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LETTERS for February 5 issue

By Staff | Feb 5, 2015

Still no enforcement on West Maui’s roads

Today was – and still is – a particularly bad day. When I went to Safeway earlier, I saw FOUR cars speeding through the intersection of Highway 30/Kapunakea, and THREE run the red light on Honoapiilani about 4-5 seconds AFTER it had turned red. Some 30 minutes later, there was a similar experience. On my way back: ONE speeding, and FIVE running the red light at a leisurely pace of 40 mph.

Where is our police force? The same situations occur on all major intersections with Highway 30 from Lahainaluna Road (actually already starting in Puamana and even Launiupoko to Kapalua).

Why are no squad cars monitoring these intersections at random? Better yet, post a member of our police force out of uniform for just an hour at one of these dangerous points. He or she will have to take down just the license plate, time, date, etc. No time to write a ticket because the lights are changing again… so the tickets will have to be written at the Lahaina Police Station.

“Serve and protect?” I do NOT feel protected at all, not for a long time, ever since Honoapiilani became a racetrack.

I sincerely hope it will not take a serious accident with several fatalities before something is FINALLY done. The blood of the victims would be on the hands of the MPD. I wrote a letter to the Lahaina Station, copied it and sent a cover letter with it to new Chief of Police Tivoli Faaumu. Reaction? NONE whatsoever, although I included my contact information. No reaction from the Lahaina Station, and no contact by Mr. Faaumu either.

To top it off, I read in The Maui News (Jan. 23) that Mr. Faaumu talked at a Maui Police Commission meeting about the retirement of Keith Taguma, who was riding around for obviously decades, marking tires of parked vehicles that either exceeded their allotted time or were parked in a “no parking” zone in the first place. He spoke about how he will be missed, how he kept diligent watch, etc.

While it is certainly a nice touch to honor Mr. Taguma that way, it shows that our chief of police has his priorities completely wrong. A parked car has never injured or killed anyone.

When Mr. Faaumu took office, he was quoted as saying, “I want to be in close touch with the community; the entire MPD has to be,” and “I want to establish and strengthen the trust of the people of Maui in their police.”

You are NOT in touch, sir! And I certainly do not trust our police to enforce even the most important traffic rules, let alone anything else.

Do I feel safe? Last week at 2 a.m., THREE police cruisers were driving at about 60 mph in the southbound lane (Kaanapali to Lahaina). All three had their lights on. That’s okay. But since there was no traffic, all three felt the need to also turn their sirens on. Did I feel safe? You bet. Because a triple-siren concert woke me up. A police cruiser certainly is a fun toy. All the sounds and lights, you can drive as fast as you want, wherever you want, and nobody can give you a ticket. And you have a radio, too… the perfect toy for adults.




Equality means everyone

Last week’s Supreme Court decision to review the constitutionality of discriminatory marriage laws in four states prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying was not only historic but also the right thing to do. Equality means everyone.

Important constitutional principles regarding human rights are heading towards a long-overdue day in the sun.

Presently, 14 states still deprive gays and lesbians of their constitutional rights, and that’s plain wrong. Only by striking down discriminatory marriage laws that deny a couple of the fundamental right to marry will America achieve full nationwide marriage equality.

There is precedent: in a 1967 ruling, “Loving v. Virginia,” the Supreme Court of the United States threw out 17 states’ laws outlawing interracial marriage. The arguments being made against gay marriage and the arguments that were made against interracial marriage nearly 50 years ago are remarkably similar.

The court ruled that marriage was a right that could not be denied to “mixed-race” couples, irrespective of states’ rights, irrespective of public opinion, and irrespective of religious thought of the time.

We should know by the end of June whether the Supreme Court truly stands for everyone, as in justice for all. Let us hope and trust that same-sex marriage becomes recognized nationwide. Equality requires nothing less.



How to counter OPEC’s power

The national average for a gallon of gasoline is quickly approaching just $2. Drivers can mostly thank the highest level of domestic oil production in four decades – over 9 million barrels per day – for these low prices.

With American energy production booming and gas prices plummeting, it’s

difficult to imagine a return to the shortages that characterized the 1973 Arab oil embargo. But Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the rest of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have recently launched a price war to force Americans back to a dependency on foreign energy. They are being aided by an outdated U.S. policy prohibiting the export of domestic crude oil.

The best way for American legislators to combat OPEC’s aggression is to lift this ban. Scrapping this outdated policy will secure American progress toward energy independence.

It’s easy to see why OPEC is scared. Innovative extraction techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have boosted U.S. oil production by 4 million barrels per day in just the last six years. Consequently, U.S. demand for OPEC oil has dropped to its lowest level since the Reagan administration.

OPEC can’t stand to see one of its biggest customers move toward energy independence. But the cartel might not be able to endure the self-inflicted wounds caused by rock bottom oil prices for very long. Of OPEC’s 12 member countries, only Qatar can balance its budget with prices at $60 per barrel. Six OPEC members need the price to stay above $100 to avoid fiscal ruin.

By contrast, most U.S. producers still make a profit below $60 per barrel.

That’s why, in late November, the governing board of OPEC decided not to

cut oil production despite a global surplus of 2 million barrels per day. Instead, OPEC maintained its production levels to push prices down in hopes of driving American firms bankrupt. The cartel believes that American energy firms will break under pressure.

Congress can strengthen our domestic economy while countering these plans. It should lift the ban on crude oil exports. Domestic firms could then sell oil to the many overseas buyers eager to reduce their own energy dependence, thus reducing the power of OPEC to maintain a throttle on U.S. and global oil supplies.

What’s more, if U.S. producers are allowed to expand to foreign markets, they’ll be able to compensate for lower oil prices with greater total sales.

Fortunately, the effort to repeal the ban is gaining traction. However, some lawmakers argue that permitting crude exports might contract local oil supplies and push up the price paid by domestic drivers at the pump.

They needn’t worry. In a new report, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office finds that allowing U.S. crude exports will actually save American drivers up to 10 cents per gallon of gasoline. The CBO explains that the price of gas depends “primarily on the world price of crude oil, which would decline slightly once lower-priced U.S. crudes were available in the international market.”

If Congress lifts the ban, crude exports could add 300,000 jobs and $38

billion to the U.S. economy by 2020.

Congress should lift the ban on U.S. crude exports. Repealing this outdated law will lower energy prices, jumpstart the economy, and cement America’s role in the global oil market while furthering collective independence from OPEC’s oil-based price manipulations.