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LETTERS for September 3 issue

By Staff | Sep 3, 2009

Brandee Cabanilla Ricardos Leopoldino visited Johns Hopkins University for the National Junior Leaders Conference.


I am a seventh-grader at Lahaina Intermediate School. During my sixth grade school year, my Social Studies teacher, Ms. Ui‘i Kuaana, nominated me to attend the National Junior Leaders Conference. The cost to attend the conference was way out of my parents’ budget, so I had to do a lot of fund-raising to help me raise enough money for my trip. I could not have done it without all of your help.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped support my trip this summer to attend the Medicine and Science Conference at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. I really learned a lot and look forward to attending another leadership conference again next year.




(The following letter was sent to the Planning Commission.)

It is time to “green” West Maui to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels!

Most of your planning probably started before the the need to cut fossil fuel usage became acutely apparent. I suggest you quickly include “green” measures into the plan.

1) Housing for local West Side employees must have priority over vacation development to reduce West Side employee commute distances.

2) West Side agriculture for the production of locally consumed produce must be aggressively supported and promoted. This activity must have a priority consideration over vacation/time share development Consumption of fossil fuels for the transportation of produce must be reduced.

3) Building codes must now include improved rigorous standards for “green” buildings, such as white reflective roofs, higher rated insulation, etc. You should anticipate that solar energy will become economic soon and include requirements for its usage when the economic data is clear.

Saving money by reducing fossil fuel consumption now will mean that dollars earned in the local economy will go that much farther and also save the local economy when fossil fuel prices hit the roof! Don’t wait for the catastrophe to happen before you react — act now, plan ahead, be proactive.



Our country is broke. We are so far into debt it is mind-numbing. If we add this proposed health care reform program into the mix, it would be catastrophic to the economy.

We face many factors in the world now that can adversely affect our fragile stability. Just one of these factors happening in our country would throw us into a crisis. If we are under a national health care system when this occurs, logic dictates that you must ration care. When you are broke and in crisis, you must cut corners. The government would be forced to choose who would receive care and who would not. It is that plain and simple.

It is time to put politics aside, open our eyes, engage our brains and see that this reform bill is neither about health or care. It is all about the government reengineering the economy, “fundamentally transforming our country” and having total control over its citizenry.         

For our children’s sake, we have an obligation to protect our republic. We do not want to give the federal government this kind of power. We have to stop pointing fingers, blaming Democrats or Republicans — there are plenty of dirty tricks being played on both sides of the aisle. We must unite and fight for retaining liberty in this country.

We can address and change targeted aspects of the health care system. We do not need a total overhaul. We must stop this particular health care reform bill.



The easy solution to end the health care debate is to allow people the option to buy into Medicare or keep their current insurance. In America, 46,000 people are uninsured and 18,000 people a year die from not having any health care coverage. Fifty million people a year file bankruptcy because they get sick. Illness is the number one reason why people face foreclosure. A program called Remote Area Medical that usually works in third world countries recently provided services in Los Angeles for seven days, and they were unable to see all the people who needed medical attention.

Thirty-seven industrial countries have made it a felony to have for-profit health care insurance. Private for-profit means they shave off 40 percent off the top for CEOs and corporate jets, and this money is made from finding ways to deny procedures for people who are covered. The CEO for United Health Care makes over $100,000 an hour when you add up his $3.2 million annual salary and $744 million stock option. On HHS.gov, you can see that we will spend $3.6 trillion over the next ten years for big pharmaceuticals.

Medicare operates at 3 percent overhead, while the private for-profit health care operates at over 20 percent overhead.  Nanos Research Company conducted a study that showed 86 percent of Canadians love their health care coverage. The California Teachers Association did a study which found that a single-payer system would produce 2.6 million jobs, $317 billion in business revenue and $100 billion in wages.

