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LETTERS for September 8 issue

By Staff | Sep 8, 2016

Concerned about Hawaii State Pension Fund’s plans for Kaanapali

The Hawaii State Pension Fund plans to redevelop the lands surrounding the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course (RKGC), according to the recent article in the Pacific Business News (8/9/16). “Redevelop” is the operative word, which in this case means permanently shutting down numerous holes from both the Royal Kaanapali and Kai golf courses, and replacing beautiful green spaces with condos, homes and hotels. This is notably against the West Side community plan, which clearly has these areas designated as parks/golf. The Employee Retirement System (ERS) has hired Lowe Enterprises, a Mainland company that advertises having a “rich and varied history of creating value in all types of real estate,” and “the vision of building a multi-disciplined real estate organization with the depth to prosper through any real estate cycle.”

Back in 2003, the pension fund took ownership of the two Kaanapali golf courses from Amfac Hawaii, as part of a bankruptcy settlement and nearly three-year-old lawsuit. The property was worth a fraction of the $96 million Amfac owed the state (loan and interest) dating back to a 1991 loan to Amfac by ERS.

The Mainland advisors are trying to maximize value despite the cost to the Kaanapali Resort, the residents of Maui, the many tourists who enjoy Kaanapali, and the environment. As a Maui resident and golfer, I cannot understand why ERS would destroy a classic golf tourist destination and development when it is such a trivial part of the retirement portfolio. Royal Kaanapali Golf LLC represents .2 percent of the ERS portfolio. That is $2 of $1,000 – a lower percentage than a typical portfolio would fluctuate daily. All funds and investors regularly sell investments that are underperforming. Chasing bad investments with more money, or lost time in stagnant equities, is a no-win proposition. ERS is beating a dead horse with limited returns under any circumstances in a microscopic part of the portfolio, but at a great cost to the community.

Thousands of tourists and many corporations come to West Maui for golf vacations and meetings, looking forward to the history of Kaanapali and RKGC. Locals and tourists have enjoyed both golf courses for decades. Many high school golfers and keiki have grown up playing these courses. Non-golfers look forward to enjoying green spaces, not staring at more condos, buildings and cars. Much of that green space below the highway is on the “redevelopment” list. The West Side traffic is currently intolerable on many days. Navigating out of Kaanapali can be a nightmare during peak traffic. The last thing we need is more development within the resort without major infrastructure/roads and alternate traffic plans.

Finally, so much of our economy depends on real estate value. How can current Kaanapali properties be legally bought and sold without complete disclosure by agents of the impending redevelopment plans, including effects on views, parking, traffic and beachfront?

I realize that these plans are years in the works, but the seeds are being planted each day. Now is the time for the community to take a stand. That means ensuring that Mainland ideas do not influence our West Maui Community Plan, which will be redone in the near future. It means asking potential new County Council members about their views on this and other issues that affect our daily lives. I implore ERS to take a step back and look at the detrimental effects on the community and tourism that closing parts of the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course will have.



Back to school food

With the new school year starting, parents’ to-do lists are now filled with shopping for school clothes, school supplies and school food.

That’s right – school food!

In past years, our nation’s schools were used by the USDA as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. It is neither a surprise nor coincidence that one-third of our children have become overweight or obese. Such dietary mistakes at an early age become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Then came President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, requiring double the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. The guidelines are supported by 86 percent of Americans.

Most U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Diego, have implemented “Meatless Monday.” Some schools have dropped meat from their menu altogether.

As parents, we need to involve our own children and school cafeteria managers in promoting healthy, plant-based foods in our own schools.

Going online and searching for “vegetarian options in schools” provides lots of good resources.



Don’t impose religious beliefs on others

Restoring the Hawaiian Nation has nothing to do with any agreements with God!

I might be wrong, but I think the Hawaiian Nation was better off before the Missionaries set foot on these beautiful islands.

Why must people impose their own religious beliefs upon other people? Who are they to think their religions are good for everyone?

