LETTERS for April 8 issue
MAJOR PROJECTS WILL HEIGHTEN PROBLEM
(The following letter was sent to state legislators, the Maui County Council and Mayor’s Office.)
Today I would like to share a concern I have had for some time now because of the potential problems these three large developments will cause for us. The three are: Jesse Spencer’s 1,100 units at Maalaea, the 1,500 units of Olowalu’s new town, and now, the 4,000 units of Villages of Leiali‘i. Together they total 6,600 units, most of which I’m afraid will be sold to buyers who do not yet live here.
This can potentially account for 13,000 more cars on our roads and highways. We’re already behind on our infrastructure, and I don’t care if these developments won’t happen in the next 20 years. Our problems will grow ten- or 20-fold in the meantime while the developers laugh all the way to the bank, after leaving for us what the birds leave in the streets.
We simply cannot let this happen. We must learn to use the word “NO!!!”
I believe it’s time for us all to put our heads together and start planning for the future of our grandchildren, who will never know the Maui we all grew up in. Mahalo palena ‘ole for your unyielding attention.
GORDON C. COCKETT, Lahaina
CONDO DIRECTORS NEED TRAINING
Two articles in the March 14 issue of the Honolulu Advertiser, entitled “Fighting Hawaii condo boards is costly, risky” and “Fighting a condo association can be futile,” both come at a time when major problems, where I live, have been ignored by our board of directors.
A petition was circulated and signed to hold a special meeting of the owners with the purpose of recalling board members that had either ignored or caused the problems. The special meeting was held on March 12. According to State of Hawaii law, it takes 51 percent of the ownership to recall a director. There were 44 owners in favor of the recall, and we fell nine votes short. The directors considered this as a victory.
The two articles spell out the problem we now have: COSTLY, RISKY and FUTILE.
Why do condominium problems exist? Quoting from the article: “Homeowners who serve on condo boards typically are volunteers who have little or no experience running large apartment developments. Yet they have the authority to make decisions that can greatly affect scores of their neighbors financially and in other ways. If the board members ignore their fiduciary duties or fail to follow the advice of the hired experts, the ramifications can be serious and costly.”
What it boils down to, if you own a condominium, you are at the mercy of people that may not know what they are doing.
Can this problem be corrected? Possibly. The DCCA needs to set up a requirement for all persons wishing to serve on the board of directors for a condominium. They need to be certified that they understand the State of Hawaii condominium laws. They need to know what their fiduciary duties are. They need to know what constitutes conflict of interest.
Aside from condominium politics, I would not trade the lifestyle for any single-family residence. You can lock the doors and go on vacation without concern. The exterior maintenance is not your problem. You can play golf while the guy on the hill is mowing his lawn. There is a sense of freedom that a condo affords that does not exist with a single-family residence. Yes, but it could be better!
FOSTER HULL, Lahaina
SCHOOL UNIFORMS REDUCE PROBLEMS
Uniforms are a subject of great debate. They are needed for an optimal learning environment.
Uniforms are a growing trend in schools across the world. Many students who attend these schools see them as useless and want free dress. Uniforms have their reasons and they have their benefits.
First, the main reason for uniforms is to prevent violence, especially gang issues. By preventing members from wearing gang paraphernalia, they prevent fights between members of rival gangs. Uniforms can also prevent students from fighting over who is “best dressed” and prevent theft of expensive clothing. Besides preventing students from harming others, uniforms can stop campus intruders before they hurt students by making them easier to spot, since they are not going to be in uniform.
Second, uniforms eliminate many distractions. They prevent students from wearing inappropriate clothing that promotes others to “check them out,” rather than focus on school work. Another is what to wear. Instead of working, they may contemplate what to wear tomorrow. Uniforms reduce the hassle.
The main objection is they deny students expression of personality. The students at Lahaina Intermediate School have many options when it comes to “expressing personality.” We can express ourselves through shoes, jackets, etc., as long as it fits into the dress code.
In conclusion, uniforms help prevent violence and they eliminate many distractions. These “expressions of personality” through clothes are unnecessary at school. Students can express themselves through their actions and in art class.
