Alex Gimarc: Death by government in Maui are lessons for Alaska

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By ALEX GIMARC

Now that we are a couple of weeks past the devastating wildfire that roared through Lahaina on Aug. 8, we have a clearer picture of what happened, and can start the discussion on why it happened.  

I’ll frame this initial discussion in terms of investigating aviation accidents, introducing the notion of chain of events. 

The chain of events is a sequential list of things that had to happen for the aircraft to crash.  The thinking is that if you disrupt that chain anywhere, cause one thing not to happen when it did happen, no accident.  

In the real world, if you disrupt one chain, you always set the stage to forge another link that will complete the chain in another way, leading to another similar accident. 

Let’s take a look at the Maui fires and see if we can identify any links in the chain.  Interestingly, all of these links have some sort of government involvement, taking us full circle back to the notion of Death by Government.  

What happened? August was a rough month across Hawaii with multiple wildfires breaking out. Most were contained by Aug 4. The fires on Maui were driven by a strong, gusty, dry downslope wind. Wind warnings were issued on Aug 7. Fuel for the fires on Maui were grasses that had grown on abandoned pineapple plantations, which grew nicely in a wet spring.  

The dry downslope winds dried the grass, downed powerlines with gusts up to and over 100 kph, sparked the conflagration, which was driven downslope into the seaside town of Lahaina.  

WUWT has a good explanation of how this sort of mountain wave worked.  We see this sort of thing here in Anchorage and California with downslope Chinook winds.  Those winds in California drive wildfires. 

The first government failure was the lack of a reasonable weather forecasting network and modeling on Maui. Such a capability exists on the Big Island and Oahu, but Maui somehow never got involved.

Once the fires were active and being driven into town, local government officials decided not to use their tsunami warning siren network. The reason? They were afraid the warning would drive fleeing residents into the flames. Why? The network had never been used to provide anything other than tsunami warning, another government failure of vision.  The expected response to a tsunami warning? Get as high above sea level as possible. 

This was government failure number two. Why? Once you have a siren network, you can use it for more than one thing. Gasp, who knew? All you have to do is modulate the sound, say a constant pitch for tsunami and a variable pitch for something else. Public education is important here, as if you are going to use the system for more than one thing, you really need to tell the public what that second or third reason is going to be, and what their expected response needs to be. 

The network has verbiage touting multiple uses for sirens. Local government never made any attempt to use it for anything other than tsunami warning. Consider this government failure 2a.    

Next up is Hawaiian Electric, which was aware of infrastructure issues that could contribute to wildfire threat but chose to focus on shifting toward renewables instead. 

As far back as 2019, it had concluded that it needed to invest in preventing its power lines from emitting sparks and other wildfire risks. It studied what California had been doing and came up with a plan to replace conductors with insulated conductors and utility poles with fire resistant poles. 

Over the period, it spent just a quarter million dollars on wildfire mitigation. Contrast that to 100x spent on transitioning to renewables over the same period. 

Hawaiian Electric did not request permission to increase rates for wildfire mitigation until 2022. Instead, it chose to focus its resources on the state-mandated shift toward renewable energy. The statewide political focus was on renewables, so that is what they did. 

There are videos of utility poles snapping off during the winds, and electric sparking as the lines came down. 

For its part, the utility tried to respond quickly to downed poles, and appropriate response.  But no good deed goes unpunished, as their trucks ended up blocking escape routes for those fleeing the fires. This is the third government failure, and one that should be well considered by every single electric utility currently falling kettle over teacup to change over to renewables, while ignoring the boring, mundane job of simply keeping the lights on. 

Keep that in mind when the newly ensconced majorities on the Chugach Electric and MEA Boards start prattling on about net zero and carbon free electricity. What daily care and feeding of a reliable generation, transmission and distribution operation are they ignoring as they refocus in their pursuit of the new shiny? Are they reprising what Hawaiian Electric did, pursuing the politically popular goal at the expense of everything else?  

Next on the hit parade of incompetence was M Kaleo Manuel, Hawaii’s DLNR Deputy Director of Water Resource Management. While based Oahu, he was in charge of approving requests to divert water statewide for emergency use. Unfortunately, being an activist, he decided his job was to “focus on bringing planning and indigenous knowledge to the fields of water advocacy and management in Hawaii.” He made public comments about water use requiring some sort of “true conversations about equity.’ How equity had anything to do with water will become apparent in a bit. 

As the DLNR water guy, Manuel fielded requests early on to divert water for firefighting.  His response was to demand the requestors contact downstream indigenous farmers for permission. That took five hours, by the end of which it was too late, and the hydrants were dry. 

Apparently letting your neighbors burn to death is a positive lifestyle equity choice for native Hawaiians and their governmental advocates. As of this writing, due to public heat, he has been temporarily reassigned, buried in the bureaucracy until it is safe for him to crawl out from under his rock to kill again. 

This is banality of evil, death due to bureaucratic inaction, government failure number four.

Here in Anchorage, the Assembly rewrote traffic laws in August for bicyclers from the perspective of equity. One of the changes allows bicyclists to blast through stop signs at intersections.  The Assembly made no attempt to educate or even to persuade the general public that this was somehow a necessary and good thing. How many bikers running stop signs and red lights will end up in fatal accidents due to the Assembly’s new rules?  Whatever that nonzero number is, at least equity has been served.  

The final major government failure was local law enforcement blocking escape routes and keeping parents from rescuing their children at home. This is particularly heinous, with the true scope of what happened being buried behind the Blue Wall. 

As of this writing, death toll is around 115, with perhaps 1,000 missing. It appears that the local government is slow-rolling release of those names although names and ages of the missing are all known. As I understand the timing, local schools in town on the beach released their students around noon due to the fire threat. Kids walked home. By the time they got home, power and communications started going down (cell, landline, TV and radio). No siren ever went off. There were no warnings received. The fires arrived and the children were burned to death at home along with their mothers (if the mothers were there). 

Frantic parental attempts to drive to the homes were blocked by local law enforcement at roadblocks. As Hawaii is a high gun control blue state, generally law enforcement was armed while the public wasn’t, meaning they couldn’t force their way in. 

Speculation is that local government is delaying the release of names and numbers to allow an incensed public to calm down a bit. Somehow, I don’t think that is going to work.  Consider this sort of action by local law enforcement in the event of a wildfire on the Hillside.  Does anyone think residents are going to sit meekly by while their homes and families burn?  

Overall, this was a really ugly event, and my sense is that it is going to get worse as more information is released. Political reaction has been predictable with all the usual suspects on the left blaming the entire mess on climate change. Biden was in Maui this week making that precise case.

Bjorn Lomborg wrote in The Daily Caller Friday that politicians are hiding behind climate change to duck their responsibility for their predictable failures. Lomborg is spot on with this analysis.  

Perhaps we need to take a step back and consider the enormity and utter predictability of destruction wrought by leftist governance, especially long term, entrenched Democrat governance. It is not so much that this governance is intrinsically evil. Rather, it is by its very nature, it is mind numbingly, stupefyingly incompetent.  

That incompetence manifests itself by spending an inordinate amount of time on shiny objects important to leftist ideology like equity, climate change, renewables, ESG, CRT, LGBTQWTF, and the rest of their odious laundry list. 

The problem is that there are only so many brain cells to go around, and when you use most of them pursuing ideological foolishness, there is not a lot of brain power remaining to take care of the day-to-day business of simply keeping the lights on and keeping people safe. And when the predictable disaster happens, those governments will always blame the other side, pointing their fingers at their political opposition backed up by lockstep cheerleading by local, statewide, and national media. 

The end result of this process is the utter destruction of communities and physical cities, something we are seeing in blue cities nationwide, making them just as unlivable as the US made Hiroshima and Nagasaki 80 years ago. The difference is that it was a World War and the military attack took seconds to destroy both, while it is taking decades of political incompetence to destroy the targeted American cities. 

