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LETTERS for the Feb. 25 issue

By Staff | Feb 26, 2021

Keep park restrooms and showers open

(The following letter was sent to county and state officials.)

I am writing with concerns regarding the Puamana Park situation. The park has been closed off to the public, supposedly for repairs, and was to re-open on Feb. 28, yet as of now no work has begun. A further issue is the homeless situation.

The DLNR and Sheriff’s Department did a sweep, including confiscating personal items, yet they have allowed the homeless to return and live in cars along the roadside fronting the park. The problem is that the port-a-potties have all been removed, and as I anticipated, there is human feces on both sides of the roadway along with TP and garbage. This is dangerous and could lead to an additional health threat.

At the beginning of this pandemic, we were told the homeless camps would be allowed to remain so as not to disperse them. When the DLNR closed the bathrooms at Mala Wharf, Rep. McKelvey, you sir, were instrumental in having them reopened, and I thank you for having not only compassion but common sense.

Now I am urging you to, at the very least, provide two roadside port-a-potties at the Puamana Park area, similar to what we have at Papalaua Park by Ukumehame firing range. The best case scenario would be to reopen the park on the Lahaina side where there is no damage, reinstall port-a-potties and turn back on the public shower. Several of the regulars, including the homeless, worked hard to keep the park clean and inviting for tourists and locals alike.

Let’s not allow the situation to worsen but improve for all to enjoy. Mahalo and God bless.


Hawaii making progress in renewable energy

For the first time in Hawaii’s modern history, renewable energy accounts for more than half of the electric power on not one but two islands. This news comes as Hawaiian Electric reports that it has exceeded the 2020 state mandate for 30 percent renewable energy and reached a 34.5 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) across their Hawaii Island, Maui County and Oahu service area — a significant increase over 2019’s 28.4 percent RPS. These numbers show promise for Hawaii’s transition to clean energy by 2045.

While Kauai continues to lead the way for the state with an estimated 60 percent RPS in 2020, Maui reached the halfway mark at 50.8 percent. In fact, when adding the Garden Isle’s impressive clean energy progress to Hawaiian Electric’s growth, Hawaii is currently operating off of nearly 36 percent renewable energy statewide.

Blue Planet Foundation, the nonprofit that led the advocacy campaign to pass Hawaii’s first-in-the-nation 100 percent renewable energy law, is excited to see renewables become the majority and dirty fossil fuel switch roles to become the “alternative energy” on Maui and Kauai. To put it simply, every time someone flips a light switch on those islands, more than half of the time, it is being powered by local, clean energy sources.

While this marks major progress for Hawaii and helps build a more resilient future, Blue Planet remains committed to continuing its work to accelerate Hawaii’s transition away from imported fossil fuels. During the 2021 legislative session, Blue Planet is prioritizing a portfolio of policy solutions to accelerate this evolution while simultaneously recovering from the pandemic.

For more information on the transition to renewables and to view Blue Planet’s 2021 clean energy policy priorities, please visit blueplanetfoundation.org/2021-legislative-priorities.


Widespread family prosperity must be our mandate in 2021

How will our children remember 2021? It will be the first anniversary of a global pandemic many predicted, but for which our nation was woefully unprepared. It will be the first year of the Biden-Harris presidential administration. And it will be a moment for policymakers to start fresh and get it right — on our health, our economy, and crucially, on supporting our nation’s families.

This can be the year we scale up solutions that embrace a culture of health and expand family prosperity. Access to good jobs, education, health and whole-family well-being are the foundations of family prosperity — as is an inclusive, expansive definition of family that honors the many ways in which we live and care for one another.

One of the greatest barriers to family prosperity is the false narrative of “rugged individualism” and meritocracy. Our nation must realize that the well-being of families depends on our capacity to listen and learn from their lived experiences and expertise — not judge them. Working parents with a child at home are 41 percent of the workforce. With many schools only open virtually and dwindling child care options, we must assert that breadwinning and caregiving are compatible responsibilities.

Leaders in state houses, Congress and the White House can change this narrative by embracing data-driven solutions that change outcomes for families, economies and communities.

Addressing one of the greatest gaps in support for families across the nation — the aforementioned child care crisis — is one way to make this shift. The solution: follow the lead of All Our Kin, which partners with family child care businesses. These small, home-based child cares are run by and serve families facing the greatest barriers to accessing child care.

We also must expand policies that keep families physically and economically safe right now: specifically, paid family and medical leave policies.

Our mandate is clear: scale up family-centered innovations that put their health and economic well-being first. Incorporate these innovations into systems that lift families up instead of holding them back. As we walk into 2021, we must learn from the past and reimagine better. We have the resources — public and private — but it comes down to choice and the responsibility of our policy leaders and the private sector to act in families’ best interests.

Let’s make this the year we set an ambitious vision to achieve family prosperity. The year we righted wrongs that kept too many families from health and economic security. And the year we rejected old narratives and put the conditions for families to thrive in their place.

ANNE MOSLE, Aspen Institute

TRENE HAWKINS, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation