Written questions and no surprises at Gov. Abercrombie's town hall meeting
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was billed as "A Community Conversation with Governor Abercrombie." But to many in the overflow crowd who attended, it wasn't a conversation at all.
There were no surprises, as those who came to the meeting at Washington Middle School in Moiiliili were asked to submit their questions in writing. The questions were then read to the governor and the audience by Press Secretary Donalyn Dela Cruz.
Many of the questions had to do with the administration's fight against homelessness. Abercrombie and his homeless coordinator, Marc Alexander, told the gathering that progress has been made after one month of the administration's 90-day plan to battle homelessness.
Some people held up their hands in an attempt to ask a question. Two people did speak out.
"I voted for you because you were in Washington D.C., and you had all the ins and what not," said Makiki resident Kimo Mansfield, after airing his concerns about homelessness in Waikiki. "And excuse me -- what are you doing now?" Many in the audience burst into applause.
The governor told the crowd that the state will do more to rehabilitate public housing to create jobs and assist the homeless.
"No more excuses to keep it from happening, but to get together and begin the public works program that sees that it takes place," he said. "So we're going to have those apartments, those hundreds of apartments that are going to be made 'people-ready.'"
Debra Williams also managed to get her question out about homelessness, but here's what she really wanted to ask: "Why is it that the state of Hawaii gives out so much money in welfare?"
"I wanted to hear about education," said Ane Aga, "because a lot of what is going on in schools, they wait until the kids fail. They wait until the kids get an 'F' for them to move. Why not work on those at the beginning of the year?"
The governor defended the format, saying it was better to have written questions in advance.
"When you have questions ahead of time and written down, they tend to be focused, they tend to make the point, they tend to be pretty thoughtful. And it gives you an opportunity to zero in on an answer that's worth listening to," he said.
"We thought it was a little protecting on Governor Abercrombie," said Williams. "So if it's going to be like this one again, I don't think we're going to come to another one of these things."
Dela Cruz told the crowd at the end of the meeting that all of the questions submitted would be posted and answered on the governor's Web site.
Related site: Office of the Governor
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