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LETTERS for January 22 issue

By Staff | Jan 22, 2015

Transportation Department serious about service

In response to a letter relating to Maui Bus issues, please note that our department and our vendors do their best to serve the 2.5 million passengers who board our buses each year.

The policy which allows people with passes to board first was developed for our transit hubs and is difficult to enforce at each stop, since the driver does not disembark the bus. Drivers are challenged when they have to take cash, sell passes and also check for valid passes during boarding; therefore, the various tasks were separated to smooth the process and to keep a timely schedule.

Our system does not allow discrimination of any type, and therefore, visitors and local people must be treated equally under the law. We did add an additional bus to the Lahaina route for three hours in the afternoon to help address concerns related to overcrowding.

The hubs are noisy and bustling with activity, so the drivers often use their “pay attention” voices to communicate, but are trained to do so with respect and aloha. If you believe that a driver is doing something inappropriate, you can report any incident for follow-up action.

If you believe that a driver is acting in an unsafe manner, you may phone Roberts Hawaii at 871-4838 or contact our office at 270-7511.

We implemented a pilot “three bike rack” project; however, several safety issues were encountered and resulted in our system continuing the use of the two position racks. If we were to increase our bus fleet and reduce our one-hour routes to a half-hour, it would improve access to all riders, both with and without bikes. While the costs will increase, it is one of our goals toward improving service to our ridership.

Our transit hub project should be able to provide increased security through video surveillance. If your bike was stolen, please file a report with the Maui Police Department and notify our office so that we can work toward improved security.

We take all complaints seriously, follow-up and even prosecute where evidence is available.

West Maui bus stop shelter construction has begun, and information is available at our office.

Lastly, the salaries for directors and County Councilmembers are set by the Salary Commission, and none of us have voted ourselves an increase in pay.

As public servants, we do our best to serve the needs of the public. Our office is open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and we are happy to answer any questions to the best of our ability.

JO ANNE J. WINER, County Director of Transportation


Return to ‘passes first’ for bus seats

I agree with Steve Omar and his letter regarding Maui Bus riders having to fight for seats when cruise ships are on island. Local daily riders with passes should be boarded before the tourists.

What happened to the “passes board first” rule that used to be enforced? The local daily riders are going to work or to appointments.

To be told we can’t get on because the bus is full is very disrespectful to your loyal daily commuters. Most of the drivers are great and know their daily local riders, but a couple just like to be rude and show their power.

I, and many other daily riders, respectfully request the return of “passes first.”

Also, it would be very nice to have covered seating for riders on the West Side of the island, like you provide for the riders on the other side. Riders on the lower road for the Napili bus have no place to sit and no covers from the rain and wind.

Please consider these requests and show your respect for your local daily riders.



Mahalo to local businesses

The Lahaina Intermediate Parent/ Teacher/Student Association (PTSA) recently hosted a “Welcome Back to School” breakfast for teachers and staff who just returned to the school after Christmas break. We would like to acknowledge and send a heartfelt thank you to the local businesses who made this event possible.

We thank General Manager Chris Almeroth and Chef Alfonso Acevedo of Kimo’s Restaurant, General Manager Buff Weaver and Chef Thomas Bonnette of Koa’s Seaside Grill, and Westside Glass of Lahaina for their generous, delicious donations that made our breakfast so successful!

Thank you for supporting our teachers, staff and school!



Conservation Stewardship Program flawed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public comments on recent changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The program, the most significant leap in conservation policy in a decade, was designed to reward top-notch conservation already on the ground, as well as incentivize the integration of new and innovative conservation systems that protect and enhance the quality of our soil, water and air.

However, without crucial changes, the program will fail to yield those intended results. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) must base producers’ ranking and payments solely on environmental benefits and outcomes. They consistently overemphasize the importance of additional or new conservation activities while failing to adequately support conservation practices and systems farmers and ranchers are currently employing, which misses the mark by supporting late adopters of improved conservation systems over those who have historically placed conservation at the core of their operations.

NRCS must also ensure payment limitations are real. By statute, CSP contracts are limited to $40,000 per fiscal year and $200,000 from fiscal year 2014 through 2018. But the rule doubles the statutory limit for joint operations. Worse, the rule fails to require that beneficiaries be active farmers, and allows farms to have multiple contracts despite the statutory stipulation that the entire farm must be enrolled in the CSP contract. These loopholes allow certain operations to rack up contracts far in excess of the statutory limit and gives them a competitive advantage over small and mid-sized farmers.

Visit: www.cfra.org/node/5411 to make public comments.

TRACI BRUCKNER, Center for Rural Affairs


Congress destroys free markets

When people clamor for Congress to pass a “free-market health plan,” they are forgetting two things: Congress only does laws, which restrict freedom. We need fewer laws, not more. And the free market is by nature not a plan.

Big laws like ObamaCare are designed by special interest groups, such as the “insurance” (managed care) cartel, Big Hospitals, Big Pharma, and influential groups that want their benefits (abortion, contraception, drug and alcohol rehab, AIDS therapy, etc.) paid for by people who would never use them.

There are good ideas circulating, such as health status insurance, expanded health savings accounts, and critical illness insurance. How good? We won’t know without trying them. The free market – voluntary decisions by free individuals – picks the winners and losers, and allows options that work for some but not others. The free market cannot achieve the utopian state in which everybody gets optimum care paid for by everybody else. Neither can government. The government can only force everybody (except of course for the elite) into equally shabby care paid for by extortionate taxes with huge losses to corruption and incompetence.

Obviously, government does not actually provide medical care. It just sets up the conditions under which doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and others do that. Congressionally mandated conditions are making it more and more difficult for medical professionals to do their work.

The only thing government can do to create a free market is to get out of the way. Laws that constrain people’s ability to innovate or to do their best need to be repealed – and many of these date back to the New Deal.

We can’t just wipe out programs that people are dependent upon – although they are headed to inevitable bankruptcy. But why not let people turn down the benefits and “protections” if they choose to do so? That way, we could relieve pressure on the programs while finding out how the way of freedom is better.

Here are some things that some people would like to do without:

Medicare. Really. Some seniors even sued for the right to forgo Part A without paying back all their Social Security. Why? As a colleague wrote me, “You ought to see how academic centers don’t want to take care of old people or high-risk people.”

FDA restrictions on “unproved therapies.” People who are facing certain death or disability want the right to try treatments that haven’t been through years and $2.6 billion in testing to satisfy the FDA – or to have to first “fail” on approved but painful, toxic, minimally effective treatment first. Why not fail on the new treatment first and fall back on the old?

Electronic medical records. People want to have their doctor’s undivided attention, and they don’t want their life story in a government database. They can keep track of the important facts themselves, thank you very much.

The third-party system of scribes, coders, claims filers, preauthorizations (or denials), compliance monitors, managers, auditors, “re-pricers,” etc. This probably skims off 40 percent of the “healthcare” dollar while providing nothing that resembles medical goods or services.

If some people like their government healthcare, let them keep it. But let the people go if they prefer freedom.