Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most recently asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Dear Mr. Mayor,
Q: I saw some pictures on-line about what the new Waikamoi Flume looks like and it looks great. Quick question though, now that there’s a sturdy, aluminum path up there, do you think the county will open up the flume for hikers? It looks beautiful and much more safe now. I’m sure many children would love to walk on the flume and learn about our water resources, could be a great teaching tool for our keiki.
A: Thank you for your compliment on the new Waikamoi Flume. Our new flume replaces the old wooden one, which had been leaking water for decades now. The new aluminum flume retains much more water, and is more efficient at delivering it to our upcountry customers. But, while this flume is much more sturdy and durable that it has ever been before, it is by no means a safe walking path for hikers. Please consider the following: (1) To get to the flume you must drive or walk across lands owned by three different landowners. The flume is located on private land. Our permission to use the roads for access and to walk on the flume is limited only to access by Maui County Department of Water Supply (DWS) employees for the purpose of maintaining the flume. No other access is allowed without special permission. (2) The streams serving the Waikamoi Flume and the flume itself are collectively a source of drinking water for the Upcountry area. It is important that access to this drinking water source be limited to prevent any possible contamination of drinking water. (3) The watershed lands surrounding the streams and the flume are largely pristine forested areas. It is important to preserve this watershed and to protect it from introduction of invasive plants and animals that could destroy the native forest and impair the water source for future generations. The best method of protecting this resource is to prevent access which is not absolutely necessary. (4) There are hazards in the watershed forest, access roads and the flume itself which can present very real and potentially life threatening dangers to a hiker, especially to persons not trained and familiar with the hazardous conditions.
Besides, you don’t have to actually hike the flume to learn more about it, just watch this Maui County produced video about the need for the Waikamoi Flume replacement project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP3pNPZU0iU
Q: Our police officers seem to have been in the news a lot lately. Two were arrested for DUI earlier this month and another was under investigation for driving around upcountry naked and flashing people according to the news media. We trust these officers with our lives and that they will make good decisions. In fact there was a police shooting on Lower Main Road just a couple of weeks ago. I’m assuming the police had a good reason to do what they did but with their fellow officers under scrutiny like this it’s getting harder and harder to feel safe. I guess my question is, aren’t you and the Chief of Police worried about how our entire department looks when some of our officers go astray?
A: I have great faith in Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu and our Maui police officers. I know I speak for the Chief when I say that our officers have a great responsibility to keep our community safe, and sometimes have to do so by putting themselves in harm’s way. They defend life, protect property, enforce laws, make arrest and render aid. They may need to use force or even deadly force in the defense of human life. Each officer is expected to respond with only the level of force which is reasonable to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
It should also be noted that our officers receive ongoing training to make sure their law enforcement duties are carried out judiciously and with great care.
Yes, some may make poor decisions but problem employees can be found in any workplace. Police officers are not above the law, and those who have broken the law themselves have been disciplined and in some cases terminated. Please do not hold the actions of a few to represent the majority of our officers, who work diligently to serve and protect this community.
Q: Since we (the public) can look up who owns certain property by a tax key number or address, then why can’t we look up who owns a car by the license plate number?
A: That’s a good question, and the simple answer is, because there’s no federal law which prohibits property tax information from being shared with the general public. State motor vehicle records, however, is another matter. According to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act 18, U.S. Code 2721, a “state department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee or contractor thereof, shall not knowingly disclose or otherwise make available to any person or entity personal information about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record.” There is more to the law but it is too lengthy to list it here. If you are interested in reading the entire code pertaining to this issue just go to uscode.house.gov and do a search for “18 USC 2721.”
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.