Letters: Healthcare, drought, second-home taxes, dirty restrooms, Jones Act, Smirnoff & more
Maui’s healthcare in ‘trouble’ with loss of doctors and nurses
Healthcare in Hawaii, especially on Maui, is in trouble. It has been a rough past two years for those who have devoted their lives to caring for others. Working in healthcare has never been easy. It is also no secret that Maui has a difficult time finding and retaining those special people who work in healthcare. In the past year Maui has lost countless nurses, aides, doctors and others due to burnout, lack of resources and lack of [affordable] housing.
On Maui, we have lost surgeons and other specialists. Doctors are leaving at a much faster pace than moving here. Often the hospital has to resort to locum or temporary doctors to help fill positions. Nurses are stepping away from the bedside and many are leaving the island. We have new grad nurses, but we really need the ones with years of experience too. Most recently we are losing a large number of emergency medicine doctors.
These are doctors who have decades of training, many from large trauma centers. The ER doctors, who have taken the brunt of the hardship caring for Covid patients, were not able to stay home or close their “office” during a time when an increased amount of the community was seeking care.
Now, due to hospital negotiations, the ER doctors have had their pay cut so drastically that physicians are giving their notice because it simply is not worth it to stay on Maui … where the cost of living has skyrocketed. What this means is that Maui is losing skilled and experienced physicians and care will most definitely suffer in years to come. We need to stop taking for granted those that do a job that many others say that they could never do. We need to appreciate our healthcare heroes and make it a priority to keep doctors who have been part of the community here on Maui. – Tere Patterson, Lahaina
County can close entrances to Kanaha Beach Park at night, but not nearby public road
The County of Maui has justifiable authorization to block off the three entrances to Kanaha Beach Park during closed park hours of 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., as they do at all county parks. But the blocking of a public road, Amala Place, at the sewer treatment plant for approximately a 1.3-mile strip of ocean access of public property heading east to Ka’a Road leading to several car rental companies and Kahului Airport is illegal and unacceptable. How is Mayor [Michael] Victorino not in violation of [county law]? – Dane Jay Barnhard, Wailuku
County needs to better maintain restrooms at Kalama Park
Our family uses Kalama Park in Kīhei on a regular basis. We are heavy users of the skate park and rink. Overall it is a great park and used by many, however, the restrooms are poorly maintained. There is standing urine-tainted water on the floor on the main men’s room and it has been there for weeks.
We also use the park in Pukalani on a regular basis and never have we encountered the stench and disgusting situation as we have in Kalama Park. There is no excuse for this. – Randall Parker, Kīhei
Property tax rates on Maui are among lowest in nation only for resident owner occupied
A recent article (March 15th, Maui Now) addressed property tax rates in Maui as being among the lowest in the nation. The writer did not clarify that she was referring to RESIDENT OWNER OCCUPIED property. With the recent reclassification by the County Council of apartments, second homes, etc., as short term vacation rentals, even if they are never rented, our property taxes have doubled from around $4000 per year for a small condo in Ma’alaea to over $8000. Residents beware; when the County is done bleeding us dry, they will come after you. – Frank Pace, Wailuku
Maui should focus on stronger tax enforcement of short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO
As Maui is considering additional taxes on second homes and short term rentals, I wish Maui would take a stronger and enforceable stand on short term (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) rentals that are evolving into businesses that reduce full time local ownership and rentals, hurt hotels and do not pay TAT/BAT fees to Maui.
People are modifying existing homes and possibly new homes into daily rental properties by setting up multiple rooms for daily rents. Maui has historically focused on the easy targets for tax increases, but has chosen to ignore and not enforce rules for these type of properties. Why? – Ray Piantanida, Lahaina
Mahalos to Coast Guard and Pacific Whale Foundation for saving a club canoe
In the early morning on March 16, 2022 Maui Canoe Club paddlers found that one of our canoes and the big foot trailer it was locked on was missing from the beach. We didn’t know if it was stolen by land or sea, but suspected sea, since the trailer was not the kind you can tow with a car.
We immediately launched several canoes to look for our lost canoe but it was nowhere along the shore to be found. We filed a police report and contacted the Coast Guard. A couple of hours later, we were contacted by the Coast Guard that the Pacific Whale Foundation whale watching tour had spotted our canoe floating 6 miles offshore with the big wheel trailer still attached to it.
The Coast Guard immediately responded and towed our canoe and big foot back to Ma’alaea Harbor. We suspect it was crazy vandalism because the canoe could not have floated out on its own. But without the help of Pacific Whale Foundation and the Coast Guard, our canoe would have been lost forever. We are so thankful for both organizations for their rapid response and help. – Mary Dungans, Maui Canoe Club/Manaʻolana Pink Paddlers
Time for Jones Act to be suspended
It’s time for the costly Jones Act to be suspended. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the cost of gas, goods and services have steadily increased, impacting our cost of living. The parent company of Hawai’i’s only oil refinery, Par Pacific Holdings of Houston, recently announced they would stop purchasing Russian oil, which makes up 25% of their crude.
Due to the Jones Act, Hawai’i historically has had to buy oil transported on ships that are US built, flagged, owned and crewed by Americans. This has made it very expensive to ship goods to Hawai’i. I support our congressional delegation asking President Biden to grant Hawai’i a one-year exemption of the Jones Act to give our federal decision makers the opportunity to look at reforming this act, created in 1920, to be more in line with 21st century concerns.
Exempting Hawai’i could help stabilize our cost for fuel, electricity, building materials for affordable housing, delivery costs for small business and household items like batteries, canned food, toiletries and other goods and services. The time is now for Maui County to add their voice to the call for exempting the Jones Act and I will be offering a resolution to the Maui County Council to support this effort. – County Councilmember Mike Molina, Makawao
During a drought, Maui’s restaurants can help save water
As a veteran of California droughts, I was dismayed on the seemingly disinterest in drought procedures on a recent trip to Maui. All of the restaurants automatically brought water to our tables.
I would recommend a state plan, with Maui leading the way, to only bring water to a table if the people request it. During California droughts, restaurants would put a sign stating: ” We are in a severe drought, please ask if you want water”. This can save many gallons a day. There are many other measures you can follow as well. – Dan Dalton, Anchorage, AK
Smirnoff began as a Russian company, but now is owned by Brits and distilled in America
With reference to a Letter to the Editor published by Maui Now on March 1, 2022 that complains about Lahaina Safeway selling “Russian Smirnoff Vodka,” I think it necessary to point out that Smirnoff is 100% English owned by Diageo PLC and 100% produced for the Americas in Plainfield, Illinois, U.S.A. Smirnoff has not been produced in Russia since 1904, and there is no ownership or production of Smirnoff Vodka by Russia or Russians.
Smirnoff is English-owned and American-produced and there is no good reason why it should not be sold or drunk by Americans who choose to drink. In moderation, of course. Cheers!! – Bill Thompson, Wailuku
Maui Now seeks your letters to the editor. To submit a letter online: Letters to the Editor Form