Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023|
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No bad actors
The comments at Wednesday’s public meeting about the Waipio Valley road closure were striking both for their variety and their sincerity.
Waipio residents are justified in celebrating the news that the road will finally receive major safety improvements.
Hamakua residents are justified in their heartbreak and outrage at being temporarily excluded from a place to which they have deep and longstanding ties.
Tour operators are justifiably upset at having their operations suspended with no warning.
Hikers point out that they have less impact on the road than trucks, farmers that they deserve priority over tourists, fisherpeople and divers that they deserve equal access to the valley as farmers.
All of these groups have good, reasonable and heartfelt reasons for wanting to access the valley.
It’s a shame that it hasn’t been possible to carry out the needed repairs over time, therefore avoiding such a drastic closure. Surely much of this heartbreak could have been avoided if the road had been managed more carefully over the decades, with periodic closures for repairs rather than one sudden and potentially lengthy shutdown, as well as stricter enforcement of car rental agreements prohibiting so many private tourist vehicles from accessing Waipio.
At least one thing is clear: Big Island residents feel passionate about Waipio Valley and can’t imagine living without this singularly beautiful and significant place. I hope the county can respond to this passion by managing the road thoughtfully in the coming decades, ensuring safe and fair access to the people who live, work, surf, fish, hunt, gather or have other meaningful connections to Waipio.
Help people save
I am writing to support Senate Bill 3289. This bill would create a Hawaii retirement savings program that would enable employers to offer an easy and basic payroll deduction savings program to their employees at little or no cost to the business.
Too many Hawaii workers have no or almost no money set aside for retirement. When they retire, they may have to depend on public assistance and Medicaid, which is estimated to cost the state more than $1 billion over the next 20 years.
I was fortunate enough to have a father who insisted I put money into an IRA as soon as it was put into effect. I also contributed to an employer pension, with automatic tax-deductible contributions, so I was able to retire after 35 years on the job.
Everyone deserves this opportunity. But few people have pensions, and only one in 20 people take the time to open and contribute to IRAs.
If we can make it easy for workers to save, if they can save automatically with money taken out of their paycheck before they can spend it, we will get more people to save and everyone benefits.
This bill is opposed only by the financial and insurance industries who somehow refuse to recognize the greater good in getting more people to save, and that they will have more chances to sell their products if more customers have sufficient savings.
Mark A. Koppel
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