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Sunday, September 10, 2023
September 10, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:43 PM :: 4582 Views

Hawaii Republicans set Presidential Caucus for Tuesday March 12, 2024 

Property rights should prevail in Lahaina

Taxing Government Benefits

Lahaina Fire: MedQuest Stops Terminations

Hawaii lawmaker hammers Biden's 'slap in the face' to Maui

HELP: Student Loans to be repaid for Medical Professionals who Commit to Hawaii

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted September 9, 2023

‘Authority’ will make Lahaina into the next Kakaako

SA Editorial: … The removal of hazardous substances and debris from Lahaina is expected to take another year or more. Community members and elected officials must make full use of this time to hammer out a plan to nurture a thriving, rebuilt Lahaina.

Immense challenges lie ahead, including mapping out the town’s future layout, economic planning, and environmental and cultural stewardship.

On Friday, the one-month anniversary of the fire, Gov. Josh Green addressed the state to announce that agreements are in place to fund temporary housing and long-term rental support well into 2024. Funds also have been established for “bridge” support to aid individuals and businesses displaced by the fires. All that brings a modicum of stability in highly stressful and uncertain times.

On Oct. 8, all travel restrictions closing off West Maui will end, and many of the hotels and resorts outside of Lahaina will resume welcoming tourists….

One promising strategy for doing so comes from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO), which raises the prospect of creating a state-sanctioned “post-disaster agency” to navigate this path.

Such an agency could be similar to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), which has authority over zoning, road improvements and infrastructure in Kakaako. The advantage of such an authority is that rebuilding processes would be streamlined and as necessary, accelerated.

The agency could also act as a central body to navigate conflicts and competing concerns among interest groups, UHERO suggests. This is where a new Lahaina “post-disaster agency” would have a broader mission and function than the HCDA.

Thousands of residents and business operators in a pre-fire Lahaina hope to return to a rebuilt community, and the urgency for action and responsive public management is of a magnitude higher than for Kakaako, where planning and development took place over decades. A tailored mix of powers and responsibilities is required….

UHERO: Economic Perspective of Maui’s Devastating Wildfires

Better Idea: Do Lahaina Property Owners Have the Right to Rebuild?

read … Consider authority to guide Lahaina rebuild

Move to Las Vegas: Many Lahaina residents worried they will not find a permanent home after governor's announcement

KITV … The time has come to let the hotels do what they do best: cater to the people who want to come and visit Maui.

"We're hearing from people across the board. People who work for car rental agencies, restaurants, small businesses, attractions and hotels want to go back to work. That’s what the governor is responding to," said Mufi Hannemann.

Hannemann adds West Maui hotels are at about 55% capacity and there is plenty of room for visitors to join the residents living there.

Governor Josh Green has now signed a seventh emergency proclamation related to the Maui wildfires, lifting the previous guidance that strongly discouraged travel to West Maui….  

American Red Cross: Deadline to Enroll in Temporary Emergency Lodging is September 15, 2023

CB: Thousands Of Displaced Survivors Are Still Living In Hotels. What Comes Next?

read … Many Lahaina residents worried they will not find a permanent home after governor's announcement

“It’s just an absolute mess. I don’t think anyone’s actually working together.”

CB: … FBI and county officials said Friday the number of people confirmed missing in the aftermath of the fire has dropped to 66, with an additional 80 people who could be missing but whose information hasn’t been vetted enough to confirm one way or another. They did not list the names of the 80 unverified people.

McPherson says she’s since been told it was likely a clerical error that his name has not been on the last two official lists.

Errors understandably abounded in the early days of the search, when 3,000 people were initially reported as being unaccounted for after the fire. Sorting through those names and locating people scattered across the island has been a massive undertaking. It’s also one that McPherson acknowledges is being conducted — at least in part — by people dealing with trauma of their own. 

But it’s also a process that families say has been overly complicated and exhausting to navigate. Since Aug. 9 families have been told to take more than half a dozen different courses of action to search for their loved ones. 

People have struggled to get family members on the official FBI list, to submit DNA samples from out of state, to get through to a live operator, to get a response even when going through the appropriate channels. 

“It’s just an absolute mess,” McPherson said. “I don’t think anyone’s actually working together.”

In the meantime, conspiracy theories and general distrust of the process are building in a community frustrated by the lack of concrete answers about the fates of their friends and neighbors. 

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Dawn Matsuda-Boucher, whose ex-husband was recently added back onto the official FBI list after weeks of outreach to both the FBI and the Maui Police Department. “Trying to find somebody with no communication at all — it’s been really hard.”…

But the FBI Is not conducting full missing persons investigations. Merrill said the FBI’s job is to “get that list down as small as we can” so that Maui police do full investigations of credible cases. What MPD does with the list is up to the department, Merrill said, and being on the FBI list does not mean MPD will open an investigation.

The MPD announced last week that in order for police to start a missing persons investigation, the agency needs people to file a report directly with the department — even if they have already given information to the FBI….

Bubba Ridgeway called the Maui police to file a missing persons report for his brother, Sean Ridgeway, on Aug. 23. He said the person who answered the phone asked him why he would want to file a missing persons report for his brother, a homeless man who’d had multiple run-ins with police in past years.

Discouraged but not deterred, Ridgeway next filed a report with the Red Cross and the FBI, who told Ridgeway — who lives in Seattle — that a local field office would be in contact to help him provide DNA. Days later, he reached out to the local office but was told they had no record of the request in their system.

