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LETTERS for March 13 issue

By Staff | Mar 13, 2014

Speed limit on Lahaina Bypass revised

As the former president of Lahaina Bypass Now, I have a special interest in making sure the Lahaina Bypass serves the needs of the community. When the bypass opened, the state Department of Transportation put 25 and 30 MPH signs on the entire bypass.

This didn’t pass the “common sense” test. Our main stop-and-go highway was 45 MPH, and the new, limited access open bypass was set at 30 MPH. In discussion with the Department of Transportation in Honolulu, it was pointed out that a 30 MPH speed limit made no sense, defeated the very idea and purpose of a bypass, and it would discourage people from ever using the road.

The DOT agreed and has revised the speed limit to 45 MPH on the section of the bypass between Lahainaluna Road and Hokikio Street. The rest of the bypass will be at 30 and 35 MPH, with the exception of the entry and exit portions that will remain at 20 and 25 MPH.

The new speed limit signs are already up.

In another discussion, before the bypass opened, it was suggested to the DOT to lengthen the left turn access lane onto Keawe Street to allow more cars to “stack up” in that lane in order to take the bypass going south. Currently, that lane only holds six cars. The DOT has agreed to make the change and has begun the re-striping process.

Both of these revisions should make the bypass faster and easier to use.

Regarding the recent letter “Better use of bypass funds,” the letter writer might not be aware that 80 percent of the funding for the bypass came from Federal Highway funds, with the other 20 percent coming from the State. Highway funds are specifically allocated and available to only build federal highways and, by law, cannot be used for other purposes. Also, it should be noted that no county funds were spent to build the bypass. All of the four worthy projects listed by the writer are county projects and have nothing to do with any funding for the bypass. If the writer feels these projects are important, I suggest he attend the county budget meetings and express his views.

BOB PURE, Lahaina


Support Maui dancing bill

Last year, 18 of the 25 senators co-introduced Senate Bill 464, which will make the Liquor Control define its dancing rules and clear up this grey area. Maui Dance Advocates would like you to contact the chair (Clift Tsuji, 808-586-8480, reptsuji@capitol.hawaii.gov) and/or vice chair (Gene Ward, 808-586-6420, repward@capitol.hawaii.gov) of the Economic Development and Business Committee and encourage them to put it on their committee agenda.

ANTHONY SIMMONS, President, Maui Dance Advocates


‘Ohana lives on

On Friday afternoon, Feb. 28, a gathering of more than 250 friends and family gathered at North Beach, formally known as Airport Beach of Kaanapali, to bid farewell to Jeffrey Zaugg, known by us all as “The Hulk.”

The gathering included many of us older surfer dudes and beautiful, mature ladies that came to Hawaii in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and into the early ’80s looking for waves, the warmth of the sea, fun in the sun and a new, exciting way of life. With the openness of the local community, we were taken in by the local families and were graciously accepted as part of their ‘ohana. We in turn respected this generosity and became a part of this harmonious Polynesian way of life. We were never strangers in paradise.

When the outrigger canoes took Hulk’s ashes out to sea, strong, gusty south winds and rain prevailed, but this made no difference as we all endured, stood firm without hesitation – this was our friend. The energy was strong. My shirt was not so much drenched by the rain, but by heartfelt tears of seeing so, so, so many friends that had come together to bid their aloha to The Hulk.

Many of us had not seen each other in perhaps 30 years, yet we all live on Maui.

The stories and memories shared that afternoon will live with us forever, and I’m sure that each and every one of us, as we bedded down for the evening, thought back on the last few hours, thinking of the Hulk, how blessed we have been to know him, and how blessed we all have been over the years to know each other.

Those early years, we worked in restaurants with spacious smiles and aloha. Surfing, volleyball, dozens of beach catamarans with beautiful colored sails, crossing the Pailolo Channel to Molokai, and the many hours on the beach created a truly free-spirited way of life.

Once upon a time, we were young surfer dudes, accompanied by beautiful, healthy, young surfer ladies. Our love for the sea was all that mattered. Today, still young at heart, us surfer dudes, now with white beards, white hair, some of us with very little hair; and the ladies… well, the ladies look just as ravishing and beautiful with their smiles as they did in days gone by.

