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LETTERS for August 13 issue

By Staff | Aug 13, 2009


I was delighted to read about the comeback of “Friday Night is Art Night” in Lahaina in the Up Front Lahaina column of the Lahaina News recently. It brought to mind the wonderful experience many had on July 4, when no cars were allowed on Front Street during the evening, and people could walk up and down, greet each other and go into the shops and restaurants. Perhaps the same thing could happen on Art Night.

There is a “First Friday” of the month on Market Street in Wailuku, and the first Friday is Art Night in China Town in Honolulu.

To have the Art Night in Lahaina with pedestrians only and no cars would be a great attraction for tourists to come to Maui, and good for our local businesses. It could be tried on the first Friday as the others do, but if successful, it could be held every Friday, since most visitors are here for a short period of time and not always on the first Friday. It would be fun for all and great without those cars and their fumes, if for even a few hours of the week.

I also think that we should do the same again on Halloween. It was great fun for all in costumes to be able to walk on Front Street, instead of the current practice of excluding the public in deference to the “cruising” cars and taxis with their exhaust fumes. Over 99 percent of the participants caused no trouble, the event attracted visitors and helped our local economy, and Halloween was no more “non-historical” than many other events that occur on Front Street.




I truly believe that Mayor Charmaine Tavares is an honest and caring person. All this flack about the TVR (transient vacation rental) and vacation rental crackdown toward her is unfair, I believe. The adage about “a few ruining it for the many” applies here. How many “newcomers” saw an opportunity to acquire low-cost housing, and then turned it into a moneymaker? A short time ago, I heard of them qualifying for an affordable home, and then using it as a vacation rental.

True or not, this is potentially something we must be aware of. A friend of mine had a TVR open up near him and then got disturbed late at night by a noisy party. But when he went over and asked them to quiet down because of the late hour, he was verbally abused by the people there. Pono? Not in your life.

Complainers, this is one of the reasons for the crackdown. The mayor is just trying to correct a situation that had been allowed to go bad by past oversights. Perhaps some of you got caught in the middle because of inadequate information, but don’t blame the mayor for it. A bed and breakfast, where the owner has to live on premises, is one thing. A TVR is something very different and should properly be mandated for the sake of our communities.  



Regrettably, our state recently took a big step backwards when legislation (Senate Bill 199) that undermined Hawaii’s tech industry was enacted into law.

This new law cuts the High-Technology Business Investment Tax Credit, also known as Act 221, by imposing severe, retroactive limitations to claims for investments made in the high-tech industry.

While the limitations to the tax credit will provide some savings to our state in the short-term, this flawed measure has the potential to cripple an industry that we have worked for a decade to build up in order to diversify our economy. Any potential short-term savings accrued could be offset by the decline of an industry and decreasing tax revenue.

Furthermore, investors and businesses plan years in advance, and fundamentally changing the rules midstream was shortsighted and detrimental to our future.

Given the current economic challenges, our policies must convey that Hawaii is open for business. The legislation sent the wrong message.

Regardless of this bill’s flaws, it is now law. As a former state judge, that is something I must respect.

However, it does not mean that we should give up and abandon our burgeoning high-tech industry. Rather, these past legislative actions only underscore the need to effect meaningful change.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be leading our state’s efforts to formulate solutions to grow our high-tech industry and put us back on track. Your input and involvement in this new endeavor will be critical to our success.

If you share the vision of a thriving high-tech industry in Hawaii, I ask you now for your help. Please contact my office at ltgov@hawaii.gov and let me know if you want to be part of the solution.

Together, with the support of the tech community, we will propose legislation next year to grow and expand our high-tech industry. We can, and we will, make a difference. But government cannot do it alone.

The Maui business community’s help is needed. With your help, I am confident we can overcome the challenges of today to ensure a more prosperous tomorrow for Hawaii’s economy.



This one surprised us.  

Here’s Duke Aiona in Palo Alto at a fund-raiser with national GOP Chair Michael Steele, and when he describes the reasons for his candidacy, he doesn’t mention Hawaii’s economy, or public education, or anything that pertains to Hawaii’s people. Instead, he says that his election would deliver a “knockout blow” to the Democrats, because the President is from Hawaii.

It is a sad state of affairs when Duke Aiona makes the upcoming race for governor about Barack Obama rather than what he plans to do for Hawaii. And he went all the way to California to do it.

 We are in the worst economy in decades, people are losing their jobs and their homes, struggling in every walk of life, and we are seeing the worst cuts in public services in our state’s history. It’s a shame that our lieutenant governor thinks the best reason for his election is to damage the other political party and to embarrass the President.

One last thought. Last year at about this time, Gov. Linda Lingle campaigned on the Mainland for Sarah Palin by knocking Barack Obama, questioning his Hawaii roots. This is a hana hou that didn’t work then and won’t work now.

BRIAN SCHATZ, Chair, Democratic Party of Hawaii


Congress is giving money to anyone that wants to study wildlife such as polar bears, snails and turtles.

Why not apply for money to study the jellyfish “pooping?”

That is as important as everything else, isn’t it?



Regarding the editorial “Forum to detail danger of meth” in the July 30 issue, how should Hawaii respond to crystal methamphetamine use? During the crack epidemic of the 1980s, New York City chose the zero tolerance approach, opting to arrest and incarcerate as many offenders as possible. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry was smoking crack, and America’s capital had the highest per-capita murder rate in the country. Yet crack use declined in both cities simultaneously.

Simply put, the younger generation saw firsthand what crack was doing to their older brothers and sisters and decided for themselves that crack was bad news. This is not to say nothing can be done about meth. Access to drug treatment is critical for the current generation of meth users. Diverting resources away from prisons and into cost-effective treatment would save both tax dollars and lives.

The following U.S. Department of Justice research brief confirms my claims regarding the spontaneous decline of crack cocaine: http://www.ncjrs.org/txtfiles1/nij/187490.txt

ROBERT SHARPE, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy


I completely agree that our coral reefs are priceless. For tour operators to dispute the state’s contention that the coral they damaged in July 2007 was “valuable” is insane. How much income is generated annually by tour boat operators and dive shops who make a living off of showing Maui’s reefs to visitors? If companies value all the money they make off of our reefs, they need to respect all of our reefs as valuable. 

Also, the income generated by the tourism industry is only one portion of the overall worth, as there are many more stake holders who care about the health of our reefs: divers, anglers, marine biologists, oceanographers, cultural practitioners, etc.

I care deeply about the health of our coral reefs and would like to see them thriving and teeming with fish. I feel that the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ attempt to catch and fine those who damage our natural resources is ineffective. I believe that the Board of Land and Natural Resources should make an effort to align systems to produce the desired result of protecting our reefs. 

It seems that lack of education and awareness is a primary cause in reef destruction by tour boat operators. Maybe if they understood the connection of a healthy reef and their business economics, they would treat our reefs with more respect. In addition to fines and permit suspensions, the company owner and all of its employees should have to take educational courses, such as Eyes of the Reef training workshops put on by the Division of Aquatic Resources. Force those who do damage to participate in ongoing reef surveys and become involved with the Maui Reef Fund. 

Once those who damage the reef see the volunteer efforts being made to protect our reefs, maybe that will be a stronger deterrent from future damage, and they can champion the cause to their patrons and other tour operators. They can become part of the solution, instead of adding to the problem, by joining the Eyes of the Reef network of concerned citizens.