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Sunday, September 3, 2023
September 3, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:19 PM :: 3113 Views

Lawsuit: Libertarians Ask Federal Court to ‘Disband Hawaii Republican Party’

Maui Crisis: A Time to Help!

Green Gives Another $50M Subsidy for Solar Industry

Another Big Pay Hike for DoE Employees

Steps we could take to help Lahaina rebuild more quickly 

Tax Deadlines on Maui 

Lahaina Houses Still Burning down at 3AM--10 Hours After Persons Reported in Water off Front Street

SA: … On the night of the Lahaina inferno, Joe Pluta figured public safety personnel would roust him out of bed if the flames were approaching his neighborhood. After all, his Ainakea Road home was only two blocks away from Lahaina’s fire and police stations.

But that never happened. He escaped from his house only after his smoke alarm sounded at 3 a.m. He ended up crawling out his bathroom window seconds before the flames consumed the structure. He ran for his life down the streets through swirling sparks and embers and was eventually picked up by a fire truck.

Pluta, a real estate broker who is president of the West Maui Improvement Foundation, does not blame the police or firefighters for not warning him in advance. He blames politicians over the years for allowing fire and police stations to be understaffed.

“This disaster was self-inflicted,” Pluta said. “I’ve been telling county councils and administrations for years that they better budget for public safety here. All I got was lip service.” …

(NOTE: That’s 3am--houses still burning down unopposed.  Ten hours after persons were reported in the water off Front Street.)

Wayne Hedani, who runs the Kaanapali Operations Association, could not believe how windy Aug. 8 was. As he was driving away from his office and West Maui that day, he saw something he never saw before: The entire channel off Lahaina white with foam created by gusts of up to 60 mph.

read … West Maui firefighters stretched thin under challenging conditions

Hawaii Gov: ‘Possible’ Different Decisions Could’ve Prevented Loss, Won’t Say Maui Officials Were Asleep at Wheel

B: … CBS News National Correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti asked, “Is it time for the Mayor to resign? What are your thoughts?”

Green responded, “My first thoughts are, we should really get to all of the facts, whatever they may be, good or bad. That is a deeply personal discussion for any Mayor and his or her constituents to have.”

Vigliotti then asked, “Were they asleep at the wheel?”

Green said, “I don’t know if I should use those words.”

Vigliotti then followed up, “If you wouldn’t use those words, what words would you use?”

Green responded, “A tragic natural disaster, that, if other decisions were made, it is possible that we wouldn’t have had such loss.”…

NYT: Maui Sent an Evacuation Alert. Why Did So Few People Get It?

Borreca: On Politics: Lahaina to consume Hawaii policymaking for long time

read … Hawaii Gov.: ‘Possible’ Different Decisions Could’ve Prevented Loss, Won’t Say Maui Officials Were Asleep at Wheel

Lahaina Fire: How many ways did government fail?

Shapiro: …  Too often, an apt description of Hawaii local government workings is “half-assed.”…

The state and county response to this fire was a grand monument to half-assery:

>> Despite having a hurricane nearby and a National Weather Service “red flag” advisory on possible windblown wildfires, our civil defense leadership was not on high alert.

>> Herman Andaya, a political appointee with few qualifications to head the Maui Emergency Management Agency, was at a conference on Oahu.

>> Andaya declined to sound warning sirens designed for such an emergency and, before resigning, said he had no regrets despite the horrendous outcome.

>> Kenneth Hara, director of the state Emergency Management Agency, said he didn’t know people had died in Lahaina until the next morning.

>> Maui Mayor Richard Bissen initially said he didn’t know who was in charge as the tragedy unfolded, then later changed his account.

>> Roads out of town were blocked, leaving escaping motorists to either turn back into the flames or run and swim for their lives.

>> Maui firefighters declared an earlier blaze in the morning extinguished and then left before the deadly fire reignited in the afternoon.

>> In the midst of the crisis, officials squabbled over releasing water for firefighting.

>> Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, Maui’s legislative dean who could have accelerated the recovery as the Ways and Means Committee vice chair responsible for capital improvement allocations, resigned from the Legislature so he and his law firm could cash in on fire-related lawsuits — including possibly some against the state.

>> Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, acting governor while Gov. Josh Green was traveling, suggested such a disaster was impossible to plan for, saying, “We never anticipated in this state that a hurricane which did not make impact on our islands will cause this type of wildfires.”

