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LETTERS for January 8 issue

By Staff | Jan 8, 2015

Support community farms

If we are going to spend billions every year on health care and food assistance programs, then we need to start investing more of that money into sustainable projects that are nearly free or can pay for themselves over time.

Community farms on every block would boost every local economy in this country.

I do not think it makes sense that we pay farmers to not grow certain crops while people go hungry. Farmers should be paid for their surpluses instead.

Until we meet the needs of our own people, we are a poor example to the world. Not for long, though – this generation is here to unite us.

This is how we put people back to work.

We just need a New Deal that will allow us to build the food system in this country block by block, just like we built up the roads and bridges.

It is our most pressing need. Any initial costs would be made up after harvests and sales in the first year.

It will change our society when there is a local food system for every person.

God willing, the people will eat and no one will go hungry.

Everyone and everything will be free to live in social harmony when our basic needs are met.



Boost business by raising the minimum wage

As a restaurant owner, I’m happy to see the minimum wage going up in 21 states to kick off the new year.

I’d like to see the federal minimum wage increase as well to benefit business and our economy nationwide.

Last spring, my business partner and I raised the minimum wage in our restaurants to $10.10. And we did it without raising prices.

Our teams work hard at our restaurants. But some of our employees couldn’t afford to buy the pizza they put so much effort into for our guests. That’s not right.

And it’s not good for business.

Business owners don’t create more jobs when they have more money in their own pockets thanks to low wages.

We create more jobs when other people have more money in their pockets to spend at our businesses.

More working Americans walking around with money to spend is what fuels this economy and creates more consumer demand.

Some business owners who haven’t run the numbers like us will say they can’t afford a wage increase.

I’m here to tell them they can.

A sense of right and wrong may have sparked our decision, but it was old-fashioned number crunching that showed we can and should do what Congress should have already done.

Our increased payroll costs were more than balanced by reduced employee turnover rates, increased productivity and greater customer satisfaction.

We lost employees before because they couldn’t afford to fill their tank with gas to get to work, or make a car repair.

Employees who can make ends meet stay longer, are less stressed and are more productive.

Too many people forget that the lower the wage, the higher the employee turnover, which costs businesses time and money in recruiting and training new workers.

We spend more than $500 training a new line cook.

We threw away thousands of dollars in product a year due to inexperienced employees preparing it improperly.

Eliminating just a portion of these expenses pays for increased minimum wages.

The morale boost and loyalty we have already gained from our employees also pays for our wage increase.

It’s a win-win when employees can concentrate on serving customers without worrying about how they are going to make rent or put food on their own table.

Our more experienced teams take better care of our guests.

We’ve gained many new customers, who have written us notes telling us how grateful they are that we treat our employees fairly.

Those guests are visiting our business more frequently, further contributing to our bottom line.

We’ve seen that after implementing a $10.10 minimum wage, our teams are performing better, our labor cost is under budget, our sales are great and we’re expanding.

To those who say jobs will be eliminated due to wage increases, we say you’re wrong!

And we’re far from alone.

Contrary to what opponents of a minimum wage raise claim, a 2014 nationwide poll showed that 61 percent of small business owners with employees support increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and adjusting it in future years to keep up with the cost of living.

It’s time for lawmakers to listen to the majority of business owners who believe a minimum wage increase makes good business sense.

Individual business owners can’t do it alone. Individual states can’t do it alone.

We need Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for the good of our whole economy.



Use your time wisely in 2015

2015 will be over almost quicker than you can say “Happy New Year!” Just look how fast 2014 sped by us all. Time rarely feels as if it’s standing still unless we are waiting on something to happen. Time only drags when we need something to happen like a cure for a disease, a job to open or a relative to come home from the Middle East. When time drags, we make the mistake of wishing it away.

We only have a little bit of time. We all have the same in a day, a week or a year. Every year that we live, we are extended the same number of days and minutes.

