Letters: Topics Include 2nd COVID-19 Test, Maui Mozzarella, Debris on Protected County Land, Masks, Bullying & Tourists
* Updated April 16, 3:24 PM
Maui’s Requirement of Second COVID-19 Test for Transpacific Travelers ‘Defies Credulity’
Mayor Michael Victorino’s needless belt-and-suspenders arrival test for transpacific travelers will cause massive delays and needless expense for a test with less accurate results. This after people will have already been tested less than 72 hours earlier and for many who are vaccinated. The end result will be yet another dagger in the tourism industry that powers much of Maui’s economy.
This really defies credulity. And what if a positive test comes up in conflict with the more accurate PCR test? Are we going to send people back after they acted in good faith to come to Maui and paid for hotels and airfare? This is shameful, unnecessary and a stain on Maui’s reputation as a community of Aloha. — Lawrence Rosencrantz, Lahaina
Family of 7 Cancels Vacation Due to Maui Countyʻs Plan to Implement Second COVID-19 Test
Mayor Victorino’s plan to implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers is a message to all to “Don’t Come to Maui.” My family of seven had reservations for May that we are cancelling. We were going to spend $1,400 on COVID-19 testing on the mainland, and then thousands for plane tickets, and then many more thousands for condos and rental cars.
We can’t spend that much with the risk of a false positive test hanging over our heads once we land. Spend that much and then be quarantined? No way. The Mayor doesn’t care who loses their jobs in the Hawaiian tourism industry because he’ll still have his government provided salary and health care. — Robert Wilson, Park City, UT
County Needs To Clean Up County Land Purchased for Protection Purposes
Debris piles, abandoned cars and homelessness have become a growing issue on undeveloped land throughout Maui, threatening the health and safety of the environment and community members. In 2014, the County of Maui purchased 148 acres near Launiupoko Beach Park. A $13 million land acquisition for the “Pali-to-Puamana” project; $6.5 million was paid for using money from the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund. This fund was established to acquire land for the following purposes: Protection of significant habitat or ecosystems; preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas, watershed lands and agricultural lands; and more.
“This land acquisition is extremely important in that it sends a message to future generations on the importance of preserving open space.” stated Mayor Alan Arakawa in response to this purchase in 2014.
However, this County-owned property along with another portion of land owned by the County near Ukumehame is littered with hazardous materials, abandoned cars and homelessness. According to the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Ch. 290-11, if a vehicle is abandoned on private property, it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove such vehicles. Inadequate property management and waste removal jeopardizes environmental health and contradicts the purpose of the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund.
Additionally, the County of Maui used the Open Space Fund to purchase 267 acres near Pe’ahi for just under $10 million. Maui County Councilman Don Guzman stated: “We need to utilize our Open Space Fund and capture it and buy this land and preserve it for generations to come.”
So why has the County of Maui done so little to manage and care for these portions of land that are so close to sensitive environmental areas? And why are they using money from a fund that encourages protection and preservation but fails to act upon these promises — Maile Anderson, Maui
Daughter Says Dad Receiving Poor Care in Maui Nursing Home
My parents are residents of Maui County. Last year my father’s dementia became so bad that my mom had no choice but to place him in a nursing home. I came back to help her. This was three weeks before the pandemic locked everything down. Now she can only see him 15 minutes one time a week and 6 feet apart. And even now, weeks go by where the facility is locked down because of COVID-19. And yet all staff and residents are vaccinated – and soon my mom will have her second dose.
My mom can see my father’s hygiene is not happening – and despite asking, they do nothing. Hair long, toenails overgrown with fungus, and he’s now very overweight. (Never was before.) If she complains, the administration gives veiled threats that they can just kick him out.
I hear they don’t have enough staff and I believe they are over medicating him to compensate for that. What is happening in these places? When will a reopening plan be drafted? Ohana need to be reunited and make sure their loved ones are getting good care. The local ombudsman is awful and does nothing. He says we should be grateful they are “protecting” them. Is this protection or obstruction? I think he’s colluding with the home.
This is not okay and someone needs to investigate what is happening in Maui care homes. They won’t even allow him to have photos in his room. Is this prison? Mom can’t take him back home to care for him because of her health, but options are slim to none. Oh, and she pays over $10,000 a month. We need stories that talk about the conditions for our poor kapuna and the people who love him. My father committed no crime, but I am being kept from him and he is dying. — Melissa Fisher, Hillsboro, OR
Follow Updated CDC Guidelines for COVID-19 and ‘Cool It with the Clorox’
The chance of surface transmission for COVID-19 is less than 1 in 10,000. However, I’ve noticed none of the protocol has changed. At the grocery store, the clerk spent two minutes spraying down everything as if in a containment unit. Being preoccupied with sanitizing is a waste of resources as well as everyone’s time. Businesses should listen to the guidelines recently updated by the CDC and cool it with the Clorox. — Corky Gardner, Lahaina
Pickle Ballers in Kīhei Need to Mask Up
Pickle ball courts behind condos in North Kīhei are getting out of hand with the social gathering law. No one wears a mask and now they have put up a shade tent where they all gather. Then they have the nerve to walk through the property where I work and have to wear a mask all day as a housekeeping supervisor and don’t wear a mask there either . I don’t understand why I am wearing a mask all day and at the gym after work and no one comes down on these people obviously breaking the law. Someone needs to look into this because it is getting out of hand. — Anita Jeffreys, Kīhei
Consider Universal Basic Income Because Current Welfare State System Not Working
I guess the Hawai’i State Senate is not concerned about jobs for the working class any longer, now that we got all of these billionaires to tax? This single bill manages to include:
- An income tax hike of 11% — 16% for individual filers making more than $200,000 a year, or households making $300,000 or more a year? State workers earning less than $200,000 are safe.
