Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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July 23, 2008 - MidWeek
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Judiciary justice

In Larry Price’s column “The ‘08 Legislature’s Worst Bills,” he cited SB 1526 as “another bad bill worth mentioning,” a measure that would increase the salaries of the Judiciary’s two top administrators - the administrative director of the courts and the deputy director - “by 6.7 percent to 30.5 percent, even if their job duties have not increased.”

He also characterized this measure as one that benefits “a very narrow audience.” He neglected, however, to inform your readers that the purpose of SB 1526 was to correct past legislative measures that left the Judiciary’s top two administrators as the only public officials without a mechanism to make adjustments to their compensation.

Legislation passed in 2006 provided the governor, lieutenant governor, top executive branch administrators, all cabinet members and their deputies, all legislators, justices and judges - except the Judiciary’s top two administrators - with an ongoing mechanism to increase their salaries over the next six years, even though their job duties had not increased. In that regard, all of these elected and appointed officials in all three branches of government are like all other state employees who periodically receive salary increases, irrespective of increased job duties. Not providing the Judiciary’s top administrators with a salary adjustment mechanism that was afforded to their counterparts in the executive branch is not only unfair, but raises serious concerns for the future as it relates to retention and recruitment issues.

The salaries of the administrative director and deputy director were increased by the Legislature only five times since 1975. During that 28-year period, these top administrators had no salary increase for nine consecutive years. Until a constitutional amendment is ratified to correct the disparate treatment among government’s top administrators, SB 1526 would serve as a temporary measure to help ensure that the salaries of these two important positions are on par with inflation and the salaries of other comparable state government officials.

Marsha Kitagawa
Public Affairs Officer
Hawai`i State Judiciary

It’s Constitutional

Bob Jones’ columns offer an insight into the mind of the man in the street. His comparison of the Constitution of the United States to Islamic Law should be addressed. Islam means to surrender. Those who follow Sharia law surrender to God’s directives in how to live their daily lives. It is a rule of life for ordinary citizens as well as a guide to governance. Our Constitution, strictly interpreted or not, is a legal document outlining the powers and limits of government. It anticipates changes by providing for amendment. It says nothing about the appropriate conduct of ordinary citizens. Nor does it claim divine inspiration or authority.

Throughout history prior to our Constitution, governments were little more than the tools used by the strong to exploit and enslave the weak. Some of the worst were those that claimed a “divine right” to their authority. Those who believe the Constitution should be bent or expanded whenever a court ruling does not go their way undermine the good work our founders did in protecting us from arbitrary rule. Amending it, not undermining its test, is the way to adjust to change.

Tracy Ryan

Making amends

Steve Williams talks about a “living document” as the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution can be changed by amendment, as long as the required majority vote is satisfied and the ratification by the state legislatures. The possibility of the Constitution being altered and changed was foreseen, and it was the Founding Fathers intent that future generations could alter and change the Constitution by amending the document.

Phil Robertson

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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