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Friday, September 22, 2023
September 22, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:13 PM :: 1142 Views

Can One Government Official Really Hold Up Necessary Water Uses? The Hawaii Public Water Trust In Action

Senators Push to Restore Official who Denied Firefighting Water for Lahaina

Census Bureau: Detailed Look at Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Groups

RedCross: 78% of Lahaina Staying in Shelters

Kauai homeowners could save $150 each from higher exemption

Wildfires deliver heavy blow to Maui economy

Finding Someone to Blame for the Lahaina Fires

IM: … The question of who will be held legally responsible for the Lahaina fire, who will lose the numerous lawsuits, and who will pay is unknown at this time.

What is known and growing is the list of possible liabilities.

The County of Maui and the State of Hawai`i appear to have failed to issue investigative reports on the devastating 2018 Lahaina fire that burned more acres than the 2023 Lahaina fire. They also appear not to have released reports on the numerous Central Maui brushfires in 2019. The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission appears to have no files on MECOs role, if any, in these fires.

The siren system installed after Hurricane Iniki made the news after the false North Korean missile attack. For some reason, the County never turned the siren on during the Lahaina fire.

The Maui Police Department may have blocked exit routes, directed mauka escapees into fire zones, may have driven through the town encouraging people to leave, and may have knocked down barriers blocking escape routes. These contradictory issues may show a lack of coordination.

Intense winds ignited fires when Hurricane Lane passed south of the Hawaiian Island chain in 2018. With a similar potential threat, Maui`s fire chief and top civil defense officials were off island. Who oversaw those institutions is unknown. The Mayor said he didn`t know the chain of command.

The communication exchanges between Maui, State, and utility appear to have been highly disjointed, both during and after the fire.

Dense, invasive grasses fueled the 2018 and 2023 Lahaina fires. Laws were in place whereby the county could issue notices to landowners to address the issue. If landowners failed to address their grasses, the County could have mowed the grasses and billed the landowners. None of this occurred….

Were all Lahaina electric lines deenergized? How can anyone know if a down electric line is live? Should the utility have done a better job alerting the public about which parts of the grid had been deenergized? Were electric crews blocking roads while trying to restore power during the fire? Can the utility re-energize a line that is lying on the ground?

Should the utility and or the Public Utilities Commission address the danger of overhead power lines on escape routes?

Devastating fires occurred in Northern California and elsewhere. The utility knew about these and wrote about these in filings with the Public Utilities Commission. Did either of them seriously address this issue in any way? Should the issue of preemptive power shutoffs have discussed in greater detail via utility filings in Public Utilities Commission dockets?

Many buildings in Lahaina and elsewhere around the state were built using old fire codes. Should there be greater effort to bring buildings up to code?

The public wants answers. It appears that in the post-fire analysis, individual accounts, individual pictures and videos, and the media, have all done a better job uncovering facts and events than official channels.

The State House has established six working groups to address issues and propose legislation. Who are they meeting with? Who is influencing them? Why are they exempted from the sunshine law?….

read … Finding Someone to Blame for the Lahaina Fires | Ililani Media

HART Caught Lying Again: Stalls Bidding Deadline For Next Major Honolulu Rail Contract in Hope of Getting Federal Money before Costly Truth Revealed

CB: … HART had planned to finally award the contract to build the city center guideway and stations next summer, but Kahikina said last week that now that contract award “might be delayed a few months.”

Hill International Inc., a federal consultant overseeing the Honolulu project on behalf of the Federal Transit Administration, reported in June the city center contract represents the most serious risk for the rail project right now because “market conditions” could result in a reduced number of bidders.

The logic there are that too few bidders could limit competition for the job, which could result in a particularly high or unaffordable price.

In fact, a solicitation to select a developer to build the rail line through that same city center area and on to Ala Moana Center had to be scrapped in 2020 because the bids were far too high, with one bidder asking for more than $2 billion for the job….

A procurement deadline for the last major Honolulu rail construction contract has been pushed back to allow more time for would-be rail contractors to register to do business in Hawaii, but the cause of the delay is uncertain.

