LETTERS for November 9 issue
Kaanapali ‘Revitalization’: Time for ERS soul-searching
I would first like to say that I believe the Hawaii Employee Retirement System is doing a good job. Recently they made necessary changes to avert a crisis situation. They have the well-being of ERS members in mind with regard to investing decisions.
However, there reaches a point where fiscal and fiduciary duties intersect with social and moral responsibilities to the community. The planned ERS Kaanapali “Revitalization” Project is a disservice to the people of Maui, State of Hawaii and visitors.
In recent years, hour-and-a-half and longer drives to the West Side of Maui have become commonplace. With a single highway lifeline to the West Side, even the smallest fender bender results in multi-hour delays. The second Kaanapali accident in the past few months resulted in five fatalities and highway closure for six hours, with all traffic rerouted through the resort. Vehicle time to the airport and hospital is no longer predictable. Beach erosion and sea level changes further threaten the one road to the West Side. From a traffic and safety perspective, extensive infrastructure changes must be performed before another project of this magnitude is even considered.
Kaanapali is already overbuilt and mature, with less cement needed – not more. The toll of construction noise, trucks, cranes and detours for many years cannot be quantified. The key beach for Maui canoe clubs is right in the path of this storm. Parking is impossible already. Beach access will be reduced. High school golfers will lose the iconic course that their parents and relatives have played for decades, and more green space will disappear. Who can say what the environmental effects of more construction will be? Another generic and biased Environmental Impact Study certainly won’t tell us.
Real estate has become a part of alternative investing for many pension systems. Some have been wildly successful. Others have lost millions. The Dallas Police Officers and Firefighters Pension lost $200 million due to poor real estate deals, with litigation pending! California’s Pension Plan has underperformed due to a 48 percent real estate loss during the recession. Michigan, Rhode Island and others have lost millions.
ERS has already written down much of the $40 million to $60 million lost from the original 1991 Amfac investment in Kaanapali. With project approval many years away and not guaranteed by any means, how much more capital spending, Mainland and local advisor fees, litigation costs, and backlash from the community is ERS willing to sustain for what is .2% ($2 of $1,000!) of their portfolio?
Could another long overdue economic downturn affect the project – as happened with foreclosures in Kapalua, Makena and a multitude of properties? I hope ERS retirees and trustees are asking these and other questions.
We are at a critical stage for the West Side of Maui. We are one disaster away from life-changing disruption of the Honoapiilani Highway. The Employee Retirement System of Hawaii is not the cause, but it’s about to become another contributor to these problems. There have been standing room only community meetings with passionate testimony against the project, and the groundswell is only beginning. ERS should do some serious soul-searching with regard to the Kaanapali “Re-vitalization.” This isn’t all about numbers and actuarial tables. There’s another important side to consider – the West Side.
DR. GARY WEISS, Lahaina
Meat industry is scary
I had no fear of goblins, witches or evil clowns lurking on Halloween. What really scares me is the meat industry. This is the industry that deprives, mutilates, cages, then butchers billions of cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens – animals that feel joy, affection, sadness and pain, as we do; exposes undocumented workers to chronic workplace injuries at slave wages; and exploits farmers and ranchers by dictating market prices.
It is the industry that contributes more to our epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer than any other, then bullies health authorities to remove warnings from dietary guidelines.
It sanctions world hunger by feeding nutritious corn and soybeans to animals instead of people.
It is the industry that generates more water pollution than all other human activities, that spews more greenhouse gases than all transportation, and destroys more wildlife habitats than all other industries.
These are the things that keep me up at night. Fortunately, my local supermarket offers a rich selection of plant-based meats, milks, cheeses and ice creams, as well as a colorful display of fresh fruit and veggies. It gives me hope and courage for my future, but I still fear for my friends and neighbors.
LESTER NAITO, Lahaina
Explore vegan living this month
This November, World Vegan Month, compassionate, environmentally friendly people everywhere are celebrating the mushrooming interest in vegan living. Six percent of Americans now identify as vegan – an increase of 600 percent in just three years – and more and more vegans sprout up every day.
We should all eat vegan foods rather than animal-based ones. Research shows that vegans are responsible for 2.5 times fewer food-related greenhouse-gas emissions than their meat-eating counterparts, and that the average vegan indirectly consumes nearly 600 fewer gallons of water each day.
Vegans are less likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diet-related diseases, and they spare countless cows, chickens, pigs, fish and other animals from pain and suffering. Scientists even suspect that turning former pastures into native habitats and forests might bring back buffaloes, wolves and other animals that were displaced or killed so that farmers could raise cattle for food.
If you want to join the movement to get healthy, help animals and protect the environment,
visit www.PETA.org and pledge to go vegan for at least 30 days. You’ll receive a free vegan starter kit and other resources to help you make the transition not to mention that you’ll earn some really good karma!
HEATHER MOORE, The PETA Foundation
Trump could implement solution for Hawaii
If President Donald Trump believes peace is achievable in Israel’s hostile environment, he can certainly conceive of the solution to restore Hawaii.
Exercising an executive order, he’d rival Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
World changing possibilities, President Trump’s position could be for such a time as this. Despite naysayers, he’s proven anything is possible.
Restoring the Hawaiian Nation is viable. Establishing righteous precedents, many of the logistics are relatable to domestic and international affairs.
Biblical principles are culturally appropriate for land distribution, governance, and integrating peoples. It includes criteria for loving resident aliens, protection of property and dual citizenship.
In November 1917, Queen Liliuokalani died. Her faith in God to restore Hawaii lives on.
Liliuokalani’s book concludes: “As they deal with me and my people, kindly, generously, and justly, so may the Great Ruler of all nations deal with the grand and glorious nation of the United States of America.”
MICHELE LINCOLN, Lahaina