Coalition raising money to preserve Honolua
On behalf of the Save Honolua Coalition, we agree there must be cooperation between the county, state and federal governments, in addition to community groups, to ensure the preservation of "Lipoa Point," traditionally known as Kulaokaea, in perpetuity.
We are very grateful to Mayor Alan Arakawa and Planning Director Will Spence for designating 269 acres at Lipoa in preservation in the draft Maui Island Plan. We are also grateful to the County Council for leaving the immediate coastline at Honolua as preservation. We feel this increases the existing protection given by State Conservation zoning. We are disappointed that 139 acres overlooking Honolua Bay were taken out of preservation and believe there is a lot of confusion as to what is going on here.
According to the county's own FAQ sheet regarding effects of ag to rural conversions, "designation of a Rural growth boundary doesn't automatically change a property's County zoning. A program to comprehensively change the zoning from Agriculture to Rural may be initiated by the County a number of years from now and after the community plans are revised." The same principles should hold true for ag to preservation. Since the Maui Island Plan does not actually change zoning, is it really a "taking?"
Value changes only when zoning changes; Maui Land & Pineapple will still get a tax bill that says it is "ag and conservation," as it has been for years. The assessed value for the pension fund should be based on tax records and comparable sales in the region, not a classification in a long-range growth plan.
As for the MLP pensioners, as long as MLP continues to make payments and doesn't default, pensions wouldn't be jeopardized. MLP must have known ending golf operations would be a "triggering event" that would require them to set aside $18.7 million to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. MLP is a publicly traded corporation, and the financial information about the ending of golf operations is well documented. In 2009, the Plantation Course was sold for $50 million, which they reported as a $25.7 million gain in September 2010. In September of 2011, they reported a $15.1 million gain from selling the Bay Course. In 2011, they also reported a gain of $3.3 million from a settlement of pensioner health insurance plans. Why wasn't the pensioner issue taken care of then and there? Now what happens if MLP does default? Will the pensioners lose the value of their pension benefits if the land isn't immediately sold?
We'd also like to set the record straight on council members' beliefs that Save Honolua Coalition has failed to raise money. Today, MLP prefers more cash as part of a purchase deal for the land. Things were different in the past. In 2007, the County Council earmarked $1 million in the Open Space Fund for land acquisition, with the intent that SHC would get matching funds from state and federal sources. However, in 2008, MLP was more interested in park credits and TVR approval than cash and brought forward a proposal that did not require state or federal funds (and included protection for the mauka lands). So there was no failure to raise funds. SHC was flexible in working with the terms preferred by the landowner to put a deal on the table.
In closing, we fully support Mayor Arakawa's efforts to negotiate a deal. We remain committed to raising $5 million toward the purchase and management of Honolua lands. The intent is to acquire the undeveloped land surrounding Honolua Bay for fair market value to put into a conservation easement and to protect the 212 acres mauka (Field 55/56). Our present goal is to raise funds; we are accepting donations for the acquisition and management of this cherished area.
We have three separate accounts, and you may designate where you would like your donation to go: land acquisition/ endowment, port-a-potty maintenance or general fund (from which we pay expenses such as bookkeeping, CPA, legal fees, insurance, etc.). All donations are tax-deductible.
The Save Honolua Coalition is a 100 percent volunteer run organization, and no board member is paid any salary.
TAMARA PALTIN, President, Save Honolua Coalition
What's more important than your cell phone?
You have a problem when your dog dies, your son is in jail, you have a fire in your garage or your job is in jeopardy.
But it becomes a personal catastrophe when your cell phone needs repair.
The catastrophe becomes worse when you have to stand in line for hours at the cell phone store to get service for your phone.
It comes to this: the cell phone has become the most important thing in your life.
ARSENE "BLACKIE" GADARIAN, Lahaina
Myths and millionaires
As every good businessman knows, the soundness of a company and its ability to create jobs does not rest on lower taxes or tax avoidance - for the company or its senior management.
If Congressional Republicans continue to insist on renewing the special Bush tax cuts that go only to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, it will do nothing to create jobs. It is a fiction, pure and simple, that taxing so-called "job creators" will have an adverse effect on the economy.
Just the reverse is true. Instead of spending nearly $1 trillion on tax cuts to make millionaires even richer, those tax dollars can be used more constructively to retain teachers, police officers and firefighters and repair roads and bridges. These are all essential services that will rebuild our economy and maintain a civil society. In addition, these tax dollars will contribute to deficit reduction.
Many millionaires never create any jobs at all. Those who do will create them regardless of the tax rate, and certainly won't be dissuaded by the small increase of about five percentage points the president has proposed. The myth of millionaires as job creators being turned off by higher taxes is the creation of some members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate who are funded by these same millionaires. They know little about what makes companies successful. It is a matter of record that during the time tax rates, both corporate and personal, were so much higher, our economy was booming. Conversely, the slowest job growth since World War II took place between the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and the 2008 economic meltdown.
A few months ago, every Republican in the House and Senate, along with 19 House Democrats and two Senate Democrats, voted against a bill ending the Bush tax breaks for the richest 2 percent, but extend them for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses. I hope they will take a fresh look at the facts.
Allowing the wealthiest 2 percent to withhold tax dollars robs children of health and education. It is not only immoral, it is bad economics. They are the future of our country, which has begun to fall behind our competitors. It is also destroying the American Dream, which brought my father to this country alone at the age of 15.
Both he and the Founding Fathers would agree that the future of this nation should not be compromised by the shortsightedness of those so well off in the present. These are not the values that made this country great.
ARNOLD HIATT, Via E-mail