LETTERS for March 11 issue
DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED AT HONOLUA
With all due respect to Kupuna Isao (“Who will deal with
ag-related problems?”, Feb. 25 issue), I have to disagree with the idea of paving the surfers’ access road at Honolua Bay.
If you notice, there is a small patch of pavement at the top of the surfers’ access road. Just that little bit of pavement starts a little river down the road when it rains. I use small diversions to keep the water from racing down the road. If the whole road was paved, there would be way too much water for the detention basin to handle.
We have entertained the idea of soluble pavement, dirt glue and other solutions, but several things have changed our minds.
In the summer months, you will notice very few cars out on the surfers’ access road. If there was any kind of pavement, that road would be covered with tourists’ cars, and they would be climbing and walking on the reef because there is no good place to enter the water for snorkeling.
Dirt glue is a spray-on that works well on the “Madland,” but in the warmer weather over here, it seems to wear out quicker than the ten years it is supposed to last.
In our research, it appears the best solution would be some low-impact engineering of the road — tipping it away from the sea — and putting a geo-tech fiber under gravel, so the road would appear the same, but the gravel would not be ground into the soil, creating the mud and dust. We are looking for a solution!
LES POTTS, Honolua Advisory Council and Surfrider Foundation
POLICE MUST TARGET SPEEDERS
(The following letter was sent to Rep. Angus McKelvey.)
So far, I have sent you two messages regarding the issue of speeding and traffic enforcement in West Maui. And, so far, there has been no response from you or your office.
A couple of weeks ago, you asked for West Maui residents to visit a website you had set up to voice their concerns about issues in West Maui. Part of your platform for election to public office representing West Maui was the improvement of traffic issues in this area.
Well, besides needing improved roads and a Lahaina Bypass, we also need improvement in the enforcement of the existing traffic regulations — speeding/aggressive driving infractions in particular.
Try driving the stretch from Kaanapali Parkway to Honokowai and see what widening that stretch from two lanes to four has done. Yes, the traffic flow has improved, but it has also expanded the opportunity for speeding and aggressive driving with the extra lane.
As stated in a previous e-mail to you, unless traffic fines are kept on Maui and used to hire more officers and purchase more equipment dedicated to traffic enforcement, the situation is not going to change.
For the entire year of 2009, a total of 308 speeding infractions were issued in West Maui. That is less than one per day on the average! During the month of January this year, 73 tickets were given. That is up to 2.4 per day.
I commute up and down Highway 30 from Lahaina to Napili five days a week. With proper enforcement, at least a minimum of 30 tickets per day should be issued.
The county should print a disclaimer to be handed out at every car rental agency stating a NO-TOLERANCE policy for speeders on Maui. Warn the tourists in advance. This same disclaimer should be given to every school student in the county to be taken home and given to their parents. Let the local residents know that speeding and aggressive driving will result in ticketing for them as well. It should also be published in The Maui News and Lahaina News.
Not only will a No-Tolerance policy make the highways a safer place, but it would create the revenue to cover the cost of enforcement with a probable surplus for the county and state. There is no reason a policy like this would not work statewide.
So, besides promoting better and wider roads, why don’t you make it a priority during your incumbency to focus on safer roads statewide through increased enforcement of existing traffic statutes? Maybe the surplus revenues from traffic citations would help offset the state budget deficit and eliminate teacher furloughs. Who knows?
FREDERICK LaCOUNT, Lahaina
RESIDENTS DESERVE TIMELY TAX REFUNDS
The governor’s proposal to balance this year’s budget by delaying payment of state tax refunds Hawaii families have earned is wrong on two counts. And it increases, rather than solves, our problems.
First, the governor’s scheme is wrong because citizens who have funds withheld every paycheck, so that they can meet their tax obligations to the state, are dutifully keeping their part of the deal with government.
They rightfully expect the state to keep its end of the deal and pay the refund after tax filing.
You work hard, you play by the rules, and government ought to treat you fairly.
Individuals and families count on those refunds as part of personal planning. It’s really important to people.
Government backing out of the deal at the last minute is simply not fair — it’s a bait-and-switch. The pot is simmering within the community right now on this issue, and before it comes to a boil, this scheme should be stopped. Instead, our leaders should do their jobs and make the difficult decisions to balance the budget now.
The second reason this scheme is wrong? Shifting what the state owes taxpayers from one fiscal year to the next compounds the problem of our state budget deficit. Why? Because postponing the payment is just more state government gimmickry.
Rather than solve the state budget problem in the first year, the state kicks the can down the road. And because the government doesn’t provide a real budget solution in year one, the problem compounds in year two. As we all know, failure to take the right action right up front only makes things worse as another year goes by.
This is why Hawaii has a six-year financial plan — so we can make sure our state government is able to provide services into the future. While many politicians have difficulty thinking beyond the 2010 election, the years beyond 2010 are coming, and they are real. It’s wrong to play games with the state’s financial plan, because we cannot afford to mortgage away our financial future.
