Letters to the Editor

Letters: Vaccines, Tax Relief, Taxes, Pickleball, Black Rock Trash, Kanaha Pond Stench & More

November 13, 2021, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated November 12, 11:02 AM
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Letters to the Editor
Maui Now seeks your Letters to the Editor. To submit a letter online: Letters to the Editor Form

Pickleball Noise Should Be Reduce or Eliminated in Residential Areas

I am very happy that pickleball has become such a popular sport, engaging people in good fun physical activity. However, what about the rest of us who do not participate in this sport but who live near a pickleball court and have to hear this tak tak tak noise, sometimes all day?

Isn’t there a way to do something to the paddle or the ball or both to soften this noise?  Four new pickleball courts are planned for in Kīhei — hopefully, not in residential areas. — Helena Valery, Kīhei

Maui County Needs to Publicize Enforcement Criteria for New Tax on Vacation Rentals

My wife and I own two vacation rental condominiums on Maui. We are vey concerned about the way Maui County is going about the new tax, which supposedly occurs on reservations made after Oct. 31, 2021.  Short term rental reservation made on or before Oct. 31 are exempt from this tax.

I have talked to both of our on island managers and nobody knows how the county is going to determine which reservations were made before Nov. 1, 2021 and after. I have 22 reservations that were made before Nov. 1, 2021 and they cover 2021 and 2022 until Dec. 15, 2022. I have a feeling that there will be a lot on confusion unless Maui County compiles a list of these exempt reservations.

Maui County does not even have their own forms for reporting the income. The Hawaiʻi State Tax Forms do not specify any information about the reservation date and this can lead to a lot of confusion and possibly bitter fights between the owners of the condominiums and the county. It is time for Maui County to make public how they are going to enforce the new law but not try to collect taxes that are not due. — George Stehlik, Maui

Extra Unemployment Benefits Unwise With “Now Hiring” Signs Prevalent on Maui

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I just read an article indicating that FEMA had approved Hawaiʻi for a grant to pay each person unemployed due to COVID-19 $300 per week in addition to the $300 per week they are already receiving. It seems that this weekly give away will make it even more difficult than it is now for businesses to hire employees.

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Since we are seeing “now hiring” signs on many businesses on Maui, especially the service-related industries, I wonder if this is a wise decision. It certainly will not cause those on unemployment to want to go back to work. — Leland Devore, Wailuku

Kudos to Postmaster Michelle Almeida at Kīhei Post Office

The Postmaster at Kīhei Post Office, Michelle [Almeida], went above and beyond in service to locate a package that was being “returned to sender” in error. She personally went through hundreds of packages outgoing to locate it and make it available to me instead of being returned to the mainland. With the huge volume of parcels moving through our post office everyday, I suggest we commend her and her staff on all they do to get us our mail.

There are not many postal employees, much less THE postmaster, who would have gone this extra mile. Additionally she is a veteran, already serving our country and now serving us in Kīhei. Please give her your thanks when you are in the post office. — Kay Lloyd, Wailea

US Post Offices Could Use Your Extra Pens

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Pens are always welcome at our U.S. Post Offices. How many times do you have to “sign for” something at the post office and end up walking away with the clerk’s pen? We are all guilty of this, not only at the post office, but I am certain other places where your signature is needed.

I realized that buying pens with my business name and phone number would be an ideal place to advertise to many customers. So this past year, I have given over 250 pens to my US Post Office (Wailuku station) and will continue doing so. — Katharine Atchley, Wailuku

Annual Visitors to Black Rock Distressed by More Trash & Fishing By Snorkelers

Since 1998, every summer except 2020 my husband and I have visited Maui, where we have property ownership. My husband (a free diver) and I snorkel/swim every morning about three-quarters of a mile from Whaler’s Village to the other side of Black Rock and back. People call us the “Salvage Crew” because we pick up trash and lost items (sunglasses, towels, etc.) on the ocean floor to protect the barracuda, turtles, spotted eagle rays, moray eels and tropical fish that frequent the area.

What we witnessed this past summer (2021) was distressing. Beer cans, both unopened and opened (crushed), plastic cups (lots), protective mask coverings, and even diapers along the ocean floor. Every evening approximately seven tourist cruisers “packed to standing capacity”, would sail towards Black Rock during sunset. Beverages are served to those paying customers. This probably accounts for cans and trash (plastic cups/bottles) falling overboard, possibly by accident. Picking up this trash (including protective coverings for COVID-19) was almost an everyday occurrence.

We also witnessed this summer individuals fishing on Black Rock directly where many snorkelers were swimming. There is and has been an area designated for fishing at Black Rock for more than 20 years that we’ve been visiting. It is on furthest side of Black Rock (past the Sheraton) and located where most snorkelers do not swim.  

