Talent, Brains and Foresight.

First, my most sincere thanks to all of you who have sent messages of concern for our safety regarding the terrible fires that almost completely destroyed the wonderful old town of Lahaina here on Maui. 

Apparently—as things have turned out—there were some monumental screw-ups that contributed to the destruction and—yes—to the loss of life, which totals 515 as of this writing. It’s an entire new dimension added to that terrible event.

We elected a new mayor for Maui County this past November and he could never have guessed that his new administration would be put to such a test so soon.

I knew two mayors of Honolulu. One was elected and then re-elected four more times. His political success was attributable to the fact that he was constantly searching for good ideas that would make Honolulu a better, more livable city for all its residents.

His successor was a very bright young guy. When a hurricane approached our islands, he became impatient with the technical jargon his Civil Defense director was using in a live televised briefing for the public. The mayor grabbed a marker and drew a series of diagrams on large sheets of paper illustrating the path the storm would probably take (he was right).

On another occasion, there were news reports of a possible war between India and Pakistan. The mayor quietly pulled his executive assistant aside after a cabinet meeting and asked him to call the weather bureau and find out from the lead forecaster if war should break out between those two nuclear powers, would the prevailing winds carry the radio-active fallout over our islands. “If that should be the case,” he said, “we’ll need all the time we can get to protect as many people as possible from the fall-out.”

I can’t help wonder if the fire in Lahaina would have taken so many lives and done so much damage if either of those two people had been mayor of this little island two weeks ago.