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LETTERS for August 14 issue

By Staff | Aug 14, 2014

Be careful crossing Napilihau Street

I want to warn all residents of Napili, especially in the Napilihau community, about crossing Napilihau Street to get to the plaza. On July 16, a good friend, Kenny MacMullen, was hit by the Maui Bus while crossing in a marked crosswalk.

He is now in Honolulu recovering from multiple broken bones, and he is in extreme pain. He is lucky to be alive.

This accident was never reported in any paper. It is very important to let people know the hazards of crossing Napilihau Street. Most motorists are speeding down the road and take no notice of three crosswalk areas.

So, please, when you cross that road, look both ways. Make eye contact with drivers before taking your life in your hands!

The Friends of Lahainaluna Football recently awarded five $1,000 scholarships to graduating Lahainaluna High School varsity football student athletes. Pictured, from left, are Jared Purdy, Kiko Kohler Fonohema, Coach Garret Tihada, Christian Whitehead, presenter Lana Vierra, Pousima Galoia and Bronson Kaina.



Mayor shows leadership in opposing GMO ban

Congratulations to Mayor Alan Arakawa for his statement opposing the Maui County Farming Ban Initiative. If passed, we would have a moratorium on farming genetically engineered crops on Maui, Molokai and Lanai, which would result in the elimination of 600 well-paying jobs in our community and the incomes these families depend on.

I’m concerned about the negative economic ripple effect that will harm both local businesses and their employees. We are just emerging from the worst economy since the Great Depression and don’t need to initiate something that would move our economy backwards. In fact, this initiative is not a “moratorium” but a ban that could force the shutdown of many farms that have operated in Maui County for decades. Thank you, Mayor Arakawa, for your leadership on this issue.



Genetically engineered crops a global concern

Last year, a NYU professor wrote a report on risk assessment of different global threats; specifically, the probability of various global threats. According to the report, genetic engineering (GE) is actually a more probable threat than nuclear energy – including nuclear war.

With industry practices and the science of GE, Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb concluded that since GE crops are being grown on a worldwide scale, just one flaw in any GE crop would be a global problem, as opposed to just a central problem.

A quote about Taleb’s work, The Precautionary Principle: “Nassim Taleb, a renowned New York University (NYU) professor, recently raised eyebrows when he said genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have the potential to cause ‘an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.’ “

Taleb’s primary concern isn’t that ingesting GMOs is necessarily bad for people; rather, he’s focused on what effects the genetic manipulation of nature will have on the worldwide ecosystem.

While Taleb concurs the risk of any one GMO seed ruining the planet is incredibly small, he argues that people are underestimating the domino effect of risk that’s involved.

For example, if one genetically modified seed produced holds a 0.1 percent chance of causing a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem, then the probability of such an event will only increase with each new seed that’s developed.

Taleb writes that given enough time, the “total ecocide barrier” is bound to be hit despite incredibly small odds.



GOP control of Congress would weaken the executive branch

The demographics around the country have changed, and the extremists in the Republican Party see the presidency as out of reach. In my opinion, John Boehner, the speaker of the House, is wasting taxpayers’ money with a frivolous lawsuit against President Obama to pave the way for an anticipated, trumped up, phony impeachment attempt.

The far-right Tea Party extremists are looking toward taking both houses of Congress to ambush the Obama presidency and weaken the executive branch of the government. This can happen if the Senate and House fall in the hands of Republicans after the midterm elections.

As a result, it would insult the intelligence of majority voters that voted for President Barack Obama. It would weaken the power of the executive branch and give more power to the legislative branch.

This type of power grab would create a serious sense of disenfranchisement and anarchy. It is my belief that some of the most dangerous extremists masquerading as Tea Party members would rather start a civil war than go through four more years after the Obama presidency with another Democratic president. It is sad that Boehner has made himself part of this madness.



Host family sought in West Maui

Niels is an excellent student from Germany; his passions are swimming, surfing and lifesaving. He speaks English, and his dream is to spend his high school senior year on Maui. Niels is not only a dreamer, he’s a doer. He’s already been accepted at a prestigious school here, and his tuition, flights and insurance are paid. He’s got his visa, and all that’s missing is a West Side host family who can give him bed, board and transportation. His sponsor, CCI Greenheart (www.cci-exchange.org), will pay $800 per month for these services for Niels.

Maui is known for hospitality; so, please don’t let Niels’ dream evaporate! If you, or a West Side family you know, can host Niels (even for just one month), please contact me today at naia96708@yahoo.com or (808) 573-7730.

