Buried News: What was with that Hawaii water official getting showered with leis from 'supporters'?
by Monica Showalter, American Thinker, August 20, 2023
Kaleo Manuel, the now-"redeployed" Hawaiian state water commissioner who delayed the release of water for five hours to Lahaina's firefighters as the town burned, is no ordinary bureaucrat.
He's got "supporters."
Here's a buried-news picture-story from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, showing about 30 "supporters" gathered around him, showering him with about 15 leis, which went up to his chin as he grinned happily. There were hula dances, and from a hula master who teaches at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, no less. There were a couple of older people wearing "808 Cleanups" t-shirts, representing an Oahu-based beach-cleanup and Native Hawaiian advocacy NGO, sponsored by foundations from Starbucks, Target, Patagonia, Atherton, and other wokester outfits.
There was no story to the picture sequence but the Star-Advertiser included these captions:
Kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine dances a hula during a rally in support of the state water deputy, Kaleo Manuel, seen with lei in front of the doorway at middle, on Thursday.
Kaleo Manuel, right, becomes emotional while gathering with supporters inside the Kalanimoku building on Thursday. Late Wednesday DLNR said it was “re-deploying” Manuel, DLNR’s first deputy, from his role at the Commission on Water Resource Management. “This deployment does not suggest that First Deputy Manuel did anything wrong,” a statement from DLNR said. “DLNR encourages the media and the public to avoid making judgments until all the facts are known.”
Which is kind of mysterious. What kind of bureaucrat has "supporters"? Politicians have supporters, but bureaucrats? And why are they stepping up to the plate now, particularly with news coming out that he delayed the release of water to save Lahaina. Are they happy he apparently stuck it to Lahaina? This doesn't seem to be the time to applaud this guy, let alone shower him with leis and dance the hula in his honor. But they are.
And that suggests that reforming the system in Hawaii that created the conditions for the incineration of Lahaina, is going to very tough job to uproot. Politics is at work here.
After all, here's what he did to get himself "redeployed" as deputy director of his agency, the Hawaiian Commission on Water Resources Management, according to Honolulu Civil Beat, which broke the story:
With wildfires ravaging West Maui on Aug. 8, a state water official delayed the release of water that landowners wanted to help protect their property from fires. The water standoff played out over much of the day and the water didn’t come until too late.
The dispute involved the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ water resource management division and West Maui Land Co., which manages agricultural and residential subdivisions in West Maui as well as Launiupoko Irrigation Co., Launiupoko Water Co., Olowalu Water Co. and Ha’iku Town Water Association.
DLNR delayed releasing water requested by West Maui Land Co. to help prevent the spread of fire, sources familiar with the situation said.
Specifically, according to accounts of four people with knowledge of the situation, M. Kaleo Manuel, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and DLNR’s deputy director for water resource management, initially balked at West Maui Land Co.’s requests for additional water to help prevent the fire from spreading to properties managed by the company.
According to the sources, Manuel wanted West Maui Land to get permission from a taro, or kalo, farm located downstream from the company’s property. Manuel eventually released water but not until after the fire had spread. It was not clear on Monday how much damage the fire did in the interim or whether homes were damaged.
Seems the taro farmer (or farm collective) he had to get permission from first needed five hours to make up his mind about whether to save Lahaina.
And based on what's known about Manuel, given his youthful age of 39, his involvement with Native Hawaiian "collectives," as well as his statements about water "equity," he seems to have thought he only represented Native Hawaiian activist groups in his state job, and not the county of Maui or the entire state of Hawaii.
So, the taro farmer or farmers, who were likely Native Hawaiians with their own interests, came first. Not surprisingly, they are defending him. His water maneuver was part of a collectivist permission process which created a delay, and his unwillingness to muscle them for their immediate 'yes' in the face of conflagration may have been more about thwarting the taro farmers' hated and "greedy" landowners whose properties he seemed content enough to let burn. After all, they just wanted water for their swimming pools, according to some of the activists he was affiliated with. Apparently Manuel didn't notice that once the wildfire went across the landowners' land, the fire would be ready to take Lahaina next.
Lahaina, the royal Hawaiian city, by the way, was loaded with Native Hawaiians who died in the flames. Way to stand up for Native Hawaiians, Marvin.
Manuel's background seems to be distinctly political.
First, he's an Obama Leader, and not just any Obama leader, but one of two leaders who were designated the leaders of the leaders in 2019. His bio reads
Kaleo is passionate about elevating native and indigenous ways of knowing in all spheres of discourse and dialogue.
His mentor, who promoted him to water commissioner, was one Suzanne Case, head of the powerful Department of Land and Natural Resources, who went to Punahou school, same as Obama, and only a few years apart.
His connection to Vicki Holt, the hula master who danced for him, seems obvious enough -- she runs the Pa'i Foundation and has Manuel on the board of directors.
His qualification for job seemed to be his activist background. After all, the education portion of his resume reads that he's got a major in Native Hawaiian culture, another in Urban and Regionall Planning, plus a certificate in Native Hawaiian historical preservation, which is quite a credential for the guy who let Lahaina burn.
His agency is now trying to shield him by 'redeploying' him "to focus on the necessary work to assist the people of Maui recover from the devastation of wildfires," meaning, he's not up to the job.
But they also seem to be protecting him:
This deployment does not suggest that First Deputy Manuel did anything wrong. DLNR encourages the media and the public to avoid making judgments until all the facts are known.
DLNR will have no further comment on this matter.
While he looks culpable, it's fair to allow for the possibility that he didn't have sufficient information about what was happening and may have thought it was just big landowners' estates that were burning. His resume says he was born and bred on the Big Island and now lives in Oahu, meaning, he hasn't spent much time on Maui, nor understood the risks of wildfires, particularly on the dry side of Maui in the south. His interests seem to be purely big blue city Honolulu.
He may have been so in the habit of deferring to woke activist ethnic grievance groups that he didn't understand that his job was to lead for the entire state.
It seems unlikely he could ever win political office a state office with this on his record but it hasn't stopped his "supporters" who see him as someone worth protesting for. That's politics. There's some kind of symbiotic relationship going, or more likely, he's so involved with them he has conflicts of interest.
Where'd he get these supporters and why does he have them? Should someone in charge of managing water resources for the state have "supporters" from one group which is constantly at odds with another?
Something doesn't quite ring right here. It does point to greenie and Native activists calling the shots here and a tremendously politicized system, potentially protecting him and thwarting investigations -- to Lahaina's destruction.
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