The other difference is that the Japanese cities were rebuilt. The American cities won’t be until something fundamentally changes politically at the local level, something that may or may not happen at all. Proof of this are sections of cities that burned during the 1960s riots that have not yet been rebuilt.  

With Maui, we saw a reminder of the power and destructiveness of leftist governance.  Through sheer incompetence they managed to burn down a town of over 13,000, killing over 115, with another 1,000 or so missing, presumed dead. 

Their excuse? Climate change, equity, not my fault, or some other smarmy excuse, things we would have dismissed outright from a 5-year-old. Yet we allow Democrats to make these excuses, aided and abetted by their media cheerleaders.

Elections are important, folks. And the very most dangerous government we know about is the long-term, entrenched blue government at the local and state level. Maui just demonstrated that. Keep this in mind during the next utility, local and state election here in Anchorage.

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Remember I am from the government and am here to help. If you hear this run the other direction. Anything the government has to give comes with strings and restrictions. It will be over cost underperforming and their rich friends will pocket most of the help offered. Just look how slow they were to respond. If it were illegals they would be staying in the 1000 dollar a night hotel.

    • When Ukraine was invaded Joe sniffy wasnt sitting on the beach eating ice cream(like Gump) and when the beach became boring shifted to a rich cohorts mansion in Lake Tahoe for another week of ice cream before responding.
      Heck no he was hobnobbing as fast as he could stumble to get the loads of freshly printed cash on the plane to his partner in crime Zielinski using our money with no accountability to repay the huge debt from all the millions He and his worthless son Hunter(the stoned artist) harvested from Ukraine dating back to when Obama was in charge and specificly designated Joe as “Ukraine foreign aid specialist”.

      Now the real crime is our entire Judicial branch of government is simply looking the other way as though it is perfectly legal for POTUS to bribe money from many foreign countries to fund his entire pathetic family.
      The saddest part of the story will come when millions will reselect this POS to continue running America into the ground another four years making it unrecognizable.

    • Mark, that trope is more accurately expressed as, “I’m from the government and I’m here to do my job” (which is effectively to infringe upon your liberty). There is little pretense of courtesy; rather, they tend more toward authority.

      • “Government is not eloquence, it is not reason, it is force!
        Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.”

        – George Washington

  2. Hawaiian Electric failed in their responsibility to maintain electrical lines, private property owners failed to protect their properties with fire resistant materials and clearing dead vegetation. Nobody is publicizing the beachfront home in Lahaina with the metal roof and the maintained property that is unscathed. You get the government you elect, I thought conservatives were for personal responsibility and not relying on government?

    • Yes, my thoughts, too. There was certainly blame enough to spread around, but the property owners are mostly at fault I believe.

    • The overwhelming majority of the people who died in the fire complied with the goverment’s directions and orders. Those that disobeyed overwhelmingly survived.
      .
      Personal responsibility WAS what saved them.
      .
      Now… for the rest of it. What about the officials who refused to allow firefighters to use a water source because of woke reasons? Or the barricades that were set up to keep people in the fire zone? Or are you going to ignore the malicious actions from the local and State governments that made the situation many times worse?

        • And certainly NOT from the ‘woke’ official who refused to supply water to the mains to allow the fire department to fight the fire due to some specious and nonsensical radical leftist rationalization regarding ‘native rights’ or some such bunkum.

        • Frank,
          Government has no stake in this one. They lost nothing to recover.
          The people, are who shall collect!

        • And?
          If it can be demonstrated under the law that the plantation owners are responsible, the government has that ability/authority.
          What, exactly does that have to do with what I stated? It is completely disconnected from my previous comment.
          .
          Seriously, Frank, if you cannot keep on topic, please do not bother posting anything.