I have nothing against religion pick your own religion, and do not subject innocent people into believing your religion is the only way to believe.

To each their own.



Families needsafety nets

I appreciate the time I get to spend with my family over holiday weekends. Labor Day, in particular, reminds me of the urgent need to set standards that value families and allow folks to afford to take time off to care for their loved ones.

Across our community, working people are struggling to manage the dual responsibilities of work and caring for themselves and their families. The current policies simply don’t work for working families. Without strong paid sick and family leave protections, too many people are living just one illness, injury or birth away from being often left in the cold when they need help the most.

Research shows that comprehensive sick and family leave policies are wise investments that help working families and ultimately save our government money.

This Labor Day, our leaders need to heed the call and build a meaningful safety net for America’s families.



Build roundabouts to ease West Maui gridlock

Sadly, Gov. Ige wants to defer the money that was set aside for the highway work to be done on the Lahaina side. They say the cost is too high for our budget. And, it will be years until there is a solution.

Well, there is a solution! County Councilman Don Couch pushed for and developed the two automobile roundabouts in Kihei. They are truly effective, and automobiles do not have to stop!

These Don Couch Roundabouts would work fabulously well at Launiupoko as well as at Hokiokio Road and Highway 30.

Imagine NO STOPPING! FOR REAL! Please check out the Couch Roundabouts in Kihei and please write Gov. Ige, Sen. Baker and Rep. McKelvey and ask them to THROW THEIR WEIGHT TO REDUCE OUR WAIT!

Every time you have to wait in line on the West Side, think Couch Roundabouts!

PAUL LAUB, Lahaina


Establish a designated swimming area at Little Makaha

(The following letter was sent to Rep. Angus McKelvey and other state officials.)

We are voting residents in the Napili area.

We have a problem on our bay: Little Makaha, Napili.

A speed boat comes roaring its large gasoline engines into the little bay, carrying visitors, adults and children to view our shore and its contents.

There are endangered green sea turtles that nest along the tiny beach, laying eggs in vulnerable sandy beach. And, on occasion, a returning monk seal, gravid with a pup.

Young children, snorkelers, stand up paddlers and swimmers swim in this bay. And, when an ocean swell curls along the living reef, local surfers ride the swells along with the turtles.

With a speed boat cutting its engines into the surface, the turtles can be injured. This is also no longer a safe harbor for swimmers, who cannot be seen from the boat!

The stink of gasoline, polluting reef fish; the screaming roar of the boat’s multiple large engines painfully remind our residents that this misuse of a nourishing sea environment is the exact method that quickly signals a death knell for our little bay.

Far from being a haven for colorful reef fish and green sea turtles, our blessed reef will become a bleak cemetery for the sea life. It can become a deadly place for swimmers and snorkelers.

Please designate “Little Makaha” bay a swim area. If we are to be designated caregivers over our ‘aina, and oceans, please legislate safety for the sealife and the humans playing along its shores.



Conservatives want term limits and a citizen’s Congress

Conservatives are overwhelmingly in favor of replacing the professional politicians in Congress with a citizen’s legislature through term limits, according to a poll conducted by Americans for Constitutional Liberty. This change had the support of 92 percent of those who responded to the poll.

There was 93 percent support for extending to seven years the time during which a former member is prohibited from lobbying his former colleagues.

The poll revealed a strong feeling that Congress and the federal government have become too expensive, with 85 percent saying that members of Congress are paid too much, and 97 percent saying that the federal government has become “too big and too rich.”

Americans for Constitutional Liberty (formerly The Conservative Caucus) is a grassroots public policy action organization formed in 1974. It was active in defeating the SALT II Treaty, repealing the Catastrophic Coverage Act, blocking the Clinton healthcare takeover, impeaching President Clinton, stopping amnesty for illegal aliens, and persuading the House of Representatives to sue the president regarding ObamaCare.

PETER THOMAS, Americans for Constitutional Liberty