Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

18 February 2006

Meeting Manoa's elected officials

I frequently post about different happenings in town that I'd like to attend. Often though, like tonight's Kronos Quartet concert and most of this weekend's Jewish Film Festival, I simply don't have time attend.

This morning, though, I was determined to participate in the Town Meeting at Noelani Elementary School with State Senator Brian Taniguchi, Honolulu Councilmember Ann Koboyashi and State Representative Kirk Caldwell. U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie also came as a welcome surprise guest.

I went to thank the legislators for their support of the expansion plans for Manoa Public Library. Representative Caldwell read my comment / question card. At least one other attendee voiced support of the renovation plans.

The Lyon Arboretum was the main issue on the agenda. Manoa Vice Chancellor Ostrander seemed to please the crowd - which included many LA volunteers - with his plans. Property tax was another key point. Senator Taniguchi did a nice job of explaining budget issues. Council member Koboyashi pleased the crowd with a proposal to redo the way property tax is determined.

In terms of my own thoughts... I enjoy participating in "democracy in action," but wish a few audience members had been more economical with their comment time. Thankfully, Rep. Caldwell did a great job of moderating; trying to make sure that everyone could hear; and saw to it that we ended almost exactly on time. Caldwell also impressed me by his strong support for public financing of campaigns, tied with campaign spending limits. Abercrombie also had some visionary comments about affordable housing, light rail, communities, and an impassioned explanation of the problems facing No Child Left Behind -- including the importance of school librarians!!

I wish my students had attended, as this is the kind of democratic process librarians need to be engaged in. I am truly impressed with the vision, intelligence, and courage of these elected leaders. Perhaps I am still a naive malihini (newcomer), but after having lived in several different locales, and meeting many politicians, I was very impressed.

I talked with them afterwards, and personally thanked Taniguchi and Caldwell on behalf of the Friends of Manoa Library. I also enjoyed meeting Abercrombie, and praised his efforts on behalf of human rights. He wrote one of the strongest letters in response to our Amnesty International Student Chapter campaign to pass the anti-Torture Bill.

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