropriated $667 million for school R&M. These were not paltry amounts as she charged.

In addition, for the 10 years, 1996-2006, the Legislature has appropriated $1.5 billion for R&M; that’s billion not million. And, for the upcoming fiscal year 2007, the Legislature has appropriated another $177.5 million to fix schools.

Contrary to what Ms. Moon wrote, there has not been a shameful record of neglect of schools, at least not by the Legislature, which appropriated hundreds of millions for repair and maintenance. We need to look elsewhere to pin responsibility for the condition of public schools. Ms. Moon might, for example, start by asking DOE why it hasn’t fixed the schools despite all the money thrown at it (her word) over the past 12 years.

Critics, thus, have every right to bemoan the huge amounts of money going to the DOE each year. They are right to ask why we should keep throwing money at a problem which does not result from amounts provided, but which apparently results from the DOE itself. And, critics are right to demand that DOE show why it deserves more and more taxpayer money - its total budget is more than 21 percent of the state’s entire budget.

What Hawaii residents want is accountability from DOE for the huge amounts given to it. Let’s recall that this money came from taxpayers - it wasn’t a no-cost freebie that the Legislature ladled out to DOE.

Why should taxpayers demand accountability? Because despite all the money given to DOE over the decades, its output, student academic ability, continues to be ranked among the lowest nationwide. Recall that one excuse used by DOE for this sad situation is poor condition of schools which, it says, discourages the desire to learn.

Because DOE itself seems to be part of the problem, the next question might be: Shouldn’t the state junk this old jalopy and get a new vehicle to carry the public education load?

Harry Blanchette

Hawaii Kai

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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