CHARTER COMMISSION SHOULD TACKLE IMPORTANT ISSUES
Many believe it is imperative that this Charter Commission accept the challenge to take Maui County government back from big business, the bureaucrats and the politicians and return control to the people. That said, it is imperative that the following issues be addressed:
1) District Voting — Last election, 70 percent of our voters favored district voting. In a show of unadulterated self-interest, our council elected not to include a referendum on the ballot in the last election, thereby virtually assuring themselves of reelection for at least two more terms and accumulation of the associated retirement credits. Nonpartisan council elections have unduly restricted representative turnover, and thus, any hope for meaningful change in the county.
2) Candidate Residency Requirements — The Sol Kaho‘ohalahala fiasco of the last two years has clearly demonstrated the weakness in our current requirements. If this final court challenge is decided against him, it will cast doubt on the legality of any issue decided by one vote if the count included him, and hence, may negate a significant amount of the last council’s work! It is imperative that residency must be more clearly defined. It should require the individual to physically reside in the residence claimed for at least 75 percent of the time available. It should be required to be the address at which all mail is received, both state and federal taxes are paid from, and all vehicles are legally registered. The minimum residency required should be two years prior to running for office and during every year of council service. We need to stop the carpet-bagging.
3) Council Term Limits — We limit our governor and our mayor to finite term limits, yet we allow renewing term limits after a one-term break for our council members. Why? The arguments mounted supporting gubernatorial and mayoral limits are even more imperative for the council, and they have a far more direct impact on our lives. Set the limit to match the total time allotted to the others— eight years (four council terms) and out for good!
4) Mayoral Office Assistants — The number of assistants to the mayor has gotten out of hand. Charmaine Tavares took it to absurd heights with 19. The salaries are paid for by the county, therefore, the county should put a maximum total budget limit on assistants to more predictably control the budget.
5) Board of Ethics — Sitting government officials should not be allowed to attend meetings or hearings except by subpoena.
6) Cost of Government Commission — The commission should be charged with performing an ongoing study of the cost of government for similar-sized communities across the U.S. and assure that our spending is not out of line by comparison.
7) Liquor Control Commission — Do away with it. It’s become an ongoing joke on Maui and lacks any semblance of respect by the people!
8) Police Commission — The Police Commission should be charged with overseeing all police functions, be charged with holding disciplinary hearings for officers, have the power to order investigations of suspect events, make recommendations for selections of the chief and approve promotion of officer through the ranks.
9) Real Property Tax Review Commission — They should be required to have an ongoing physical appraisal program desired to assess values in every neighborhood at a specified period.
10) Salary Commission — The Salary Commission is completely out of hand and needs to be checked. They should be charged with running an ongoing survey of salaries of similar sized communities across the U.S. and precluded from approving any salaries that are out of line without just cause. It’s absolutely absurd that Maui Council is paid significantly more than Oahu, when the population ratio approaches two to one.
11) Maui Visitors Bureau — The visitors bureau of every other island in Hawaii gets by with only the state provided funding. Maui County should be precluded from providing additional funds.
12) Nonprofit Organizations — Same as item 11. Many of the supported non-profits assist special interest segments of the community, and that is arguably flat illegal!
AL RABOLD, Kula
NOTHING IS FREE
We are all aware that airlines are charging for any little service that was previously offered free.
Of course, hotels are doing it also.
As far as I know, restaurants haven’t started charging for napkins yet. But they will.
The crowning blow was while traveling, I ordered my favorite drink, vodka on ice, at a hotel bar. They charged me $1 more for the ice.
It’s more than a drinking man can bear.
ARSENE “BLACKIE” GADARIAN, Lahaina
PICKUP TRUCK PROPOSAL FLAWED
The recent proposal to outlaw individuals from riding in the beds of pickup trucks is misguided at best and another intrusion into our lives at worst. In a community where many families live in rural areas with limited public transportation, this is unacceptable.
Pedestrians are killed walking down the road, people are killed riding their motorcycles and bicycles, and from time to time, people drown while surfing or swimming. We do NOT OUTLAW such activities. This undesirable legislation by the Maui County Council is ill-conceived and unnecessary.
It’s been years since our last fatality, and more recently, a driver of a pickup truck was killed, whereas the two individuals in the back received minor injuries.
How is a family with only one truck, no extra cab room and numerous children supposed to get around our island? For over 30 years, our county government outlawed hitchhiking. In January 1999, the prohibition was deleted from county ordinances. Now people can ride in the back of pickup trucks, and young people can hop a ride with their skateboards and surfboards while getting around the island. What about sports teams?
Our bus system, growing and improving, does not go Upcountry beyond Makawao nor past Haiku. What are people to do?
The council must focus on issues such as assisting the houseless, improving the economic environment, instituting district representation for an accountable and democratic voting structure, plus establishing a more equitable property tax system.
Do not outlaw people from riding in the back of pickup trucks.
CITIZENS TO PROTEST WALL STREET CORRUPTION
Ralph Nader just said that America is like a dry prairie that hasn’t seen rain in three years, and some spark is going to ignite it and it is going to blaze. But we just don’t know where that spark will come from yet. But here’s one place the spark might ignite.
An international call has gone out to occupy Wall Street on Sept. 17. Read all about it at www.occupywallstreet.com.
Whether you’re an anarchist or a Tea Partier, or anyone in between, you’d have to be asleep not to understand that the reason this country is falling apart is that the big banks and financial markets have bought our government.
They make war for profit and send us the bill. They speculate on the price of wheat and oil and real estate, and when they win they keep the money, and when they lose they send us the bill.
Banks used to lend money to businesses so they could expand and create jobs. Now all they do is make bets. And then make bets on their bets on their bets.
The instant any hardworking person creates any actual wealth in this society, it is extracted by Wall Street. Thomas Jefferson said banks were more to be feared than standing armies marching down our streets. It’s time to stop them. Occupy Wall Street Sept. 17.
RICH ZUBATY, Wailuku