LETTERS for the August 20 issue
Businesses disappointed in county grant policy
(The following letter was sent to Mayor Michael Victorino.)
My name is Dave Douglas, known locally as “Coffee Dave.” I am the co-owner of Old Lahaina Coffee Company and Cafe Cafe based in Lahaina. I am writing on behalf of myself, other small business owners and local residents of Maui County who benefit from our essential service. All of us support small businesses on Maui and understand the critical role that monetary assistance from the CARES Act will play for local businesses to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
Specifically, I am writing with regard to the Maui County Grant Program for sums up to $7,500 from the $3 million Recovery and Relief Fund using CARES Act dollars to help small businesses.
With that in mind, we are extremely disappointed that many small businesses like ourselves are ineligible for the grant because of our participation in the Maui County Micro Business Loan through the Maui Chamber of Commerce.
To put the two programs into perspective: the Micro Business Loans must be paid back over the course of five years, but the Grant/Reimbursements do not need to be paid back.
Based on the disparity between the two programs, we do not understand the reasoning behind the decision that participation in the Micro Loan program precludes anyone from receiving a grant or reimbursement that will help them climb out of debt.
If anything, the businesses who did participate in the loan program should be given – at a minimum – the same level of consideration for relief as those who did not participate. Please keep in mind that many of us applied for the Micro Loans, and increased our associated debt, so we could keep our doors open – acting much like first-responders – during extremely uncertain times in order to provide essential services and serve our local community. We did this not only for our community, but also at the request of Maui County to help local residents with essential services.
To be clear, I am NOT speaking on behalf of any organization, but I would like to share that I sit on the board of the LahainaTown Action Committee, and I am also the vice president of the Maui Coffee Association. In addition, I sit on the Advisory Committee for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and am actively involved in civic programs here on Maui.
I love my West Side community, the Maui Coffee Industry and the islands of Maui County. And I am proud that Cafe Cafe has not been closed ONE SINGLE DAY since this crisis began and have served the residents of Maui, Lanai and Molokai to the best of our ability.
As you can imagine, it would have been much easier, safer and more cost-effective to shut our doors and hunker-down through this pandemic storm. But we felt the need to stay open and bring a sense of normalcy and a little comfort to an otherwise scary situation for our local residents. Furthermore, during the lockdown, many people had no way to travel further than walking distance for food, and we initiated a local delivery service for those who were quarantined or homebound.
Because of that commitment, we have customers thank us daily for “just being open,” and we are doing our level-best to stay open. But with revenues at less than 15 percent of normal, and virtually zero visitors to Old Town Lahaina, we desperately need this relief to keep our head above water and have any hope of emerging on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.
I shared the above so you can get a feel for our situation, and other businesses like us, who acted on the recommendation of Maui County to apply for the Micro Loan program to keep their doors open.
Hopefully, this letter will help your staff understand our legitimate concern that not allowing businesses to participate in the Grant Program is effectively penalizing them for acting on the county’s recommendation of accepting the Micro Loans earlier in this crisis. And we feel this preclusion is not in line with the intention of the CARES Act Relief Fund or is in harmony with the Aloha Spirit of Hawaii. Therefore, we hope you and your staff will reconsider the eligibility requirements of the new Grant Program for businesses who have already participated in the Micro Loan program through the Maui Chamber of Commerce.
Finally, if the funds in the Grant Program are running low, the county could consider forgiveness of up to $7,500 for the Micro Loans that have already been distributed through the Maui Chamber of Commerce. This forgiveness would effectively be a reimbursement of expenses, and of course be available only if a business can fulfill the other requirements set forth in the Grant Program.
Mahalo in advance for your consideration. If we are incorrect in our analysis of the situation, we sincerely apologize and look forward to clarification. Thank you for your prompt response to this urgent request.
DAVID A. DOUGLAS, Proprietor, Cafe Cafe & Old Lahaina Coffee
Save the U.S. Postal Service
The USPS is an essential service that has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet, even though Congress included $10 billion in emergency loan assistance in the CARES Act, President Trump refused to provide this aid to keep the agency afloat.
Trump treats the U.S. Postal Service like another one of his failed businesses, rather than a critical lifeline to millions who receive their medications and other essential deliveries while they stay at home in order to protect themselves during the pandemic.
Trump has installed a Republican Party fundraiser and multi-million dollar Trump donor as Postmaster General. Since taking his post in mid-June, he has reduced post office business hours, banned employees from working overtime (creating delivery delays) and has reorganized leadership to strengthen his authority – all to undermine the role and efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service as we near the November election. It’s no mistake that Trump and his Postmaster General are trying to take down the agency responsible for delivering vote-by-mail ballots, laying the foundation to attempt to sabotage the election.
The U.S. is already suffering due to the pandemic, and the collapse of the USPS would exacerbate and have devastating effects on our economy and well-being. We cannot let that happen. Add your name next to mine to support $25 billion in emergency funding for the USPS that is included in the House passed HEROES Act.
The Postal Service is required by law to serve all Americans, regardless of where they live. It is the only system that provides universal and affordable delivery to the entire country. It is the third-largest civilian employer in the United States, employing hundreds of thousands of workers. Its collapse must be avoided at all costs. Let’s do our part to ensure its survival.
Together, we can protect the future of the USPS.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO
Let freedom ring!
In the 1980s, my Hawaiian friend was scapegoating Haoles for all the wrongs “his people” have endured. I tried to remind him that we are all One.
We all bleed red, no matter our skin or cultural beginnings. But he just scoffed and shook his head in rebuff.
And here it is: Black and Brown lives matter! Yes! Immigrants matter! Homeless lives matter! Might is NOT right! We cannot move forward if we continue to refuse to drop intolerances and not join our hearts and minds as One Humanity. We are all created equal and have inalienable rights/freedoms under our Constitution.
Many people carry two or more standards, harboring secret hateful feelings and thoughts. A man is measured by his soul and Creator.
The Greatest Evil is separative, exclusive, selfish thoughts and actions that cause pain, suffering and fear to others – and ultimately to themselves.
LOVE, FORGIVE, IMUA! We must change ourselves, our world! Respect, March, Write, Share, Speak, VOTE!! Fill the census. You Matter = Let Freedom Ring!
LINDA LYERLY, West Maui