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LETTERS for the May 10 issue

By Staff | May 10, 2018

Coastal properties can’t hold back Mother Nature

What if you had 30 years to prepare for a tsunami that you knew for certain was going to devastate your oceanfront home? Would you plan for it? When would you start planning? How would you plan? Would you hold the line or would you get out of the way? If you lose your house, who should be responsible?

These are some of the many questions facing Hawaii’s shoreline property owners, including those at the Hololani Resort in West Maui. They have decided to hold the line and are requesting to build a seawall on state submerged lands to protect their infrastructure. The problem is seawalls are bad – so bad they have been banned in many states, including Hawaii. Why? Because seawalls destroy the natural coastline and accelerate erosion to neighboring properties.

Some at Hololani argue that managed retreat to preserve the beach is a wasted effort because no more sands exist landward, despite USDA and USGS data showing substantial sand and dunes below and mauka of the property. Some argue that a seawall will protect the marine life from an eroding clay layer, despite the five substrate cores drilled down to 20 feet in front of the Hololani by their hired engineers that show almost all sand and almost no clay. Some argue the seawall will provide public access, but access already exists to a beach. Why would the public benefit from access to a seawall? Some argue the property taxes that the Hololani owners have paid over three decades should account for something. I would ask how much of those taxes has gone towards protecting and preserving the natural resources (beach, coral reef) in front of the Hololani that has provided three decades of investment property revenue and rises in home equity?

For the past 30 years, we have watched this tsunami approaching. Scientists have warned, and decision makers have ignored. As recently as a few weeks ago, the Hawaii State Office of Planning rejected the recommendation by DLNR to incorporate sea level rise science into planning decisions. This is not the type of leadership that is going to help us plan for a better future.

If managed retreat can provide beaches and living marine resources for another three, five or ten generations, I believe it is the right of our keiki to inherit a healthy, living shoreline. It doesn’t seem right to that they should be the ones paying the price for bad decisions and poor planning, especially if it can still be rectified. And managed retreat doesn’t have to be without compassion for property owners in distress, but it is important that they also be part of the long-term solution, and many will certainly choose to be. Hololani neighbors that are watching their own tsunami coming should be planning now, in coordination with county, state and federal agencies, to implement compassionate, managed retreat strategies that don’t leave them in complete despair.

We only need to look at New York, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Florida, California or many island nations around the world to see that trying to fight back Mother Nature is a fool’s errand, whether it be seawalls, T-groins or artificial beaches. Managed retreat is inevitable, and the sooner we start adapting to sea levels rising, the less crises we will face into the future.

Much like our great ancestors did, with every decision or action, we must apply the 7th Generation Principle – “Is this decision going to benefit seven generations into the future?”



Hawaii doesn’t need euthanasia and assisted suicide

It is a bad idea for Hawaii to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Once you legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, safeguards go out the window.

Once you legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, the door gets opened more and more. It starts with terminal illnesses, then to disabilities with children, then mental illnesses – it never ends.

Terminal illnesses are not always terminal. I know this lady who had terminal cancer; it went into remission and she is living today.

We have strong medication to kill pain – not the patient. We don’t need euthanasia and assisted suicide.



Thanks for helping in Honokohau cleanup

On the Sunday flood a month or so ago, Honokohau got inundated, and “plenny” trash washed down the valley.

Thanks to Dianna for funding the dumpsters, the Honokohau ‘Ohana for doing legwork, Bill Throckmorton for manning his machine, and Kimo Clark of Truth Excavation for bringing his equipment out to the valley to load ’em up.

This guy really gives back to the community. Too bad more companies don’t follow his lead. Mahalo!

Now, if the county will just pick up the cars they already marked, we’ll be good for now.



Beyond “None of the Above”

Some candidates recently asked me: “What are you looking for in a candidate?”

Mahalo for asking, especially as too many critical elections nowadays have too many blank votes for “None of the Above” (if eligible voters even vote).

I look for:

Real-world experience. The decisions we ask of our elected officials are complicated with real-world impacts across a diverse society. Broad experience in that world allows a decision maker to see the best path forward for all.

Hard work. As the saying goes, there is truly no substitute. Elective office takes dedication, commitment and time driven by passion. We can’t afford to entrust it to anyone on cruise control.

Effectiveness. Much of elective office is basic problem solving but with high complexity and stakes. What really is the problem, what are the options to solve it, how do we identify and choose the best solution, how do we get it done?

Empathy. We’ve all lived in our own shoes, but can we put ourselves in others’? The ability to do so is essential to wise decision making and especially to achieving the universal values of equality, opportunity, compassion and tolerance.

Independence. Too many only want government to do their bidding for their own interests; for them, dependence and control to get what they want are the goal. But government only works for the common good when it resists that pull and represents all.

Moderation. Extremism on the far right or left of the political spectrum or on any issue adds to the debate but is not where we forge the best solutions. Nobody has a lock on the best ideas, and a moderate, inclusive approach usually has the best chance at acceptance and success.

Passion. This doesn’t mean just yelling and screaming. It means waking up every day with a burning desire to better our state, country and world, whether one is loud or quiet about it.

Future focus. Too often our candidates and elected officials hang on to the past while ignoring the future. Yes, we must respect and learn from our past, but dwelling there just holds us back. What we can do something about is our future.

Long-term view. Today’s cluttered and noisy debate and right-now media cycle traps us in the short-term. But can one rise above all that and look to the long term? Where do we want to be in a year, decade or generation? How do we get there? Is this the best way, even at the expense of now?

Straight talk. Just give it to me straight. I can handle the truth, even if I don’t like it; even if I disagree with your solution.

Courage. The best leaders in history, science, art, culture, government, you name it, led from the front, often alone and targeted by most. Every elected official is called upon for courage, though too few can and do answer that call.

Decision making. In our representative democracy, the ultimate job of our elected officials is to make decisions for all. Anyone who has trouble doing that shouldn’t apply for the job.

Power handler. Another saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is certainly seductive. Some handle it well; it doesn’t go to their heads and they stay focused on the common good. But others don’t; they descend into arrogance, cronyism, special interest focus and questionable personal behavior. Often the warning signs can be seen in past actions or along the campaign trail.

Moral center. An elected official faces constant choices between doing the right thing and yielding to other paths. If she or he doesn’t have a strong moral compass as a guide, there is great risk given the power entrusted.

Are there such people out there? Certainly! I’ve seen and worked with many throughout Hawaii and beyond in all parts of my career and life, to include politics and government.

I hope I see them on my ballot. I don’t want to vote for “None of the Above.”

ED CASE, Hawaii