“They didn’t seem interested in it,”  said Ridgeway.

Ridgeway said he was eventually contacted by a much more compassionate Maui police officer who took a missing persons report on Tuesday. In the meantime, a community member helping to search for homeless people reached out to Ridgeway and began circulating fliers of his brother around the island. Two days after he successfully filed a missing persons report, a Red Cross worker called to say there had been a credible sighting of his brother….

SA: Lahaina victims mourned as search continues ‘until all are found’

read … Inside The Frustrating And Painful Search For Lahaina’s Missing People

Andaya: Lahaina Firefighters were overrun before we sent out Evacuation Notices

CB: … Who was running the show at the EOC? 

“I’m not sure who was in charge,” Bissen said at an Aug. 29 news conference, before adding that then-county Emergency Management Administrator Herman Andaya “was still in charge. He just wasn’t present. He was in contact with his team, I guess by phone. I don’t know exactly how.”

But Andaya had already implied at an Aug. 16 news conference — the day before he resigned — that he wasn’t in charge: “I was not there that night. I was in Oahu attending a conference. But what I was told by my staff was that they received from the battalion chief who was in the EOC that their crews were being overrun. And so at that point we sent out the evacuation notices.”….

read … It's Long Past Time For The Maui Mayor To Answer The Public's Questions About What Happened As Lahaina Burned

B.J. Penn weighs in after being blamed for resignation of chief housing officer Nani Medeiros

KITV: … As Hawaii's housing crisis worsens in the wake of the Maui wildfires, another huge setback to the governor's ambitious plan to build more affordable homes -- the abrupt resignation of chief housing officer Nani Medeiros amid threats and bullying.

"I was surprised that she resigned actually. That was the last thing that I would have ever expected," said B.J. Penn, a critic of the government, who Gov. Josh Green blamed for driving Medeiros out of the job.

A day after the state's housing officer resigned, Penn said he doesn't condone bullying and is all about aloha.

"That's terrible to hear anything that she got threatened and I want anybody out there to know, if anybody was involved doing that, I'm 100% against that," Penn said….

The governor personally blasted Penn for "bullying tactics" in the wake of the resignation.

But Penn said he's being falsely accused.

"That's really wrong to say that and to point at me and to say that he's not going to tolerate that," he said. "It almost kind of feels like some kind of Donald Trump-type of thing where they go after somebody."

And he wants to make amends with Medeiros.

"Hey Nani, you know when I get to see you again, I would love to just apologize if anyone did come up to you and do anything like that or did anything to your child or husband or any of that stuff," Penn said. "So I just want to make everything good right now. So you know, right on Nani." …

(TRANSLATION: Since your husband is not man enough to protect you, come to me and I will give you what you need.  He can watch.)

KHON: As for replacing Medeiros, the governor said he might instead appoint a committee to lead the housing team.

read …. B.J. Penn weighs in after being blamed for resignation of chief housing officer Nani Medeiros

DOH suspends new ambulance contracts to weigh protests

SA: … Support for American Medical Response is growing as the state moves to resolve the company’s protests of the bidding process for ambulance services for Maui and Kauai counties.

The state Department of Health recently selected Falck Northwest Corp., a multinational company based in Denmark, as the winning bidder for ground emergency ambulance services serving 911 dispatch centers for both counties. Falck would replace longtime provider AMR, which held the counties’ contracts for the past 44 years.

DOH awarded multiyear contracts to Falck — roughly $59 million for Maui and $32 million for Kauai — to begin Dec. 28 and run through June 30, 2027, according to state procurement records.

The department said the pending contracts have been suspended, with no specific timeline on a decision.

The Maui County Council on Friday will consider a resolution urging DOH to continue its contract with AMR. The Council would vote on the resolution at its Oct. 6 meeting…

read … DOH suspends new ambulance contracts to weigh protests | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

‘The shortage is expected to get worse’: Presentation outlines how lack of doctors is impacting isle

HTH: … Uohara said that while there are more than 10,000 licensed physicians in the state, there are really only about 2,800 actually actively working — many licensed doctors are, like him, retired and no longer providing care. Based on various models, he said, there are 187 too few doctors on the Big Island, while the state is short 732 doctors to meet the medical needs of Hawaii’s population.

“We probably have the greatest need on this island because of our demographics,” Uohara said, referring to the island’s aging population.

“That’s something we can’t fix immediately,” Uohara said, saying the shortage has been caused by several factors — COVID-19, medical school debts, and the low pay for Hawaii doctors compared to other places on the mainland.

“If you practice in the state, you need to accept you will have less of an income,” Uohara said. “You get much more for doing a (baby) delivery in California or Florida than you do here.”

Meanwhile, Uohara said, residents must wait longer to receive care, which requires them to miss more work, puts more strain on emergency services, and leaves residents using services like urgent care facilities as their primary physician. At the same time, insurance complexities have made it harder than ever for a doctor to start a private practice.

“The shortage is expected to get worse,” Uohara went on. “The health of Hawaii County is in jeopardy. I think no one who would go on-record would say that we have really high-quality medical care. Why should there be such a disparity between what Honolulu has and what we’re getting?”…

read … ‘The shortage is expected to get worse’: Presentation outlines how lack of doctors is impacting isle

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