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Saturday, August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:33 PM :: 3610 Views

VIDEO: Green Address on Lahaina Fire, Rebuild

Hawaii’s Green Agenda Primed State for One of the Deadliest Wildfires in History

Hawai’i County Police Officer Arrested for Burglary and Assault

Schatz Exploits ‘Toxic’ Hysteria: Lahaina fire debris could be worth $1B to my Campaign Contributors-Homeowners will have to stay out for one year while we …uh…’clean up’

KHON: … U.S. Senator said removing the debris will be a long and expensive process.

Twisted metal, gutted homes, burnt cars, the charred, broken remains of the worst natural disaster in Hawaii’s history.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D) said removing the tons of debris will be a major endeavor.

“It could be up to a billion dollars and take up to a year,” Schatz explained. “And so we have to brace ourselves for a really big enterprise of removing all of that debris.”

Shatz said it will start once crews finish searching for missing family and friends.

“Once that process is done, FEMA goes in with the Environmental Protection Agency, and also the Army Corps of Engineers, and they start to determine what is hazardous and how it ought to be disposed of. There will be hazardous waste, especially in Lahaina town.”

He said the EPA has to search each home, each structure, and take and test soil samples and water samples, to ensure it’s safe for people to walk around in Lahaina town.

In a statement the US Army Corp of Engineers said:

“We have also activated a Debris Planning and Response Team which is a specialized management cell team that provides contracting and management oversight for debris removal and clearance missions, infrastructure and coastal assessments and technical assistance work in the state.”… 

CB: Schatz: Biden Visit To Lahaina ‘Forces Action’

CB: Under the president’s order, funds for debris removal and emergency protective measures — including direct assistance — has been increased to 100% of the total eligible costs for a continuous 30-day period of the state’s choosing within the first 120 days from the start of the incident period.

NR: Joe Biden Vacations at Tom Steyer’s Mansion as Hawaii Counts Its Dead  (CLUE: Tom Steyer owns Brian Schatz so he is the billionaire most likely to be 'cleaning up' in Lahaina.)

2014:  Brian Schatz Dances to California Billionaire's Tune

SA: Lahaina survivors face contaminated air and water and emotional issues | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … Lahaina fire debris removal could take a year and cost $1B

Race Underway To Literally Glue Down Lahaina Fire Ash Before Rains Wash Campaign Contributors Dreams Into The Ocean

CB: … The remnants of post-Tropical Storm Fernanda are expected to bring moist air and possible showers to windward and mountainous portions of Hawaii, including Maui, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’re watching it closely,” said meteorologist Kevin Kodama. “It’s going to be a pretty big change early next week, particularly Monday night.”…

(That’s OK.  Biden will announce Schatz’ Billion dollar cleanup scam before the ash washes away.)

As part of the ongoing recovery process, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to deploy a glue-like substance designed to keep ash in place for several months, according to EPA incident commander Steve Calanog.

“We will apply a soil tackifier which will basically bind up the ash and mitigate migration of the ash from the wind,” Calanog said….

It was uncertain when exactly that effort would begin, however.

read … Race Underway To Glue Down The Lahaina Fire’s Toxic Ash Before Rains Wash It Into The Ocean

Lahaina Residents to Green: “Your plan is not the plan. The plan gotta come from the people of Lahaina.”

HNN:  … They said the government should not rush to rebuild the community without first giving the people time to heal — and especially without including the community itself in the planning….

“We don’t want to hear the governor’s office saying that we have a plan for Lahaina because none of us ever got to speak to the governor,” said Kekai Keahi, of Na Ohana o Lele, a coalition of community members in Lahaina.

“Your plan, in my opinion, is not the plan. The plan gotta come from the people of Lahaina.”

They’re also demanding that government put the community first in any planning process for for rebuilding Lahaina.

They see this as an opportunity to rebuild how they see fit.

“We are hoping that the governor really seeks that mana’o that we really need,” said Keeaumoku Kapu, of Na Ohana o Lele. “So we can reveal, we’re facing with a lot of families, the loss. We’re still grieving. We need that time to find closure. Before we look at where do we go from here.”…

MN: A coalition of Lahaina community members Friday called on Gov. Josh Green to ensure that “all decisions about rebuilding Lahaina” are made in the open and with the “full participation” of the Lahaina community. 

SA: Native Hawaiian Lahaina residents ask for time to grieve, slower rebuild | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

HNN: Midday Newscast: Maui residents want voices heard in plans to rebuild

read … Native Hawaiian leaders demand say in how fire-ravaged Lahaina is rebuilt

Lahaina: Restore Sunshine Law for Rebuild

MN: …Na ‘Ohana o Lele, a coalition of community members in Lahaina, said the community needs time to grieve and that there should not be a rush to rebuild.

