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LETTERS for the Sept. 3 issue

By Staff | Sep 3, 2020

Create a new cultural park in Lahaina

A recent Lahaina News article announced an upcoming “statewide tree planting initiative.” Imagine all the benefits to Lahaina’s arid ecosystem if Kamehameha Schools planted hundreds of acres of trees and native vegetation above the Lahaina Bypass adjacent to Lahainaluna High School. Then picture the 200 acres of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate property, located below the bypass bordering Lahainaluna Road, created into a historical public park.

The Draft West Maui Community Plan, currently under review by the Maui Planning Commission, includes this area to be developed into a “central park.” Perpetuating culture and history, here are some ideas for park amenities:

Navigating by stars, the first Hawaiians discover the islands. Feature an outrigger canoe for photo-ops and play area. Install motion sensor splash pads for refreshing fun.

Depicting a traditional Hawaiian village, create a large covered playground with a separate “menehune” toddler zone. Develop competitive play areas to commemorate famous battles that took place in this region. Include basketball, tennis, pickleball, volleyball and bocce ball courts.

Construct a replica of the Iolani Palace Gazebo with ceiling murals featuring the Hawaiian monarchy. Honor David Malo with an amphitheater for historical reenactments, hula, plays, lectures, concerts, movies and community entertainment. Provide a platform to carry on his love of learning.

Build picnic pavilions with plantation day architecture. In rafter panels, paintings would depict the history of immigrants to Hawaii. Display whaler artifacts in a nautical-looking structure. Use it for the park’s security headquarters, office, information station and rental kiosk.

A Royal Wayside Chapel, erected in a quiet, peaceful setting, is a great place to learn about Hawaii’s missionary history, Christian heritage and the origins of the Aloha Spirit.

Dog parks and bird sanctuaries could have displays explaining how animals originated on the islands. Pertinent information about trees and plants could be featured on signage throughout the park along the walking trails. Agriculture parks would include the history of farming in Hawaii. Highlight the Hawaiian ahupua’a system for growing food, the century of sugar and pineapple production and the recent return to sustainable agriculture.

Recognize our local veterans with personalized paver bricks. Paint a mural on the exterior of the restroom facility highlighting Mala Wharf’s Glory Days.

The founder of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, valued education and loved children. Developing a cultural and historical public-use park on her property is something she would do.



Use data and analysis to fight the pandemic

The management, sharing and communications of data on the disease have been deplorable. This may become our state’s worst disaster ever.

As one who has spent my career studying disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping up to become an unmitigated disaster. A disaster is an event that overwhelms local capacity, requiring outside assistance. Because this is a global pandemic, we are largely on our own.

With increased fatalities and potential exceedance of hospital capacity, COVID-19 may become our state’s worst disaster. As an island state, we did have the opportunity to bring the disease under control.

It is often said that the first casualty in any disaster is data. We need reliable, accurate, timely, comprehensive, actionable information on who has the disease, how they caught it and how it is spreading in our community.

The management, sharing and communications of data on the disease have been deplorable.

In spite of the millions of dollars spent and emergency reallocations, vital information has been hoarded and kept from those who need it to protect families, employees, businesses and livelihoods. Rather than share data on positive tests, contact tracing, hospitalizations and insurance claims, the information as to the who, when, where and how of the pandemic has been hidden from view.

Lame excuses have been offered up. Difficulties in transferring timely data. Incompatibility of reporting systems. Privacy over public health concerns. Following the guidance of so-called experts. Complacency because of initially presumed success. Failure to anticipate spikes. Inability to protect our most vulnerable citizens. Thinking that this is just a public health problem rather than a failure in management, leadership and governance.

Where are the analyses to support decisions to shutter businesses or force schools to go online? Where is the evidence that closing beaches and parks will reduce the disease? Why isn’t data on the bad behavior of super spreaders or risky events shared with us? Why do we have to piece this together from limited media and social media posts or aggregate statistics lumped together at the zip code level?

In watching daily press conferences, the same tired information is repeated with little connection to protective action. General slogans such as wear a mask or wash your hands are offered, rather than targeted identification and actions to curtail the disease.

Why haven’t high-risk locations and activities been systematically identified? Why were gatherings of ten or more targeted, only to be changed to five or more? Why haven’t the interactions and behaviors extracted from contact tracing been shared, analyzed and presented to motivate positive, collective, corrective actions?

Stigmatization of the disease is a real problem. Yet, we need to bring it out in the open so that families and communities can work to contain it and protect those likely to be harmed. We need open, transparent data to take the necessary precautions as to avoiding physical contact and exposure and making informed choices as to work, school, church and social activities.

This is a crisis of data, analysis and risk management. We need a renewed call-to-arms for data scientists, modelers, geo-spatial and statistical analysts to study, map and figure out how the disease has spread, and what can be done to contain it. We need the best and brightest minds and those committed to sharing data, tools and new technologies to fight COVID-19.

Five actions would help:

Establishment of a data clearinghouse for current integrated COVID-19 tests, contact tracing, hospitalization and medical insurance claims data.

Focused quick analyses on the behavioral and locational attributes of those infected and spreading the disease.

Interdisciplinary teams of researchers, statisticians and data scientists who are funded to conduct risk analyses but also review, critique and share analytical capabilities.

Integration of the mapping, modeling and risk assessment with planning and decision making.

Widespread community engagement in all phases of data collection, analysis, implementation and evaluation of mitigation strategies.

Data-driven analyses and decision-making will help build trust and confidence in our efforts to combat this disease.

JOHN BOND, Ewa Beach, Oahu


Extend the DNC to prevent riots

I would like to request that the Democratic National Convention be continued. During the convention, all street demonstrations, attacks on police officers, murders, looting and store break-ins in Portland, Spokane, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago were greatly reduced, according to my media sources of information.

I thank the DNC for all the actions they took in reducing all this crime. Good work.

DON R. GERBIG, Lahaina