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LETTERS for the Feb. 11 issue

By Staff | Feb 12, 2021

Open the Yamamoto Track

(The following letter was sent to county officials regarding the Yamamoto Track Facility in Wailuku.)

I have written and called several times over the past few months as a concerned World Champion track athlete and mom of a youth track athlete. I am continuing to issue a plea to open the Yamamoto Track Facility in Wailuku. It is unacceptable that our community is not allowed to use this facility.

Other parks and other facilities, such as the pool in the same War Memorial Complex, are open. It brings me great joy to see our youth and other older community members getting their much-needed exercise while enjoying their preferred sport.

Why then am I not permitted to enjoy my preferred sport? Why are track athletes being discriminated against? While cross training can be done anywhere, track running can only be trained for ON THE TRACK.

I understand that we are in a pandemic. I salute officials for firm science based decisions. However, there is no science that this virus spreads outdoors on a track in the heat of the Maui day. The fact that there are no clusters coming from youth sports being played in parks, without facial coverings, should be reason enough to open the track facility. Just yesterday I witnessed about 30 kids playing flag football games in Lahaina, then witnessed youth baseball sponsored by the county itself playing with spectators and no facial coverings. The policy (you, the county, with the approval of the Mayor’s Office) are issuing by keeping the track closed is inconsistent and discriminatory.

I have a national championship race coming up on March 6. I have not been on a track since last June. I am hoping to represent Maui as I usually do and win the national title. I have several reporters and a documentary film crew coming to interview me at the meet to tell my story. When I am interviewed afterwards, I hope to report that the mayor of Maui and the County of Maui listened to my plea to open the track for training ASAP, so that I may strap on my spikes and prepare. I hope that I do not have to report that they were unresponsive and unsupportive of our community members and myself by discriminating against track athletes.

The track facility can be opened just like the other parks with the usual social distancing, group size mandates and mask protocols. For track competitions I have been to during COVID times, the following protocol was used: 1) Temperature check at door; 2) Masks on when not competing; 3) One spectator per athlete competing. In these track meets with over 300 athletes, no cases of COVID were reported.

I urge you, for the psychological, emotional and physical well-being of our youth and community that use the track as their preferred method of exercise, OPEN THE TRACK.


Ideas for affordable housing

Dear Maui Affordable Housing Plan Solution Seekers, thank you so much for your time and efforts to help realize affordable housing for Hawaii and particularly Maui. As a homeowner, living in Lahaina since 1982, it is a concern that future generations will have access to affordable housing. Many regions across the world suffer the same concerns, making your efforts a possible global solution.

First of all, HUD guidelines for affordable housing are skewed numbers. Even though financing is made available, the median income numbers raise the home prices, increasing overall cost of living and adding strain to financial responsibilities. Throughout the nation, if it is a desirable place to live, housing costs escalate so much that the average workers find it unaffordable. National federal guidelines need to be recalculated to ensure the actual incomes of the majority of the workforce are the benchmark of affordability standards. For example, if the West Maui workforce’s average income is approximately $44,000/year, and 70 percent of the workforce falls into that category, then affordable housing costs need to be factored accordingly.

Next, conventional affordable housing escalates to market rate in due time. In ten years, affordable homes reach maturity. Even if extended to 50 years, this practice creates an unending need of affordable housing. Living on an island with limited resources and infrastructure, affordable housing in perpetuity must be the way of the future. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Habitat for Humanity and Na Hale O Maui provide models of affordable housing in perpetuity. With owner-occupied, full-time resident covenants, land trust housing would help create a legacy of affordable housing in perpetuity. Historical Hawaiian allodial titles ensured every family would have permanent housing forever. Models emulating those practices would be culturally acceptable and a reasonable solution for Hawaii’s geographical limitations.

Also, building codes need to be altered to accommodate the tropical climate rather than standards established for the continent. Exemptions made for Hawaii at the national and state level could help lower construction costs while still building safe housing.

Another consideration from the past is affordable housing made available for the plantation day workforce by their employers. Though that concept has continued to the tourism era, hotels have overwhelmingly dropped the ball when providing housing options for employees. Hawaii needs to diversify its economic options. Farming and forestry are two viable industries.

Affordable employee housing in perpetuity goes hand-in-hand with sustainable agriculture. Workforce housing for farm labor should be in proximity to employment to avoid more congested traffic.

Finally, due to the rise of Internet access, residential homes have been converted into commercial enterprises with vacation rentals. Hotels and condos were built to service the tourist industry. Using residential homes for vacation rentals is outrageous. Homes are meant to provide shelter and be part of a community. Return properties that were originally built as residential back to long-term rentals or encourage owner-occupancy. This increase of housing will help meet West Maui’s needs with the additional inventory.

Economic recovery from COVID-19 makes this an ideal time to revert vacation rentals back to residential. Hotels and condos, developed for the tourism industry, will bounce back more quickly, and much-needed housing will be immediate.


Democrats for Trump

Over 100 years ago, Vladimir Lenin said that the takeover of a country will be accomplished by: “Willing idiots who have believed the Big Lie.” Adolph Hitler’s propaganda minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbles, said, “When you tell a lie, tell a big lie, because it is more believable.”

Biden and Obama did not react to the Avian Flu nor the Swine Flu that devastated my nephew some six years ago, but Biden will cure COVID-19! That must be the next big lie, because my COVID-19 virus shots scheduled for February have been cancelled for lack of product.

Fortunately, President Trump’s “Warp Speed” program and fast reaction to COVID-19 brought in vaccines in record time. His policies made America energy-independent and our country safe and strong. He also put five million Americans back to work and found a way to pay the interest on the $22 trillion Biden/Obama U.S. bankruptcy debt that even our great-grandchildren can’t pay off.

However, the big lie believers and a corrupt media have inaugurated Howdy Doodie as president of our great country! Go figure. I am ashamed to be a registered Democrat.

ANDREW B. MAHANEY, Vietnam War Veteran, Wailuku