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LETTERS for May 12 issue

By Staff | May 12, 2016

County should give lifeguards a raise

The total cost to Maui County of the Unit 14 binding arbitration is less than $1.1 million. To put that in perspective, SHOPO’s last raises cost the county about $31 million.

This binding arbitration agreement would fund lifeguard raises 4 percent across the board, a new salary and step movement plan that is more in line with emergency/public safety pay, uniform costs as well as jet ski rescue services along the coastlines. It is a good deal for all involved.

If binding arbitration isn’t funded, why would Maui’s jet ski operators continue to volunteer to provide a 911 service after already volunteering for 14 years? Maui County is the only jurisdiction that doesn’t pay their operators to this day, and has saved over a million dollars by not paying for 14 years.

Lawsuits and negative press from preventable ocean deaths could cost the county much more than Unit 14 binding arbitration costs. I hope our council is proactive and makes the right decision.



Ocean Safety keeps visitors safe

Our main income is tourism, and Ocean Safety saves tourists’ lives every day by being professional, educating and responding. We keep the beaches safe for people who live here and visitors. The starting pay for an Ocean Safety Officer is still low enough to apply for Quest health insurance! We can’t even afford to live here in the county where we are employed. We know our job and what we signed up for. We want to help people!

Some days, it could be flat, but there may be CPR or spinal cases in the park. Other days, it is warning level surf statewide, 20- to 60-foot waves, and we still get paid the same.

We finally get the binding arbitration contract for Unit 14, and now Riki Hokama doesn’t want to fund it. We already communicate and work so well with the Fire Department that most people don’t even know the transfer hasn’t occurred. Our ski operators don’t get paid for going out there and getting people like the rest of the state.

Tourists that have an amazing and SAFE time here bring visitors back, or give positive feedback to get more people to come to Hawaii! Maui, the best island in the world numerous years! Ask for the stats and ask all the questions you have to. But in the end, this is good for everyone! Not just Unit 14; $4.2 million is a lot to promote Maui without investing in the infrastructure that keeps tourists safe while they visit.



Ocean Safety deserves binding arbitration raises

The Maui News on April 27 ran a headline, “Firefighters help paddle boarders to shore.” How did the firefighters help the paddle boarders to shore when they were standing on shore? It would be more appropriate to write “Ocean Safety” instead of “Firefighters.”

This misstatement may be why Ocean Safety is not getting their binding arbitration raises. Ocean Safety volunteers on the 911 system, and firefighters get the credit, the pay and the raises while Ocean Safety gets furloughed, pay freezes and step freezes.

Riki Hokama wants to give $4.2 million to the tourism industry to promote Maui, but he doesn’t want to pay to keep tourists safe in the ocean. This is a recipe for disaster.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ocean Safety stops volunteering on the 911 system after being disrespected for 14 years. Maui is an expensive place to live. Lifeguards have volunteered long enough – pay them a fair wage.

How can you put a pricetag on a life? Riki Hokama, it’s time to reexamine your priorities. If you don’t have an objection to Ocean Safety volunteering to operate jet skis on the 911 system, how can you object to paying them for those services like the County of Hawaii, County of Kauai and City and County of Honolulu? Enough excuses! Honor the binding arbitration contract.

If we don’t pay our water bill, the water gets shut off. If the county doesn’t start paying Ocean Safety, their 911 ocean rescue service will get shut down, and people will die.



Council is out of touch on Ocean Safety’s pay

Maui County has the highest municipal (AA+) bond rating in Hawaii and the lowest property tax rates in the state, but we are the only county that expects Ocean Safety to volunteer jet ski service and is not moving binding arbitration legislation forward yet.

Not all Ocean Safety Officers operate rescue watercraft, but there is no difference in pay between those operating and those that don’t on Maui.

It seems the County Council is out of touch with what makes Maui the number one island. Lifeguards are the lowest paid emergency responders and have been volunteering on 911 for 14 years; it’s time to honor their raises and pay for their services. It will cost more to launch the helicopter every time someone calls 911 for an ocean rescue than it will to fund the binding arbitration decision.



Make humane choices in honor of Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, May 8, many of us celebrated the powerful bond between mother and child. Tragically, the worldwide symbols of motherhood – dairy cows – never get to see or nurture their babies.

Newborn calves are torn from their mothers at birth, so we can seize and drink the milk that mother cows produce for them. The powerless, distraught mothers bellow for days, hoping in vain for their babies’ return. The babies are kept alive elsewhere, to soon become veal cutlets.

Dairy cows spend their lives on a concrete floor, chained, with no outdoor access. To maintain their milk flow, they are artificially impregnated each year. Around four years of age, their milk production drops, and they are turned into hamburgers.

Let’s honor motherhood and our natural compassion by refusing to subsidize cruelties of the dairy industry. Let’s replace cow’s milk and its products, laden with fat and cholesterol, with delicious, healthful, cruelty-free nut- or soy-based milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream offered in every grocery store. Mother cows and our own bodies will thank us.



Trump is a train wreck

This is a response to any Donald Trump supporters. How can anyone think that Trump, who has filed for bankruptcy three times, could run our nation’s economy? He has filed once for $900 million and twice for a debt for $1.8 billion. He might have survived, but how many thousands of people were affected by his bad decisions?

How hypocritical are his family values? Three wives, and the last one he picked was only 28. Yes, we know he is supporting all of them, but on the backs of the people that lost their jobs because of him.

Since Trump has declared that he would choose someone just like Justice Scalia, how would we get rid of Citzenship United, which is destroying our election process? It is one of the biggest mistakes in our history. These are some of the things I worry about.

He is not only considered a train wreck by the Democrats but also his own party. His angry views on issues are frightening. The rest of the world is watching what is happening, and they are also frightened.

Hillary Clinton has the most intelligence and experience than any of them running for office.



No amount of mahalo says it adequately

I am awakening with the birds as I usually do and am again spectator to the beginning of another amazing day on Maui. I am looking out across the Auau Channel at Lanai, where the island’s customary collection of cumulus clouds is colored by a palette of beautiful shades of gray – from dark and ominous through a range of bluish grays to yet paler grays tinged with the whitish fringes – that are announcing the impending arrival of the light of another sunrise.

And today there are also stretched out streams, mid-elevation cumulus and stratus clouds, colored with pale pastels of pinks and peach as the day’s first rays of sunlight strike them. The passing of another weather event bids Maui farewell, and the ocean is still angry today, still covered with continuous white-capped waves, as it was yesterday when all the boats stayed in.

I simply cannot express sufficient appreciation for finding myself looking out on some variation of all the barely describable beauty that greets me with the arrival of each new day. No amount of mahalo says it adequately. I am another year older this week.

I’ve survived another trip around the sun and reveled in every moment of it. I am merely a passenger on this small planet but will be eternally grateful for having been gifted with the remarkable good fortune to have had a life to live here. I hope that my words of thanks might inspire those that read them to a greater sense of appreciation of their presence here.