      • Agree! Gov’t told people the fire was 100% contained. Gov’t decided not to sound the alarm. (they thought the people were stupid and would run into the fire!–sounds like Elite reasoning) Maui utilities have a policy of turning OFF the power in high winds to prevent fire. Some say power was out b/c power poles were knocked down. Others say they turned the power off. But lines across the road is said to be one reason why people were blocked from leaving town. Now, gov’t is blocking aid…particularly aid coming from churches and fellow Hawaiians. There are two stories emerging and I’ll take a local’s word over the gov’t/MSM any day!

    • Yes a warning that danger is part of this world and the government will not save you.

      Protect yourself.

  3. All of the Democrats, liberals, globalists, elite must face the consequences of their actions/inactions that have resulted in crimes against humanity. What is done in secret is never in the best interest of humanity! I DO NOT CONSENT to any of the 1% madness, “you will own nothing and be happy.”. No more genocide via plandemics or via climate hoax or GMOs or faux food, poisoned water, chemtrails, etc.

  4. Nobody but the most naive of children, the insane, or the terminally gullible puts any real trust or faith in government.

    Sadly, all three of those characteristics are present in today’s radical leftist extremists.
    Which would be fine, if they alone paid the price for their gullibility and their insanity — but the sad fact is that in doing so, they tend to drag the rest of society down with them.

    • Actually, I disagree with your assessment.
      Normally, the rest of society suffer for leftists decisions LONG before they have to. Examples are everywhere, but it is always the same.
      Homeless/migrants will be sent to any area that tends to vote conservative first.
      Police will be pulled from any conservative voting areas first.
      Taxes will be raised…
      etc… etc… etc…
      .
      It is only after those that have options choose to leave, that the problems come home to roost close enough to the leftists that they feel them.

  5. Biden is continuing to give Ukraine billions, if not trillions, of dollars and only supporting our own citizens of Hawaii a measly $700 per person for their loss! Can we please quit giving money to others and start helping our own?

    • It is not Biden who is giving money to Ukraine. That is Congress, most specifically the House of Reps, that doles out monies. He can request that Congress give send more money, but he cannot unilaterally dole out cash.

      If you want the government to give more money to those Hawaiian citizens, lobby Congress to give them more money. That $700 is the maximum amount that the executive branch of government can give out to citizens without congressional approval.

      There are these things called “checks and balances” that prevent one branch of government from becoming too powerful.

      • Nonsense, Lucy. None of us lobbied congress to give Ukraine anything and none of us should have to lobby congress to give money to our own.

        You get two points for a spirited response and -10 points for flawed logic.

  6. Good article. Hawaii has always been a big government state. Democrats have had total control for most of its 60 plus years since statehood. “Hiding behind climate change” is the new game plan for everything bad the Democrats have to offer. This is a loser strategy for America and Americans.

  7. The thing so many forget is the left doesn’t give a damn about people. The illusion they do is one of the greatest con jobs in history.

    The same mindset that will happily kill babies will happily kill children and adults. The person doesn’t count. The agenda does.

    A popular phrase used by Lenin’s followers was one can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs.

  8. Analysis superb and points so well made that the utter horror and needless tragedy are heartbreakingly fresh again. It is akin to Chicago’s cow problem of 1871, with vigorous belief in 2023 that we’ve advanced beyond like devastation; but, as points well made in article, the problem can be viewed as much worsened by gross, criminal, and blatant human incompetence.

  9. I read these facts last week but it’s now just starting to break. Will these findings make it to mainstream media? Nope, hardly anything is heard about Maui anymore. It will be relegated to the back burner and brought up when the climate change narrative needs energizing.

  10. Stories I’ve heard about the Maui tragedy are about symptoms. The fundamental problem is Hawaii’s political monoculture.
    Hawaii has a state legislature of 76, of which 3 are Republicans. The governor, 2 US congresspeople and 2 US senators are Democrats. Ds have a +96%. A monoculture is incapable of serving the public’s interest – because they don’t have to….elections have consequences – sometime deadly.

    • “…….. Hawaii has a state legislature of 76, of which 3 are Republicans. The governor, 2 US congresspeople and 2 US senators are Democrats. Ds have a +96%……..”
      Obviously, those three Republicans are completely at fault for this. Off with their heads.

