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LETTERS for the May 2 issue

By Staff | May 2, 2019

Students appreciate new science books

The third grade students of King Kamehameha III Elementary School would like to thank Roger Arsenal for choosing us as the recipient of his annual charity golf tournament.

Roger was inspired by Kate and Justin Rose’s foundation to give back. The tournament is also in honor of his dear friend, Terry Wood.

This year, Roger and his friends raised enough money to buy every third-grader the “National Geographic Book About Space.”

This book fit perfectly with our science curriculum. The children were over the moon happy with this amazing gift!

We live in a wonderful, giving community, and we thank you for your thoughtfulness!

KAREN TWITCHELL, King Kamehameha III Elementary School


Taking action to end homelessness

Hawaii has the highest per capita homelessness in the nation. Approximately 1,500 are chronically homeless (addiction, mental illness, homeless for more than six months). The cost to the state per homeless person is more than $82,000 per year for healthcare services.

This does not include other categories of homelessness, including transitional or episodic.

This is hardly sustainable. Urgent action is necessary to prevent the exacerbation of the situation that without coordination, collaboration and partnership, will impact the health of Hawaii’s economy and the livelihood of our people.

As such, in a continuing effort to elevate awareness of the homeless population and share information on steps that are being taken to address this critical issue, Lt. Gov. Josh Green shared his “10-Point Plan: An Initiative on Chronic Homeless” at the chamber’s last Board of Directors meeting.

He identifies the Chronic Homelessness Trifecta as the intersection of Poverty, Mental Illness and Drug Addiction.

His plan is a multi-pronged approach which includes health and human services, temporary and permanent housing, and addiction services.

As the Lieutenant Governor stated, “housing is healthcare.”

To prevent the homeless population from continuing to grow, we need to address Hawaii’s high cost of living issues, particularly for many residents who are on the brink of homelessness or one paycheck away.

We need to look at what’s driving the cost. And, what we can do to address the issue from a foundational level, rather than with solutions that appear to help but don’t necessarily move the needle.

SHERRY MENOR-MCNAMARA, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii


Raising the minimum wage is the recipe for success

In the last eight years, I’ve opened two restaurants: The Rieger in 2010 and a Va in 2014. Throughout that time, the federal minimum wage remained stagnant at $7.25 despite the rising cost of living. To me that seems profoundly unfair.

As a restaurant owner, I strongly support legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024.

I also support gradually phasing out the tipped minimum wage to assure all workers get reliable living wages whatever their position.

Two things are clear: First, the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with the cost of living – $7.25 comes to just $15,080 a year for full-time workers. And second, paying higher wages has real bottom-line business benefits.

One of the industries that would be most impacted by raising the minimum wage is the restaurant and hospitality industry, and that impact will be positive.

In the past, restaurant work was a real path out of poverty for many. When my mother immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s, she could see the possibility that her children could start in the service industry as a dishwasher, and then years later be the chef and owner of a restaurant. Similarly, people needing a second chance out of hard times could once find work in this industry and create a better life for themselves and their families.

Sadly, that’s not the reality for most today. Far too many people work long, hard hours, yet still live in poverty. We need wages that a person working full-time can actually live on.

In my experience, paying above minimum wage and treating our employees well has been a recipe for success. We’re looking forward to opening two new restaurants next year, while our existing businesses continue to grow.

We need dedicated employees whose goals align with ours to provide real hospitality and make our restaurants the best they can be.

Paying above the current minimum wage has helped us hire and retain people and deliver a great experience to our guests.

The low-wage, high-turnover business model is not sustainable. Training new staff is time-consuming and expensive.

Once someone has learned the job, we want them to stay so we can build institutional knowledge and a strong culture within our restaurants.

When people are paid fairly and feel respected, they care more about the business and are better team players. They are more careful about food waste, and they’re more efficient.

They look out for our best interests because we’ve created a culture of respect.

Raising the minimum wage raises everyone up. It puts more money in the hands of those who most need to spend it, and it will boost the economy. Workers who are paid a decent wage are a key customer base for local businesses.

I want workers to earn enough to not just live but thrive. I want people to be able to afford to live closer to work and spend less time, money and energy commuting back and forth. Raising the minimum wage will provide a stronger wage floor upon which people can build toward their dreams for things like home ownership or entrepreneurship.

It hurts us all when some businesses pay so little that their employees can’t make a living. People working full-time shouldn’t have to depend on public assistance to cover basics like rent and food. Raising the minimum wage levels the playing field for businesses that are paying their fair share and are invested in their staff and their communities.

I understand that a substantial increase in the minimum wage takes adjustment, which is why I support the Raise the Wage Act’s gradual phase-in.

This gives businesses time to ramp up and experience benefits such as lower turnover, increased consumer spending and happier customers.

Every day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night, restaurants work to feed and nourish you.

We create the spaces for you to celebrate in when you’re up, and to lift you up when you’re down.

It’s hard work, long hours and everyone’s role is important to that effort.

Raising the minimum wage will lift up workers, lift up businesses, and lift up our economy.

It’s good for our communities and it’s good for our country.

HOWARD HANNA, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage