LETTERS for July 15 issue
KEKA’A WAS MEANT TO BECOME A PARK
Thanks for an excellent feature on the old Kaanapali Airport and Royal Hawaiian Air Service. Used ’em, loved ’em. And the Bloody Marys at the top of the Windsock’s circular staircase that Mama Cass couldn’t ever have negotiated were indeed the best. High School Harry had da secret.
It reminded me of a line in home girl Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” which goes something like this: “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” It was copied well by, I believe, Counting Crows.
The sad part of the story is that when our former mayor and current governor, and the always esteemed Maui County Council came up with the money to buy North Beach and sanctify it for eternity, something suddenly happened at the 11th hour, and instead a timeshare resort was built on the entire landscape of what could have been the best beach park in Hawaii.
How… um… strange that was. I wonder where the money went (in either direction).
Maui No Ka ‘Oi.
DOUG KARR, West Maui
ROUNDABOUTS HAVE MANY PLUSES
In a July 1 letter, Bob Newell suggested that a roundabout would be unsafe and cause confusion and congestion. Modern roundabouts are one of the safest intersections that exist. There are many types of circular intersections, and many drivers confuse the different types.
Older style rotaries and traffic circles, the very large objects with high speeds and variable control at the entries, are not the same as modern roundabouts. Mr. Newell suggests modern roundabouts are not simple, but when you consider the rules for an all-way stop or signal and compare them to the rules for a modern roundabout, it becomes clear the roundabout is the simpler intersection.
At a modern roundabout, rule one is slow down — they are designed to operate at about 20 mph.
Rule two is prepare to stop, but if there are no pedestrians at the crosswalks or conflicting drivers in the circular roadway, stopping is not needed. Remember that there is another crosswalk when you exit.
Rule three pertains to a multilane roundabout, for which you should pick your entry lane based on your exit. Just like at a signal, you don’t turn left from the far right lane — you turn left from the left lane. Multilane modern roundabouts are designed so that lane changes in the circular roadway are rarely needed.
Rule four is signal your exit. This helps the downstream drivers know you are leaving, and they can take your place.
Four basic rules to navigating a modern roundabout. And the rules don’t change when the power goes out. I once got up to 12 rules for a signal. I personally would prefer drivers are engaged in the practice of driving, and not shutting off their brains waiting for a red or green light.
The slow design speed of 20 mph is the primary safety benefit of a modern roundabout over a “stop or go fast” signalized intersection. It makes the roundabout much more efficient — think less delay than a comparable signal at moving vehicles, while making collisions much easier to avoid. Collisions that do occur are much less likely to end in an injury. For safety facts, search for “roundabouts” at www.fhwa.gov or www.iihs.org.
As for congestion, a single-lane modern roundabout can move up to 20,000 vehicles per day without significant issues, and a two-lane one can move upwards of 50,000 vehicles per day. The average delay at a signal in the U.S. is 12 seconds, while at a modern roundabout it is less than five.
During the non-commute times, slowing is all that is needed. No stopping when no one else is around just because of a dumb signal.
There are about 2,000 modern roundabouts in the U.S., with more coming every day (France has about 30,000).
And while it is very gracious to worry about Mainlanders becoming confused, I’m sure there are many other sights in Hawaii much more distracting than a modern roundabout.
SCOTT BATSON, Portland Bureau of Transportation
RESIDENTS WAITING FOR LAHAINA BYPASS
I just read headlines about the Paia Bypass possibly starting in 2015.
Paia residents, don’t hold your breath on this. As a 40-year resident of West Maui, I am already blue in the face… ready to pass out… waiting for my promised bypass of 35 years!!!
Kihei and Pukalani got their bypasses years ago, while West Maui residents were paying their high property taxes. And still we wait for our turn.
But, no…. we get another two lanes of highway in Lahaina that will more than likely cause a bottleneck in Puamana and probably multiple accidents. Thanks a lot!
Again, all we get our false promises.
