Mayor Tavares Meets with Obama and Economic Advisory Team

January 21, 2010, 9:02 AM HST · Updated January 21, 9:02 AM
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Mayor Charmaine Tavares is scheduled to meet with President Obama and members of his economic advisory team today, Thursday, January 21, 2010.  The discussion is part of the 78th meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors that is focusing on economic conditions, unemployment, transportation and jobs.

The conference runs through Friday, January 22, 2010 in Washington D.C. Also attending will be Hawaii’s other three mayors.

Mayor Tavares will also be meeting with U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, and U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka while in D.C. to share information on how the county is dealing with the economic downturn.

“Our congressional delegation is interested in hearing what the financial situations are for each county,” said Mayor Tavares. “I’ll be updating them on how Maui County is faring and continue our ongoing efforts to seek federal funding opportunities. Staying in contact with our delegation has yielded millions of dollars for our county as they assist us in matching our needs with what’s available in federal programs and funding. ”

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“This is part of how we work to maximize all funding avenues to benefit Maui County,” said Mayor Tavares. “By reaching out to our federal partners and our congressional delegation and keeping them abreast of Maui County’s needs and challenges, they in turn can help identify program and funding opportunities for us. This is important – pursuing all available resources doesn’t end at our shores.”

Mayor Tavares is a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Stafford Act Task Force, chaired by Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans. The Stafford Act, also known as the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, gives FEMA responsibility for coordinating government-wide relief efforts in disasters. The Stafford Act was created to bring orderly means of federal natural disaster assistance to state and local governments.

“Reforming the Stafford Act to ensure that existing federal policies don’t impede the recovery of communities from disasters is important whether you’ve experienced something as devastating as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as New Orleans did, or if facing the potential of a catastrophic natural disaster that could hit Hawaii,” said Mayor Tavares.

“With our state being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, having efficient and effective support from FEMA is critical to our recovery efforts. Major brush fires in our county and such large incidents as the earthquake that impacted Maui in 2006 have already proven how necessary it is to have FEMA support ready and available. We need to ensure that the agency’s capabilities keep improving,” said Mayor Tavares.

The Stafford Act Task Force was formed in 2009. The task force presented its work outlining its recommendations for reform to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Wednesday.  Upon approval by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, these recommendations will then be presented to President Obama’s administration and to Congress.

Conference speakers include members of President Obama’s Cabinet. Scheduled to speak are: Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Supporting information provided by The County of Maui)

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