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LETTERS for December 24 issue

By Staff | Dec 24, 2015

Remembering Ace Cool

In November, big wave surf legend Ace Cool (Alec Cooke) was killed by waves reported over 30 feet high on the North Shore of Oahu. Witnesses said that Ace paddled out at night with no full moon (he was a frequent night surfer, avoiding the too crowded day waves).

Ace grew up surfing on Oahu when Jock Sutherland was “Mister Pipeline” (before Gerry Lopez) and had successfully surfed 30-foot Waimea Bay at night, in front of witnesses, during a full moon. Sutherland made a wave before a dark cloud covered the moon, and he vanished for hours. His surfboard washed in, and he was feared drowned. Sometime before dawn, Sutherland staggered out of the shore break laughing and yelling how great the waves had been! Friends conjectured Jock was under the influence of something. Was Ace attempting to follow Sutherland’s antics?

Ace’s surfboard was found – but his body never was – and this was the terrible end to a life of extreme dangers and risks in monster surf. Cool successfully surfed what was possibly the largest wave ever ridden at Pipeline in the mid-1980s, and the ride was made into a popular post card. A graphics measurement check of his over six-foot body on the wave face estimated it was over 50 feet high. He caught it at Outside Pipeline Reef, breaking Greg Noll’s 1964 record. Even today, we have no photo or video evidence, at Maui Surfing Magazine, of anyone riding a larger wave at Pipe.

In the 1980s, Waimea Bay was considered the biggest wave a surfer could paddle into in the entire world, and it had that claim since first ridden successfully circa 1956. Old photos showed Pat Curren making a 40-foot-plus face there, and Maui’s Paul Gebaeur surviving a 35-footer that caved in on him in a Bruce Brown surfing movie. The only bigger wave known in Hawaii then was Kaena Point, which was filmed in 1969 at an estimated 60 feet, and nobody had ever had the nerve to surf it. This was because of some of the strongest rip tide currents in the known surfing world sucking miles out to sea, whitewater over ten feet high exploding on boulders lining the point, no beach, and no civilization for too many miles. However, Ace bragged he would ride Keana Point first, as well as the biggest wave recorded at Waimea.

One day, Waimea became so huge it closed out, meaning it was impossible to paddle out with no channels; there were too many waves in the sets to get through, and it broke all across the bay. So, Cool hired a helicopter to drop him off beyond the surf ten separate times with ten different surfboards. Each time he caught a huge wave, paddling in with NO tow-ins like Jaws, he wiped out. He made it to the bottom of some waves, which was incredible for not getting sucked over the top. Each time Ace wiped out, he was rescued by a seat dropped down from the helicopter, given another surfboard and then dropped off behind the waves. A photo in a surf magazine showed one of his ten-foot surfboards lying exactly vertically on a wave face after he fell and dove through the face. A ruler stacked on it concluded the wave face over 50 feet. Remember that NOBODY surfed Jaws in the 1980s! The biggest wave ever recorded of Ace’s held into the 1990s, until surfers needed jet skis and tow ropes to surpass it. Ace began riding Jaws that decade.

One day in 1985, Daryl Daniel and I were teaching windsurfing and surfing lessons at the Lahaina Beach Center, then located in front of what is today Pacific’o Restaurant in the 505 Front Street shopping center. Ace Cool unexpectedly arrived with about five beautiful French models and a magazine photographer. He wanted us to give them lessons for a photo shoot in Vogue Magazine. We were stoked, hoping to get dates! However, Ace had never ever before been on a sailboard, so he wanted a lesson also. I decided to give my big wave hero a free lesson.

As a great waterman, Ace was able to sail off the beach on a huge beginners’ board with a small, super-light sail, drag the rig around the nose with a rope to turn around (a chicken jibe), and sail to the beach a few times without falling. So, I decided to let him go and focus on the girls. I warned Cool to NOT sail out to the surf or the dangerous reef and stay in the flat-water lagoon!

Unexpectedly, the five models all took off their bathing suit tops on the beach in front of all the tourists in the restaurant and beach. We warned them this was illegal on Maui, but they would not put their tops on, so we finished the land lesson and got them in the water. Suddenly, the manager exclaimed, “Where is Ace?”

He was way down the coast at one of Maui’s most dangerous surf spots, Shark Pit, with its super-shallow razor reef and urchins. He took off on an overhead wave, went over the falls on a board impossible to wave sail on, broke the mast, ripped the sail and came in with blood. He said Lahaina was too small, so we should take him to Hookipa! We said NO!



A Christmas message

The bells are ringing, the choirs singing joy to the world.

Not all hearts are glad; too many are heavy and sad.

