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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR for December 31 issue

December 31, 2009
Lahaina News

BAN USE OF CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING



The reason we get into car accidents is because we are too distracted. One of the reasons we get distracted is because of our cell phones. To me, cell phones should be banned when you are driving because of their uses — uses like text messaging.


Texting while driving can be very dangerous. About 50 percent of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 text while driving. In a 2008 study, texting contributed to about 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year-olds. Studies also say that about one-fifth of adults text while driving, which means that even adults text — not only teenagers.


What most people don’t realize is that some of the crashes caused by texting while driving can be fatal. The one thing that I don’t like about texting is that it can kill people, if you do not pay close attention to the road. Twenty-one percent of fatal crashes involve 16- to 19-year-olds using cell phones.


According to CBS News, people who text while driving are 23 times more at risk of getting into a crash, as opposed to non-distracted drivers. Russell Sabella, a counseling professor in the College of Education at Florida Gulf Coast University, thinks you should turn off your cell phone while driving or have a “designated texter” — someone who is available to text for you, with you, as you drive.


Even if you think your text is important, you should still wait until you are done driving, or you can try Professor Sabella’s idea and have a “designated driver” with you. You should always think of your safety when using your phone while driving.


My opinion for a solution is that cell phones should be banned when you’re driving. People know that texting while driving is dangerous, but the problem is that they still do it. The only way to stop people from texting while driving is to take away the thing that creates and sends the messages that threaten their safety: the phone. If we take away phones, people can’t text (although, they should be able to use their phone when they are not driving).


 My conclusion to the problem is that we should be more cautious of our safety and stop using our cell phones while driving. If we stop using our phones when driving, we would not have a large risk of getting into a crash. What most people do not understand is that if they get too distracted and do not pay attention to the road, there is a possibility that they could die in a crash that they caused themselves.


PAYTON CALAPINI, Napili





THANKS FOR HELPING ME FIND MY FRIEND



I want to thank the Lahaina News and Mark Vieth for their help with locating a friend. After my letter was published, I received a call from a lady who knew him. I was glad to hear that he


was healthy and happy and living in Lahaina. 


A day later, he dropped by our place at Lahaina Center, and the following day came by again with Bennie the dog. He was kind enough to take five or six bags of cans that had accumulated over the last month as well. 


Bennie has moved to Honokowai to live with extended family, so he won’t be making the rounds, but Masa, I hope, will still be stopping by. Thanks for the help.


DOUG KARR, Napili





KIDS ENJOYED PRODUCTION



To the anonymous donor who made it possible for the Kindergarten and first grade students of King Kamehameha III School to see the Maui Academy of Performing Arts play entitled “Tea Time with Ogres” in November, we send out a heartfelt mahalo.


The students absolutely loved the characters and puppets. The story line was clear and sent a wonderful message as well: to be caring and understanding of those who are troubled, and break a cycle of negativity.


Thank you for your kindness and generosity!


KING KAMEHAMEHA III ELEMENTARY SCHOOL





SAVE HONOLUA COALITION APPRECIATES SUPPORT



The Save Honolua Coalition would like to say mahalo to Leiohu Ryder, Alice in Hula Land, Billabong, Black Rock Steak House, Keiko Beattie, Clay Marzo, Frogman Charters, Grace Beauty, Hana Highway Surf, HIC (Lahaina Cannery Mall), Hurley, Kapalua Spa, Kiwi Johns (Paia), Lindsay Adams, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Mahina, Maui Film Festival, Maui Gyms, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Maui Lotus Jewels, Maui Sporting Goods, Michael Howden, Native, Kanoa Nishiki, Paia Inn, Pitzer ‘Ohana, Quiksilver Boardriders (Lahaina), R.B. Co., Woodworks & More, Rob Machado, Sheraton Maui, Soundwave, Spencer Reynolds, Barry & Stella Rivers, Ananda Stone, Suzie Cooney, Trilogy, Volcom, Willie Wood and Wings Jewelry for their generous donations that led to the Dec. 4, 2009 Save Honolua Film Festival being a huge success.  


Over $1,700 was raised from silent auction and T-shirt sales. These monies, in addition to the donation Maui Film Festival will give from ticket  sales, support our 501(c)3 non-profit’s efforts to Malama Honolua. 


The Save Honolua Coalition has paid for installation and maintenance of two port-a-potties at Honolua since April, and we were recently awarded $7,400 from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to continue paying for the port-a-potties through 2010.


We deeply appreciate your donations of time, goods and services. It keeps us going despite the fear and uncertainty that surround what will ultimately become of the Honolua Ahupua‘a. The feeling of love and support that all of Maui has for Honolua was obvious from the emotion that filled the Castle Theater earlier this December. As crowds watched Honolua barreling throughout the years, everyone present became a part of the coalition to Save Honolua, and you all fuel our passion to remain vigilant against private development.