NAI`A NEWLIGHT, Maui Local Coordinator


Partnership appreciates company’s donation

The West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership (WMMWP) would like to thank Skyline Eco-Adventures for their generous donation of $3,500. This gift will be of great help in supporting forest management activities like fence maintenance and invasive plant control, as well as in broadening our public outreach efforts.

This is the fourth year in a row that Skyline has donated to WMMWP, and we are grateful for their continued support of our mission to enhance and protect the watersheds of West Maui. From the beginning, Skyline has recognized the importance of preserving the island’s unique landscape and contributing to conservation efforts. True to form, their gifts to WMMWP have supported conservation efforts in the uplands of Kahoma, mauka of their Kaanapali Skyline Adventure.

Towards our goal of engaging the local community in forest protection and care of our watersheds, we invite interested parties to visit our website, www.westmauiwatershed.org, or e-mail us at info@westmauiwatershed.org. We look forward to many more years of service with Skyline Eco-Adventures and the greater Maui community. Many thanks again!

CHRIS BROSIUS, Program Manager, West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership


Use Sugar Cane Train path for a bikeway

So very sorry to hear of the end of the Sugar Cane Train. It served us well as a tourist attraction, and who could forget when the wind storm blew all the poles down over Honoapiilani Highway? The owners allowed the train to be used to ferry all the visitors who had to get to the airport to make connections.

Now that it will soon be gone, why not use the tracks that are to be dismantled for a greenway – as on Mokulele Highway – for a bikeway? Many people bicycle to and from north West Maui to Lahaina and beyond. It would be a safer alternative than cycling on the highway and much faster than the highway with traffic lights, etc.

As for the trestle, I am sure that with some renovations, that would be made safe for bike travel. I hope this thought might instill the powers to be to possibly come up with a good use for that throughway.

JOE JARES, Honokowai


Farewell, train!

Finally, the inevitable has happened.

The West Maui Sugar Cane Train has ceased operations. Now there will be a lot of people saying “What a shame,” “A piece of West Maui’s history is gone,” etc.

Let me summarize what has happened over the past 15 or so years:

1) There was no more sugar cane in West Maui.

2) You could not see anything from the train you could not see from the highway.

3) Lately, several cars derailed (fortunately, the SCT traveled very slowly). This could have resulted in injury and/or death of passengers.

4) The site where cane was processed was sitting idle for over a decade. It was a health hazard for the entire town. Mice, rats, etc. had a field day in Lahaina (more like ten years). The Department of Health was nowhere to be seen.

5) AMFAC took the easy way out (Chapter 11 Bankruptcy).

6) A small company, the SCT, was left to “uphold” the history of sugar cane in West Maui, though not responsible for or connected to AMFAC. A hopeless undertaking, doomed from the start.

The name “Sugar Cane Train” was a misnomer. Visitors mostly expected to see sugar cane. The engines also emitted smoke, soot and noise way beyond a level permitted for cars, trucks, etc.

Instead of running a train with an uncertain financial future, the owners of the SCT back then could have cleaned up the production site with permission of AMFAC and the bankruptcy court, then built a small museum of sorts with a movie theater for, say, 50 people. The engines could have been displayed, explained and explored by the visitors. A lot of pictures – I am sure there are a lot of photos from over 100 years ago – could have been exhibited, showing the visitors the HISTORY of sugar cane. In the movie room, old and newer footage of sugar cane production could have been shown. There must be tons of old films and newer videos. Admission could have been charged, and tourists (and some locals alike) would actually see and learn things they hardly ever knew. That would have been one of several ways of passing on history and be entertaining as well.

What was done? Like so often in Hawaii, NOTHING – except finally running out of steam (pun intended). The main attraction, sugar cane, WAS GONE.

And just some food for thought for those who bemoan the “loss” of Hawaiian history in sugar cane. In 1893, businessmen who had a very strong interest in the sugar cane industry were instrumental in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Without the greed back then, Hawaii would probably still be an independent nation. Hawaii was literally forced to “sell” her independence for the profits of foreign business. But that is just my opinion. So, was sugar cane worth the price? YOU decide.

I, for one, am glad that there will be no more smoke and noise by the train engines. On the other hand, a number of things could have been done to preserve a big – if not always pleasant (workers trying to eke out a living, often barely existing under the poorest of conditions) – part of our history by other means. There was more than enough time. There still IS time to preserve that part of our past for future generations.

I am sure something can be done to preserve some of West Maui’s history without losing money. How about some initiative from Rep. Angus McKelvey or the mayor? Where there is a will, there IS a way. Even one that provides jobs and shows a profit, so the future of whatever might be done will be secure.