LETTERS for May 19 issue
Hawking is annoying along Front Street
I have lived in Lahaina Town for over 20 years. I walk Front Street every day, sometimes twice, to Foodland, or the bank or post office. I’m wondering, since when is it okay for salespeople to stand on the sidewalk in front of their shops, like a bunch of carnival barkers, and yell at anyone passing by they think might buy their product – or their fake foreign accents?
Lahaina is looking more like South Beach every day. First the gaudy purple busses and now the high-pressure purveyors. I thought we had more class. There are now FIVE shops I try to avoid, because I can’t slip past without someone harassing me. I keep thinking eventually they will remember me, but NOOOOO.
It’s not like I’m forgettable. I tell them to “save it” and hold up my palm. I say “I live here,” which to most locals is code for “save it,” but they only become more aggressive. I tell them to back the hell off – which for most is code for “I live here,” which everyone knows means don’t bother me, I have no money and I won’t buy the snake oil or whatever kind of crap you’re selling!
Today a scrawny kid with a French accent (it was Italian the other day) said he would just “follow me down the sidewalk then” – and HE DID! I told him to get off me or I would call the cops. He got that deer-in-the-headlights look, and because the tourists were watching him, said he was just “going for a Coke.”
How is it that we suddenly have FIVE shops all coincidentally staffed by people with exotic foreign accents and a very aggressive sales technique? I get that the idea is to bully and intimidate tourists until they get them inside the shop, where they can work them over and embarrass them into buying their new lotion, makeup made in Switzerland or wherever. But I am not a tourist – or a pushover – and if there isn’t a law, there should be. And if there is, how about enforcing it?
Our sidewalks are too narrow for “salespeople” to be using up the real estate and clogging up the flow. Go back inside your shop and shut-up! I just want to get from Point A to Point B without being hassled. But like I said, I’ve been here 20 years, so I’m not going to hold my breath on the enforcing part.
MOLLY MULLEN, Lahaina
Vendors take up beach parking
This is a letter in response to the beach parking article that was recently written in the Lahaina News. Kaanapali Beach is not just south of Black Rock; it continues all the way north to the pink hotel near Honokowai.
Airport Beach would be the most popular place for locals and tourists to visit; however, it is also visited by vendors that park there all day while working at a craft fair sponsored by the Westin Villas.
The business owners park all day in the beach parking at Airport Beach/Kahekili Park, taking up parking spaces reserved for beach goers. Across the street is the vacant former Sugar Cane Train parking lot – that should be used by the craft fair vendors.
It also seems that there is no beach parking at the Royal Lahaina and Honua Kai – both large, beachfront resorts. If the large resorts on the south side of Kaanapali are required to have beach parking, so should the resorts on the north side.
RON TATE, Lahaina
Where have all the geckos gone?
Maui is being invaded by a couple of invasive species that nobody seems to be talking about. In days/years gone by, there was almost always a cute little pasty-colored gecko or two hanging out on my condo walls, flitting from picture frame to picture frame, occasionally emitting that very special chirping sound, which I have surmised is a mating call?
Has anybody noticed there are fewer and fewer gecko chirps lately? Our little pasty-face geckos are being replaced by bigger, quieter, more colorful green day geckos (who I understand like to eat my precious little geckos… and their eggs). There is also an increasing number of smaller, skinny, little, fast-running brown lizards who hang out on sidewalks and make mad dashes to hide as you walk along. They never seem to come inside my condo, thank goodness.
I miss the chirps!!
I wonder how Norm Bezane’s little buddy, Kapono Gecko, feels about this invasive threat? Has Kapono shared his thoughts on this issue? Is anything being done to spread the word about this subtle invasion of newcomers?
KELLY STANLEY, Lahaina
Support a council-manager government for Maui County
Last week, the Special Committee on Governance voted 6-3, with two members absent, to recommend County Council consideration of a charter amendment (for the November ballot) that will, if enacted, implement council-manager government, the most common and progressive form of city and county government in America in communities similar to ours.
If enacted, the effect would be to place day-to-day county operations in the hands of a professional manager hired by the council while retaining a popularly elected mayor with veto power, who would continue to represent the county inter-governmentally and who would appoint citizens to boards and commissions. This is step one in a three-step process – the next being council approval of the resolution followed by approval by the people in November.