  11. I remember a windstorm last winter in the Mat-Su Borough that did not affect Anchorage. The winds were screaming constantly for ten or more days. Power went out in my area for almost three full days and that was a first time ever for my area. If a fire had started, we would have had a raging fire ripping through the neighborhoods uncontrolled. Palmer and Wasilla need to have buried electrical lines, but past efforts have been shot down due to costs. Is Palmer and Wasilla burning down worth the savings? A windstorm several years ago was started in dry grass next to the highway in Palmer from a trailer’s chains bouncing along on the highway creating sparks.
    We are in dangerous times with evil that wants to destroy anyone that stands against the narrative. Prayers for the Hawaii people to come to their senses and chase the demons out. Prayers for Alaska to come to their senses and chase the demons out.

    • Adding to my comments. Anyone watch the recent earthquakes pages? I remember a few years back watching a show (or maybe it was an article I read or both?) about (and use these search words) an impending landslide in Prince William Sound Alaska. Anytime we are warned that something could happen, prepare like it is going to happen considering the rulers of this world. There have been a few recent earthquakes in that area. How about along the Castle Mtn Fault or the Denali Fault?
      At this point in my life and in this game, I do not consider earthquakes as being naturally occurring without something (or someone) somewhere triggering it. If it is man-made, like the fires in Hawaii, California and Canada (for example), will it be deadly and/or in the middle of winter or in the spring? Who knows. Just have a plan and your go-bags prepared and ready for anything!

  12. I’m very curious as to why SOME of the wealthiest celebs, “O.W.”that had purchased huge parcels of property in Hawaii, just happened to be lucky enough not to have their property burn??? 🤨🧐

  13. “……. Once you have a siren network, you can use it for more than one thing……..”
    Not in a society controlled by lawyers. C’mon, Alex! You know this, right? They were screwed whatever they did or didn’t do. The “run into the flames” excuse was probably BS, but you and I both know that the lawyers would have been saying it in court.
    There’s only one way to fix this, and California is well on its way; when the wind blows, shut off the electricity. To Hell with technology; the goal is to turn off the lawyers.

  14. It’s NOT incompetence folks! I know you don’t want to hear it. The same folks who brought you a pandemic, stole a national election and are hell bent on destroying a political rival are at it again in Maui. Officials in Maui have been attending forums on 15 minute cities.

    I have a sister who lives in Kula (about the distance from Lahaina as Eagle River is to Anchorage). So have been watching witnesses for days on end. I believe a local over the gov’t/MSM any day! The power company has a policy of turning OFF the power during high winds to prevent fire. Kids were sent home b/c the power had been turned off. Locals testified that due to the power being OFF, they couldn’t go to their jobs or businesses, and many adults were home. They were told the fire was 100% contained, so they didn’t worry. They were oblivious to the fire until it was too late. Naturally, folks jumped in their cars, and invited people on foot into their cars to give rides to safety, but the gov’t block the exit route. Supposedly there were power lines down across the road. But wasn’t the power OFF??? What about moving the lines so people could get out? Traffic was halted until people jumped into the ocean or were burned alive in their cars. And what happened to the WATER??? They say the water lines melted. Others say it was turned off.

    Next gov’t blocked locals bringing provisions to help. One Local brought home cooked meals and was prevented from distributing them b/c the were not cooked in a commercial kitchen. Church groups from other islands are being blocked as well and have to find alternate ways to sneak in aid. And you think it’s nothing but a big OOPS!

    • Kasey, this entire ongoing fiasco is factual evidence #13,459,012 that radical leftists hate most people and want them dead, probably fundamentally because they subconsciously hate themselves.

    • Nice observations there anon.

      This whole think stinks, real bad.

      The officials and people covering up this mess are sticking out like a sore thumb. They reveal themselves so openly.

      Hawaii, will be cleansed after this.
      Corrupt actors should be on guard, as the pendulum is already heading the other direction.

