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LETTERS for May 15 issue

By Staff | May 15, 2014

Maui Humane Society must act on complaints

While I fully understand all the emotion involved in the grassroots effort to convert the Maui Humane Society (MHS) into a no-kill shelter, MHS needs to FIRST fulfill their mandate from the county and the public when it comes to public safety.

On Jan. 15, 2014, my dog and I were attacked in the park at the northwest corner of the Kahana Ridge subdivision. My dog was on a leash; the two dogs in question were not (only one of the two dogs actually attacked). My dog was badly injured, and there were substantial veterinary costs; fortunately, he has made a full recovery. It took a month to determine that the back pain I was experiencing after being knocked down by the dog was the result of a compression fracture in my lower back, and almost four months later, I am still in pain on a daily basis.

I made reports to both Maui Police Department and MHS within two days of the incident. One of three neighbors who came to my aid during and after the attack got all pertinent contact information from the owner/handler of the dogs. This information was provided to both MPD and MHS in the reports I made.

To this day, MHS has been unable to make contact with the owner/handler. A MHS representative did tell me that the guy had previously been cited for leash law violations with the two dogs. This guy knew he should not have these dogs off-leash, because after he succeeded in prying his dog’s jaws off my dog, he wailed to me, “I waited until the guy and his dog who were in the park when I arrived left before I got out of my car with my dogs,” as if that somehow excused his poor judgment. It was my misfortune to be the next person to come to the park.

Through the “coconut wireless,” I heard about a very similar incident that happened to a woman back in August in Wahikuli. Through research, I confirmed it was the same dog involved in that attack. She also filed reports with MPD and MHS. I am now in contact with the woman in that incident; she was seriously injured and unable to work for weeks, and it took three months of healing and physical therapy before her arm was fully functional again.

Apparently, MHS is unable/unwilling to cross-reference humans/dogs in a database, so that they can immediately determine when another incident involving the same person/dog has occurred. I provided the prior incident information to MHS two months ago, to ensure it was aware that this dog was a multiple incident offender. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency on MHS’s part to make sure this dog is taken into custody until there can be a hearing to determine if he should be returned to his owners or not.

In an effort to get the guy responsible charged with “reckless endangerment” for having the dogs off-leash after being cited for leash law violations and a prior attack, I spoke to the prosecuting attorney’s office and learned that since my MPD report labeled the incident as “civil,” no charges could be filed. I then talked with a sergeant in the Lahaina Division of MPD, who explained to me that regardless of the injuries a dog might inflict while off-leash, the statutes do not allow for a leash law violation to be reported as anything but a “civil” (as opposed to “criminal”) incident, no matter how badly hurt an individual or animal may have been. THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE! Just as MPD wants to be called to the scene of a traffic accident in which there is personal injury or property damage in order to determine the circumstances that caused the accident, MPD should also step up and respond immediately to dog attacks in which there is personal injury to a human or an animal.

In addition to that change, what also needs to change is that if an individual has the necessary documentation (photos of injuries, medical bills, proof of prior knowledge that it was against the law to have a dog off-leash, etc.) to make a case, and is willing to press charges, MPD should be required to change the incident report from “civil” to “criminal” status, thereby giving the prosecuting attorney’s office that which they need to issue an arrest warrant!

I look forward to being contacted by someone in management of the MHS to explain to me why there hasn’t been a greater effort to not only cite the guy who had the dogs off-leash AGAIN, but to take the dog into custody when it clearly poses a danger to the public.



Kahoma Village: Fast-tracked to frustration

Many local residents should now be familiar with the plans to quickly develop the 24-acre field next to Longs Drugs in Lahaina, on Front and Kenui streets. The multi-year development includes plans to build over 200 affordable housing units for sale. Actually, the portion of “low-cost” units will be highly priced and well out of the range of what is commonly considered “affordable” for West Maui.

Many of us neighbors and local residents are outraged. We do not want this project to move forward as planned. For starters, there aren’t any sidewalks on the many streets that surround this site. Developers will be required to expand the bridge by Mala, widen the nearby streets and may even have to install traffic lights on Front Street to handle the additional congestion.

I spoke with Elle Cochran, who referred me to a representative for Stanford Carr Development. I explained the major infrastructure problems local residents would certainly face, including traffic congestion, sewage and water capacity problems, and safety issues. The company representative insisted that compared to busy Oahu, the location seems ideal to create a major development.

Due to the proximity of Baby Beach, the Jodo Mission, schools and current housing, and considering the expansion of the Cannery Mall, Mala Ramp and the ever-growing developments spreading across the highway and throughout the newly created Lahaina Bypass, most West Maui residents would much prefer a community park be created at this location instead.

The company representative explained that the Weinberg Foundation needed additional revenues to support its ongoing community work. This seems inaccurate. The Weinberg Foundation reported its total asset value to be over $2 BILLION in 2012.

Without proper notification to nearby West Maui citizens, the county and state have decided to fast-track this project nonetheless. The manner I found out about this terrible plan was by reading the Lahaina News, which indicated a County Council meeting to discuss this issue was planned THE DAY BEFORE the newspaper was distributed.

A final meeting with the Maui Planning Commission is scheduled for June, where ultimate development plans will be submitted by Stanford Carr Development. After approval, he said, the bulldozers should likely begin rolling in before the end of the year.

Most of us agree with Michele Lincoln, who has previously written about this situation. We demand that the county stops this project and builds a park instead. Once the Kahoma Village development gets final approval from the Planning Commission, it will be too late to ever fix the major problems it will undoubtedly create.

We urge the public to contact Stanford Carr Development, The Weinberg Foundation, local council members and, most importantly, the Planning Commission at 270-7735. Please express your opinions and concerns soon. Now is the time to take action, before it’s too late.



Encouraged by court decisions on prayer

I was greatly encouraged by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding public prayer in Town of Greece, N.Y. vs. Galloway. This is an important decision that will have a positive impact on the Pacific Justice Institute’s work in a number of ways.

The case concerned invocations offered before the start of city council meetings in a suburb of Rochester, New York. As they have done all over the country, anti-religious activists filed suit, claiming the prayers were unconstitutional because they were predominantly (although not exclusively) Christian, and many were offered in Jesus’ name.

In a 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court resoundingly rejected the claims made by these plaintiffs and upheld prayers before council meetings. This decision specifically rejected the notion that feeling offended was the same as being coerced (a claim we’ve heard in many cases that PJI has defended). The court also disagreed with those who for many years have insisted that only the most generic prayers, without the name of Jesus, are appropriate.

The good news doesn’t stop there! In today’s ruling, the court sent a clear signal that it was not interested in listening to other atheist complaints about the Pledge of Allegiance, inauguration prayer or other time-honored traditions. (You may remember that PJI successfully defended Dr. Rick Warren and Dr. Joseph Lowery Jr. a few years ago when their inauguration prayers were challenged by an atheist.)

Friends, this is some of the best news we’ve had in awhile, and it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate. There are many other good takeaways from today’s ruling, and our legal team is closely analyzing each aspect of this decision. Of course, we know that those who are determined to destroy our nation’s religious heritage are plotting their next move.

Already, anticipating a loss in this case, they have begun attempting other legal strategies to attack public prayer. We are preparing to meet these challenges head-on, and I hope you will join us in our efforts.

Since today’s decision overrules prior bad precedent in California, we want to make sure that pastors and local elected officials have the most accurate information – which you and I know they won’t get from the mainstream media.

Please help us spread the word by making sure that your church and local leaders are connected to PJI and are getting the best legal analysis that promotes and protects our religious freedoms.

BRAD DACUS, President, Pacific Justice Institute