According to comments made by Council Services personnel, the Special Committee proposal will be posted to the county’s website no later than May 27 for council hearing June 3.
We and many others in our community believe it’s time to adopt the changes recommended by the Special Committee given the increasing complexity of county government, one with a $700,000,000 annual budget, 2,700 employees and responsibility for many critical services. We also believe there are serious flaws in the way county government is currently being administered, which can be addressed through this change.
Chair of the council committee to which this matter will return, Michael Victorino, Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, recently wrote: “The PIA Committee has jurisdiction over amendments to the County Charter, which is the County of Maui’s foundational document. I intend to carefully review all the charter amendments submitted by my colleagues or the public and decide which are worthy of a public discussion in committee.”
Please let Mr. Victorino and other council members know you want to decide this matter through the democratic process at the ballot box in November; e-mail PIA.committee@ mauicounty.us. You can find many resources relevant to this issue at forthegoodofmaui.org; take a look.
Politicians should be monitored and graded
Those running for office should have all their campaign promises, and later media promises, judged by your newspaper and the others, too, and graded A to F. Most promises kept during previous terms get an A or B. If about half were broken, give Cs. If they broke most of their promises, like most have done, they get a D, and nearly ALL, give them an F. Why hasn’t a research agency or newspaper done this simple math?
Most of my friends think Mayor Alan Arakawa should get a D or F, and County Councilman Riki Hokama an F for seriously mismanaging the budget! An F or D is also given for elected officials, and department directors, for failing to solve over 90 percent of the frequent public complaints about the bus system and the dilapidated county roads, lack of trash cans and rain shelters at most bus stops (including the County and State Building stops!), lack of bike paths on narrow country roads only bordered by weeds, disastrous toxic run-offs and sewage systems, and lack of buses to get home from work night shifts!
Low grades should also be issued to elected officials who spend huge amounts of taxpayer money on themselves and their own workers, including the absolutely excessive pay raises the mayor, council members and department directors received. Those raises have percentages far higher than the average Maui workers in the public sector. They spent millions on a new county office structure in the Maui Mall, built so poorly it was ruined in the first big rainstorm, including its expensive computer systems. That size of a building could have housed a hundred deserving homeless people in bunks, who were victims of the housing foreclosure scandal; job layoffs due to the Great Recession they did not cause; or laid off due to the frequent bankruptcies of the Maui businesses they were employed at.
The old Post Office building in Wailuku, with a good quality, modern exterior, was torn down with tax money because there was asbestos inside. It would have been many millions of dollars cheaper to simply get rid of the inside toxins, remodel and refurbish it, and house more deserving homeless (our state leads the nation in that problem). Instead, money was wasted building a new post office.
Why are most Upcountry roads full of holes, ruts, bumpy ridges, cracks and repairs so poorly done that they become speed bumps? They cannot even take a shovel and level out the poured asphalt? Why are there no rain shelters, benches and trashcans at the proven rainiest bus stops? Why does a bus rider have to take two hours to go four miles from Makawao to Pukalani, or seven from Paia to Makawao, via the airport, Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, and wait for a 50-minute ride Upcountry? The demand for the reverse-loop route goes back five years with massive complaints, and I saw a dozen empty buses just parked in their baseyard at the same time.
A leading cause of unemployment is that workers who live in different towns can get to work on a bus, but not get home when they get off after nine. Most of the help wanted ads on Maui are for night shifts. The county refuses to pay drivers for just one more trip after 11 p.m. Most get off the last trip about 10 to 10:30 p.m., and they could take a dinner break. This is a small pay budget to solve a huge problem. It is well known that at least 80 percent of Maui workers are just one paycheck away from being unable to pay rent, and they are also in debt. Most cannot afford vehicles and need the bus, while there are no bike paths to commute on and lots of rain and wind on most routes.
I am asking your newspapers’ best investigative journalists to research this grading recommendation and stop letting these elected self-serving crooks get away with their propaganda. Most Mauians do not take the time to analyze these officials because they are both overworked and tired – or they have family or other obligations to tend to – and all they hear is more propaganda. It can begin with your paper. What I have just written is only a fraction of three decades of broken campaign promises, failed proposals and wasted tax money.
STEVE OMAR, The Maui Alternative Council, Makawao