Lori Kahikina, executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, told the rail authority board last week there has been a surge in contractors seeking licenses to do business in Hawaii so they will be positioned to help with the Lahaina recovery effort.

This has caused a delay at the Contractors License Board level, Kahikina said, and that delay is now affecting companies who also need to get licensed in Hawaii to be eligible to compete to work on the Honolulu rail project.

“We’re having some requests come in that there’s a delay at the contracting board’s level. So, they will need an extension from October to possibly December, maybe even January,” Kahikina told the board on Sept. 15….

(TRANSLATION: HART hopes it can stall this bad news until after it gets its greedy paws on the $744M federal money it has been waiting for since 2014.) 

But state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs spokesman William Nhieu said in a written statement this week that “at present, there does not exist a backlog or processing delays for licensing applications before the Contractors Licensing Board.”…

(TRANSLATION: HART is lying.)

SA: State agency disputes HART CEO’s comments over delays

TOTALLY RELATED: Blangiardi Claims FTA Paying $744M to HART (Sept 17, 2023)

read … Bidding Deadline For The Last Major Honolulu Rail Contract Is Extended

How a Maui PD officer worked with community to open an evacuation route

KITV: … Alfredo Malapira is grateful to the Maui County PD officer who acted decisively on Aug. 8, opening a closed off route leading to Old Stuart Road (off of Keawe Street), at the urging of the community….

Malapira told Island News that dirt-bike riders went ahead on the road to scout it out, and then returned to tell the police officer that there were no downed power lines- and that the road was clear. Malapira says that the officer removed a gate-obstruction from the path of egress, and waved cars through.

"He got out of his vehicle and gave us signs," Malapira said, "Please continue going in this direction. Keep it going."

It was the 4 p.m. hour and the height of the evacuation from Lahaina. By 4:30 p.m., a dark smoke cloud hovered above, just south of Lahaina Gateway.

A still from a video taken by evacuee Shantal Catanach, originally published by Island News, shows the lone officer at 4:38 p.m. ushering traffic towards the backroad, which leads behind the neighborhood of Wahikuli.

Those living near Ulupono street, the Lahaina industrial complex vicinity near Lahaina Gateway and the Bypass, were virtually trapped-- due to the closures of the nearby Bypass (origin of the 3 p.m. fire) and Honoapiilani Highway, littered with downed powerlines.

Highway 30 was shut down from at least 3 p.m. to near 5:30 p.m. per cell phone video. Traffic was being directed by MPD into the Cannery Mall during that timeframe, which poured out onto Front Street on the makai side….

read … How a Maui PD officer worked with community to open an evacuation route

Police Comm gives Fluffy Eval to Honolulu Police Chief

CB: … Commissioners checked “meets expectations” 29 times and “exceeds expectations” eight times in the evaluation. Not once did Logan fall below the commission’s expectations….

PDF: signed-final-evaluation-20220614-to-20230613.pdf (documentcloud.org)

read … Honolulu Police Chief Had A Good 1st Year But There’s ‘Room To Grow,’ Eval Says

Blind, disabled, denied: Handi-Van issues persist

KHON: … Bert Kato has used TheHandi-Van service since 2017, when he was approved for a smaller vehicle since the larger ones could not fit in his driveway. He received notice in 2022 that the smaller ones would be unavailable and was told that a large vehicle could pick him up across the street as an alternative….

“But I told them, ‘I can’t cross the road here, there’s no crosswalk. Could I wait on this side of the road? And when The Handi-Van driver sees me, stop there but can he come out and just help me cross the street to get on?'”

The Hawaii Disability Rights Center said that is not an option.

“They’re not valets, but the law also does say that they are entitled, people are entitled to a reasonable accommodation,” said HDRC Executive Director Louis Erteschik….

The HDRC said they are working on about six similar appeals and found success for some — like the Fernandez family KHON2 spoke to in June….

Officials said 14 small vehicles will arrive by the beginning of 2024 and another 16 are expected by mid-year….

read … Blind, disabled, denied: Handi-Van issues persist

Lahaina Fire News:

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