LETTERS for September 30 issue
CAMPOS THANKS SUPPORTERS
I would like to thank the 1,296 people who voted for me in the primaries. I was very pleased and humbled by the number of votes I got.
I truly hope that our next West Maui County Council person will take care of our beloved West Maui and the rest of the county, and remember that it is our working class that keeps the “aloha” going. Without us… there is no Maui County.
I will continue to voice my opinions — as I have in the past with letters to the editor — because I know that 1,296 of you are listening to what I have to say.
SU CAMPOS, Napili
RUNNING WAS A GOOD EXPERIENCE
I want to thank Ramon Madden for his energy and enthusiasm. I wish the best for Ramon and his family. I also want to thank all those who voted, especially my wonderful family and supporters.
Among my supporters, Jo Anne Johnson is a friend I can always count on. Mahalo, Jo Anne.
I gained much and lost nothing. My life is richer as a result of this experience.
I humbly ask the public to join me in supporting Alan Arakawa for mayor, Elle Cochran for council and Duke Aiona for governor.
May God bless our leaders with wisdom.
CHAYNE MARTEN, Napili
OUTSOURCING HAS GONE TOO FAR
Outsourcing of American products has gone too far. We know that for years, our cars, refrigerators, appliances, clothing, furniture, tools, etc. are being built in other countries.
It is a shock to find that now Pepto-Bismol is being made in Mexico. Just thinking of it gives me indigestion.
ARSENE “BLACKIE” GADARIAN, Lahaina
WHY SHOULD VOTERS TRUST WAYNE NISHIKI?
Wayne Nishiki likes to say he asks the “hard questions,” but he squirms when someone asks him a tough one. Like why he lied to the public in the last election, saying that he would never give the time of day to developers. Simultaneously, he was masterfully hiding a $100,000 “loan” from one of the biggest developers on Maui.
In a recent story on the upcoming election, Nishiki was again chastising his competitor for reporting campaign contributions from business interests.
“They expect favors” in return, he said, in a holier than thou tone. One has to wonder what $100,000 bought. Are we expected to believe a fairy tale about how one of the biggest developers on Maui suddenly took a liking to Nishiki?
The deception and misdirection continues, as Nishiki said he had “no intention to mislead” when he deliberately withheld his financial disclosure statement until one week before the general election, despite six separate calls from the Board of Ethics demanding that he report his finances as required by law.
But then he has the gall to add, “I don’t think we made a mistake,” in submitting the disclosure late. A statement of truth. He intended to hide the “loan” while declaring himself to be free of developer connections. His actions were masterful, and deceitful.
He played his cards very carefully. There was no mistake.
So the “hard question” to Wayne Nishiki is: why should the public ever trust you again?
CAREY OWEN, Kihei
VOTING FOR COUCH AN EASY DECISION
Having lived in Kihei for 34 years now, I have personally known both Wayne Nishiki and Don Couch for many of those years — Don in the business community, and Wayne as a friend I used to surf with and frequent his produce stands to talk story.
A recent story about the Couch-Nishiki race missed a key point. Wayne has changed. Kihei wants to have a council member it can talk to — someone who actually cares about the community. Someone who will actually answer the phone when we call. I called and e-mailed Wayne numerous times prior to the last election and never got a single response.
For the whole time that Wayne Nishiki has represented the South Maui district, he has ignored our community. The only people who get to meet with him are his friends. If you have not already demonstrated that you are on his side, don’t expect to be invited in.
Despite living a couple of miles from where the Kihei Community Association meets, you will never see Nishiki at their meetings — unless, of course, the KCA holds an election event. His idea of an accomplishment for the community is the millions of dollars in projects that were already in the works or started despite his lack of involvement.
By contrast, Don Couch is an active part of our community. He watched out for South Maui when he worked for Mayor Arakawa and he continued as a board member of the Kihei Community Association after he left office. He has demonstrated his interest and concern and that he will be the type of council member that South Maui wants.
I wish I could say it was a tough decision for me on who to vote for, but it’s not.
Sorry Wayne — I’m supporting Don Couch.
CHARLEY NEAL, Kihei
DON’T OVERTAX MAUI VISITORS
Our elected officials and voters should give serious consideration to the long-term economic impact of raising taxes disproportionately on individuals who don’t live here. Visitors are aware that they are being singled out, and they can choose other vacation options, which impacts the number of people who vacation here. Property taxes for timeshares are now $14/$1,000. In addition, timeshare owners pay a 9.25 percent transient accommodations tax and also a 4 percent general excise tax, which is by far the highest taxes on timeshares anywhere in the U.S. Timeshare owners know they are being singled out. Do the politicians and residents of Maui realize they are hurting the people of this island in the long run by passing along these sky-high taxes to visitors?
The visitor industry provides the major source of employment for the people of Maui. The timeshare industry is a significant portion of the vacationers coming to Maui. Every week, nearly 6,000 to 7,500 timeshare visitors come to our island. They shop, dine, go on tours and provide jobs to many people in our island. Most families in this island are directly or indirectly dependent on tourism for our livelihood, and a majority of that market is timeshare.
As someone in the business of assisting timeshare owners with reselling their properties, I am already observing the impact of this increase. With the current economic challenges and loss of jobs, many who own one or more Maui timeshare are choosing to sell just to get out from under the high annual “maintenance” fees which come due each January. In many cases, these fees are up 15 percent or more from 2009, due largely in part to the property tax increase. As timeshare resale listings increase in numbers while prices continue to fall, it has become obvious there are still limited numbers of resale buyers who can afford to purchase the units and take on the high annual fees. Many of the owners are going into default, heading towards foreclosure, and they cannot use their timeshare until the fees are paid. This means the units are sitting empty, and there are fewer people visiting the island. Once foreclosed on, the units sit empty awaiting reselling by the developer, and developer sales are also way down due to taxes that have been placed on the ownership.
As rooms sit vacant, we have fewer visitors in town eating in our restaurants, shopping in our stores, going on tours, etc. Is it any wonder so many smaller operations are shutting down, putting small business owners out of work, and raising the unemployment rate in Maui, a trend we also see on other Hawaiian islands? This has placed us on a downward spiral that could potentially kill tourism on the island in the future. I realize the short-term goal of rescuing our government coffers make timeshares an easy target, but a wise man looks ahead and considers the long-term impact of today’s decisions.
SYED SARMAD, Kula
JOIN THE MOVEMENT TO BAN FOIE GRAS
I would like to invite your readers to join the campaign to ban foie gras in Hawaii. Last week, there were 50 participants in the Humane Society of the United States’ meeting on animal rights in Hawaii.
Part of the program was on the legislature to ban sale of foie gras in Hawaii.
Voting is important in the current elections, as there were three legislators at the meeting willing to work on the campaign to ban sales of foie gras in Hawaii.
We will schedule demonstrations and invite you to participate. We plan to follow in the footsteps of California and the 17 nations in Europe that have banned foie gras.
Should Hawaii pass a law to ban foie gras, it will show that Hawaii cares about kindness to animals and banning such cruel things as foie gras. A local
ban will protect Hawaii’s reputation to be more humane and environmentally conscious.
Bryan Pease of the Animal Protection and Rescue League, who worked on legislation in California to pass the bill there to ban foie grass, said he would come to speak before the House of Representatives in Hawaii in January, when we hope the bill is introduced. He did undercover work at four foie gras farms and has the footage of it.
Here are the sites: www.foiegrasindustry.com/, www.aprl.com/ and www.banfoiegras.com/.
BARBARA STEINBERG, Kihei