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LETTERS for the February 21 issue

By Staff | Feb 21, 2019

Organic waste going into landfills

As I do photography throughout Hawaii, it gives me a great opportunity to observe the island spaces we live within and how we all can do our part in that management of these islands.

Management of even our garbage dumpsters. Most may not understand putting wasted food and organic yard waste (cut grass, wind-fallen palms and leaves) into dumpsters then fills our landfills, which then also produces methane gases.

It also slows down the composting time of organic materials and fills up our landfill (a limited space of island land).

Place organic waste in a composting area, rather than our dumpsters. Rather than talk, action is really doing our environmental part for all.



Stand up for the ocean this year

As we start another year, it is a great opportunity to confirm all things important in our lives. This includes looking ahead and giving love and attention to those things that are dear to us all. In addition to family, business and community, one thing I know for certain is that our ocean, reefs and ecosystem deserves some of that love. I feel that it is important to give back and care for those things that have given me so much pleasure. So I, along with a core group of passionate volunteers (you know who you are!), have made it our quest to stand up for our ocean, beaches and reefs.

This is the year, folks. This is the year to take a stand and make changes that will positively affect our ocean and coastline. I hope that you do more than just think about it. I hope that you will carve out the time (and/or dollars) to effect positive changes that will keep our oceans and beaches clean and safe for all to enjoy!

Who is Surfrider Foundation? Surfrider Foundation started in 1984 when a small band of surfers/ocean lovers found that a polluted stream flowing into their favorite surf break was making people sick, and they decided to do something about it. From there, it ignited a revolution where Surfrider has grown into a worldwide organization.

The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.

The Surfrider Foundation has built a network of coastal defenders who transform their passion for their coasts into lasting protection. Bridging knowledge and national experts in law, policy and science – both the playbook and team – produces victories for our beaches year after year With 161 chapters and clubs around the world, Surfrider has achieved over 500 victories (since keeping track in 2006).

In Hawaii, we have a unique situation. With over 1.4 million people plus hundreds of thousands of visitors at any given time, inhabiting eight islands and being located over 2,500 miles from the Mainland, this presents us with unique challenges. To list a few:

Over 90 percent of what we use in Hawaii is imported (creating a big carbon footprint).

Currently, only five days of food to support the 160,000 residents on Maui plus 200,000 visitors (at any given time) – this means big food security issues.

Tons and tons of garbage produced daily (including one-use plastics) that is left piling up in our overflowing dumps.

Increased runoff of trash, pesticides, fertilizers, human waste, etc. into our shorelines, reefs and ecosystems – all are killing animals and making people sick.

Increased amounts of plastic pollution building up on our shorelines (think North Pacific Gyres).

Eroding coastlines, reduced coastal access, growing population, increasing weather events

We all agree that we face growing challenges. Throw in the very recent (and largest ever in Hawaii) land sale on Maui’s central and North Shore, and I think you would agree that we need to work harder than ever – banding together – to step up and create positive change.

To tackle these and other important issues, Surfrider has developed a series of goals and campaigns.

1. Beach Cleanups: Targeting beaches around the island to collect garbage.

2. Blue Water Task Force: Currently testing 18 beaches on Maui’s North Shore to identify any problem areas as well as to develop baseline studies that will help guide and influence future land use above. Also working with partners to establish water testing on South and West Sides.

3. Ocean Friendly Restaurants: Assisting restaurants on the island to convert to more combustible, Earth-friendly practices.

4. Legislation: Supporting laws that eliminate harmful products, plastic pollution (think plastic bags, foam, cigarette butts, one-use plastics).

5. Coastal preservation and access

Our volunteers are the lifeblood of Surfrider. I’d love to have you join our network – your local chapter – to work together to help tackle the issues that face our ocean and beaches.

MIKE OTTMAN, 2019-20 Maui Chapter Chair, Surfrider Foundation


Halt the assault on Medicare

At his campaign rallies, President Trump promised to protect Medicare. But now his administration is quietly embracing drastic changes that could choke off seniors’ access to lifesaving treatments. Consider the administration’s new guidance for Medicare Advantage, which enables about 20 million Medicare beneficiaries to obtain subsidized health plans from private insurers. The guidance, which took effect this January, allows insurers to force beneficiaries to try older, low-cost medications before they can access more advanced, expensive drugs.

Administration officials have also proposed weakening key patient protections in Medicare Part D, the popular prescription drug benefit used by 44 million Americans.

For more than 50 years, Medicare has helped seniors access the care they need and deserve. Our government promised us that the Medicare taxes, which were deducted from our paychecks every payday, would be used to ensure we had acceptable health care when we retired. Up to this point, especially in Medicare Part B and Part D, that promise has been kept. The proposed changes described above break that promise our government made to each of us.