Hurricane Relief Fund Raid Warranted

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Linda Smith, the Governor’s policy chief, says in ”’Hawaii Reporter’s”’ Aug. 1, 2005, edition that I fail to disclose that my business will benefit from the override on SB 960, the Disaster Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005, which reallocates $8 million from the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund.

See “Critic of Lingle-Aiona Administration Benefits Financially from Hurricane Fund Raid Bill That Governor Vetoed”


Ms. Smith should know that I have disclosed my business for 8 years of op eds and testimony; that every contractor and handyman and individual DIY home and condo owner in the state currently does or can install hurricane clips; that a half dozen companies install the certified window protective devices; that every roofer in Hawaii can install improved roofing products; that the initiative to give a 35 percent rebate for these items also now includes the construction of in residence safe rooms, for which probably only the medium and larger contractors from amongst the 7,000 in the state will be likely to want to tackle this technical challenge.

Addtionally, my new company has nothing to do with the 50 percent ($4 million) of the funding sections which is for 24/7 tsunami watch staffing, more and improved sirens, more shelters, 32 hardened shelters (by companies with products which I do not represent), for tsunami mapping, for public education of the dangers of hurricanes, tsunamis, and other disasters, including signs for the visitors,and for a public-private partnership between Civil Defense Agencies Federal, State and County and the Engineering and building industry organizations to develop standards for hurricane wind resistence for schools and other public buildings and shelters, as well as for the in residence safe rooms.

The other 50 percent ($4 million) is contingent only, dependent upon the public spending $12 million and then applying to get a 35 percent hurricane fund rebate back for approved, inspected installations and saferooms.

My business focus since 9/11 shifted from hurricane protection to general home improvement and handyman project marketing, as well as the blessing to be trained by Mike Buck for the last 18 months as the Co-host of Fixitfridays Radio on his show every Friday at 3 p.m. on KHVH.

The fact that the public stopped buying hurricane protection items several years ago (and thus I closed the hurricane protection only company) attests to the reality that we in Hawaii suffer from disaster amnesia. I am almost at retirement age and will never, repeat never, be able to recover the losses and 12 years of my time at a prime business age, invested in pioneering this field.

I am also surprised that Ms. Smith, a business veteran I think I read, doesn’t realize that when something gets a push from government then many many competitors jump into it. The state’s very successful solar water heating tax credit is a good example of stimulating competition. Nearly 20 companies now participate on Oahu alone.

Frankly I think that trying to shoot the messenger in this case worsens Ms. Smith campaign to “pooh pooh” disaster preparedness, while at the same time ignoring Act 179 of 2002, which stated that a piece of the nearly $50 million in interest transferred from the hurricane fund to the general fund should be applied to disaster mitigation and preparedness. She also still doesn’t see the fact that the hurricane fund is of no assistance to the public for the next hurricane because there are no policyholders and the fund only helps policyholders; it is for the hurricane after the next one, but only on a contingent basis.

I will rest my rebuttal to her attack letter with this: The fact that every one of the 24 Senators present, including my harshest taskmaster over the years on this issue, Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai, voted to override is proof certain.

It tells us that this bill and the override is in the highest and best public interest, irregardless of which and how many businesses (and thus the State’s economy) may realize some added opportunity in the future if we truly begin a sustainable disaster readiness program throughout the State and stick with it.

”’Gerald Peters can be reached via email at”’

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