We saw a dead moray eel floating close to these fishing poles (probably thrown back) and a turtle with a fishline hanging from its mouth. With Tiger Sharks noted to be in these waters and with so many snorkelers, fishing at this location is a catastrophe waiting to happen. We love the islands and respect the ocean, beaches and sea life and want to keep this environment safe for all. — Shelly Currier, Rosewell, NM

Restaurant Vaccine Requirement Should Be Better Enforced — or Eliminated

The restaurant vaccine requirement is full of holes. When a photocopy or a digital image of a vaccination card is all that’s required, with no ID, anyone can create a vaccine card or use another personʻs card. I used a digital image of mine today, and the waitress barely glanced at it. They have no incentive to be careful because they need the business and don’t want to anger people or play the role of restaurant police.

If children can enter, and unvaccinated people can enter for pickup orders, and servers aren’t required to be vaccinated, and the rest of us aren’t being carefully vetted, then is this really offering any kind of protection? I think it’s just making unvaccinated people angry while not really helping anyone else. Please toss out the requirement or at least plug the holes in it. Thanks — Jennifer Martin, Makawao

Why Do We Live in a World Today Without Polio and Smallpox?

I would ask all the anti vaccine and anti mandate people why we live in a world today without polio and smallpox, and why more than 85% of deaths and current Delta sick people were not vaccinated. I am alive and well today because when I was a kid we were ALL mandated to get polio shots and smallpox vaccinations to protect society at large. And, as a result of these mandates, we live in a safer world. Think we, not ME! — Vincent Linares, Kula

Why Stop at Vaccine Mandates in the Best Interest of Community Health?

In one year (from September 2020 to September 2021), COVID-19 has claimed 465,00 plus lives in the United States. [Editorʻs note: According to the CDC, the deaths attributed to COVID-19 on death certificates in the United States was 756,962 through Nov. 6].

We now see businesses all around us mandate vaccination in the best effort to protect our community. But my question now becomes: Why do we stop at vaccine mandates?

Smoking kills 480,000 people a year on average. Second-hand smoke kills 41,000 of our vulnerable community members in the United States every year. Why should I have to worry about breathing toxic chemicals emitted from cigarettes in the air around me? How many people died from COVID-19 with an underlying condition of lung damage from smoking?

We could prevent thousands of lives from being taken from our community by mandating the use and sale of cigarettes to be illegal.

The ACLU says, “(Vaccine Mandates) protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of color hit hard by the disease.”

We should be thinking this way when we see someone smoking as well. Our vulnerable children need to be protected from the harm of lung cancer and the death that second-hand smoke causes. And we should not be filling up our hospitals with patients who have chosen to make their health worse by smoking.

Or is that now too many “freedoms” taken away? Where do we draw the line on decisions that affect those around us? Should we start applying this logic to drinking? Or how about motorcycles that cause more than one death per week in the State of Hawaiʻi? As someone who is vaccinated, I suggest that we start prioritizing freedoms over assumed security, or we might take things way too far. — Ben Baker, Kīhei

You Have Right to Refuse Vaccine & Employers Have Right to Demand It

Let’s be honest for just a moment –  vaccines work, masks work and you do have the right to refuse the vaccine. And we have the right to legally exclude you from attending restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms.  

And  your employer has every right to demand that you be vaccinated or be terminated with no unemployment. And finally no, you do not have the right to be inside in a public place without a mask.  Now how hard was that. — Jack Shockley, Wailuku

Support ʻAnia Kupuna Tax Relief for Inherited Ancestral Land

If you are the owner of land that has been passed down in the family from generation to generation as of June 30, 1931, you may become eligible for a significant tax relief.

The proposed ‘Aina Kupuna’ bill can be viewed at BFED-78 CC 21-29 County Property Tax Reform (BFED-78) and, if passed, would give owners who qualify a tax break for all parcels of land considered ‘Aina Kupuna’.  The intent is to allow families to retain their ancestral lands and not be forced to sell due to their inability to pay the rising property taxes.

I think we all agree that Maui families should not be “taxed out” of the land of their ancestors just because their neighbors have developed multi-million-dollar properties. The more people who support BFED-78, the longer our Maui will remain as we know it. — Ann Bauer, Wailuku

Answer to Over Tourism: No New Rooms to the Visitor Inventory

I had to laugh when I heard talk of trying to limit flights and over tourism. Before a single hotel room can be built it has to be permitted by local government. Those permits, rules, limits etc. are, and have been put in place and approved or not, by you guys, our elected officials. There have been years of politiciansʻ campaigns on controlling growth and diversifying our economy.