Right now, Big Pharma is negotiating a 2 percent pay cut to the American people. This is $80 billion. Canada negotiates a 35 to 55 percent discount. Veterans Health Care negotiates a 40 percent discount. If we allowed people to buy into Medicare, our government then would be able to negotiate down $1.7 trillion.

Paraphrasing Matthew 25:31, the disciples asked, “Who goes to heaven?” Jesus replied, “The ones who looked after me when I was sick.” The disciples said, “We never saw you sick?” Jesus said, “No you were to do unto others as you do unto me.”

A little common sense accompanied with facts shows that we need a single-payer health care option and we need it NOW!

JUSTIN HUGHEY, Teacher, Lahaina


I learned a lot at the recent Lahaina injection well permit hearing offered to the public by the Environmental Protection Agency. This is part of the process of issuing the Lahaina well a new permit for disposing of “wastewater.” This is water after we humans use it and “treat it,” but not to a high enough level that we can reuse it freely, so we pour millions of gallons a day down holes in the ground. Most people were there to suggest to the EPA that there is a better way to dispose of our “treated” wastewater than to pour it into injection wells. It is strongly believed this water eventually flows through the earth to the ocean, taking nitrogen and other pollutants that treatment doesn’t remove with the flow and causing degradation of the reefs.

Mostly, I learned how much the people of Maui love (and are afraid of the loss of) their reefs. I think the audience thought the EPA was here to help us save the reefs. I’m sure most people don’t understand that the division of the EPA that came only regulates the drinking water side of this complex issue. I learned how semantic distinctions of what makes something surface or ground water could cause this to fall between the cracks of two parts of the same agency, and throw in the State Department of Health, who also has a piece of the process, just to add another layer of complexity.

Due to the definition of how water has to travel directly or indirectly from source to sea to determine who is in charge of regulating it, we’ve made Mother Earth herself the pawn (or dupe) in a semantic game, as the water that passes through her to the sea doesn’t qualify for proper regulation because she isn’t a pipe. I don’t think she’d be happy to see herself being made insignificant, because her “direct flow to the sea” has no sharp edges on it as a pipe would.

As I stated in my testimony, I hope the Drinking Water EPA people can encourage participation of the Clean Water EPA people — those that would be responsible for ocean pollutants — and freely acknowledge the connection between the wells’ outflow eventually making its way to the sea and contributing to the degradation of the reefs (at least as one of the causes). Let’s not go kicking and screaming to protect the environment; let’s work together, and the EPA can leave us feeling that they really did protect us in a meaningful way with teeth, and help nudge us toward phasing out injection wells as quickly as possible.

I am very concerned that on top of her wonderful support of phasing out injection wells, Mayor Charmaine Tavares threw a clinker in by asking for no reduction in nitrogen loads (nitrogen is a big problem that causes algae growth) with the new permit, because she suggests we can use it to grow algae for fuel. This is far in the future and an unproven idea, so it doesn’t make any sense to plan for that happening by allowing continued reef degradation while we are figuring things out. I’m sure we can find a way to get “plenny” nitrogen back when we actually have a proven, safe use for it in our energy production mix. I hope the new permit tightens up nitrogen allowances.

One other thing I learned: some of the leachates from the landfill (the liquid that oozes to the bottom and contains all manner of horrors) are delivered to the wastewater plant and tossed into the front end for treatment. I’d like to suggest that we put a condition in the new permit prohibiting that practice. It has to be much easier and wiser to redistribute those leachates by putting them back on the top of the landfill (done this way most everywhere else) than taking a chance on what they are adding to the stew coming out the tailpipe of the treatment plant and heading for injection wells, and hence, the ocean.

With everything we’ve learned about our planet and the resources we’ve plundered and squandered and used in unwise and dangerous ways, causing harm to our environment and all of its inhabitants with little thought for the future, the time is right for boldness and action to make things right. The EPA couldn’t ask for a better boss than Barack to set them up for that kind of shift. They wouldn’t be working at an agency that protects the environment if they didn’t care about it. I hope they step up.