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LETTERS for January 4 issue

By Staff | Jan 4, 2018

DOT’s bypass plans will cause problems

As the most recent phase of the Lahaina Bypass nears completion, the plans widely unknown to the general public have come to light. These include closing off the current highway at Cut Mountain and forcing all traffic onto the new bypass. Instead of building underpasses, traffic lights will be installed at Kai Hele Ku and Hokiokio, the same streets where backups occur at lights on the current highway.

All northbound traffic will now be funneled onto Keawe Street and fed back onto the existing highway via a forced right turn. The long-term plan intends the bypass to continue to Honokowai; however, this has yet to be funded and will not be completed anytime in the foreseeable future.

This morning in a DOT meeting, a constituent asked what will be done to ease severe access and egress problems caused for Keawe Street businesses and residents. The response was simply for residents to “leave ahead and make right turns only.” This acknowledges directly that the department is shifting the burden onto citizens instead of solving their problems.

For those living in the area, these shopping centers are not optional destinations. Grocery stores for food, pharmacies for medicine, office supplies, medical resources, the DMV as well as daily stops like coffee shops are affected.

The exit from the south side of the shopping center is roughly 300 feet from the main road residents must take home. By following the right turn only advisement, they will be required to take a 1.5-mile route to a U-turn via Lahainaluna Road for a wildly impractical three-mile round trip back to where they began. This is obviously not a solution – it is an unreasonable burden that Maui’s leadership is not addressing as they force this plan through to implementation.

As residents, we’ve lived with the unfortunate results of poor leadership decisions more often than we deserve. This new bypass plan, however, seems beyond illogical, or poor planning, and sets off alarms among our community as outright irresponsible thinking.

HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen is responsible for pushing this plan but won’t be affected by the consequences from his office on Oahu. As Lahaina residents themselves, Roz Baker and Angus McKelvey should be fully aware of the detrimental impacts this will have on our community and must advocate on our behalf. It is concerning that they’d entertain this shortsighted idea of a solution that simply moves the problem and makes it worse in more critical areas. This can’t be understated.

Access to businesses Lahaina residents count on daily will become nearly impossible. Families’ access to crowded school routes will become impassable. The workforce on their already labored commute to serve Lahaina will lose hours a week to severe traffic. This will affect quality of life for residents substantially and poorly.

We need Mr. Sniffen, Ms. Baker and Mr. McKelvey to use their better judgment and power granted by their position to insist on thoughtful solutions that don’t throw us under the bus. The Lahaina community has expressed, with what can be described as near-unanimous fervor, that the burden is too significant to move forward with this plan.

We do support the long-term development of infrastructure and understand we will have to adapt to allow that growth. However, we plead that our leadership commit to actual solutions supporting our citizens and visitors’ needs in the process. As those plans emerge, Lahaina needs the low road to remain open, at the very least, until the northern terminus of the bypass has been completed.



GOP’s tax overhaul is the worst Christmas present ever

Some Christmas presents are a wonderful surprise; others a big disappointment. We try to be polite about the clunkers, figuring it’s the thought that counts. But the new Republican tax law – what President Trump has described as a “big, beautiful Christmas present” for the American people – is the worst Christmas present ever. And there’s no need to be polite, since the thought behind it stinks, too.

Imagine being promised a new doll or Xbox, only to unwrap the package on Christmas morning to find an empty box… empty, that is, except for an unpaid bill from the toy store. That’s how 92 million middle class families will feel when, thanks to the temporary nature of individual tax cuts in the GOP law, their taxes will actually be higher than they are now.

Then imagine visiting your rich relatives and seeing their living room strewn with expensive gifts. By 2027, these members of the top 1 percent will be getting 83 percent of the tax cuts under the Trump-GOP plan. But the gifts start arriving much sooner – as early as next year, when their average tax cut will be over $50,000. Meanwhile, the bottom three-fifths of Americans will get an average tax cut of about a dollar a day.

Finally, imagine discovering that Santa can only afford his generous gifts to the rich by stealing from everyone else. That’s what the GOP tax overhaul does; it steals from the American people in the form of drastic budget cuts to vital services in order to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. Those big firms get a permanent $1.4 trillion tax cut by lowering their tax rate from today’s 35 percent to just 21 percent.

The new tax law will force $400 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare over ten years. It will deprive 13 million Americans of their health care altogether and jack up insurance prices by 10 percent or more on the individual market. Other services suffering automatic cuts include agricultural subsidies, student loans and military retirement benefits – a total of $136 billion in cuts next year alone, with the figure increasing in future years.

On top of those automatic cuts are trillions more that Congress has already proposed, including additional cuts to Medicare, along with Medicaid, education and other fundamental public services.

What’s the thought behind this terrible Christmas present? The idea is that giving even more money to those who already have a lot – wealthy individuals and profit-laden corporations – somehow helps working families.

But common sense and recent history prove that false. Giving more money to the well-off just makes them more well-off. When you pay for it by raising taxes on working families and cutting public services they depend on, you make most people worse off.

FRANK CLEMENTE, Americans for Tax Fairness


New ruling will increase suffering for “organic” animals

The Trump Administration recently ruled that animals raised for food under the “USDA Organic” label need not be treated any less cruelly than those in conventional farming. The decision reverses years of U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, which held that the “organic” label should impose minimal ethical, health and environmental standards.

For the animals, this included adequate space, light and access to the outdoors. Under the Trump Administration, this will no longer be the case.

“Organic” farm operations will be allowed to cram laying hens five to a small wire cage that tears out their feathers, and to grind or suffocate millions of male chicks at birth because they don’t lay eggs.

Mother pigs will spend their miserable lives in tight metal crates, as their babies are torn from them and mutilated with no anesthesia.

And dairy cows will continue to cry for their babies torn from them at birth, so we can drink their milk.

Caring consumers opting for “organic” animal products, to reduce their role in subsidizing these abuses, will now have no choice but to switch to plant-based foods, including the widely available nut- and grain-based meats, milks, cheeses and ice creams.



Increase food production in Hawaii via military funds

Considering the overthrow is responsible for destroying Hawaii’s agrarian society, it is appropriate to redeem rural/agriculture land, build the necessary infrastructure and provide resources to restore agricultural industries.

Doing this right thing promotes food security. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states: “To put the demand of food into perspective, we are going to have to double our production between now and 2050.”

Consider replacing military revenues with agricultural economics, allocating Department of Defense funding for food security. Hawaii’s ideal conditions make it a logical choice for growing food.

The majority of Hawaii’s agricultural land is controlled by a few entities, making the procurement process easier.

Violating fundamental principles of democracy, the 1993 “Apology” Public Law 103-150 admits guilt regarding Hawaii’s lands without providing restitution or compensation.

Using military funds to procure agriculture land and restore Hawaii’s farming communities is a step in the right direction.

Plantation closures and fallow land afford perfect opportunities for defense dollars spent on food security while making some amends.

With today’s technology, Hawaii’s excessive military is unnecessary. Transition the military housing for agricultural employees.

Modify facilities for food processing and distribution. Transform welfare recipients into a taxpaying workforce. Displaced loved ones could return to live and work in Hawaii.

Investing in a stable environment with appropriate infrastructure and reliable workforce encourages private enterprises.

Food security and doing justice is within our purview.

Bible prophets Micah and Isaiah inspired the Russian statue gifted to the United Nations. “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares” can come to fruition.