If this is a time when your spirit is low, dwell on the blessing only God can bestow.

To the world, he gave his only Son; no greater gift came from anyone.

God called us to be a people set apart; what that means is a transformed heart.

Spiritual transformation is the KEY to joy, good health and prosperity.



West Maui Beaches open to everyone

To all visitors on our beautiful Valley Isle: there are no private beaches on Maui.

This is mainly to the rude couple by the Royal Lahaina, who approached me with my service dog on his leash, telling me it was a private beach and you were calling security.

I tried with all my aloha to explain that all our beaches here on Maui are public; instead you walked away.

To all hotels and other resorts, please advise your guests upon checking in about this. If you are visiting, you should be enjoying your vacation on our beautiful island – not harassing locals.



Support families, not corporate tax giveaways

Temporary lapses of judgment can be corrected. Permanent mistakes are harder to fix.

Congress is poised to offer very costly permanent tax giveaways to powerful corporations. It is also considering renewing more modest tax credits that encourage work and support millions of low-wage workers and their children. This is an easy choice: do not provide any more corporate tax breaks. Instead, renew the pro-worker tax credits, because they have an important role in alleviating poverty and income inequality at a time of wage stagnation.

Congress will soon vote on whether to renew a grab bag of 50 tax breaks known as “tax extenders.” Though defined as “temporary,” they’ve been rubber-stamped every year or two for decades. The package costs about $50 billion a year. A small army of some 1,400 corporate lobbyists watches over this process, as four out of five dollars of these tax breaks benefit their patrons.

Remarkably, these corporate tax cuts get doled out for free – their costs added directly to the deficit. On the other hand, conservatives always require that vital services benefitting average Americans have to be paid for. What’s worse, this year a big push is underway to enshrine up to six of these costly corporate giveaways in permanent law. The price tag: more than $600 billion.

At the other end of the income scale, improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are slated to disappear at the end of next year. These two targeted expansions help working families make ends meet and cost a tiny fraction of the six corporate tax breaks.

Thanks to a rigged economic and political system, working families have seen their incomes and futures stalled for decades. The fortunes of Wall Street billionaires have soared. Experts agree that the skewed tax system contributes to our widening income and wealth gaps.

Tax policy should be crafted to correct the imbalances in our economy, not exacerbate them.

Yet, Congress hasn’t repealed a single corporate tax giveaway in years. Meanwhile, nearly $2.7 trillion in spending cuts are scheduled over the next decade to reduce the deficit. Critical services – public education, college aid, nutrition and housing, infrastructure and medical research – have all been significantly cut. Every one of these cuts would affect working Americans, while wealthy corporations are not being asked to contribute an additional dime.

Three of the worst corporate breaks slated for permanent status will take a big bite out of the federal budget while doing nothing to help working families.

The bonus depreciation tax break allows corporations to write off big purchases much faster than they actually wear out. Though it will cost $28 billion over ten years, numerous studies show that it doesn’t help the economy much. It’s also very inefficient – the bang for the buck from spending on the EITC and CTC is four times greater than spending on bonus depreciation.

Two other loopholes enable the shifting of profits and jobs offshore.

The Active Financing Exception (AFE) allows multinational banks and other financial firms to move certain types of income – like dividends, interest and royalties – to foreign countries to avoid U.S. taxes. This giveaway was instrumental in General Electric not paying a dime of U.S. income taxes over five years despite making $27 billion in profits. AFE costs $78 billion over ten years, more than enough to provide high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds for a decade.

The Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC) Look-Through Rule allows U.S. multinationals to shift profits between foreign subsidiaries without triggering the U.S. taxes normally due. This encourages more offshore tax sheltering instead of domestic investment. Making the CFC Look-Through Rule permanent would cost another $22 billion over ten years.

U.S. firms already have over $2 trillion in earnings stashed overseas. We shouldn’t be renewing loopholes that encourage offshore tax dodging. We should be closing them. The money we save should be used to make permanent the improvements in working-family tax credits.

The EITC makes work pay by supplementing the incomes of low-wage workers. Supported by both parties throughout its 40-year history, the EITC is widely viewed as one of the most successful anti-poverty measures in U.S. history. The Child Tax Credit supports workers and their families by providing a tax credit of up to $1,000 per child.

If the improvements to the EITC and CTC expire, it will push more than 16 million people – about half of them children – into poverty or deeper into poverty. We can’t let that happen.

Congress can make a temporary mistake permanent by locking in hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for an exclusive group of multinational corporations. Or, it can start our nation on a path of permanent progress by using tax policy to lift up America’s working families. The choice should be clear.

LAWRENCE MISHEL, Co-chair, Americans for Tax Fairness