They are also asking that the state emergency proclamation be amended to ensure that the Sunshine Law remains in “full force,” which ensures the public’s right to know government decision-making and the discussions and information used in that process.

“The governor should ensure that all decisions about the rebuilding of Lahaina are made in the open and with the full participation of our Lahaina community,” said Tiare Lawrence, who grew up on the west side and graduated from Lahainaluna High School. “We need time to gather all of us together to engage in important conversations that will be needed.”

At a news conference at Wahikuli Beach Park, Lawrence said that Lahaina’s community leaders are from across the spectrum of citizens.

“We are a diverse Lahaina community,” Lawrence said. “Our strength is in our ability to come together, to stand together, to work together. Strong and resilient, but we need time to heal and to come together. We also need to be involved in the planning process for rebuilding our community. We ask that the governor meet our demands and work with us to create a better future for Lahaina. Come talk to us.”

In a live address later Friday night, Green expressed his desire to rebuild Lahaina according to the community’s wishes.

“We will rebuild Lahaina, it will take years of work and billions of dollars….

HTH: Residents who fled deadly Maui fire ask for time to grieve and slower rebuild - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

read … Restore Sunshine Law

Up to 1,300 Missing: ‘How Many Children Died?’

SA: … With power and phone service down for days after the fires, it’s been difficult for authorities to get a handle on the number of people unaccounted for. Various crowd-sourced lists contain the names of hundreds of the missing, and county officials have given rough estimates of anywhere between 1,000 and 1,300.

An official said Thursday the Victim Witness Assistance Division under the county Department of the Prosecuting Attorney is in the process of merging the unofficial lists into a single, centralized source.

In the meantime, the county moved its Family Assistance Center, where relatives can provide information on missing loved ones and DNA samples for identification, from Kahului to the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa’s Monarch Ballroom in Kaanapali, open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“I wish I knew the answer to that,” Bissen said when asked how many children are among the missing and dead, and whether the county had been hesitant to release such sensitive information.

The parking lot press conference then quickly broke down and was brought to a halt as two men who were in the crowd of journalists began shouting at Bissen, demanding to know how many children had died in the wildfire. They were asked to step back and threatened with removal but continued their harangue, raising the ire of some of the reporters who were waiting to ask questions of their own.

It was not clear if the two men were from the news media, and one of them refused to give his name afterward.

Gov. Josh Green has acknowledged that children are indeed among the victims of the Lahaina wildfire. As of Friday, authorities had released the names of only seven of the dead, all adults….

read … Maui mayor continues to face questions on emergency response

Death toll in Lahaina rises to 114

HNN: …With at least 1,000 people still unaccounted for, recovery teams in Lahaina are racing against time to cover as much ground as possible before heavy rains are slated to move in next week….

CB: Many Of Lahaina’s Filipinos Are Still Missing As The Search For Bodies Drags On

SA: Lahaina fire death toll climbs to 114, 78% of burn area searched | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

LATEST: Recovery teams have searched 58% of destroyed Lahaina; hundreds remain missing (hawaiinewsnow.com)

At least 3 of those killed in Lahaina wildfire were residents of senior housing complex (hawaiinewsnow.com)

While many remain missing, improved access to Lahaina has meant some happy reunions (hawaiinewsnow.com)

read … Death toll in Lahaina rises to 114

‘Premature’ to hold Special Session On Maui Fires

CB: … But if a special session is warranted, the top priorities will be money including for environmental remediation in the impacted areas, says House Speaker Scott Saiki….

The last time the Legislature convened a special session that involved both chambers was in late August 2017 in order to fund the Honolulu rail project. The emergency that prompted it was to secure funding for the project, which was in financial trouble. The rail just opened for limited business last month.

The 2017 session lasted five days and resulted in increasing the statewide hotel room tax and extending the 0.5% general excise tax surcharge — a $2.4 billion rail financing package.

Saiki said this time a special session will be different. Typically, lawmakers agree prior to session on proposed bills and appropriations, ensuring a speedy process.

But Saiki said a session this fall could involve legislation to address complex and controversial issues such as water rights on Maui. That would almost certainly attract intense public testimony.

“It will not be the usual pattern,” he said, adding that lawmakers would have to have in place a plan of action. “If we do hold a special session, there will be a lot of preparation in advance, with the Legislature working together with the administration and Maui County and other organizations.”

“But at the same time, I know that the public will want to see what we are doing and they should weigh in,” he said. “I do not see this being a typical five-day special session.”

Senate President Ron Kouchi did not respond to a media inquiry about a special session. But he did release a statement late Thursday.

