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LETTERS for October 26 issue

By Staff | Oct 26, 2017

Community service wonderful; exploiting taxpayers, not so much

Hawaii’s public pension system needs to be reformed.

Why? Because it calculates employee benefits based on the last three years of pay received, including overtime. This incentivizes government employees to accumulate overtime just prior to retirement, a practice known as pension spiking.

In 2016, a freeze was put on Maui firefighters’ participation in community service events. Firefighters would sometimes receive overtime for their community service contributions, but that year, the budget was too tight.

In September, the freeze was lifted, but the system that incentivizes excessive overtime has not been changed.

Hawaii’s county employees already make some of the highest wages in the nation – even when adjusted for cost of living. And some firefighters on Maui make double their yearly salary in overtime.

Participating in community events can be a wonderful service for Hawaii firefighters, and overtime pay might be necessary on occasion to help facilitate it. But when it’s exploited, the very communities being served literally end up paying the price.

Let’s reform Hawaii’s public pension rules to make sure that doesn’t happen.

AARON LIEF, Researcher, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Honolulu


Drought is a time to make your plants stronger

Clearly, West Maui is in a drought, and we have been reminded to cut back on our water use. We know that we must conserve water as our most precious resource, but how do we do that when many of us have working farms, or nurseries, live in agricultural areas, or have valuable plants and trees we can’t afford to lose?

I’ll address this on a systemic level, since overuse of water is a systemic issue. There is much we can do to lower our farm and landscape water use while actually improving the health of our plants. First let’s look at some facts:

First, our volcanic soil is quite porous and drains quickly; thus, overwatering washes away the nutrients that our plants desperately need.

Second, any high-volume application of water (i.e., high-volume sprinklers) wastes much of the water applied through evaporation and runoff. Any water applied faster than the ground can absorb it runs off and is wasted.

Third, frequent watering encourages plants to grow surface roots only and not to send roots down. This makes the plant weak – not able to use the water that is there – and makes them susceptible to high winds and pests. Therefore, when a drought comes, plants do not have the root system to reach the deeper water and tolerate the drought.

Fourth, upwards of 90 percent of a plant’s water and nutrient uptake system comes from the symbiotic fungi in the soil that actually link to the plant’s roots. Application of chemical fertilizers kills these beneficial bacteria and fungi, effectively killing the soil and disrupting the plant’s ability to use water and nutrients. This causes a downward spiral of plant health and makes the plants increasingly dependent on more and more water and artificial fertilizer. Fertilizer injectors on the irrigation system are among the worst culprits in this scenario.

Rebuilding the soil and returning the soil to health is the main goal. So how can we use far less water, rebuild our soil and make our plants more robust and healthy?

Start phasing back irrigation from daily to every other day, to eventually a couple of times a week. Succulents, cacti and other drought-tolerant plants should generally only be watered once a week.

Transition your plants to less frequent irrigation but water longer to encourage the roots to go deep. Drip irrigation works much better for this than sprinklers.

If you see wet walks, driveways, streets or concrete, readjust your system to apply water to the plants and not waste it on hardscaping.

Discontinue the use of chemical fertilizers entirely. If needed, later, apply organic fertilizers that actually feed and stimulate soil biotica. Manure, compost or an organic fertilizer like Perfectblend are great for this.

Mulch your plants with a thick layer of compost, wood chips or commercial organic mulch (not plastic or weed cloth that heat the soil). Bare hot dry soil kills the plants’ roots. The mulch will cool the soil, keep the soil moist and break down slowly, building the soil by feeding earthworms, beneficial fungi and microorganisms.

Following these steps will allow your plants to gradually grow stronger, healthier and far more resilient to drought, winds and pests. It will take a little time, but your plants will thank you!

DR. DOMINIC PISTILLO, Mauimist Gardens, Launiupoko


Government officials must work together

When President Ronald Reagan set out to win the Cold War, he was supported by Republicans and some Democrats.

When Reagan proposed tax cuts to get the economy moving, he was supported by Republicans and some Democrats.

When Reagan asked for tax reform, he was supported by Republicans and some Democrats.

Reagan was a successful president because some Democrats were willing to admit the wisdom of his policies and join forces with him.

Today we see a very different attitude. Democrats vote in lockstep against any policy recommended by the president or congressional Republicans. Even some Republicans have abandoned their campaign promises and sought media praise by voting with the Democrats.

Much needs to be done. Our complex and anti-growth tax system cannot be defended. People enter the United States illegally and remain here undisturbed, taking jobs away from Americans. ObamaCare is strangling the healthcare system. Foreign enemies and terrorists threaten our very lives. Even violent crime has been increasing in recent years.

It is time for everyone in government to admit the existence of these problems and begin working together. Those who are not willing to face this reality should ask themselves whether it is now time to retire.

PETER J. THOMAS, Americans for Constitutional Liberty


Attend Honolua Bay planning meeting

The day before I was drafted into the Army in May of 1966, I surfed this place called Meepees. It was the summertime left down at the end of the wintertime right at Dana Point, California.

The next time I went by there, it was a giant boat harbor! I got out of the Army early and moved to Maui in the summer of 1967.

In the early 1970s, there was talk of making Honolua a boat harbor. “You can kick out before the breakwater,” they told us. I envisioned slamming into the breakwater on a 12-foot day.

Colin Cameron, who had bought Maui Land & Pine from Baldwin Packers in 1969, was opposed to the plan and presented a plan to make Honolua a Marine Life Conservation District. When public meetings came up about 1975, I dressed about a dozen surfers in the same color team shirts and went to the meeting.

There were only a handful of people at the meeting, so when we walked in, they called for an informal vote to see where we stood. When we said we were for the MLCD, Colin Cameron came over and sat between Wayne Nishiki and myself.

With state purchase of the Honolua property, they are dying to make a plan about what to do with the property. There is an important meeting on Nov. 8 at the West Maui Senior Center at 5 p.m. We need to tell these planning guys to leave it alone. Maybe some more porta-potties, but we do not need to extend the sewer line past Honolua Stream and build restrooms, as this would make it too easy to open the door for more development beyond Honolua. We also do not need stairways for the surfers, as these would be used by tourists to enter the water in the summer – and they would be walking on the reef!

Please attend this meeting and voice your concerns.