We do all kinds of things with time. We waste time, kill time, try to make up time, lose track of time or don’t pay attention to time. Regardless of how we treat time, it’s only doing one thing: moving swiftly through the hourglass one grain or second at a time. I’m thankful for time. I’m grateful for time with my wife and each family member. I’m grateful for this moment to sit here and peck a few words out on my keyboard. I suppose one of my problems is how do I fit all I want to do into my time? I guess I enjoy doing too much.

If I only enjoyed doing one or two things, then my time spent might be a little easier.

Each day and moment, I would simply devote my full attention to one particular aspect of life. Actually, that might not be a bad idea. But could I really do it? Could I devote 24 hours a day to my family? I could, but they really don’t want me in their hair 24/7.

I could devote 24 hours a day to prayer and reading the Bible or reading other good books. But then, I don’t want to be an isolated religious person who never enjoys this incredible world or people.

I could devote 24 hours a day to the school I serve and do a lot of the work that many others do. However, institutions are stronger and better when the work is spread around to others.

Our dilemma in 2015 may not be in deciding between good and bad but between good and best. There are a lot of good things we can do with our time in 2015. Using our time to do the best things may be our toughest decision.



Residents compete with tourists for bus seats

When it comes to riding the public bus from Kahului to Lahaina, the crowds of tourists off the cruise ships get herded on board, while locals who live on Maui – who have to get to work or appointments in Lahaina – are told “you cannot get on the bus!” And I do mean some of the drivers and the transit lady SHOUT IT!

The company that owns and manages these buses publicly published a bulletin that riders with passes get on before cash-payers. However, nearly all bus drivers and transit officials allow the cash-paying tourists on FIRST and ignore the locals with monthly passes.

I have been late for work and appointments, and either told I cannot get on “because the bus is crowded to full capacity,” or I have to stand up for an hour per drive both ways. That is no fun tired after work or a day of surfing big waves.

When I tell employees they are violating Roberts Hawaii bus rules, they get mad at me! They often tell us to phone the county. Calling the county and visiting the Roberts office didn’t accomplish anything. Some bus drivers even agreed I was right, yet refused to enforce the policy.

I even see weak, elderly local people having to stand up in the bus all the way to Lahaina. If they seek relief by sitting on the floor, they get yelled at and ordered to stand. Many of the bus drivers just love to hard slam on the brakes repeatedly, several times knocking me and others off their feet. That is a great way to cause a serious accident to an elderly person, who would get slammed into the metal seats or floors. So far, they have been lucky.

The transit officials and drivers also allow people simply going two miles to the State Building in Wailuku on the LAHAINA BUS, causing commuters to Lahaina to be turned away or stand. The Wailuku bus leaves Queen Ka’ahumanu Center for the State Building at exactly the same time and arrives at there at nearly the same time; why not make them ride it?

The county also refuses to take up to six bike riders with their just two bike racks, causing riders to wait either an hour or an hour-and-a-half for the next bus – missing work and appointments.

Try locking up your bike at the transit center like I did in October, returning to find my nice condition bike stolen with the cable cut! Several times we checked the bike rack at a Lahaina transit center and saw locked up wheels with no bike frames, frames with no wheels and other parts stripped off. In California, in four counties I took the public buses in, they had six bike racks per bus. If all were taken, they allowed one bike to be chained up tight on the rail inside the bus.

Nobody wants to get involved with these complaints except the poor bus riders, who have no influence at the county Department of Transportation. They have done nothing for two years now. It would cost relatively TINY funds to upgrade the racks on the front and back of the buses, but the mayor voted himself an incredible $40,000 raise, and the County Council members $20,000 per year, fattening their wallets while they live in luxury beyond 95 percent of commuters who use the buses. Otherwise, they could afford cars!

Lahaina is said to mean “Cruel Sun” in Hawaiian. Where is the shade at most bus stops? You stand out in the sun where there are no benches. There are, by the way, no bus shelters or benches at three of the four rainiest and windiest bus stops on Maui: Haiku Town Center, Paia (both) and then in rainy Makawao.

Maui is like the third world in so many ways!