The Hulk, sad as it is to say aloha to a brother, brought us together as one ‘ohana. A true blessing.

For myself at 68 years old, I’ve been single all my life. I guess the sea has been my companion, but as I look around (with heartfelt tears as I write this sentence), I was with more family that I could have ever imagined on this day. I always thought in my solitary way of life, “I am never alone when alone.” Today, ‘ohana surrounds me.

I cannot help but think that with all the wind and rain that we endured early on, the Hulk finally said to God, “Look God, all my friends and family have come to bid me peaceful travels within your realm; they have endured wind and rain this afternoon. How about some sunshine?”

As the day came to a close, skies began to clear; the sun came out. Small cups were distributed to each and everyone containing a shot of tequila. Blessed with a beautiful sunset, we raised our salute to The Hulk.

I have often thought (and I hope I’m not misunderstood when I say) Hawaii may be governed by the United States, but the foundation of these islands is the Polynesian way, the Hawaiian way, the ‘ohana way, which is truly a blessing of which we must never forget. This is our bonding.

Paramahansa Yogananda, a spiritual man who came to the United States in 1920, and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship organization, states: “Some cultures easily adopt friends as members of the family. ‘Ohana is a Hawaiian word for family, but means much more: community, community as family – people you care for as you care for your own.”

Amen, Aum and Namaste.

In closing, and I hope I have this right: Me Ke Aloha Pumehana, Me Ke Aloha Ke Akua. With Warmest

Aloha, May God Bless You.



MECO must innovate

Our statewide utility, Hawaiian Electric Industries – otherwise known as HECO, MECO and HELCO – is worried about the cost of electricity. No, really!

That’s why they’re trying to block most people from installing the rooftop solar panels that allow Hawaii residents to generate their own electricity for free.

Doesn’t compute, huh? That’s because, in reality, HEI is so blinkered, archaic and extravagant that Hawaii residents are gouged by the highest electric rates in the country – rates that soared 50 percent between 2009 and 2012. We pay more than twice the next highest rate in New York.

And that’s why it’s hard to swallow the idea that HEI/MECO is suddenly so concerned about ratepayers and the “cost” of rooftop solar.

Each year, HEI publishes a report that assesses the cost of net metering (NEM). That’s the program that allows homeowners to connect their rooftop solar systems to the grid and sell MECO the electricity they generate as a credit against the electricity they consume. The annual report is always an opportunity to attack rooftop solar as evil.

Hawaiian Electric uses a very peculiar method to calculate the “cost” of net metering that, perhaps unsurprisingly, discards all of the ways that net metering benefits us, such as the surplus energy that rooftop solar contributes to the grid, the thousands of jobs the solar industry has created in Hawaii, the fact that money saved by NEM households is recirculated in the local economy instead of going overseas to pay for imported oil, and so on.

So the number itself is pretty bogus. But even if we were to take the HEI number at face value, what do they claim NEM is adding to the cost of your electricity? On Lanai, it’s .06 of a penny per kilowatt hour! On Maui, that jumps to .28 of a penny. And on Molokai, it’s a whopping .42 of a penny.

To make this even clearer, Hawaiian Electric’s numbers mean that a typical MECO customer without solar who uses 25 kilowatt hours of electricity per day is paying an extra seven cents for that energy due to the existence of net metering. Somehow Hawaiian Electric wants the public to become outraged about this, while every year, they continue spending $1.5 billion on oil, which is, frankly, the single dumbest energy source for electric power generation and costs an average 30 times as much per KWH.

No one’s suggesting rooftop solar owners shouldn’t pay their fair share of interconnection costs and maintenance of the grid. But even if we do take HEI’s bogus number, if that’s the level of cost they’re concerned about, they could address it by cutting the seven-figure salaries their top executives make, starting with the CEO who makes $6.8 million a year.

What’s really going on is that HEI’s century-old business model is collapsing. MECO is used to generating power in central plants and feeding electrons around the islands through its ancient grid. But these days, people can generate their own electricity cheaper than MECO, so why buy from the utility? That’s why HEI is desperate to stop rooftop solar.