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LETTERS for July 6 issue

By Staff | Jul 6, 2017

County not enforcing law regulating taxis

This sure wasn’t surprising. I just read that the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, has resigned from this company marred in chaos and sexual misconduct. As a partner in a PUC-licensed transportation company, I’d like to point out what is really wrong with Uber on Maui. Sexual harassment is bad enough, but it has more to do with safety and the stark absence of reliable insurance and accountability to the people.

In The Maui News’ “Ask the Mayor” column (Jan. 12, 2015), the mayor was incorrect when he said that Uber is a state or a Public Utilities Commission problem. Wrong – it is a county problem, and there is a county law specifically on the books to prohibit this kind of unlicensed and uninsured operation.

I keep wondering who’s going to sue the county first – a tourist who gets hurt (no insurance money to pay their bills) and finds out the county was not following their own established laws, or the taxi owners filing a class-action lawsuit against the county for not protecting them as licensees. You can’t demand regulated fees/taxes from one group (taxis) and not the other (Uber/Lyft) doing the same function, unlicensed and uninsured. Does this sound a little unfair and unreasonable?

Maui County Code, Chapter 5.16.130 specifically covers and regulates taxis and taxicab-type operations (Uber/Lyft). The architect of this law saw something like Uber coming and had the foresight to carefully define that a vehicle summoned – for example, hailing via app – or flagged down and directed by a passenger to go somewhere for a metered dollar rate (Uber/Lyft calculate time/distance) is a taxi.

Further to this point in Chapter 5.16.130, it is written specifically to limit the number of taxis relevant to the hotel room count and the current population to avoid today’s dilution of available services by renegade saturation. The law also dictates that a driver of a taxi must pass a fairly detailed general geographic knowledge test of Maui first. Currently, most Uber/Lyft drivers are relying solely on GPS – that’s unsafe.

Additionally, in the taxicab vehicle code, the vehicle used must first pass a rigorous standards test with the state weights and measures system calibrating and certifying their meters before driving. Uber/Lyft don’t show their cars or driver app to any authority. This is wrong on too many levels.

How is this important? Uber does not commit to one overall rate 24/7 like taxis or limousines do. More often than not, their “surge pricing” pops up at dinner or rush hour or late evening and doubles the final rider’s fee. Uber justifies the unexpected rate gouging as a reasonable cost the customer will pay to assure service in peak hours.

If we tried that, we would be out of business the next day. You can’t charge people more when you have a customer over a barrel when you feel like it – it’s wrong!

People have gotten careless in the Mayor’s Office and not realized that virtually every Uber driver does not have sufficient insurance beyond the basic coverage and run under the fantasy that there is a $1 million corporate policy to protect them at all times. The truth is you only have $50,000 of medical coverage in the event of an accident.

Uber will only pay the million dollar benefit in the case of gross negligence on their part dispatching a derelict driver or car. Also, many Uber drivers solicit tourists every day for side deals, not using the Uber app and leaving the tourist completely uninsured.

The big issue is not knowing who’s driving and how they were trained. No Uber driver gets any training, or is checked out for alcohol or drugs, and verifies they had enough sleep before they get behind the wheel.

Driving people independently is not a social experiment. It’s not an easy way to make part-time money. It is a serious enterprise that requires accountability. It’s time for the mayor to do something other than pass the buck for the next mayor. That mayor will likely get sued!

And, who is paying their airport fees and taxes? Not them; why would they? Nobody cares at the county enough to contact this non-taxpaying, unlicensed and uninsured California taxi dispatcher.

Technology company? Uber and Lyft are taxi dispatchers with credit card numbers to charge. Don’t let their Silicon Valley double-talk fool you.

JANET GRANTHAM, Christopher Limousine, Maui


Factor water into planning decisions

Since Satan counterfeits God’s ideas, how likely are lies, deceit and corruption practiced in regards to land, homes and water?

How many quiet title and quiet-claims on Hawaiian family/kuleana lands occurred in recent years? Since heirs exist, could this be considered legal plunder?

Do you consider Maui’s Housing and Urban Development guidelines call up to $750,000 an affordable home? Is calling it “affordable” deceitful? Is the logical conclusion that realistically we’ll never achieve adequate affordable housing for the local workforce?

If truly affordable housing was developed, how many years would it remain affordable? Where then does the supply of future affordable housing come from?

Do those approving development consider Hawaii’s geographical isolation and the threat posed to Hawaiian culture and agriculture? Does living on an island with limited available potable water have any influence on how we should continue to develop?