“The true extent of the damage caused by the wildfires (is) unfolding slowly and requires a painstaking process that the Federal, State, and County agencies are working through. As such, it is currently premature to consider a special legislative session relating to the Maui wildfires, though the Senate stands ready to work with the House and the Governor to explore all legislative options, at the appropriate time,” Kouchi said in the statement….

Saiki said he had been in discussion with Gov. Josh Green since the fires started Aug. 8, and he said Green agreed it was premature to for lawmakers to gather now.

He also noted that the governor’s emergency proclamations are each in effect for 60 days at a time. The third proclamation suspends most major state laws “and gives the governor complete flexibility to prioritize funds, to move funds, to suspend laws.”

At this point, said Saiki, the response of Hawaii’s government to the fires “is an administration function.”

read … Hawaii Legislature May Hold Special Session On Maui Fires

CYA: State Told Maui Emergency Office It Should Consider Sounding Sirens Before Fire Spread

CB: … Before a fire swept through Lahaina, killing at least 114 people, Hawaii state emergency management personnel sent a “reminder” to their counterparts at the Maui Emergency Management Agency that the island’s all-hazard siren system “could be used” if needed.

(Translation: We did what we were supposed to do.)

The reminder was not a directive requiring that MEMA use the sirens, according to the state’s Joint Information Center, which the state recently set up to field questions about the disaster….

(Translation: We are not responsible.)

The JIC did not specify when Hawaii Emergency Management Agency personnel sent its reminder to MEMA that sirens could be used. In an emailed statement Friday, it merely said that the message was delivered prior to the blaze sweeping through Lahaina.

(Translation: CYA.)

The JIC further said that it was MEMA’s call to decide whether using the sirens was warranted.

“Maui County would set the policies and procedures for how their sirens are activated and who is authorized to do so,” the JIC stated….  

HNN: Before flames devastated Lahaina, state ‘reminded’ Maui sirens could be sounded for fire evacuations

NYT: Opinion | Why Didn’t Hawaii Evacuate Sooner During the Fires? - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

read … State Told Maui Emergency Office It Should Consider Sounding Sirens Before Fire Spread

Lahaina Fire: Meth-Addicted Homeless Looters Allowed to Remain in Burn Zone--Everybody Else ordered out

HNN:  … Maui County officials have been downplaying reports of looting in the burned out areas of Lahaina and West Maui. But some who can’t get to their properties in Lahaina say homeless camps are still there, and they want to know why they aren’t being moved out.

“They’re gonna be allowed? We’re right on the burn,” said Eddy Garcia as he recorded a video of an encampment at Launiupoko Park, which is across the highway from his farm.

“The burn stopped at our farm right here. And, what? We’re not allowed in right here where it stops. So everything in my entire farm got robbed and looted,” he continued in the video….

“There’s homeless all around us,” Garcia told Hawaii News Now. “They’re treating them and leaving them in the ashes, hanging out in the middle of the toxins, but they’re telling everyone else ‘you have to leave.’”…

“On other side of Lahaina where the encampments are, they need to block those off and get security and take all the homeless and put them in the hotels, straight up,” Garcia said. “You solve the homeless problem, you solve the looting problem.”

“Pleas make sure that the area is restricted for everyone so we have a sense of security that the few things that are remaining from the fire is still going to be there when we are able and gather it and secure it,” said Lahaina resident Yayoi Hara….

In wake of devastation in Lahaina, calls grow for improved land management (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Lahaina man arrested on suspicion of entering disaster area | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Maui Police arrest a trespasser in Lahaina in restricted area | Crime & Courts | kitv.com

read … Lahaina residents raise concerns about homeless remaining in restricted area

Nine Years Later: HART still waiting for $125 million

SA: … After more than a decade, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation waits for the final portion of a $1.55-billion funding agreement that since 2014 has been held up at the federal level due to years of cost overruns and delays to the build out of the city’s rail line.

And at the HART Board of Directors meeting Thursday, rail staffers noted a related amendment to the project’s full-funding grant agreement — which the city signed in 2012 with its partner, the Federal Transit Administration, that’s tied to a remaining $125 million in federal monies — is also pending completion.

The amendment relates to HART’s “temporary reduction of the project,” which sees construction of the project only to a Civic Center station in Kakaako….

Those changes required further state and federal review, however.

Posted to the state’s Office of Planning and Sustainable Development website on Aug. 8, a public notice said an environmental re-evaluation of rail’s “Project Study Corridor” was conducted to “assess potential new, significant, or adverse impacts compared to the accepted (National Environmental Policy Act-Hawaii Environmental Policy Act), Final Environmental Impact Statement in 2011 and NEPA Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in 2013,” the posting reads….

