Sierra Club reflects on 2012's progress
At the end of the year, as I write, I hope everyone is enjoying a well-deserved rest from your hard work advocating for our islands. After a year of disappointing legislative actions, including the passage of the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC), which eliminated the public voice from the development of our public lands, and the travesty wrought by the Maui County Council on the public's carefully crafted Maui Island Plan, things are looking up for next year.
In an amazingly effective reaction to these and other actions against common sense planning, almost all our Sierra Club-endorsed candidates won! And we see a move afoot to repeal the PLDC. Each of you should be proud of your part in making this happen.
In Maui County, we're organizing a "Council Watch" modeled after the chapter's very effective Capitol Watch. If you haven't signed up to receive e-mail bulletins during the legislative season, I encourage you sign up at capitolwatchhawaii.org. We're recruiting Maui County volunteers who can take on a small issue and report on the council's doings in the same way. Contact me at president @mauisierraclub.org if you'd like to get involved.
We're looking forward to our annual meeting tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m. at Kaunoa Senior Center in Sprecklesville. Our theme is "Sierra Club Working for You."
Then, April 20 brings our most important fund-raiser, the Haiku Ho'olaule'a plant sale. Don't forget to start your plants early. We're looking for food plants and native plants. We try to avoid invasive species.
Be sure to go to www.MauiSierraClub.org and sign up to get e-mails, since we're also planning another one of Harriet Witt's popular star watches.
Here's hoping for a joyous New Year!
CHRIS TAYLOR, Chair, Sierra Club ~ Maui Group
True holiday spirit
Among other things, the holidays are a time of giving and receiving gifts. The question most often asked of people is, "What did you get?" Much less frequently asked is, "What did you give?" Invariably, the inquiries concern material gifts. Purchasing a gift can certainly be thoughtful and a wonderful gesture, especially when it's backed up by your actions.
However, the most valuable presents are those that aren't sold in stores. When you give your love, your time, help someone in need, aid another in solving a problem or overcoming an obstacle, you give something priceless.
The true spirit of the holidays is giving. When you give, you receive. You can get anything in life you want by helping enough others get what they want - but only if you give without expecting anything in return. The impact of giving isn't limited to just the holiday season; it's something that has value all year.
The power of giving is often underestimated. When you give unconditionally, you don't just impact the recipient - you start a chain reaction. By brightening the life of one person, you also affect all those who they then touch.
No gesture of giving or kindness is too small. Holding the door open at a store, helping someone carry groceries to their car, letting another car in front of you, saying please and thank you, and saying hello to a stranger you pass on the sidewalk are some of the many things you can do daily.
For family and friends, your time is one of the most precious gifts you can offer. Are you there for others when they need you? Do you offer a hand without being asked? Do you help out when asked?
Too often, people get caught up in their own desires, thus losing sight of the needs of others. A person who tries to get through life by looking out for himself or herself first is invariably frustrated. Often this person views life as a competition to determine who can accumulate more.
On the other hand, those who are concerned for the well-being of others are happier, more content and more satisfied. By giving without expecting, they in turn receive the things they need.
Giving is a simple concept that works every time it is applied. There will be people who don't appreciate what you do, but it doesn't matter. You are giving without anticipating anything in return. Besides, there will be many more who are thankful for your efforts.
If you don't treat others well, buying a gift won't compensate for your behavior. The recipient might like what you give them, but it won't make up for your actions. You can't bribe someone to forgive the way you treat them with a present.
The best gift you can receive is the joy of making someone else happy. Being unselfish is a wonderful way to live. When you give with no ulterior motives, your actions are seen as genuine. Should you expect something in return, your behavior is always suspect. We all know people who do nice things only when they want something in return.
Make giving a daily routine. Don't start and end with the holiday season. Every day is a good day to do something nice. When people feel good due to your actions, you can't help but feel happy yourself. And that is priceless. The most significant action you can take is having a positive impact on the lives of others.
BRYAN GOLDEN, Via E-mail
OHA's 'money pit' continues to grow
When the OHA Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the Gentry Pacific Design Center this past summer for $21,370,000, I was one of several trustees with serious concerns about the purchase.
There were just too many "unknowns" about the property.
As I feared, the costs associated with the design center have skyrocketed to nearly $30 million.
On Nov. 1, 2012, the Board of Trustees authorized nearly $7,000,000 in expenditures:
(1) Up to $663,000 in essential costs relating to tenant improvement allowances ($400,000 per year for up to 20,000 of the leasable square footage that will be leased or renewed through June 30, 2013), and immediate due diligence projects - $263,000, including the replacement of a 23-year-old fire alarm system ($100,000);
(2) Up to $6,095,000 in design, construction and non-OHA tenant relocation costs relating to OHA's relocation;
(3) "Secondary repairs." It should be noted that OHA still has to pay for repairs totaling an estimated $404,000 beginning in year three, mainly to repaint the building exterior ($110,000) and to replace the single-ply roofing membrane ($250,000).
As I have said before, it makes absolutely no sense that OHA is spending a great deal of money to purchase and renovate an 80-year-old design center full of existing tenants instead of using the $28,128,000 to build a brand new, state-of-the-art office building on land we already own.
My preferred location for a new OHA headquarters is on the Kaka'ako Makai settlement properties that we recently received from the state.
The Kaka'ako waterfront is an excellent place for economic development and a permanent home for OHA's headquarters.
Is anyone listening? If you are interested in why OHA would spend all this money on an old building that was not for sale, please call (808) 594-1857 or write to Trustee Oswald Stender.
ROWENA M. AKANA, Trustee-at-Large, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Cane smoke harming Maui's health
I see HC&S has conveniently neglected the mountains of scientific data showing that cane burning is damaging to people's lungs as it defends cane burning.
Do you think it was the chemical companies who stopped dumping their waste into rivers on their own? Or do you think maybe it was the people getting sick who got it stopped?
We have produced numerous scientific studies showing that smoke causes health damage.
A&B (HC&S) claims it can't make a profit harvesting without burning. But my health is not for trade for A&B's profit.
Statistically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Maui keiki have a 2 percent higher rate of asthma than the rest of Hawaii. This pretty much takes vog out of the calculation and leaves cane smoke as the culprit. Maui is the last island to allow cane burning.
The CDC isn't saying that everyone gets asthma. It just means that more of us do. I'm one of them. And the rest of those complaining are suffering, too. It hits the children and older people hardest.
Maui residents and visitors, when you get exposed to cane smoke, please report it by going to StopCaneBurning.org and using the handy, one-click e-mail link.
Together, we can get this exploitive practice stopped and breathe easier.
KAREN CHUN, Paia