Is the water from an aquifer available via various suppliers? Is that like putting ten straws into one glass of water?

Since water is the source of life, is corruption more likely because we can’t live without it? Water control is power – physically and spiritually.

The Holy Spirit is “Living Water.” “Whoever believes in me (Jesus), as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

“Life will flourish wherever this water flows.” Receive it for life abundantly and eternally. “‘Come!’ says the Spirit. Drink freely of the Water of Life.”

“Show me the Water!” is the echo of a God-given mandate for life.



Sorry about the confrontation at Makena

Attention to the topless wahine at Big Beach, Makena, and friend on Monday, June 19. If you read this, I would love to ho’oponopono. Please forgive me for any offense or disrespect that may have happended.

Ke Akua really convicted me. I did not love you that day, as Christ does, and he loves you so much. Being a follower of his, it’s my kuleana to love you as I do myself, and I failed miserably in the end.

My human heart said to defend my keiki and it burned with righteous anger, because I knew they weren’t prepared for the lust they were about to deal with. I led with my heart. I should have prayed and let the Holy Spirit lead me. I’m pretty sure your intention isn’t to trigger a spike of immodest thoughts, yet that is what happened. This is a real battle for many men who are married or in relationships – trying to remain faithful.

When Ke Akua created us as helpers for men, that also included dressing modest to reduce these temptations and distractions, so there would be faithfulness, focus and love. All my boys saw was lust/sex with no love or intimacy.

With all the over-sexualized media, movies, music and lack of parents’ guidance, most teens don’t understand what a healthy, intimate relationship is.

To the topless wahine, mahalo for keeping it more cool than your friend, who was cursing and screaming. I want to let you know I forgive the whole situation. I hope you can forgive me, too. If somehow this gets to you, please look me up and let’s get some coffee. Malama pono.



Trump channels Nero

Donald Trump is doing everything in his considerable power to ensure a future of rising oceans, dirty/unbreathable air, more drought in some places, far larger and hotter and deadlier forest fires, more devastating storms – hurricanes, tornadoes – and all the increased flooding, demolished homes, destruction and death that comes with it all. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and Trump tweets while America roasts.

Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords now means the world shakes it head in disgust at the lack of U.S. conscience, morals, values, common sense and basic decency. That singularly stupid move will cost the U.S. jobs, cooperation and good faith from all erstwhile international partners.

Reversing Obama’s modest Clean Power order will gain U.S. workers no net jobs – rather, it is a foolish pandering to those who yearn for the dirty old days of black lung disease, mine collapse, gooey acidic deposition on everything in coal mining towns and rancid air unfit for anyone.

Meanwhile, the massive numbers of new jobs that we could be creating in solar, wind, new energy storage capacity and all the attendant spinoff businesses will go to Germany, China and more clever countries as we slide down to stupid. Until now, the sunny progressive states have added many new solar jobs while automation (not Obama regulation) has slashed coal jobs since 2012.

Hey, I try to think positively, but when I hear Trump-appointed U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry deny that all the anthropogenic fossil fuel we burn – coal being the dirtiest by far – has nothing to do with climate chaos, I am positive the ship of state is a ship of fools. He blames the oceans. Really, Rickets? And how did the oceans heat up?

Naomi Klein, in the best Gandhian tradition, advises us to not only stand against harmful practices and policies, but to practice and promote the helpful. In that spirit, please allow me to offer a shout out to the governors, mayors and businesspeople who are stepping up right now with smart, effective, cost-saving, healthy, safe and sustainable alternatives. Even pockets of the U.S. military – the single greatest consumer of fossil fuels on Earth – are attempting to “go green.”

We will resist the dirty and we will produce the clean. We will conserve, and some of us will offer nonviolent resistance to the oil-coal-fracking-nuclear attack on our children and grandchildren by shortsighted profiteers.

Our descendants will thank us and curse the greedy grabber polluters.



Conservatives want flat tax to simplify code, save jobs

Conservatives support a flat rate income tax order to simplify the tax code and protect American jobs, according to a poll conducted by Americans for Constitutional Liberty.

There was 98 percent agreement that a flat tax would help American businesses be competitive and avoid sending jobs overseas.

Likewise, 98 percent supported the flat tax as a means to simplify the tax code and greatly reduce the size of the IRS.

There was less agreement on whether to keep deductions for mortgage interest, with 65 percent saying yes, 15 percent no, and 20 percent undecided.

PETER THOMAS, Americans for Constitutional Liberty