To simplify it, if there are no rooms available they [tourists] will not fly. Not the other way around. Guarantee you guys can quantify how many rooms we have here and statewide. Same old story for decades, money talks and new projects get approved; and it’s always said it’s about the good jobs. Take a stand for the ʻaina and the kanaka and put a cap now on rooms. This will make existing properties more valuable and more likely to thrive. No new rooms to inventory. We are maxed out. Maui is hurting. — Richard Hartman, Lahaina

Something Should Be Done About Stench from Kanaha Pond

I was wondering if anyone notices the STENCH on Hana Highway coming from the reserve Kanaha Pond. It’s horrible!!! So polluted, danger to humans and wildlife alike. Should the Health Department get involved? — Mindy Burgess, Kahului

Hawaiʻi has a Heart Issue, Forgetting the Lessons of Our Ancestors

Today in Hawai’i we are standing to protect our freedoms, culture, and spirit of Aloha. On Sept. 29 Kīlauea volcano erupted within Halema’uma’u crater. Hawaiian mythology shares how Pele first arrived on Kaua’i and thrust her o’o stick into the ground to create space for her home. But her elder sister Namakaokaha’i would flood the pits all throughout Pele’s journey. Pele kept on moving down the islands in their geographical location and then finally resided on the Big Island.

Just as Namakaokaha’i tormented Pele, today we are tormenting one another. Today Native Hawaiians are one of the most incarcerated, low income and houseless majority of the demographic population. Why? Just as Namakaokaha’i would not forgive Pele for the trauma she was responsible for, we are not forgiving one another.
This un-forgiveness is causing us to go extinct.

Our values, tradition and rituals are being replaced by clichés, platitudes and bureaucratic jargon. We don’t have a tourist, military or economic issue. We have a heart issue, and we have forgotten who we are and the lessons our ancestors passed to us. Madam Pele resides in the heart of Kīlauea. She is not just a spectacle for the world to see. But our kupuna tells us that she is alive, breathing, and her mana is telling us something.

Native ferns, birds and plants are near extinction. Many of these are kinolau of Akua. The many forms of personified natural elements. To many Hawaiians they are also family members. They too are alive and breathing. They too are telling us something. Just as Pele is associated with the Ohia Lehua, which has been suffering from a disease called Rapid Ohia Death (ROD), our relationships are suffering. Just as the native bird the Maui ‘akepa is considered possibly extinct, our Maui people are leaving the islands. Just as our streams are being diverted, so is our attention.

We are in a crisis of confusion and deep seated heart issues that need to be addressed. Today, we need critical protection for Indigenous people to protect the freedom, culture and practices of this specific place, in this specific time. We need to protect diversity. We cannot allow ourselves to be injected with the globalization agenda to colonize our minds.

We need to stand up to continue the righteous of the land. And live like our Ali’i intended us to be. We need leaders, policy makers, layers and teachers to protect against government overreach, high property taxes and old fashion red tape. We need to flow, we need to break down the barriers for our people and raise the standards of living. — Sam Peralta, Kahului

Hawaiʻi Leaders Should Focus on Helping People Get Healthy

Hawaiʻi could bring real health leadership to its people. Stop copying the silly rules of the mainland that are actually harmful and written by Big Pharma. Instead, lead the people to get healthy. Help people grow their own food so they can eat without immune damaging pesticides and packaged food preservatives. Encourage exercise by saving parking spots for locals at the beach.

Many of the comorbidities are lifestyle choice driven. Help to really make a change by helping the people access preventative care. Pay the yoga instructors to have free yoga in the neighborhood parks. Or Tai chi. Or acupressure. There are many paths to getting healthy. That is where the focus and dollars would be more wisely placed. — Cheryl Monten, Kahului

Pregnant Woman Says Her Job Should Not Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine

I am pregnant for the first time in my life. It should be a joyful time. But the new COVID-19 mandates have taken a lot of the joy from this once in a lifetime experience. I should be allowed to choose if I want to inject my unborn baby with an untested, rushed to market emergency vaccination. When you take away the option of choice from the people of your community you take away their humanity.

The thing that makes us special and human is our right to choose what is best for are families. I am afraid of losing my job and becoming homeless and pregnant. This is not a decision any government should ever be allowed to force on its people. My medical choices are mine alone to make. I beg the people of Maui to keep our humanity, our right to choose what we do with are own bodies and are children’s bodies. — Daniela Matteoni, Makawao

Reader Loved Article on Pukalani Superette Assistant Manager Chris Borling

I just read the article on Chris Borling [Pukalani Superette assistant manager] by Andy Gross – really well written article.  Loved how he tied the beginning and ending of the article on super heroes. It was interesting all the way through, and my mind didn’t wander. I look forward to reading more articles by Mr. Gross.  Thanks Maui Now. — Robin Ventura, Makawao

Maui Now seeks your Letters to the Editor. To submit a letter online: Letters to the Editor Form.

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