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LETTERS for May 14 issue

May 14, 2015
Lahaina News

Tax money should be spent wisely

I read a lot about feral animals and the problem of birth control. My question has always been, we invented a birth control system for humans, but we still can't help our four-legged friends? They are not only helpless, they are homeless, too.

All the money we spend on getting off this planet could do more research for animals, who have contributed so much to our country's beginnings - like horses, for one. Animals are now being slaughtered for food now that we have our precious automobiles.

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We need to stand up for what we believe in and start demanding that our tax dollars are spent properly on taking care of us on planet Earth.

There's an old saying: "First take the stick out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Welcome to the Land of the Free!

ENRIQUE GUZMAN, Lahaina

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Puukolii Road still a mess

Gotta love Registered Nurse Penny Weigel. If she's not modifying someone's name to throw out elementary school-level slurs, she's lowering herself to using the dreaded caps lock key (let the raging begin) to stress her point of view.

This week, Nurse Weigel claims she has the facts concerning the partial paving of Puukolii Road. It is safe to assume that Nurse Weigel's facts came from her very good friend, former County Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson-Winer. Unfortunately for Nurse Weigel, her "facts" are not quite what reality presents.

The facts of how the money was procured and how it was used are these.

Kaanapali Land Management was approached about contributing money that would be used to pave Puukolii from the highway to the upper end of the road. Puukolii is about one-half-mile long.

KLM kicked in $87,000 with the understanding that it would be combined with other funds to pave the entire length of the bombed out mess named Puukolii.

KLM got taken to the cleaners. The $87,000 was used to pave the first 300 feet of Puukolii, so anyone driving by on the highway would think, "There's a lovely road to drive." The rest of Puukolii remains a bombed out mess.

Although Puukolii is owned by multiple entities, the titles are not in dispute. The county Department of Public Works is currently working to combine the properties into a single tax map key. There are some additional steps to be taken after that. Once done, Puukolii will be paved.

Perhaps Nurse Weigel, in her quest for facts, could take a few moments to drive the length of Puukolii. She would find that instead of a "section of the road" not being paved, it's the vast majority of it.

MIKE SOWERS, Kaanapali

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LHS Foundation benefits from Hyundai Tournament of Champions

The Lahainaluna High School Foundation was honored and fortunate to be chosen as one of six beneficiaries for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this past January. The foundation helps provide volunteers who assist with many of the set-up, tournament and breakdown tasks associated with this unique event.

The foundation will be distributing over $22,000 to 11 groups, clubs and teams in our Lahainaluna community for their participation this year. For some, these funds represent a significant amount of the money needed for their extracurricular activities throughout the year.

On behalf of our recipients, and the Lahainaluna High School Foundation, we want to thank the Hyundai Tournament of Champions for this incredible opportunity, and we look forward to the 2016 tournament, Jan. 6-10, at Kapalua's Plantation Course.

JEFF ROGERS, Executive Director, Lahainaluna High School Foundation

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Changes planned at Island Air

As you know, over the course of the past many months, we have all worked hard to give our airline the best chance possible to grow and compete. Your patience while we worked to evaluate our situation and develop a realistic, viable business plan has been greatly appreciated.

Today, we are announcing that plan - a plan that we had hoped would include new aircraft, new routes and new opportunities for all of us, our customers and our state.

Unfortunately, record financial losses of more than $21 million last year alone, coupled with our inability to achieve the productivity and cost certainty we needed from our unions, demand that in the short-term, we pursue an alternate course of action - a course that while disappointing today, we hope will pave the way for a brighter future for Island Air in the tomorrows that lie ahead.

Our new course of action will consolidate our operations to a smaller number of markets, so that we can fix our cost and revenue structure and become strong enough to grow in a sustainable manner.

Specifically, we are not going to take delivery of any new aircraft in the short term, including the Bombardier Q400 aircraft. We are closing our operations in Lihue, adding flights to Maui and reducing our overall flight schedule to just two lines of flying.

With deep regret, we will also be reducing the number of Island Air employees across the company as we shrink our airline and work to fix and improve it. These changes will take effect on June 1, 2015, and will unfortunately result in a 20 percent reduction in our overall workforce.

Of course, we always knew that to remain Hawaii's number two airline in the face of overwhelming competition from another local airline, which is 60 times our size in revenue and controls nearly 90 percent of the intra-island market, would not be without its challenges. That is why we have worked so hard together over the past seven months to invest in and improve our operation, and give our airline the best chance possible to pursue a different course of action.

We also knew that we needed to work with Island Air's unions to obtain stability and certainty in our current cost structure before we could move forward to buy new aircraft, grow and compete against a dominant competitor.

Our efforts there led to discussions and negotiations with your union officials in an attempt to achieve a much more positive outcome - an outcome that would have resulted in buying new aircraft and growing our fleet to as many as 8-10 planes operating 84 flights a day to all of the major airports in Hawaii.

In our meetings with union leaders over the past 30 days, we asked for modest changes in all collective bargaining agreements. To be clear, we did not ask for job cuts, wage reductions or benefit or retirement concessions. Instead, we simply asked for changes that would improve productivity and provide certainty on costs during a ramp-up period of growth when we expected to lose money - as many "turnaround" or "start-up" businesses do, especially when they are competing against strong, entrenched incumbents.

One group was willing to come to the table and agree with our requests. Unfortunately, the others were not. For everyone who tried to work with us, thank you for your willingness to listen, to understand and your attempt to help us address the difficult situation we are facing.

I know this is disappointing news. Downsizing our airline is not what any of us wanted, but regrettably, we have no other choice as we continue our work to fix our airline, so that we can one day grow it, achieve sustainable profitability and remain Hawaii's needed second carrier.

In closing, I would like to thank each and every one of you. For our customers, I would like to thank you for your business and your loyalty during this transitional period. For our team, I would like to say that you have done an amazing job over the past year improving our customer service and operational performance, and your hard work has been noticed by our passengers. It is for this reason that I remain extremely hopeful that, over time, we will still find a path to new aircraft, growth and profitability.

DAVE PFLIEGER, CEO, Island Air

 
 

 

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