Kauai shrugs off shutdown

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A sign explains the closure of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary office in Lihue.

LIHUE — While some federal programs are screeching to a halt as a result of the ongoing government shutdown, life on Kauai is pretty much business as usual.

On the federal level, agencies impacted are the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation and Treasury.

Representatives from the state departments of agriculture and health both said nothing has changed with their Kauai services due to the shutdown — offices are open and services are ongoing.

“The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, as a federal program, in particular is also operating as usual. It’s important for residents and clients of the WIC program to know that their benefits are not affected by the shut-own,” said Anna Koethe, spokeswoman for DOH.

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is closed due to the government shutdown. On the refuge’s website, a notice advises:

“Where public access to refuge lands does not require the presence of a federal employee or contractor, activities on refuge lands will be allowed to continue on the same terms as before the appropriations lapse. Any entry onto Refuge System property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk.”

At the county level, it’s business as usual until further notice from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but a county spokesman did say HUD has a contingency plan for a shutdown that targets specific programs.

Local public housing agencies, for example, aren’t government entities and won’t shut down, but capacities of those agencies might be impacted because of a lag in federal funding. Tenants who use HUD for rental assistance could be affected — HUD says any funding action that requires HUD staff will not be processed during the shutdown and HUD won’t process requests for tenant protection vouchers for public housing or multifamily units during the shutdown.

“At this time, we do not see immediate impacts to our programs. However, should the shutdown continue, we could see delay in payments and contract processing which could impact deliverables,” said Kanani Fu, county housing director.

A spokesman from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday the shutdown hasn’t triggered any impacts on Kauai in state parks.

Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, pointed out there’s “less of an impact from the shutdown on a state level.” He said roadwork and DOT projects on Kauai aren’t affected.

“The federal funding has already been obligated for this fiscal year, so there shouldn’t be a direct impact,” Sakahara said. “If it goes into next fiscal year, there could be impacts.”

The longest-running government shutdown was the 1995-96 shutdown that lasted 21 days.

Workers and security personnel are still showing up to the airport, too.

“They’re essential workers so they’re still working,” Sakahara said. “Overall, there’s no impact because of the shutdown right now, we’re continuing as normal.”

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

4 Comments
  1. Bluedream December 28, 2018 7:31 am Reply

    So, to summarize, the federal government is bloated and unneccesary on many levels. I hope it stays “shut down” like this indefinitely. Viva la Trump!


  2. Numilalocal December 28, 2018 10:00 am Reply

    WRONG. I know at least 30 people who are working without pay during this shutdown. They are definitely not shrugging it off.


  3. tunataxi December 28, 2018 12:22 pm Reply

    I’m dumbfounded at the ignorance of some residents who have no understanding of the part the federal government plays on this island. Thankfully those essential federal employees are reporting to work despite the chaos our leadership is creating


  4. Bluedream December 28, 2018 3:06 pm Reply

    I am dumbfounded by how guilible some people are to blindly think that the federal government is sooo crucial here on Kauai. They keep forgetting that it’s not their money. It’s 86 percent autopilot. The remaining 14 percent lifelong Fed workers are no longer needed. They can all be replaced by one computer and a bunch of check writing machines before they qualify for their undeserved pensions.


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