SU CAMPOS, Napili
HANDS FREE, BUT NOT THE BRAIN
Finally, as the last county in the state, we have a “hands free” cell phone law. And, as usual, it is a half measure.
When you make calls while driving, whether you initiate or receive them, YOUR BRAIN IS DISTRACTED.
Mayor Tavares, why did you not set an example and just cut the risk of an accident caused by using telecommunication devices altogether and encourage our enlightened lawmakers to go all the way?
911 calls are exempt anyway. Hands free is a small step, but it is your brain that tells your hands what to do. Are we really having no common sense among our politicians at all?
You get a call: “How is the weather where you are? Can you stop at the supermarket and bring a dozen different things as follows…”
Blah, blah, blah… Like our politicians.
So, we MAY cut accidents and fatalities by about 50 percent. Why not 100 percent, or as close as possible?
I would like to receive your answer to that question, Mayor Tavares. A little more participation in making laws that make 100 percent sense would not hurt at all.
Please explain to me and all the other residents of Maui County why we don’t get a law that takes care of the entire problem. I would really appreciate it.
JOHN BLAHUTA, Lahaina
COUNTY SHOULD BE MORE PRO-BUSINESS
I have a business in the back of the building at 744 Front St. Being in the back, it is very difficult to get the tourists I need to be successful off the street and back to my business. In order to get their attention, we have a rollaway sign set just off the sidewalk.
Last week, a man identifying himself as an inspector for the Department of Planning came in and informed me that the sign violated zoning regulations and would have to be removed. He said that there had been a “public outcry” against such signs on Front Street.
In this very difficult economic environment, is it really necessary for the county to make it more difficult for small business owners to survive? Without my sign out on Front Street, I will get no foot traffic, which will result in no sales, and thus no sales tax income for the county and the closing of my business.
When I tried to make this point to the inspector, his response was that he was only enforcing the rules. I saw in the newspaper this morning that the pools were going to be closed because there was no money to keep them open. That money comes from the taxes we businesses generate. Without us, plan on seeing other programs close.
Maui County (Department of Planning) needs to be more pro-business, instead of enforcing ridiculous ordinances that will reduce our ability to generate sales and, in return, provide the money needed to run the county.
FREDERICK LaCOUNT, Bella Vetri Gallery
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ISSUE NOT GOING AWAY
It’s a sad day for Hawaii Nei now that Gov. Linda Lingle has made her decision to veto House Bill 444. She missed her chance to stand on the right side of history along with those who fought to outlaw slavery and racial discrimination. She also failed to exercise her legislative power responsibly by acting on behalf of the minority members of our society.
This is not an issue for the people to decide. Righting the wrongs of slavery and racial discrimination were not decided by ballot vote due to the deep divisiveness within the populace over the issues — similar to what’s happening today in our community. These injustices would have continued for a much longer time in our history had ending slavery and discrimination been determined by majoritarian rule.
Civil unions provide only a second-class substitute for marriage. If there’s an unseen benefit to this veto, perhaps it’s that the legislature’s “halfway” measure to bring equality to all of Hawaii’s citizens through civil unions was a well-intended, yet ultimately flawed, plan.
Sooner or later, the Hawaii Supreme Court, or higher court, will rule on and strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and invalidate any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Similar legal precedent was set forth over 50 years ago when states struck down bans against interracial marriage. Either equality means the same rights and privileges for everyone, or it just isn’t EQUALITY.
Once the ban is overturned, lawmakers will cultivate the courage and vote to legalize same-sex marriage with rights identical to those of opposite-sex couples. When that time comes, contact your local legislators and tell them to “go for broke” by crafting a bill that authorizes same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
Don’t be discouraged. This issue isn’t going to disappear. Take encouragement from today’s younger generations who have demonstrated they’re far less threatened and much more accepting of sexual diversity than many of their elders. It may take time, but in tomorrow’s world, justice for all will ultimately prevail.
