LETTERS for March 18 issue
CONTINUE MAY DAY AT PRINCESS NAHIENAENA
We don’t know if you realize or not that the annual May Day Ceremony has been dropped from the Princess Nahienaena Elementary School calendar. With all of the budget cuts and furlough days, the school administration thought it was best to not celebrate May Day this year, due to the amount of classroom time it takes to prepare for the performances.
We, a group of concerned parents, are forming a committee of parents, teachers, staff and community members who think that May Day matters too much to just be passed by. We feel this is an important part of our children’s experience at Princess Nahienaena, and that the performing arts should be included in their education. Also, we feel that the tradition itself is part of our Hawaiian culture and don’t want to see that disappear.
We also understand that our children’s limited class time is a concern. They have so few hours left this year.
After meeting with Principal Kaipo Miller and the PTA, our idea is this: Hold May Day back on campus. Students who want to participate will have to be available for after-school practices and return a participation form. Parents will have to be involved. Only the children who want to participate will be involved, and the other students will enjoy the performance on Thursday, May 6, at 12:30 p.m.
Please join us on Wednesday, March 24, at 6 p.m. in the school cafeteria for a community meeting to discuss what needs to be done to pull this off. This year’s May Day Celebration will be a true work of the community and celebration of our support of our children.
For more information, or to share your ideas, if you are unable to attend on March 24, please e-mail our committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEACHERS UNSURE ABOUT THEIR JOBS
What is going on up on the hill at Lahainaluna High School? The teachers up there are being kept in the dark as to whether they will have a job next year. While teachers at all the other schools already know their lines for the next school year, this is not the case at Lahainaluna.
If those other teachers don’t have a job, they are prepared to apply to any vacancies that will be announced soon.
Many of the teachers up at Lahainaluna don’t know if they will be bumped from their positions in the next school year, and they will not know this until it is too late to apply elsewhere because the administration keeps putting it off.
We are at risk of losing some great teachers. They will be greatly missed, especially since their positions will be filled by some really bad teachers.
Is this what we think of our children’s future? Is this the value we place on education?
NATALIE BEANO, West Maui
HOME, CULTURE AND VINDICTIVE POLITICS
Over the past year-and-a-half, I have been the subject of dozens of news articles. I am a native Lanaian who has been accused by a handful of disgruntled voters of not living on Lanai. One newspaper has assisted in serving as my judge and jury — even urging me in an editorial to resign from elected office. I stand as an example of how any law-abiding individual can be subjected to harassing lawsuits, gossip and innuendo.
For the record, I live on Lanai. This place is the core of who I am. Lanai is now and will forever be my home. I was born on Lanai and grew up here. My family has seen seven generations on this island. Over the course of a lifetime, I have explored every inch of this place; I know it intimately. As a young man, I worked on the plantation. After leaving to go to university, I came home to Lanai.
My wife and I made a home on Lanai and our children were born here. As social and economic change swept through our island, I became increasingly involved with community groups and organizations. Ultimately, I decided to enter public service. Campaigning and holding public office meant spending many nights away from my family, something that was not easy. Such is the reality shared by legislators and council members from outer islands and rural areas; we must leave our homes to serve our districts, to convene, and to campaign.
Through two terms on the Maui County Council and two terms in the State Legislature, I represented Lanai, as well as the surrounding “canoe district” of Molokai, parts of Maui, Kaho‘olawe and Kalaupapa. I later accepted a position with the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) and moved to Maui to work in KIRC’s Wailuku office.
In 2008, with critical economic challenges facing our islands, and at the urging of several friends and family members, I decided to run for the Lanai seat on the Maui County Council. Before officially entering the race, I openly discussed my voter status with the County Clerk. I explained that during my entire life I had lived and voted on Lanai, but that I had changed my residence and voter registration to Lahaina for three years while working at KIRC. I informed the clerk that I would be moving back to our family home on Lanai — the same home where my family had lived for decades. After consulting the County Charter and the State Constitution, the clerk accepted my new voter registration and assured me that I met all of the legal residency requirements for candidates.
In October of 2008, after it was clear that I had won the primary election, an unhappy group of complainants contacted the County Clerk, challenging my residency and demanding that my name be removed from the ballot. Among the group were two of my opponents, along with a handful of their supporters and a campaign manager. Ironically, also among the group pointing the finger and questioning my residency were newcomers to the island, as well as part-time residents. With accusations that have traveled up to the Hawaii Supreme Court, the group has filed several legal assaults aimed at depriving me of my residency status in order to remove me from office.
As a Native Hawaiian, and more specifically, a native Lanaian, my world view is closely aligned with my ancestral home and culture. It has been profoundly painful to my family and me to have the very foundations of my identity attacked in such a callous manner — and all for political vindictiveness. That a group would attempt to dispossess me, or any person, of one’s innate cultural foundation is deeply distressing, and the implications are infinitely more disturbing than the outcome of a political contest. Try to imagine what it would feel like to be stripped of your ancestral heritage and home for purely political purposes.