VALERIE BRADFORD, Eighth-Grader, Lahaina Intermediate School
REDIRECT WAS SPENDING FOR BETTER PURPOSES
The seventh anniversary of our Middle East wars passed with the usual rational and humanitarian protests.
The mainstream appears resigned to muddling through, trying not to think about all the lost money, lives and limbs, or the civil liberties squashed in the ongoing quest for some kind of security. That often means controlling dissent and hiding government crimes from the American people.
Studying who actually profits from this war might help us understand why it started, why it continues and how to end it by redirecting our resources.
The long denied grizzly in the closet, our oil addiction, could become a teddy bear if we dedicated substantial war expenses to developing solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
Private war contracts spent at home improving decayed and inefficient infrastructure would extend jobs and opportunities into communities most in need of help.
War money could support genuine sustainable economies offering environmentally restorative and profitable alternatives to corporate exploitation and desperation.
The military industrial complex would quickly embrace peace if we followed maverick Marine General Smedley Butler’s advice to draft industry and Congress for the duration, at the same pay grade as a private getting shot at on the battlefield.
The religious/ideological issues might be largely resolved by strict compliance with our constitutional requirement that no religion be favored over another.
Finally, recognizing that public airwaves are limited and therefore not free, habitual abuse of broadcast license to spread lies for profit or politics could result in fines or loss of license.
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED, LEGISLATORS
The democracy we cherish thrives on leaders who have honor and integrity. The health of our democracy depends on having leaders who are willing to make judgments on matters of public policy even when we sometimes disagree with those judgments. We respect leaders when they engage in democracy openly and honestly, because that’s how we know they respect us.
However, sometimes the leaders we elect are tempted to avoid accountability in difficult, seemingly no-win situations. But those who are true leaders are willing to stand up and be counted. On politically high-risk decisions, there is an even greater expectation that our leaders will act with honor and integrity.
A fundamental principle of democracy is the recorded vote, which is incorporated in Hawaii’s sunshine law. This law calls for public leaders to record their actions and votes for all to see.
However, there is one big exception: the legislature. House and Senate rules allow decisions to be made without recording the votes of its members. This must change.
We believe legislators’ votes should be recorded. In spite of its sunshine law exemption, the legislature should amend its rules to prohibit anonymous votes. This would eliminate the temptation for legislators to conceal their stance on difficult issues, and ensure transparency.
A month ago, the House was widely criticized for its anonymous vote to defeat the controversial civil unions bill, House Bill 444. A motion was made to postpone the bill indefinitely. This should have triggered debate on the bill’s merits, but it did not. Nor did any House member seek a roll call vote. We believe a recorded vote should have been taken without a member having to request it.
Citizens on both sides of the issue want a recorded vote, and legislators owe the public at least that much. The legislature will earn the respect of the public by voting on HB 444.
Recently, another anonymous vote was taken. This time, it was to recall a bill on the right to fly the American flag. Even though eight House members requested a recorded vote, it was denied because House rules require 11 supporters.
Ironically, when the recall vote was taken, the count of raised hands was incorrect, and the attempt to bring the bill to the floor failed. If recording individual members’ votes had been a requirement, the motion would have passed.
Fortunately, the flag bill will now be getting a proper vote. But on the civil unions bill, House members need to seek a vote to make that happen. Some legislators, both proponents and opponents, want a vote on HB 444 because they support public accountability, and we applaud them. Indeed, our concern here is to ensure the proper functioning of our democracy, not to take a position on the issue of civil unions.
We call on legislators to demonstrate that they value their honor and the health of our democracy. We call on them to take public votes on the issues they address. They owe it to the people who elected them and who deserve to see how their elected leaders discharge the responsibility that has been entrusted to them.
JOANN MARUOKA, League of Women Voters of Hawaii
NIKKI LOVE, Common Cause Hawaii
ROBIN LOOMIS, Hawaii Pro-Democracy Initiative
ALETHEA REBMAN, Citizen Voice
BARBARA POLK, Americans for Democratic Action/Hawaii
JOSH FROST, Progressive Democrats of Hawaii