TAMARA PALTIN, Save Honolua Coalition





HAWAII MUST PROTECT ANIMALS BETTER



According to a recent annual nationwide report conducted by the California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Hawaii was named one of the top five states with the worst animal protection laws.


Why is Hawaii in the doghouse when it comes to animal abuse? According to the ALDF, which also named Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota among the worst, “legislative weaknesses seen in these states include severely restricted or absent felony animal cruelty provisions, inadequate animal fighting provisions, and lack of restrictions on the future ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals.”


 It’s time for Hawaii to start taking cruelty to animals seriously — for the safety of both animals and humans. Studies show people who abuse animals are just getting warmed up. In three surveys of women’s shelters in Wisconsin and Utah, 74 percent of women living with companion animals reported that an animal had been threatened, injured or killed by their abuser. A study conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans.


Animals cannot vote, but those who love and care about them certainly can. Please encourage lawmakers in your beautiful state to work to adopt and enforce stronger laws that protect animals and punish abusers. After all, laws that protect animals protect everyone. For more information, please visit www.HelpingAnimals.com


AMY SKYLARK ELIZABETH, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)





RESEARCH ON MERCURY IN TUNA QUESTIONABLE



The Harbor Report column posted about mercury and selenium in fish doesn’t provide both sides of the story. The seafood industry’s argument that selenium cancels out the potential harm from eating fish high in mercury, such as tuna and swordfish, is questionable at best. The science is not in yet.


And the only ones interested in the subject are researchers like Dr. Ralston, who work directly for the seafood and coal industries — both of which have a mercury problem.


Considering that women and children are the most likely to be harmed from eating too much mercury-laden fish, it is irresponsible to publish a column that appears to give a clean bill of health to such fish.


I encourage readers to read the U.S. FDA/EPA’s mercury-in-fish health advisory to balance this fish tale.


Please note that I am not unbiased either, as I advocate for people’s right to know about mercury in fish, and also to protect sea turtles from capture and death in the Hawaii longline fleet. But shouldn’t the local newspaper try to be?


TERI SHORE, Program Director Turtle Island Restoration Network





VEHICLE REGISTRATION CAN BE A NIGHTMARE



(The following letter was sent to Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.)


I wonder if you recognize the bureaucratic nightmare that the Department of Motor Vehicles and Licensing (DMVL) has become. I have lived on Maui for over 11 years. During that time, I have purchased five cars on the Mainland. You may ask why. The selection, pricing and lack of competition make the local dealers noncompetitive. I am not complaining about the dealers; it’s the system to register a vehicle purchased on the Mainland that is the problem. Despite paying the use tax and shipping, it is still more cost-effective to buy off-island with a better selection. Please do not look into any ways for the government to level the playing field more than they already have. You can’t possibly legislate color selection, price and options!


I’m sorry for the lengthy explanation of this registration problem, but to understand it, you have to relive it with me. My wife and I purchased a car in Ohio where we have family. We traveled throughout the summer and shipped the vehicle back to Maui for registration. The car was never registered in Ohio... we were just given the title and told to register it upon arrival in Maui. The dealership gave us the new title, took our old registration and told us to drive with our Hawaii plates until we returned home for registration, since we would exceed the normal 30-day temporary tags period.  


Upon our arrival in Maui, I went online to fill out Forms G-26 (use tax return) and G-27 (form to prove that the use tax has been paid). I am a relatively intelligent person (physician), but it took approximately two hours to fill out the forms and understand the requirements (this is despite it being a repeat of what I’ve done before with the other cars). It’s that complex.


Next, I had to take the forms to the State Department of Taxation in Wailuku (one hour drive). I waited in line for a half-hour and then another 20 minutes while the clerk verified I had filled out the forms correctly. I then paid the use tax. The clerk complimented me, because she said “no one ever calculates the amount due correctly.” I had to prove to her that the cost of the car was accurate (from the bill of sale), the cost of the shipping was correct (shipping bill), the date of arrival was accurate (cargo receipt), maintenance costs before arrival were allowable, which she didn’t know were deductible (deductible from landed value if proven), and the amount of time the car was driven on the Mainland was accurate (allows for depreciation if driven over three months).


Next, I took the car to the vehicle inspection station. I don’t understand why a vehicle that is only a few months old needs an inspection, but it is required here. The person examined the car and gave me a blue form that he said will have to be brought back to him after the car is registered. It is only then that he would give me the safety sticker.


Next, I went to the Lahaina Division of Motor Vehicles & Licensing and waited for 35 minutes until the clerks were back from lunch (because I knew that if I arrived when the doors were first opened, I would be behind another 5-10 people and my wait would be close to an hour or more). I took with me all the documentation that I have needed in the past and have learned from my previous experiences. Heaven help those who haven’t done their homework, and even those who have. The clerk took about 45 minutes — lots of irritated customers were behind me wondering why it was taking so long — to tell me that I don’t have everything I need. Surprise, surprise! She told me I needed my old registration. 