Lanai is my home, and one day, it will be where my bones are laid to rest. Meanwhile, my focus remains on the work of the council. This council term requires that my Planning Committee complete the Maui County General Policy Plan by March 2010 and the Maui Island Plan by October 2010. Beyond that, the council must deliberate and adopt a balanced Fiscal Year 2011 county budget by June 2010. I will continue to work tirelessly for the people of Lanai and Maui County until the last day of my term.
SOL KAHO‘OHALAHALA, Maui County Councilman
COUNTY PICKING WRONG PEOPLE FOR COMMISSIONS
I strongly urge readers to watch Akaku coverage of the March 4-5 Committee of the Whole meeting.
There appears to be no criteria or qualification to get on a board other than to “know somebody.” I was appalled to learn that Mayor Charmaine Tavares would nominate people with a history of aggressive behavior toward community members to serve on commissions.
I was outraged that the County Council approved the nomination of a citizen who actually displayed aggressive behavior toward testifiers at the March 4, 2010 meeting — and police had to be called!
People who testify in front of commissions do not deserve to be intimidated, attacked or belittled. Even if a commissioner disagrees, the rule of respect must always be followed ALWAYS.
I wonder why a commissioner who has repeatedly complained about the “headache” of serving on the Planning Commission would continue to serve when others are willing and able? I wonder why they would be re-nominated to another influential commission immediately after completing a term, when there are others willing and able.
The carpenters’ union must have a lot of friends in high places — apparently more than the regular Joe.
Thank God for Akaku allowing citizens to see what really takes place.
RAYNA FOSTER, Lahaina
TRAFFIC FINES HELP FUND COURT SYSTEM
(The following letter was sent to Frederick LaCount, whose letter, “Police must target speeders,” appeared in last week’s issue.)
Thank you for your e-mail. I’m sorry in the delay in getting back to you personally, but it is not because the issues you raised are not important to me. Rather, we had to hear and move all the bills out of the House in order to have them get to the Senate and hopefully the governor by the end of year.
In regards to the traffic fine issue, with all due respect to the officer you talked to, the account he gave was very inaccurate. The money for traffic fines collected in Maui DOES NOT all end up going to Oahu. Currently, fines collected from traffic infractions from across the state go to the Judiciary. These funds are used to fund the repair and upgrade of the Maui courts and other state courts, as well as pay for staff and services for Maui courts and other courts around the state. It is because of these fines that we have a state-of-the-art courtroom in Lahaina staffed with judges and clerks, so that we don’t have to go to Wailuku to have access to justice.
That being said, what has bothered both the Maui County Police Department and myself is the issue of remittance to the county for uncontested traffic fines. Uncontested traffic fines are fines collected when people violate traffic laws, get fined and simply send the payment in. Unlike contested fines — where there are judicial hearings at court and require staffing and judges — uncontested fines are simply received and processed, not involving much work at all. While the nexus between contested fines and funding court operations on Maui and other islands across the state are clear, it is my belief that there is no reason not to require the Judiciary give a portion of these fines generated on Maui back to Maui County to be used to support our law enforcement and public safety operations. To that end, I have consistently introduced legislation to require that a portion of uncontested fines go to Maui County and the other counties as well. Unfortunately, these bills haven’t received a hearing from the Transportation Committee this session, but I hope that we can try again next year, and your voice in helping me urge the committee to hear the bill would be most helpful in getting a discussion going on this issue again. In addition to that measure, I have legislatively supported the Maui County Police Department by introducing various other bills on their behalf, such as a bill to prohibit roadside vending on the Pali, so that our lifeline to the other side of the island is not clogged with vendors trying to use the scenic lookouts and turn-offs on the highway to make a buck; and amending the child passenger seat law to allow officers to fine the parents, even if they are not in the car with a child that is not using the seat, among others.
As to the issue of speeders on Honoapiilani Highway, I agree with you wholeheartedly but must point out that there actually already is a “zero tolerance policy” against speeding, and the statute clearly states that it is against the law to exceed the posted speed limit on a state highway. There is no exception or waiver in the law for speeding, and as such, an officer upon witnessing the event is supposed to issue a citation to the speeder. The fact that officers are not staging the area and enforcing the law is a manpower allocation issue and not an issue of state law being easy on speeders. I agree that if these areas were being fully manned, then the number of citations would rise dramatically. However, it is up to the Maui County Police Department to dispatch officers to these areas to enforce the state law against speeding.
To my knowledge, the county has never told me that there is a manpower shortage issue, so it is matter of continuing to lobby the police, County Council and mayor to ensure that these areas are being properly monitored. Considering that we at the legislature have just restored $38 million in transient accommodations tax money — funds collected from visitors coming to Hawaii — to Maui County, I would hope that the county will allocate some of those resources toward ensuring the police department has the resources it needs to operate properly until we can tackle the uncontested fine issue next session.
As to the speeder notification program, the state Department of Transportation already conducts such a campaign, termed “Arrive Alive,” that puts banners and ads on radio and TV reminding people that speeding is against the law, and they will be cited for it. I agree with the public awareness campaign issue as to the rental car companies, and I will have my staff create a resolution urging the rental car companies, in conjunction with the counties, to launch a speeder notification program for rental cars.
Once again, I apologize for the delay, but I do take your concerns seriously.
REP. ANGUS McKELVEY, Lahaina