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LETTERS for November 16 issue

By Staff | Nov 16, 2017

The real meaning of revitalization

The Employees’ Retirement System organization wants to “revitalize” Kaanapali by re-configuring the 350-acre Kaanapali Golf Course property into $2 million-plus oceanfront condos, restaurants, retail, boutique hotels, and homes, both affordable and not especially not.

All fine and good – on paper – except that this isn’t revitalization; it’s profitization, because who’s the big winner? Not entirely the ERS as promised with its multi-million dollar carrot, although they will see some portion, as will the State of Hawaii overall through its tax revenues.

But rather to the “we don’t know,” according to the ERS reps who wouldn’t specify during the greatly attended Nov. 6 meeting at Lahaina Intermediate School. It’s safe to assume, however, this means its investors, developers, lawyers, real estate agents, resellers and on down the line.

Meanwhile, the already stressed local community will have to bear the additional consequences of increased (and increasingly death-defying) traffic, continued hazardous sewage levels rising in the area’s ocean and the greater loss of beach access, view and overall enjoyment, just to name a few of the current plan’s unsavory elements.

When asked what the alternative might be to the profitization of Kaanapali, the ERS rep again had no answer. “There isn’t one,” is what I was told at a prior ERS meeting, “except to sell the golf course.” That comment was reiterated at the Nov. 6 meeting that was delayed due to a fatal accident on the Pali, forcing the reps around the backside at night. (I trust they gave more than a moment’s thought to effects of that tragedy.)

Well, how about this one: revitalize Kaanapali through the re-growth of our dying reefs due to waste build-up in our ocean, bring re-sustainability to our vacant land through profitable agriculture to feed us in the event of some catastrophic event, build real affordable housing for local workers, re-vamp our roads to meet today’s needs – not tomorrow’s – and re-stimulate our economy by hiring locals to do job.

That’s considerate “revitalization” of Kaanapali for ERS pensioners and the local community. It’s also a venue people might appreciate since, as was stated repeatedly on Nov. 6 from both ERS members and community alike, they’re decidedly against the current plan proposed by ERS.

So, please, to the ERS board that made the decision to “revitalize” Kaanapali as presented, stop now, re-think, re-prioritize, re-condsider and/or re-locate before spending another precious, but ill-spent, dime on an undesired project. There’s an alternative out there find it.



No-smoking rule applies to county beaches

A recent letter incorrectly complained about illegal smoking on Maui beaches, and specifically mentioned Kaanapali Beach.

The Maui County ordinance prohibiting smoking applies to county parks and county beaches, not all Maui beaches.

It is still legal to smoke on beaches where there is no county park, such as Kaanapali Beach. See:




Make it less profitable to traffic opioids

The president will now declare what many of us experience first-hand: the opioid epidemic is a national emergency.

Frankly, with as many as 59,000 deaths in 2016, there doesn’t seem to be any other possible description.

So many dedicated people in cities and towns, faith communities and schools, families and hospitals are fighting to save lives and help people escape addiction.

But there are also a lot of people working to keep illegal opioids on the streets.

With 2.6 million opioid addicts in the United States, the scale of drug-running operations is immense, as are the profits.

It’s not a mystery why the cartels build these operations. They do it for the money – and there is a lot of money to be had.

The Office of National Drug Control policy estimates that of the $65 billion spent on illegal drugs each year, about $1 billion, or 1.5 percent, is seized by all federal agencies combined.

That means some 98.5 percent of the profits from trafficking remain in the hands of the cartels and other narco traffickers.

We can and must stop that free flow of money, which, besides flooding our communities with cheap heroin, helps strengthen these criminal enterprises.

As the bipartisan Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control wrote in 2013: “[W]e have become convinced that we cannot stop the drug trade without first cutting off the money that flows to drug trafficking organizations.”

There are simple steps we can take now that go after that money. For starters, we must get rid of anonymous shell companies – companies formed with no way of knowing who owns or controls them (known as the “beneficial owner”).

As documented in the report “Anonymity Overdose,” traffickers can hide and move drug proceeds through anonymous shell companies, because starting such companies requires zero personal information.

One of the most dangerous chemicals associated with the opioid crisis is fentanyl – some 50 times more potent than heroin. Deaths from fentanyl overdoses are up 540 percent in the last three years.

Law enforcement agents have cataloged how fentanyl is often shipped to the U.S. from China. Sometimes the drugs or drug-making supplies are sent from, and addressed to, a set of anonymous companies.

These companies, which are not connected to the real owner (and sometimes not even connected to a real person), can open bank accounts, transfer money and buy real estate.

Law enforcement does not have access to who is behind these entities.

Requiring all companies formed in the United States to disclose their beneficial owners would enable law enforcement to more effectively follow the money trail to the top.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress that would do just that, and we believe this is something Congress should enact as soon as possible.

As we ask ourselves what else can we do to stand against this epidemic, it’s follow the money.