POLICE SHOULD WATCH INTERSECTIONS
I have written several letters to the Lahaina News, Maui News and the chief of police about the precarious situation at the intersections of Highway 30 with Kapunakea, Keawe and Lahainaluna, where cars are running red lights all the time and often at excessive speed.
Nothing has been done; no blinking green lights to alert drivers that the light will change, no mechanical or personal monitoring by the police.
To top it all off, on Dec. 13, a police cruiser ran the red light at Highway 30/Kapunakea going toward Kaanapali together with two other cars. The driver of the police car was obviously not in a hurry. No emergency lights, no sirens and he was - one positive thing - going at a leisurely 35-40 miles an hour.
What does it say to other drivers when the police are breaking traffic rules blatantly? I reported it to the officer-in-charge. I wonder if anything will come of it...
He agreed that something should be done, and stronger enforcement is planned. We shall see...
On a positive note, I wish all readers, all residents of our beautiful community, HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The positive ending of the year is the homecoming of our troops from Iraq - many of them from Hawaii.
Let's hope we don't have to send them out anytime soon again, and let's thank them for their sacrifices: for putting their lives on the line every minute of the day for their country and their beliefs.
God bless you all, and let's hope for a good and peaceful New Year!!
JOHN BLAHUTA, Lahaina
TIP SERVERS WELL!
We were at a restaurant having dinner recently with friends. A nearby table had a noisy group of people who were having fun singing Christmas carols. They were also very demanding on the waitress. They finally left singing and dancing out of the restaurant.
I'm sure they paid a large check. The waitress continued working at the other tables. Our friend noticed that she was in tears. He asked her what happened.
She told him that the group left no tip. Nothing at all. Our friend felt so sympathetic that he gave her an extra tip to compensate for that unthinking bunch of people. Those people were Americans.
According to a recent report, almost 3,000 workers in Maui County have their primary occupation working as a waiter or waitress. This does not include the many workers who work second jobs in this occupation and depend upon tips for subsistence.
Stop server abuse - tip generously!
ARSENE "BLACKIE" GADARIAN, Lahaina
PUBLIC SHOULD HAVE SAY ON DISTRICT VOTING
It is truly sad that the Charter Commission has rejected and blocked allowing the voters of Maui County the opportunity to decide for ourselves whether or not we want to change the method we elect our County Council, from the current at-large structure to some form of a district system. Though this arrangement seems fair to some, it is far from it.
Thousands of residents and voters have expressed the desire to change the way we choose our local representatives. Because the County of Maui is unique in its composition - comprising four islands with secluded communities - years ago a perverted system was devised that provided little accountability of the elected council members.
Our current County Council was elected with the prevailing system; they have no interest in adopting a more democratic structure. The threshold for successfully placing a citizen initiative on the ballot is impossible to obtain; thus the citizens of Maui County once again appear to be stuck with an absurd, idiotic, archaic and undemocratic method for electing our representatives. Though established for other counties in the state, and for most of the country, for some reason, the six appointed members of the Charter Commission have blocked our freedom to chose for ourselves.
Until Maui County adopts some form of district system, it will continue to come up. As we currently elect our Maui County Council, residents are not being properly served nor represented.
The likelihood of having different opinions and perspectives on our council is severely limited. We all lose, since a variety of points of view are lacking from the political dialogue on our County Council, and those elected have limited accountability.
The "resident" districts that candidates are required to live in range in size from around 1,000 residents to over 25,000. This is blatantly unconstitutional and illegal. Eleven districts of equal population would allow almost every resident an equal voice.
Democracy has as a foundation and pillar that all elections are open to as many candidates as possible to give the voters a clear choice. The expense to run for the Maui County Council is cost prohibitive for most residents, discouraging well-qualified persons from running for office. A candidate needs to campaign on three different islands. This is not only too expensive for most people, but the time constraints and difficulty are obvious. Thousands of residents of Maui County are disenfranchised, since someone aligned with their wishes and desires is not representing them on the council. The same people basically elect all nine council members, resulting in very little actual difference between the current members.
Running in a district system would allow council candidates to campaign in their entire district, resulting in more contact between those seeking to serve and their constituents. It would make it easier for both the candidates to reach out to the residents and for the voters to truly explore the differences amongst those seeking to serve. Upon election, council members would have to be more responsive to their specific district. Accountability to their constituents, which hardly exists with the current system, is of the utmost importance. However, with the current system in place, this is absent in most situations. If a council member was not truly representing the best interest of his or her constituency, the voters could replace that elected official without having residents from an entirely different section of Maui County impacting that race. Reviewing past elections, one finds numerous examples of council members losing their "residency" district but winning election because of the voters in other areas of the county. Candidates have also won their "resident district," only to lose their race for the County Council. These changes would bring a fresh, progressive and long overdue change to the way citizens of Maui County are represented and elect our council.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the current at-large system, it should be the voters who decide this issue, not six non-elected individuals who were originally appointed with the administration and most of the current council, fully aware of their opposition to changing the status quo.
The failure to think creatively while looking at this situation with a progressive goal in mind will result in maintaining the status quo for the foreseeable future and continuing with a dysfunctional and poorly constructed electoral process. Until we adopt a district system, Maui County residents will be the losers. The time to establish a district voting system is long overdue. At least give the voters a choice.