On Politics: Lahaina to consume Hawaii policymaking for long time – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The question is: Will there be more action caused by the Lahaina fire tragedy?

It has already spurred Gov. Josh Green’s demand of Aug. 10 for a state investigation. Attorney General Anne Lopez answered in response that her probe would include the state’s decision-
making process related to the Maui fires, as well as Maui’s choice to not sound alarms.

The obvious call goes to addressing many concerns about the disaster.

The governor was right to demand to know what happened — not to just answer the question of why it happened, but to put some sense of definition to the scope of the devastation.

Lahaina is now the site of the nation’s deadliest fire in more than a century.

“My department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and sharing with the public the results of this review … now is the time to begin this process of understanding,” Lopez said in a statement announcing the investigation.

The fire and devastation of the historic town of Lahaina burned the homes, businesses and schools of many of the 13,000 who lived in the area.

Asking the questions, however, does not automatically assure the answer follows.

In a state that has experienced the forces of nature — be they volcanoes, tidal waves or hurricanes that can and have decimated our islands — the question of how it happened, and who or what caused it, stands in second place to the one key question: Is it going to happen again?

If so, then we will have to accept that they are becoming a new force of nature.

At the same time, Republicans running the U.S. House are starting to map out an investigation of the fires.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is asking how the fires started, and what role Hawaiian Electric had in the August fires.

“Based upon filings still pending at the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, it appears that Hawaiian Electric did not seek to harden and modernize Maui’s electric grid for wildfire risks until just the last couple of years,” the committee and subcommittee leaders said in a letter to HECO, asking for answers to a detailed series of questions regarding the utility’s role in the fire.

HECO, in response, said it is working to answer all the questions.

Meanwhile, there have already been legislative shifts because of the fire. State Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, an attorney, and a major power in state Senate policymaking, announced last week he would retire Oct. 31. The fires affected some in his Maui district and, according to a Star-Advertiser report, he said he wanted to “pursue advocacy on behalf of Maui wildfire victims, his family and community.”

Legislative analyst Colin Moore, who is a University of Hawaii professor and director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace, predicts: “The Legislature will be intensely focused on West Maui’s recovery in the coming months. Consequently, I think there will be little appetite for leadership challenges or a major shakeup of committee chairs.”

With physical damages running in the billions of dollars to homes, schools and county infrastructure, the rebuilding will be measured in decades, not years.

For politicians and their constituents, the trauma, pain and suffering of the disaster means that politics will take a back seat to just moving forward, step by step.

Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays. Reach him at 808onpolitics@gmail.com.

Source link

Source: News

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *