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Friday, September 29, 2023
September 29, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:43 PM :: 4095 Views

RIP Leinaala Teruya Drummond

EPA: Civil Beat Publisher Profits from Sale of Illegal Pesticides

Real Value of $100 in Honolulu $87.15

New dashboard highlights areas of Hawaiʻi housing crisis

Maui Tourists Shift to Other Islands

Yes, in God’s Backyard

Move to Vegas: How Lahaina Lockdown Designed to Block Insurance Payouts to Homeowners

CB: … Insurance executive Mahealani K. K. Strong, executive agent and owner of Insurance Associates in Lahaina, said the decision to shut down the fire zone has prevented insurance adjustors from visiting properties to assess the extent of the damage they suffered. That’s meant that claims have been left pending for months while survivors wait for answers on how much they will be granted.

At the hearing and in a subsequent interview, Strong said that at least 44 insurance adjustors arrived on Maui within days of the fire, “ready to rock,” and that she attempted to establish her office as an insurance hub for their work, to help get claims settled more quickly.

But she said local officials would not allow her to use her undamaged office, located on Kupuohi Street in upper Lahaina, and that they ignored her pleas to allow a group of adjustors wearing protective gear to enter the burn site in a bus. She noted that the adjustors were all disaster specialists with experience operating in hazardous zones.

Instead, she said, while officials rebuffed her calls and emails, pointing the finger at other agencies as the source of the slowdown, hundreds of survivors have been left to wait. She noted that political leaders have been allowed to tour the disaster site but that adjustors have been kept out.

(TRANSLATION: All the politicians are in on this scam.)

At one point she pushed her way into the county’s emergency operations center hoping to find someone who could help her, she said, but never got a reply from numerous officials to whom she explained the situation.

(TRANSLATION: All the politicians are in on this scam.)

Strong said that at least six insurance adjustors from the mainland told her they had never before seen a burn site locked down in this way and had never before been prevented from doing their work in a timely manner.

(TRANSLATION: All the politicians are in on this scam.)

Her firm is handling more than 1,000 claims….

Witnesses at the Senate hearing described being compelled to pay mortgage payments on homes that have been destroyed while they also pay rent on replacement housing. They said that delays in processing insurance claims accurately has added to their stress.

(TRANSLATION: Adjustors are being blocked to pressure homeowners to sell and leave Hawaii.)

Several said that adjustors had been prevented from entering the burn zone, compounding claim payment delays for survivors who need the money….

(TRANSLATION: Adjustors are being blocked to pressure homeowners to sell and leave Hawaii.)

Meanwhile: Star-Adv buries the insurance adjustor story in paragraph 13

read … Maui’s Fire Victims Are Frustrated By Insurance Hassles, Financial Delays

HECO’s Slimy Answers Don’t Play Well Before Congress 

SA: … Hawaiian Electric’s top executive would not commit to Congress that the company would publicize the findings of an internal investigation into the utility’s role in the Aug. 8. Lahaina fire that killed at least 97 people and left 7,500 homeless….

“Are you willing to commit to make those results public when the investigation is completed?” asked Pallone, ranking member of the oldest continuous standing committee in the House of Representatives.

“I think it’s too early to speculate on exactly what comes out of this and what form it comes out, but we are committed to sharing what’s critical with the public on this,” replied Kimura, who noted that HECO is cooperating with all state and federal investigations into the disaster.

“Is there any reason why you wouldn’t make it public?” pressed Pallone. “I mean, you seem to be hesitating a little bit.”

“I think it’s just too early to speculate on what that is going to look like in the future,” Kimura said. “We’re very focused on finding out what happened there to make sure that it never happens again.”…

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chair Leodoloff Asuncion Jr. and Mark Glick, the state’s chief energy officer, also were questioned by committee members during the hearing, titled “Investigating the Role of Electric Infrastructure in the Catastrophic Maui Fire.”…

Kimura said 50% of Hawaii’s power lines are underground (without laughing).

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., asked Asuncion whether people on Maui reported excessive vegetation around utility poles and power lines. Palmer said he owns timberland in Alabama with power lines that run through it and that he routinely monitors the growth of grasses and other organic material that could start a wildfire.

“Is that something that people were not aware of as a potential problem for wildfire?” he asked.

Asuncion explained that any reports to HECO or the PUC of potential kindling growing around power transmission lines and utility poles would need to be handled by HECO.

“But if they don’t act on it, are there any penalties? Are there any enforcement actions that can be taken by the commission if the power company doesn’t do due diligence, that I think every power company should do, to make sure that they mitigate any risk for wildfire or harm to the public in any other way?” Palmer pushed.

“Certainly, we do have processes in place,” Asuncion said. “We could call the utility before us to explain their actions.”