- A capital gains and corporate income tax hike.
- A conveyance tax hike.
- A “temporary” repeal of more than two dozen exemptions to the General Excise Tax.
Aloha and Mahalo to whatʻs left of small businesses that operate as S-corporations. Good-bye to jobs for the people who want to work. More nonsense raising the income tax rate 45% for seven years. These funds will simply be wasted on the rail and other union/government boondoggles. There is a reason public school education in Hawai’i is ranked as one of the worst states in the nation. Keep people dumb and dependent.
If State government wants to perpetuate plantation mentality and turn us completely into a welfare state? Then this is how you achieve it. Taxes are paid by the productive, working people and billionaires alike. Fix the bureaucratic system that squanders their money.
Think about Universal Basic Income. Read Martin Luther King, Jr.ʻs 1967 “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” Try something, anything. “No other country in any part of the world has implemented a national basic income based on a law.” Why not make a fundamental change Hawai’i? Business people like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are vocal supporters of UBI.
I sit and listen to bureaucratic department heads testify about “ensuring dignity…and keeping people healthy and housed…helping the poor and homeless to become productive members of our community.” While living beings and children have to live in cars outside of a sewage plant on Maui. Taxes are used to keep the poor in a zero-sum balance. How can anyone have Hope? Much less dignity and self confidence when the system controls your housing and financial security?
Trickle-down economics has produced no evidence to give any validity to it working. The business as usual back in B.C. (Before Covid) needs to be overhauled. Eventually there will be no one left to pay. Lots of people will say they live somewhere else or only spend 180 days a year here. This is why companies and people are moving to Texas, Nevada and Idaho. — Joey Brunt-Zhuo, Wailuku
Solve East Maui Dam Problem By Making Maui Mozzarella
The East Maui Irrigation District is decommissioning the old earthen dam on Kaupakalua Reservoir. Why not restore the old stream bed, then seed the treeless acres in pasture mix? This area could then be utilized for raising Water Buffalo.
I consulted with cheese makers and established water buffalo ranchers in California for the feasibility of this idea; the best line breed for this climate; and the best number of buffalo for the old reservoir property. Then we make Maui Mozzarella. Feed Haʻikū and beyond. Pizza ovens taking the place of pineapple and sugar cane. We could make vegan ones, too, but the big draw would be the wonderful mozzarella. Food security and jobs would help the islands become more self sufficient. Let’s do it. — Margaret Elliott, Haʻikū
Concerned About Bullying and Hostile Work Environment Under Current County Administration
A bullying, hostile work environment with anger and tempers under Mayor Victorino’s administration is being covered up by the Department of Corporation Counsel. Should the residents/tax payers of Maui know the truth about what goes on under this administration? Should the director of the Corporation Counsel be terminated for bullying and providing a hostile work environment? Should the powers of the directors be limited, especially dealing with disciplining? Love to hear your thoughts on those questions. –– SeaRay Beltran, Kīhei
Longtime Visitor To Maui Perplexed at ‘Local Push Back of Visitors’
As a visitor of some 35 years to Maui, I must say I find some of the local push back of visitors to the Island somewhat perplexing, particularly after the last year. I last visited in October when the island was a virtual ghost town, with almost no economic activity, and with many local citizens in a great deal of financial pain. The column written by Ben Lowenthal is particularly interesting in his seeming longing for the good old days of the early 1960’s and an empty Kaʻanapali beach.
While there surely are tourists who could behave better and be better partners to the environment, one would think with 2-3 million visitors annually most of us respect and appreciate the island for what it is and many of us continue to revisit and spend money in its economy and keep people working.
Without the economic engine created by tourism, one does wonder what Maui would look like today. Writer Lowenthal can muse about the empty beaches and lonely streets and fond memories of yesteryear, but who would be here to read his column? — Bill Ipsen, Fallbrook, CA
Longtime Maui Tourist Thanks Island’s Workers, Tells Fellow Visitors To Be Patient
I want to offer my thanks to all of the Maui workers who have welcomed back tourists to this beautiful place. We have been coming to Maui annually for the past 15 years. We have always felt welcomed and blessed to be here.
During this trip my wife and I have been shocked by the tourists. Even though we too are tourists, we are wearing our masks, practicing social distancing and being patient. We have seen amazing customer service by overwhelmed workers who are just trying to keep up with the mass of guests.
We have also watched numerous entitled actions by throngs of tourists. So my message to my fellow tourists: Calm down and be nice to the people waiting on or helping you. They have just gotten back to work and they are slammed. My message to the hospitality workers and Maui residents: Thanks as always for sharing — Jeff Flohr, Snohomish, WA
86-Year-Old Maui Resident Gets Quarantine Runaround Returning Home
My partner has had both vaccine shots. While in Grand Junction, CO he was tested twice in preparation for his return trip to Maui. He inquired at the test sites if these tests were valid and they said they had never heard of anybody being quarantined for testing from their tests. He even contacted American Airlines.
When arriving in Maui he was told he would be quarantined. They wouldn’t let him quarantine at home because it is a condominium. Our condo is on the first floor with a private entrance. We even have a private sidewalk.
They provided him with a list of hotels. He chose Days Inn in Kihei. When he went to check in he was told they weren’t licensed to handle quarantine, but he could go to Maui Coast. They weren’t licensed either. He ended up at Maui Beach Hotel. It is appalling that they didn’t even know what hotels are licensed. Shame on Maui for such shoddy treatment of a 86-year-old Maui resident. — Carol Winnert, Kīhei