    • I agree! The gov’t is getting rid of the people in order to have the land (the evil is getting rid of the people). Watch here in Alaska – the natives are being woo’d by the gov’t; making them feel like they have power. It is all part of the plan to make Alaska their own, so that they can have this winter wonder land and all of the resources to themselves. Watch the “elites” involved in the winter sports up here; while everyone is going broke, the “elites” are building up their recreational areas at the taxpayer/user’s cost and counting on their big “D”s to help out. I am glad to read that Doyon Ltd and Arctic Regional Slope Corp got out of the AFN – maybe that is a sign that the natives are waking up to the genocide taking place.

      • We sure have noticed a lot of different cars out here in the Valley. Jaguars, BMWs, Teslas and such. Also, anyone drive around Hatchers or The Butte lately? More then one new Mcmansions these days.

  15. very well done! I admire the well-thought out outline of bullet points about the causes for their one where reading and research is a struggle while at same time serves as an outline for the better and more advanced readers who’d want to know where they can begin further reading how one political party who gotten greedy and lazy betrayed their constituents naivety, stupidity, and illiteracy. If a pack of leaders are going to keep their constituents not smart, well like a parent of a small child leaders of a state where its people are relatively “stupid” have greater responsibility to take care of a “helpless” people. It be better to fix the public education even if it means firing any teacher that promotes social issues.

  16. Look how the radical left destroys a nation. Open borders. 10 million have already crossed the border. These criminals have no fidelity to our values- our constitution, or even our language.

    In every major left wing city, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, LA, Portland, etc., crime is off the hook. 800 murders in Chicago in a recent year- mostly black on black, shows the hypocrisy of the BLM fraud.

    The same leftists want to decriminalize drugs. In Alaska the potheads have driven up insurance rates for the rest of us, and ensured significantly fewer people want to enter the work force. The leftists have ensured drug pushers (pot dealers) can set up in most of our cities. To hell with the consquences.

  17. Mt. Alex’s analysis is as thin as a blade of dry Maui wild grass. He chooses to use a municipal tragedy, that is, the deaths in Lahaina due to a wildfire, as a pretext to bang his little drum in protest of large G Government in all of its forms anywhere. That would be in contrast to his recognizing more legitimately that capital M Mismanagement of key functions that support organization mission, was actually the root cause of that tragedy. And Mismanagement happens quite often in the private sector as well, wouldn’t you say? That town’s Emergency Response procedures were obviously lacking, so who is responsible for that, at both the county and state level? What were the contributions by Emergency Response experts to authoring and vetting those procedures? Why had not the state of Hawaii mandated updated hardening of the outdoor power transmission lines to resist high winds, and if winds did exceed those fapabilities, why did not the local authorities actively reconnoiter for signs of wildfires? There will be plenty of blame to go around.

  18. Good article with a few details left out.
    1. Why did the Govenor sign a redistricting plan prior to the disaster? Was this a coordinated effort to destroy Lahaina?
    2. Why were the children let out of school and the parents weren’t notified?
    3. Why did the police stop people from attempting to save their families and why did police not help them?
    4. Why were the metal wheels of vehicles completely turned into liquid metal? Was this a deliberate coordinated attack on Maui with a DEW (direct energy weapon)? Before you foo-foo this question, lookup the lab experiments on how a DEW works and what it can do. A DEW will not burn or affect the color blue. Now go look at the pictures of Lahaina. There are Blue roofed houses and Blue Cars that were untouched. Some of the pictures showed things like, a ring of fire around Lahaina. Why a ring? Why were boats anchored offshore also on fire?

    There are many questions unanswered that must be investigated and solved.

  19. Paul K’s implied premise is that large government is a good thing? Arguing with such a misguided perspective is very likely futile.

  20. The Democrats of yesteryear wanted freedom small government and to be left alone. Jump ahead 50 years, now they want free everything and no freedom. As soon as this all goes bad they will do a 180 again. This group is the all about ME and screw you gang. They have no integrity, no values screwed up family’s and miserable lives. I’m
    Wishing a double does of vaccine to all you libs..

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