Letters for April 28, 2015

• Chen concert was amazing • Workers deserve better pay, benefits • A solution to vacation rentals

Chen concert was amazing

On Sunday, April 26, the Kauai Concert Association provided us with a most fantastic concert featuring Sean Chen, a superb young pianist and Crystal Award Winner of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition for 2013. This young man dazzled the audience with his expertise and charisma. Bravo to KCA and especially to a major sponsor — Dr. Timothy Lee for an unforgettable evening of classical music. Both adults and youth need to support and embrace these special events and fill the auditorium to capacity. My husband and I, along with our guests, were totally enthralled with Mr. Chen and his skills at the piano. Amazing performance.

An additional performance, “A Night of Piano,” with three of our community members, will be held on May 30 at KCC. This event will benefit KCA and will continue to bring awareness of classical music to Kauai. Be sure to attend.

Barbara C. Smith, Hanalei

Workers deserve better pay, benefits

This past February, Walmart announced that they raised wages for its new hires to start at $9 per hour and by April 2016 to start at $10. The national movement for a “living wage” of $15 an hour, led by lower paid workers, forced Walmart and other retailers to raise their starting wages, but this is not enough. And what about the wages of veteran workers?

The longtime employees who have helped Walmart become the world’s richest retailer have not seen any substantial wage increases since this latest announcement. Coupled with increasing workloads and erratic scheduling, no major improvements have been made for its present workforce.

On April 15, there were over 200 demonstrations nationwide to fight for the $15 an hour living wage, with many women and people of color joining in. Some of the most dramatic protests against income inequality took place at Walmart and McDonald’s. In retaliation, Walmart closed five stores for six months like at Pico Rivera in California, where workers have waged a historic sit-down strike during November 2014. The excuse given by management was to “repair plumbing” problems. Are workers being punished for standing up?

It’s about time that wealthy corporations face up to the fact that it has bigger problems that conjured up tales of cracked pipes, like respecting lower paid workers who deserve much better.

Ray Catania and Mike Miranda, Puhi

A solution to vacation rentals

We have been “wintering” in Kauai for many years and staying for 3 1/2 months in a vacation rental. We rent a car. We fix some of our meals in the rental but eat out fairly regularly. We play golf at least once a week. We go to church every Sunday.

Now we have been told that the vacation rental is no longer going to be in business. What is going on? Then we learned about the “cease and desist or we’ll fine you big money” letters and actions.

Just figure out what Kauai tourism will lose just from us. As usual, it seems to me that this is a situation with very simple solutions.

However, this is not generally something the bureaucratic persons in Kauai can handle, especially when dealing with complaints from the North Shore.

Here’s a solution:

1. Institute licenses for vacation rentals, annual ones, XYZ amount. Don’t go into the calibration of the licenses.

2. Make sure all the licensees pay their proper taxes to all the proper taxing agencies.

3. Allow for a “complaint” situation which would be investigated by county inspectors. (Not really happy about this suggestion but maybe the neighborhoods who are having conflicts can have their due process without affecting those neighborhoods where there are no issues.)

4. Allow Internet advertising by vacation rentals so more folks who couldn’t possibly come to Kauai without VR’s would come.

So, there’s a simple solution. I realize that this is probably too simple and too concise to solve the problem. Hearings, investigations, and all the conflicts that has been going on is sometimes the way Kauai goes. I just hope and pray that someone will get it right and vacation rentals, especially where we stay for over three months, will be back in business. Otherwise, aloha, which we have always understood can also mean goodbye.

Stan Sawyer, Virginia Beach, Virginia


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