The Ohio dealership took the registration when they gave me the new Ohio Certificate of Title (just like in Hawaii). Instead, I provided to her the vehicle registration renewal certificate that I would have used if I still owned the old trade-in car, but she said that’s not satisfactory. I also gave her a copy of my old Certificate of Title from the State of Hawaii showing the old vehicle was mine and that it’s been registered with my personalized plates. She could have checked to be sure I filled out the form “Notice of Transfer,” which I did when I traded in the old car, but she didn’t.  She also said I needed a Letter of Authorization signed by both me and my wife, and notarized, because the car is owned by our family trust. I told her that the other four times I have registered cars purchased from out of state, I provided only the abstract of our trust, which is a notarized original. Why now did I need a Letter of Authorization notarized? She said because the title from the State of Ohio says the car is owned by the family trust, but the language isn’t exactly the same (name and date are correct, but there is some abbreviation). It never mattered before with the other cars or the other veteran clerk who usually helps me.     


In fact, the DMVL abbreviates and omits things out of the formal name of the trust in its own records. All of my previous registrations don’t have the exact name, “because there isn’t space to type it in on the computer form,” according to the veteran clerk. So why was the State of Ohio being held to a different standard than Hawaii?


Next, I called my wife and told her to meet me at the notary. The notary did her thing and we returned to the DMVL. We waited in line for an hour and 15 minutes, despite the clerk seeing us and knowing why we were back. We got a different clerk this time. This is the lady I’ve always dealt with in the past — the veteran.  She seemed like she knew more than the other clerk, as the other clerk had to ask this lady quite a few questions on my previous visit. 


This veteran clerk looked at the notarized Letter of Authorization and asked why we needed this. I said, “Because she said so.” I said, “You never made us do this in the past.” She responded that “the rules always change.” I’m sure she was just covering for her colleague’s inexperience. Then she noticed that the Letter of Authorization wasn’t certified. She said that since January 2009, all notarized documents for the DMVL need to have the notary not only notarize the document, but also certify what the document is and the number of pages of the document.


I looked at the LOA, and it is one page, listing at the top “Letter of Authorization.” At the bottom of the page was our signatures with the notary’s signature and credentials. It was obvious this was a completed document without additional pages and that the document was a LOA. There was no reference to additional pages or addenda. I told the clerk to call the notary. She did. They argued back and forth a little, and the clerk said that “you need the certification before I can register your car.”


Next, we went back to the notary, and she put her certification on the LOA and gave us a question-and-answer document that was directed to notaries from the time this law went into effect. The Q&A was from the attorney general of the State of Hawaii stating that it is not necessary to certify certain types of notarization (including this one). I don’t know who was wrong here, but it appeared the DMVL was (and is) requiring something that the attorney general of Hawaii said wasn’t needed.


By this time, my wife and I had so many hours involved in this process, my tolerance had been exceeded. I told my wife she needed to complete the process, since I had done my duty trying to register her car. She complied because she knew I was at my wits’ end. She returned to the DMVL and handed the certified and notarized LOA (that was really never needed) to the clerk. Now, the clerk brought up the registration again from the old car — the registration that was confiscated in Ohio when they gave us the title to the new car. My wife called me. I once again explained to the clerk the reason we didn’t have it (Ohio is just like Hawaii). The clerk said, “I have to call Kahului, because we can’t give you these same personalized plates you want to put on your new car. I have to check with Kahului and find out.” She called, and the person on the other end said we can’t have our old personalized plates, but if we waited 3-5 years after the plate is purged from the system, we could reapply for it. Are you kidding me? We’ve had these plates for 11 years and this would be the third car they were on. The other more experienced clerk said, “They can have those same plates,” showing that she disagreed with the “expert” in Kahului. 


My wife got the new plates (non-personalized) and left not knowing who was right.


Next, we had to take the registration back to the safety inspection station, where we were given our safety sticker. The drama is over. There have been eight trips to four different entities. There has been wasted money... cost of notary and new plates vs. the plates we already had. There has also been two entire days lost. What great productivity we have here in Hawaii.


My personal feeling is that the system here in Hawaii is purposely made as difficult and complex as possible, to ensure that government workers have plenty to do to ensure their jobs. I have lived in only one state before Hawaii, and the process is ridiculously easy to register an out-of-state vehicle. The time that people wait in line at Lahaina DMVL is a crime. I would suggest that maybe another clerk or two might not save the state money, but it would save the taxpayer from numerous wasted hours and loss of productivity. 


Congresswoman, if you had to go through what we just went through, and what hundreds of others go through every day, I venture to say you might look into this system and why it has become so complex and so disrespectful. It is so complex that the clerks running it don’t even agree on the rules. Even the attorney general disagrees with the DMVL. What system allows this? OURS!


DOUGLAS WEST, Lahaina
 
 
 

 

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