EDUCATION IS BEING HURT BY FURLOUGH FIGHT
As regular visitors to Maui and retired teachers from the state of Wisconsin, we have followed the grim news of this state's budget shortfall and the ensuing even grimmer negotiations between the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the governor's team of negotiators.
After reading your newspaper article about the most recent break-off in talks (Dec. 17), we feel that the students, parents and residents of Hawaii should be duly outraged that issues have progressed to this unprecedented low. Granted, we do not have the privilege of living here and keeping up on a day-to-day basis with details of this situation, but we feel that both sides have let this state and its students down terribly.
From the beginning, how could either side (especially the governor and the directors of the HSTA) have agreed to the concept of furlough days and the resulting shorter school year? Which side really has the interests and education of the students of Hawaii at heart? It seems obvious to us that neither side cares deeply about the education of Hawaii's greatest natural resource (its children), but is only concerned about its group's vested interests and politics. It is indeed a shameful situation which is causing the state of Hawaii untold damage to its reputation.
We look on the developments with disbelief, yet hope that logic and level-headedness can soon prevail.
Andrew and Joanne Zintel
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-- The Maui News
CELEBRITIES' PRIVATE LIVES SHOULD REMAIN PRIVATE
I'm a fan of Tiger Woods. I was a fan of Joe Montana, Broadway Joe Namath and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who were all superlative athletes that it was a joy to watch.
I don't care at all about their sex lives, that is for them and their wives to worry about.
Tiger is not a Republican politician who has to cater to the moral majority, nor is he the leader of a multimillion-dollar church who is constantly preaching morality.
I suspect that most rich and powerful men cheat on their wives, and I suspect that a lot of men who are not rich and powerful also cheat on their wives. A lot of women cheat on their husbands.
Not my business.
I am not disgusted by Tiger. I am disgusted by the media figures who are talking about him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Enough, already.
The sooner the media gets over it and Tiger can go back to doing what he does better than anyone else ever has, the happier I will be.
Poetry in motion.
AQUARIUM TRADE HARMING MAUI'S REEFS
Millions of animals taken from Hawaii's reefs are dying in Mainland hobbyist aquariums every year.
Although critical to reef health and beauty, they're taken without limit by those who exploit our reefs for a profit. Hawaii's people, visitors, reefs and the animals themselves suffer from this trade. Through trauma, injury and starvation inherent in industry collection and shipping practices, animal cruelty laws are broken every day.
The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force notes that our reefs are severely overharvested by the aquarium trade. The harvest is unsustainable and unethical. The task force further reports that some species are being wiped out.
Meanwhile, the Department of Land and Natural Resources promotes the aquarium trade, offering permits to anyone for $50 and ignoring the illegal activities and harm done by this industry.
Many of these species live for decades in the wild - cleaning, balancing and eventually feeding the reef ecosystem when they die. When they're taken, sold and shipped out for the hobby, 99 percent die within a year. They're tossed out and replaced like cut flowers.
It's time for this luxury trade in reef animals to stop. These animals are essential, not optional, for Hawaii's coral reef health and beauty. Healthy reefs are a cultural and spiritual foundation to Hawaii's people and, as a tourism draw, are financially important, too. No aquarium hobbyist needs our reef animals more than our reefs do.
Mahalo to the Maui County Council for their willingness to tackle this important issue.
MAUI COUNTY NEEDS NEW LEADERSHIP WITH INTEGRITY
Since I see it's time to start thinking about new leadership, I hope the majority considers integrity this time around.
We received a call from the county in January regarding visitors in our secluded property because a neighbor reported my note at the fruit stand by the roadside saying we were applying for a bed-and-breakfast permit for the third time and hoped to receive it.
We were harassed, but tried to resolve the accusations amicably. It took legal counsel to stop the nonsense.
We gave up our dream because the neighbors did not want B&Bs in their neighborhood. Nevertheless, we had hoped for some backing from an elected official who had come to our home for tea. I hand-delivered a note and then mailed letters asking for help, but the office of this elected official called our friends to verify what we said. There was no response to our friendly approach or call for help.
Many of us learned that our leaders direct the system and that professionalism can only be claimed by clear integrity. We'll vote for good, old-fashioned constitutional rights.
HC&S MAKES EFFORTS TO CONSERVE WATER
I read in the The Maui News the articles on water and where it's going. Everybody wants the water: the taro farmer; the biologists want the water back in the stream for the opi and other species; Hawaii Commercial & Sugar; the Upcountry farmers; and don't forget the construction on Maui and the families waiting for water meters.
If I remember well, there was no problem with water when it used to rain like crazy on Maui. Now that we don't have much rain, everyone wants the water. To conserve water, HC&S went to drip to cut back the use of water, so did the farmers. That was one of the biggest improvements for them.
What did the taro farmers do? (Ever heard of dry-land taro? Molokai has it.) Complaining about water in a drought situation will not help either side of the problem. Working together will. Is it that hard to do?
And to choose between opi and people, you make the choice. Opi don't swim upstream 24/7. I thought they are like birds - there's certain time of the year that they do go upstream.
I am not writing on behalf of anyone, it's my thinking and mine alone.
Here's something to think about: Does the county have a waterline to bring in the water from East Maui to Central Maui? If they did, where will they store the water?
BOARD OF VARIANCES AND APPEALS CHANGES NEEDED
Did you know that when an application for a variance is filed the Board of Variances and Appeals has 60 days to deny it or it is automatically approved? How nuts is that?
In two meetings in November and December, a hot potato variance application was on the agenda. At the November meeting, we waited more than a half-hour for a fifth member of a nine-member board so that a quorum was present in order for the meeting to begin. After agenda and nonagenda items were discussed, the meeting adjourned without a decision.
At the December meeting, again a bare quorum of five was present. Eventually a motion was made to approve the application. Following the failed motion, a motion was made to deny the application. Motion failed 2-3. The suggestion was made to continue the matter until the next meeting, but Planning Department staff reminded the board members that failure to approve or deny the application before the 60 days elapsed would mean automatic approval of the application. The meeting was adjourned.
Now, I don't know about you, but in my opinion, the rules need to be changed to say that if an application for a variance or an appeal is not specifically approved by the board, the application for variance or the appeal shall automatically be denied. If you agree, please let the mayor and the County Council know.
WORK TOGETHER TO RESOLVE WATER ISSUE
Why doesn't everyone stop pointing fingers at each other? They should try to unite together and fix the problem.
We all need to look at the past where farming was the number one thing that was keeping this state surviving. Then the state went into tourism and that is why we now have to pay for it. With tourism down and not enough farming going on now, we all suffer. Think how we all need to stick together and bring back our livelihood.
Without jobs, dollars are not getting spent. So, wake up. Stop letting people come here who think they are better than us. Do you want to live like the other 49 states?
Wake up, people of Hawaii, and join together. Be strong. Keep Maui green with farming. Do not let Maui become a dust bowl.