“Yeah, but are there any penalties?” Palmer again asked.

“Excuse me?” Asuncion replied.

(TRANSLATION: “How dare you question me like that.”)

“Are there any penalties? Are there fines? Is there any way to exercise enforcement if the power company is not complying with the requirements?” Palmer pressed.

“We would have to figure out any penalty or any actions that the utility needs to make through our process,” Asuncion responded.

“You say you have to figure it out? That leads me to believe that you don’t have those in place now,” Palmer said.

“No, we do have those in place, but we have to follow our process in order to get to that level,” said Asuncion, who explained in general terms that multiple enforcement options are available to the PUC.

Palmer did not accept that answer.

“Mr. Chairman, I’m not satisfied with the answers. I would like the witness to provide to the committee, in detail, the enforcement measures the commission can impose on a utility that doesn’t comply with the regulations,” he said.….

LINK: VIDEO

SA Editorial: Little clarity after Maui fires hearing

OANN: ‘Conservative’ Media misses this story

read … House panel questions actions of HECO, PUC

Lassner setting goals for final 15 months as UH president

SA: … University of Hawaii President David Lassner says that when he recently announced that he’ll retire in late 2024 and wrote that meanwhile “anyone who expects me to act like a ‘lame duck’ will be sorely disappointed,” he did not mean that as any metaphorical shot fired across the bow of certain state lawmakers who have publicly said they want him to resign.

He meant that he is working up an ambitious to-do list for his final 15 months as head of the state’s 10-campus public university system, Lassner said Wednesday in a wide-ranging Honolulu Star-Advertiser interview.

Among the items on Lassner’s final list: helping to guide UH toward fulfilling its “kuleana to Native Hawaiians and Hawaii,” and getting “irreversible” progress going on key construction pro­jects such as developing a “campus town” for UH Manoa and a film studio at the UH West Oahu….

read … Lassner setting goals for final 15 months as UH president

High Water Bills Surprise Kula Residents Who Helped Fight Wildfires

CB: … August water bills are in for Kula residents who turned their own hoses on wildfires encroaching on their houses last month as the fire department was overwhelmed with rapidly spreading flames elsewhere, including the hardest-hit town of Lahaina.

For Steve Anderson and many of his neighbors, it was unwelcome sticker shock when they learned that they were being charged more for the extra water usage — in some cases more than twice as much.

Anderson’s bill more than doubled from $70 in the month before the Aug. 8 fires.

“The last billing I had was Aug. 23 and it was like 150 bucks,” he said….

read … High Water Bills Surprise Kula Residents Who Helped Fight Wildfires

Minimum Qualifications Proposed For Honolulu Emergency Manager

CB: … A draft charter amendment would require at least five years of experience for the job….

read … Minimum Qualifications Proposed For Honolulu Emergency Manager

Micronesian Tenants Fight Back Against ‘Terrible’ Apartment Conditions

CB: …Advocates call for the state's landlord-tenant code reformed to better protect tenants from "unscrupulous" landlords…..

read … Micronesian Tenants Fight Back Against ‘Terrible’ Apartment Conditions

Half-Pound of Meth; Out on Bail, Does it Again

HTH: … Taketa and Delos Santos were in a domestic dispute that turned physical, which resulted in Delos Santos receiving a laceration on his leg and Taketa receiving injuries on her upper torso.

A search of the residence was conducted, resulting in the seizure of 244.5 grams of methamphetamine — more than a half pound — plus 14.6 grams of marijuana, 56 rounds of ammunition and paraphernalia consistent with methamphetamine distribution, police said….

Delos Santos was charged with two counts of first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, being a felon in possession of ammunition, marijuana possession, and misdemeanor domestic abuse.

Taketa was charged with two counts of first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and misdemeanor domestic abuse.

Delos Santos’ bail was set at $137,500, and Taketa’s bail was set at $137,000.

Kona District Judge Kimberly Taniyama on Thursday reduced Taketa’s bail to $50,000 and ordered her to return Monday for a preliminary hearing.

In a separate hearing, Taniyama denied Deputy Public Defender Nicole O’Kief’s motion to grant Delos Santos supervised release — a form of cashless bail — or to reduce his bail from the amount set by prosecutors. She also ordered Delos Santos to return Monday for a preliminary hearing.

In addition, Taniyama ordered both defendants not to contact each other if they are released from custody.

The most serious charges, first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, is a Class A felony punishable by 20 years imprisonment.

At the time of his arrest, Delos Santos was free on $20,000 bail in another Class A felony drug case stemming from an incident in February, according to court records….

read … Kona domestic dispute triggers drug, firearms charges - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Lahaina Fire News:

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