The budget crisis we’re in is severe. But delaying refunds to taxpayers for months is not a solution, and it artificially masks the problem. It makes things worse for people and it deepens the hole we are already in.
With new leadership, we have the opportunity to make fundamental improvements and make government accountable to all the citizens, who do their part each and every day to support good government. I ask you to join me in placing action and accountability at the top our public agenda.
BRIAN SCHATZ, Candidate for Lt. Governor
NOW THEY WANT TO RAISE TAXES?
A temporary excise tax increase… am I dreaming?
I’ve looked everywhere in the news and can’t find a word about it.
If it happens, this is closing the barn door after this cow is long-gone. This Hawaii Department of Education state employee has canceled phone landline and TV. I’ve sold everything, canceled my retirement fund and chose cheaper medical coverage. I NEVER go to restaurants or movies. I shop at the Animal Shelter Thrift Store, so my little speck of money is going to the dogs.
Nine months ago, HGEA’s Randy Perreira said to increase the excise tax. Legislature wouldn’t even talk about it. NEVER touch the 4.0167 sacred cow.
Will I reinstate all those canceled services and go back to normal spending NOW?
A sensible increase in excise tax in the first place, instead of furloughs and layoffs, would have kept the money circulating, spread the pain and drain more evenly, your kids would be in school on Fridays and I’d be out shopping.
State furloughs plus layoffs equals less spending, less tax revenue, more deficit. If Gov. Linda Lingle increases it now, it’s a drop of water on a very dry desert.
If Hawaii had a more supported educational system, maybe our legislators would have been able to do the math before it was too late. (Of course, you cannot teach common sense!)
DONNA ALALEM, Kapaa, Hawaii
POLITICAL MACHINE VERY EFFECTIVE
News from Washington: The Rahm Emanuel Administration has proved to be an awesome vote-getting machine both on Main Street and Wall Street. History will recognize its truly stunning innovation in presidential politics as hiring a political chameleon with cute ears to make inspiring populist speeches to the poor folks, while Rahm cuts back room deals with his brethren in pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, investment banks and the military.
Never in American history have we seen such an effective method of stifling opposition while strengthening the power of the status quo. Never before have we seen stuck-in-the-mud conservatism so successfully touted as change.
Street protests against war have disappeared. Demonstrations against bank bailouts and insurance companies have disappeared. The two-party system has disappeared! Never before has the nation been so united behind the powers that be. We’re all just one big happy family now.
There are even new names for it. Paul Krugman calls it “Lemon Socialism.” Dylan Ratigan calls it “Corporate Communism.” I call it “Obamaism,” where peace is war and dispensing corporate welfare has become the main job description of government.
What exciting times. Is this what they mean by “The Rapture?”
RICH ZUBATY, Wailuku
LAWMAKERS ALLOW SALE OF CRUEL PRODUCT
Two weeks ago, four Hawaii state senators met behind closed doors to support powerful agricultural interests by continuing to allow the sale of a product so cruel that its production has been banned in 15 countries and the State of California.
Foie gras, or fattened liver, is made by force-feeding ducks to the point of organ rupture and death, so their livers can be up to 12 times their normal size and almost entirely fat.
The amount of high-density corn mush foie gras farmers force-feed to ducks per day weighs the same as the variety of snails, grains, grasses and insects a duck would eat in TEN DAYS voluntarily.
Sen. Clayton Hee’s Senate Bill 2170 would have banned the sale of this cruel product in Hawaii, and it passed the first Senate committee unanimously. There were hundreds of written testimonies from Hawaiians in favor of the bill, but the Judiciary Committee decided to can it in favor of the restaurant and farm lobby without even allowing oral testimony at the hearing, as Sen. Hee and Rep. Joseph Bertram requested.
The Judiciary Committee raised the issue of enforcement. However, any health inspector can easily tell if a liver is normal or diseased, white and 12 times its normal size. Beef farmers also made the ridiculous assertion that passing such a ban would lead to the banning of all meat in Hawaii. While there are many factory farming practices that would be objectionable to most people and should be changed, foie gras is inherently cruel because it can only be made by force-feeding, and the whole point is to produce a diseased and grotesquely enlarged liver.
Many companies, from Costco.com to Whole Foods, have a policy against carrying foie gras due to the cruelty required for its production. Many famous chefs, from Wolfgang Puck to Charlie Trotter, also refuse to serve foie gras for the very same reason.
Sir Roger Moore, the actor who played James Bond in many early films, has narrated a video of investigations into foie gras farms in the U.S. and France, which can be viewed at www.banfoiegras.org.
Because the Judiciary Committee decided to ignore the feelings of their constituents on an issue of extreme animal cruelty, and did not even allow a hearing, we have no choice but to take to the streets and protest the restaurants that continue to carry this barbaric product. If you will join our efforts in Maui and attend peaceful rallies, please call Barbara at 879-0025. Visit banfoiegras.org for more information.
BARBARA STEINBERG, Kihei