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LETTERS for May 25 issue

By Staff | May 25, 2017

Glad to see Joan McKelvey recognized

I was overjoyed to see Joan McKelvey recognized for her pivotal work in helping to save Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina. In my opinion, she deserves all the recognition she can receive. As a news reporter for The Maui News, I remember her gathering businesses in Lahaina to oppose Mayor Hannibal Tavares and the state’s plan to cut off Front Street traffic at Kahoma Stream during the construction of the flood control project.

Joan knew it would reduce business traffic into town enough so that many businesses would go under, and she had the backbone to do the right thing.

Her efforts led to Mayor Tavares and the state providing a temporary bridge during the years of construction at Kahoma. It also led to the formation of the LahainaTown Action Committee, a business group that jointly held meetings to promote activities in the town such as Halloween In Lahaina, “Friday Night Is Art Night,” “A Taste Of Lahaina,” and the International Festival of Canoes, increasing the number of visitors to West Maui and jobs for Valley Isle residents.

Of course, there were many who helped to lead and support as well, including David Allaire, Connie Sutherland, Joan Arnold and Michael Moore.

My own experience with Joan is quite personal. As the Lahaina News editor for five years (1989-94), I remember opposing then Maui Mayor Linda Lingle’s proposal to increase the number of sewage injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Treatment Plant from four to 12.

The wells were actually going into lava tubes.

Lingle tried to persuade me that the treated sewage was not going into the ocean, but when I asked her where then was the sewage going, she said she didn’t know.

I told her to call me back when she did know.

Apparently, Lingle called Joan to complain about my editorial position in order to put pressure on me to change my mind.

Joan called me to tell me Linda had called, and Joan said, “I told Linda I thought Gary was doing an excellent job.”

As it turned out, a U.S. Geological Survey study done several years back established that the treated sewage from the Lahaina Wastewater Treatment Plant was indeed bubbling in shoreline waters at nearby beaches.

Time, in this case, did indeed tell.

GARY KUBOTA, Maui Resident


What are the real facts on food containers?

We are three years into the debate over to-go food containers, and we still haven’t come up with a long-term trash solution on Maui. I commend County Council Chair Mike White for having convened an expert panel, but I’m not sure that we know enough to prove that a ban on foam food service is the long-term solution we are looking for.

First, two experts at the science panel verified that polystyrene food service containers are safe to use and are not a human carcinogen. To-go food containers are not the same as Styrofoam used for packaging, insulation and marine floatation, which are often found in coastal cleanups and are NOT included in the current ban (items exempted: foam coolers, foam blocks or pieces used in shipping, food containers used for raw meats, poultry, fish or eggs). Why are these items exempted?

Secondly, everyone testifying on Monday agreed that we must do what we can to protect the marine environment surrounding us. It was a “chicken skin” moment to realize that the businesses and environmentalists that were testifying on Monday want to work together and come up with real solutions. Trash cans at all parks need covered lids to prevent trash from flying into the ocean. Residents and tourists must be very careful disposing of their trash in a responsible way. Anything that does not belong in the ocean is going to have an impact on the marine habitat, even if it is biodegradable.

Here’s a fact about trash that didn’t seem to be debated by anyone on the science panel: all of our trash on Maui currently goes to the landfill, and there are no plans in the near future for a facility to compost or recycle food containers. So, even if we switch to compostable containers, these containers will end up in the landfill. The biodegradable /compostable products will not break down in the landfill – they need to be put in a special composting facility. A ban on Styrofoam takeout containers is premature until we have the composting abilities on Maui.

Yes, the biodegradable products are more expensive and will be a burden on small businesses (about double the cost of current Styrofoam containers). Instead of banning a product, it might be better for the county to require all food establishments to offer biodegradable/compostable products as well as the Styrofoam products. The food establishments could charge the customer more for the different packaging options. Forcing this switch also takes away the choice of what works best. Hot, wet foods need very secure containers that keep food warm and prevent spills. Cold foods need insulation to keep them from melting. Restaurants know best how to package their food so that is stays safe and appetizing.

Forcing this switch on schools, the county’s senior congregate dining and Meals on Wheels programs were not discussed or considered at the science panel. The county’s increased costs for using these higher-priced compostable containers will force them to cut services or take funds from elsewhere to cover these extra costs.

With those facts in mind, I hope that our council members can consider the whole situation and come up with a trash solution that works for all of us. The council and mayor need to ensure that curbside recycling is included in the 2018 budget. Keeping items out of the landfill should be the number one priority. No one wins when we argue. Let’s step back, consider the facts, and kokua toward a real solution that works for all of us on Maui.



Use science when debating food service containers

There has been coverage in the news about the effort to ban Styrofoam containers in the food service business. Those asking for the ban claim Styrofoam is an ecological disaster. The alternative is waxed paper. It turns out Styrofoam is a better ecological product, it’s cheaper and performs better.

A standard paper cup takes more than 20 years to decompose in a landfill environment. This is due to the wax lining inside of the cup. The trendy paper cup also takes more energy, raw material and money to make. For example, in comparison to Styrofoam, a paper cup requires 12 times the amount of water, 36 times the amount of electricity and costs double the amount of money to produce.

Styrofoam offers better performance for the end user. Fill both type cups with hot liquid and hold them in your hands. The Styrofoam cup is cool to touch; the paper cup radiates hot liquid inside the cup. The paper cup solution? Users slip on cardboard sleeves to stop being burnt. This practice is standard in coffee shops.

Use science, not emotions, to make an informed decision.

MIKE SOWERS, Kaanapali


ObamaCare must be replaced

The debate over the House Republican replacement for ObamaCare is often framed as a choice between the House-passed bill and a continuation of a successful and permanent ObamaCare. This ignores the fact that ObamaCare has failed most Americans and is not a sustainable system. Replacing ObamaCare is not optional – it is mandatory.

We all remember when the promise that we could keep our health insurance if we like it was exposed as a lie. More than four million Americans had their policies taken away by the federal government. But the worst was yet to come.

ObamaCare was billed as reducing the cost of health insurance, saving families $2,500 per year. Instead, premiums have skyrocketed. While ObamaCare defenders have claimed that this was just a temporary adjustment period, and that rates would stabilize in 2018, the available evidence shows that the average 2018 rate increase will be in double digits and may be even greater than 2017’s jump of 25 percent. It turns out that coverage under the “Affordable Care Act” is unaffordable.

For some Americans, ObamaCare does not even offer coverage. As insurers pull out of exchanges, many counties no longer have any insurance available. Just recently, it was announced that the entire State of Iowa will probably fall into that category next year, as the last remaining insurance company prepares to withdraw.

Even the “success” that some claim for ObamaCare has been accomplished only by holding down the cost of insurance with excessive subsidies. One of those subsidies has already been declared illegal by a federal judge, and another is scheduled to end this year. Insurance companies say that they cannot maintain even the expensive and limited coverage now available unless the subsidies continue.

Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of ObamaCare, recently insisted that it can be salvaged, but only if we allow Congress to take away more of our freedom and more of our hard-earned dollars. We can keep ObamaCare only if we become, as C.S. Lewis once put it, “willing slaves of the welfare state.”

The House bill satisfies neither conservatives nor liberals, but it is a step toward a sustainable health care system with affordable insurance. With Sen. Ted Cruz now playing a major role in the Senate deliberations, we can hope that the Senate will produce a bill that is even better.

PETER J. THOMAS, Chairman, Americans for Constitutional Liberty