Lori Kahikina, HART’s CEO and executive director, told the board the full-funding grant agreement amendment was submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the FTA and the state of Hawaii for further study.

“Hopefully, this will be done by the first week of September; that’s on the federal side,” she said. “On the state side, we’ve worked very closely with (the) governor’s office and they’re very pleased with the package that was submitted.”

As part of the state’s review, the governor’s office — in a July 27 letter — noted no supplemental environmental impact statement was necessary for this latest “proposed project modification.”

In addition, a public comment period over this amendment will run through Sept. 7, Kahikina said.

“So, that all wraps up into the full-funding grant agreement amendment and we would like to present to the board (by) early September and obtain board approval (by) mid-September,” she said, adding a special board meeting might be scheduled for Sept. 15.

Afterward, HART staff wished to present the updated project to the Council’s Committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs by Sept. 17 and then to the full City Council on Oct. 4, she said. That package, she added, would be submitted to FTA once again, likely by Oct. 6….

At the Aug. 17 board meeting, Board member Roger Morton — the city’s Department of Transportation Services director — hoped to see the full-funding grant agreement amendment resolved before the federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

“That usually is the urgency, at least on the Federal Transit Administration,” Morton said. “They have a lot of things that they want to close before they begin a new fiscal year; this would probably be a big one.”…

Still, the rail agency expects the remaining portion of the full- funding grant agreement — the $125 million — to be released later this year. To that end, during the agency’s finance committee on Aug. 3, Rick Keene, HART’s COO and deputy executive director, confirmed the likely receipt of that final portion — or tranche — would not occur until December.

In related news, the HART board has formed a subcommittee to investigate the completion of the rail line to its initial destination of Ala Moana Station and beyond — likely to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, as originally specified in the Oahu Regional Transportation Plan.

The subcommittee is expected to release a public report of its findings following its investigation.

read … HART still waiting for $125 million

Top Three Years: Bosses Fired,  More Overtime Scams at State Hospital

CB: …The facility has been spending $2 million to $3 million per quarter on overtime since the pandemic….

Three top managers at the Hawaii State Hospital are being terminated from their jobs and were abruptly escorted off the hospital campus Thursday morning in a move to “restructure” the facility’s management team.

Dr. Bimmie Strausser, HSH associate administrator, was escorted off the property by staff from the state Attorney General’s office along with Director of Nursing Lani Tsuneishi and HSH Operations Administrator Anthony Fraiola, according to staff at the facility.

Kenneth Luke, acting administrator of the state hospital, then distributed a letter to employees explaining that “a decision has been made to restructure our hospital’s senior leadership team,” and the three are “no longer with our organization.”..

No one has explained exactly what is happening, but she said she suspects the management terminations have to do with overtime costs and staffing issues.

The facility has been spending $2 million to $3 million per quarter on overtime since the pandemic, she said.

“I was telling people, ‘What can we do? This is ridiculous.’ We can’t continue to do this, this is not a sustainable process,” Tsuneishi said.

Nursing shortages have always been an issue, but with the arrival of the pandemic “we averaged 30 to 40 sick calls of nursing staff a day” out of a nursing staff of 300 to 400, she said. Other staffers are out on workers compensation or extended leave, she said.

“Everybody’s pulling their load and more, but it’s really hard when you have that many staff calling out sick every day,” Tsuneishi said.

The hospital uses temporary agency nurses to fill in gaps, but union rules allow hospital employees to demand overtime shifts even when temp nurses are available, she said. The nursing staff and aides are represented by the United Public Workers and Hawaii Government Employees Association unions.

The types of patients at the hospital can also aggravate staffing issues. In general the staffing ratio is supposed to be one staffer to five patients, but some patients –– such as those who present a risk of suicide –– get one-to-one staffing, Tsuneishi said.

Normally the hospital has three or four of those cases, but there are more than 30 one-to-one cases at the moment, including patients deemed to be at risk for falls or because of the medications they are taking, she said.

At one point Tsuneishi said she was juggling the responsibilities of three jobs, including administrator, her own job and nursing supervisor. “We were short, that’s what we do, we had to fill in,” she said.

Apart from the overtime issue, the hospital also struggled to resolve issues that delayed the opening of a new $160 million hospital building for more than a year.

“It was a difficult job, and I understand that the buck stops here,” she said. “That’s why were were working really hard just trying to fill the spots.”

Tsuneishi, who was director of nursing for 10 years, said her termination letter says she is now on paid leave, and technically her employment ends at the end of this month….

SA: State hospital leaders fired amid overcrowding

As Explained: Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit

read … Senior Managers At Hawaii State Hospital Fired In Major Shake-Up

Lahaina Fire News: 

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