In fact, a similar windblown fire that caused more than $4 million in property damage but miraculously took no lives occurred near Lahaina only five years ago; promises of a plan to prevent another such disaster went unfulfilled….

read … Lahaina shows the need for fixes on many levels

West Maui firefighters stretched thin under challenging conditions

SA: …  Maui County hasn’t built any new fire stations on Maui or significantly increased its staffing of firefighters on the island in 20 years.

During that time, however, the population has grown substantially and firefighting has become more challenging, especially in leeward West Maui, where at least 115 died in a massive wind-driven wildfire that destroyed the historic center of Lahaina.

“Maui County fire protection is definitely understaffed,” said Bobby Lee, president of the Hawaii Firefighters Association….

Firefighting in West Maui became even more challenging after Lahaina’s Pioneer Mill closed in 1999. Before that time, the slopes above Lahaina and surrounding areas were covered with well-maintained fields of sugar cane, providing a bright green buffer for the populated areas on the coast.

But after the mill shut down, the hills were allowed to turn fallow and brown. An invasion of nonnative grasses and shrubs took over and proved highly flammable during the dry season….

Uilani Kapu knows those conditions well. In 2018 fierce down-slope winds associated with Hurricane Lane helped push a huge wildfire near her home in the Kaua‘ula Valley above Lahaina. The blaze ended up destroying 21 homes, damaging 30 vehicles and charring 2,000 acres.

Kapu’s home survived but she was left angry. At a post-fire meeting with county officials at the Lahainaluna High School cafeteria, Kapu yelled at then-Mayor Alan Arakawa and his staff about the lack of a brush abatement program.

In an interview last week, she said she’s never seen any evidence that such an abatement program was ever started and maintained, and that it’s clear that parched and overgrown vacant land helped fuel the Aug. 8 firestorm….

read … West Maui firefighters stretched thin under challenging conditions

Can Lahaina property owners sell if they want to?

SA: … Question: Some people who survived the Aug. 8 inferno won’t want to live in Lahaina anymore. Not everybody has deep roots there and the fire was so scary that some will want to start somewhere new where they feel safer. Will they be denied the right to sell property they own in Lahaina or elsewhere in Maui? What about off-Maui descendants of people who died in the fire, who may inherit property? Will they be able to sell it? There’s been much discussion about rebuilding Lahaina the way the community wants, but much of what burned was residential private property….

HNN: Hawaii AG: Real estate opportunists are preying on Maui fire victims

RELATED: Do Lahaina Property Owners Have the Right to Rebuild?

read … Can Lahaina property owners sell if they want to?

Red Hill ‘repacking’ leads to pump repair

SA: … About 360,000 gallons of fuel have been added to pipelines at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as part of an ongoing “repacking” process that will ultimately lead to the defueling of the facility’s jet fuel tanks.

Joint Task Force-Red Hill on Friday said it identified a needed repair during the repacking operation at an “Underground Pump House low point drain.” The pump, unlike the massive Red Hill storage tanks, is reportedly not located above an aquifer, and the task force said that the break “does not pose a threat to the environment, the aquifer or the community.”…

The multiday operation of the Red Hill fuel pipelines began Monday. Two pipelines at the storage facility are being used for defueling and are being filled in small increments using fuel from the storage facility’s upper tanks. A third pipeline was determined to be unnecessary for defueling and will remain empty.

Repacking operations are expected to finish this week.

Afterward, some 100,000 to 400,000 gallons of residual fuel will remain in the tanks, but there are plans to ensure that all of the fuel at Red Hill is removed….

read … Red hill ‘repacking’ leads to pump repair

What Does Hawaii Have In Common With These Red States? A Fear Of Direct Democracy

CB: … All are red-leaning states with majority parties that want to stay that way by keeping power in the hands of their legislatures.

Which brings us across the ocean to a true-blue state where entrenched stakeholders are even more draconian about consolidating power within the State Capitol chambers. Hawaii, after all, is the only Western state that does not allow statewide voter initiatives in any form….

read … What Does Hawaii Have In Common With These Red States? A Fear Of Direct Democracy

Hawaii Said This Big Island Dad Abused His Son — Then Three Years Later Changed Its Mind

CB: … Three years ago, the Hawaii Department of Human Services sent Carlos Valdez a letter: Its investigation had confirmed that he had abused his son.

This May, DHS sent the Big Island father another letter – it had now concluded the opposite. The alleged abuse was “not confirmed.” It gave no explanation for the reversal.

No harm, no foul? Hardly…..

read … Hawaii Said This Big Island Dad Abused His Son — Then Three Years Later Changed Its Mind

Lahaina Fire News: 

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