August 2008

July 2008 issue

“No Contest”  07/08
 In his editor’s page, A. Kam Napier questioned the quality of the political class.

You are right that our political class is simply awful for so many reasons, not just its terrible results, but the amazing way [politicians] go about getting them. Napier says he does not know what the solution is. I do: term limits. How about three terms in the state House and two in the state Senate? That way, we would be certain to have a ready supply of new state senators, the same people that were screwing it up in the House, and new people in the House every term.

No one runs now because: a) It is a one-party state; b) If it isn’t your turn, they will crush you (see Ed Case for details); and c) It is impossible to run against an incumbent for any office. As it stands now, only an act of God, or a stunning arrest and conviction (and not in every case), can remove an incumbent.

If legislative life wasn’t just about being reelected, then perhaps somebody might say no to a union or the interests of a lawyer. Maybe they’d push the Department of Education, trim our government, or just make a decision based on what they actually believe and not what they are told to do to stay in line.

“Best Doctors”  07/08
Every other year, Best Doctors Inc. asks doctors nationwide, “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, to whom would you refer them?” The results are vetted by the company, and then the list is released to regional publications such as HONOLULU.

I have to express my serious discontent with how the so-called “Best Doctors” are selected. I find it so absurd that doctors are rating their peers. Aside from just being a popularity contest, it is grossly inaccurate. How could colleagues know what it is like to be someone else’s patient, how long they wait to be seen, how kindly they are treated, how easy they are to get ahold of in an emergency, how respectful they are if you disagree with their treatment plan? Why wouldn’t you poll patients?

I am a certified nurse-midwife. Within obstetrics, there are many doctors who are overwhelmingly known as the most beloved in the community, and they never appear in your magazine because other physicians didn’t choose them.

The group doing the survey claims to have high standards,  but it is having an elite group (based on their own criteria) select another elite group? It is nonsensical. Other doctors (especially older male doctors, in the case of obstetrics) do not have the same criteria for what makes a doctor “good” as child-bearing-aged women do. They don’t care about C-section rates, epidural percentages, whether their questions get answered at appointments, etc. They care only about raw outcome data and adherence to local practice customs that ensure their malpractice rates remain lower.

Most of the OB/GYNs on your current list are fantastically nice and competent people with whom I have been lucky enough to work. I am just very disappointed in your methodology and exclusion of some of the more-popular-with-patients doctors.

“Scrapyard”  07/08
Barbara Wong, of the State Campaign Spending Commission, faced off with Kory Payne, the community organizer for Voter-Owned Hawaii. The two discussed Bill 661, which would give Hawaii County the go-ahead to create a comprehensive public funding pilot project. After we went to press, the bill did pass.

I worry that readers might have been misled on two different points.

One, I felt the introduction to the issue implied that, under this new program, candidates could just walk up and ask for a handout for public money to run his or her campaign. I wanted to make it clear that there is a difficult qualifying process for candidates who attempt to access comprehensive public funds to run their campaigns. In other states where they have similar public funding programs, approximately 30 percent of the candidates who attempt to qualify are actually successful.

Second, Barbara Wong stated that this program on the Big Island is “intended as a test run … for all elective seats.” Factually, this is intended as a test run for the Big Island because citizens, the Big Island County Council and the mayor all agreed it was a needed program. The program could become a permanent fixture for the Big Island, but nowhere else, as there’s nothing in the bill that mandates the program must become statewide.

We expect to see this program encourage exciting change. We expect to see candidates going door-to-door to try and qualify for public funds. We expect to see more people turn out to vote because they have a renewed interest in the candidates who have talked to them. We expect to see decisions made based on the long-term health of citizens, the environment and the economy.