DR. MICHAEL RA BOUCHARD, Hilo
COUNCIL SHOULD FACE THE AUDIENCE
Many of us have attended Maui County Council meetings. We sit in the gallery and look down at the backs of the heads of the council members. The only things visible are the women’s hairdos and men’s bald spots. We don’t know what they look like.
As a citizen, I demand that the seating be turned around so that we can see our council people. We should be able to see whether they are smiling, frowning or falling asleep.
We vote for them. After they win, shouldn’t we see them in action face to face?
ARSENE “BLACKIE” GADARIAN, Lahaina
RESOURCES BEING WASTED ON WAR
The U.S. Army would rebuild America’s sagging infrastructure, guard our borders and clean up land-based pollution.
The U.S. Navy would provide shoreline maintenance, guard our coastlines and clean up water-based pollution.
The U.S. Air Force would protect our airspace and airports, monitor and control air pollution and stop filling the sky with aluminum chaff.
The Marines would be the “jack of all trades” and respond to all problems with their “gung ho” attitude.
N.A.S.A. would clean up space junk, help with the ozone layer, watch for meteors and such.
Imagine if our armed services only went overseas to help other countries in times of emergencies. What a beloved country we would be.
With most of our tax dollars going toward the industrial war complex, America is getting shortchanged in the heartland.
A billion dollars a day to support troops fighting on foreign soil — for what? Could President Obama really stop the war? No way.
Remember when John F. Kennedy said he would stop the Vietnam war and dismantle the C.I.A.? It was run by George Bush Sr. at the time. Kennedy was dead two weeks after that speech.
Imagine the corporate war industry that controls our country turning into something positive and saving our planet.
ROGER DATBRAUGH, Lahaina
AMERICANS WON’T PROFIT FROM MEDICAL LOSS RULES
With the passage of health care reform, Congress seems poised to expand access to health coverage. Unfortunately, by failing to address the health care system’s skyrocketing costs, the reform package could increase the number of Americans without insurance.
The bill pins its hopes for trimming costs on ill-defined mechanisms to eliminate “waste” from the system. One such mechanism requires insurers to spend a percentage of their revenues on medical claims. Called a “minimum loss ratio,” this rule has been implemented in more than 15 states.
Supporters argue that insurers’ profits and administrative costs are responsible for the rising price of health care. By requiring insurers to spend a certain amount on claims, lawmakers think they can bring down insurance costs and help consumers get their money’s worth.
The facts speak to the contrary. Minimum medical loss ratios don’t just raise insurance prices — they also undermine the ability of insurers to provide patients with the benefits they expect.
For starters, consider the data on insurers’ profits. According to Fortune magazine, health insurers claim 6 cents in profit for every dollar in revenue — good enough for 35th place on the magazine’s list of industries.
Further, insurers’ administrative costs are lower than critics claim. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 86 cents of every premium dollar goes to medical care. A significant portion of the remaining 14 cents covers services that benefit patients and decrease long-term health costs, like prevention programs and investments in health information technology.
Research shows that administrative costs have nothing to do with rising insurance premiums. A 2008 Rand Corporation study of California’s medical loss ratios determined that “administrative costs and profits are not driving premium growth in California or nationwide.” The same report found that states without loss ratios spend the same percentage of premium dollars on medical care as those with such controls.
People in states with minimum loss ratios face fewer insurance choices, less competition and higher premiums than their counterparts in states without them, according to a 2006 PricewaterhouseCoopers study.
New Jersey, for instance, maintains minimum loss rules for individual and small-group carriers. Yet the Garden State’s premiums are among the highest in the country. The average annual premium for a skimpy policy for a 35-year-old man is an astounding $4,460.
Extending minimum loss ratios nationwide — as the congressional health reform package will do — could cause health costs to spiral even further.
We can’t lower insurance costs until we bring down the cost of health care. Reformers should focus their attention on moneysaving initiatives that work — not seductive shortcuts like minimum medical loss ratios.
JANET TRAUTWEIN, CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters