Lahaina Bypass alert
By the time you read this letter, the first phase of the Lahaina Bypass will be open to motorists. That phase will run from Keawe Street to Lahainaluna Road. The second phase of the Lahaina Bypass is scheduled to open sometime in June. That phase will connect to Lahainaluna Road and from there to Hokiokio, which is opposite Puamana on the mauka side of the highway.
When that happens, the road will become a true bypass, as motorists will now be able to "bypass" all four streets in Lahaina Town and all four traffic lights.
So, until June, the students, teachers and residents on Lahainaluna Road will be the big beneficiaries of the first phase of the bypass, as they will have another entrance/exit from that road relieving congestion at the Lahainaluna/highway intersection. In June, everyone will benefit, as a new era, a much anticipated new era, will finally be here for Lahaina residents and visitors alike.
BOB PURE, Lahaina Bypass Now
Water rate hike needed to improve system
Those of us who own our homes know that it pays to maintain them. We know that if we defer needed repairs for too long, we will only have to pay even more in the future to fix them. Leaky roofs will cause other damage. If you don't respond to termites, you will pay dearly.
The same logic applies to our public water system. We - the public - own this system. We depend on it, and we are responsible for it. We can either maintain and improve it now, or we will pay for our neglect in higher rates and a poorly operating system in the future.
That is why the Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) supports Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposal to raise the rates.
Our community has enjoyed unsustainably low water rates for a long time. We have gotten used to cheap water. The problem is the low rates do not pay for the maintenance of our existing water system or its future expansion.
Our association truly appreciates the clarity Water Director David Taylor has brought to this discussion. After analyzing his presentations, the RAM Board of Directors decided to support Taylor's mid-range option: an annual rate increase of 6 to 8 percent over five years, and doubling the Water System Development Fee (water meter fee).
The beauty of this proposal is that it divides the burden for these improvements, sharing them equally between the existing community and future residents. Having a well-functioning water system is equally important to both the existing community and future residents, so everyone has to pay their share.
What happens if we do not make this investment? Just look at Honolulu. The city has been suffering through an epidemic of daily, major water line breaks for years now because it failed to make the necessary investments upfront. If we don't start making serious investments now, we, too, will pay later with a poorly functioning system, water shortages, an epidemic of broken pipes and eventually, even higher water rates.
Maui County had a similar experience with wastewater. Decades ago, our county underinvested in sewer lines and processing facilities, and paid for that lack of foresight with lack of capacity when it was needed - and a stream of sewage running down Honoapiilani Highway in front of the Kaanapali Resort.
Since then, our county has been wise enough to keep ahead of wastewater maintenance and capacity needs by making significant investments in the system every year.
We must do exactly the same thing for our water system. We must do that while also protecting those who are living on tight budgets and without driving our farmers out of business.
But we must do it, or we will all pay dearly in the future for that failure to act now.
DAVE DeLEON, Government Affairs Director, Realtors Association of Maui
Pet dogs are revered companions
Dogs are our revered companions and family. We are their guardians, and thus, dogs are not just things that can be disposed of. We care deeply about dogs, because they are man's best friend.
Go to carrollcox.com/show030313.htm.com to listen to the radio online to hear of the dog meat trade in Hawaii.
Should a person be allowed to steal someone else's pet dog or breed a dog for meat? Some say the government should not be allowed to tell us what to eat. But this dog meat cruelty is not regulated, and the dogs are kept in cold, damp places with no roof over their heads and barely fed at all before slaughter.
According to cruelty law, it is illegal to kill a dog. But it's still not illegal to eat it or sell it. How can that make sense, since you must kill it before you eat it?
Sen. Hee and Rep. Rhoads would not hear legislation to ban this cruel practice in Hawaii. Do they not believe this occurs? Why would they not hear it ?
Kindness is the aloha way. Let us stop the cruelty of the dog meat trade and be a guardian of protecting dogs, speaking and acting in defense of all helpless living creatures
BARBARA STEINBERG, Kihei
Inequality and the Social Security debate
Millions of Americans do important work every day but still have a hard time saving for retirement. They expect to rely almost entirely on Social Security when they retire.
Unfortunately, these workers aren't big players in the Social Security debate. The Business Roundtable, the club for America's most powerful corporate CEOs, is using its muscle to push for an increase in the retirement age to 70 and to recalculate inflation in a way that would further reduce benefits. Fix the Debt is another CEO-driven outfit that's throwing around tens of millions of dollars in a campaign to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Compared to ordinary workers, these CEOs have virtually no skin in the Social Security debate.
In the richest country in the world, it's downright insane to even consider cutting back on benefits necessary to provide a dignified retirement for hardworking Americans.
The United States already has a poverty rate among the elderly of 24 percent. That puts us much closer to our southern neighbor Mexico, which has a 28 percent rate, than our northern neighbor, Canada, where only 6 percent of the elderly live in poverty.
If we're serious about preserving Social Security for years to come, there are far more sensible approaches. One practical step would be to eliminate the cap on wages subject to Social Security taxes. Currently, the first $110,100 of an American worker's wage income is subject to a 10.4 percent Social Security tax. This means that CEOs who make exorbitant pay stop paying into the system shortly after New Year's Day.
The Congressional Research Service has determined that such a reform would eliminate 95 percent of the expected Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years.
Next time you see one of these CEOs on TV lecturing about belt-tightening, keep in mind who's talking. The stakes in this debate are extremely high for ordinary Americans who work hard every day but still have to worry about their retirement security. For CEOs with mega-million retirement funds, there's not much to lose.