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Kauai: Sheltered from the storm

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and our economy is on the edge of collapse.

Sparked by violent acts of racial injustice and fueled by the ever-increasing economic disparity between the 1% and everybody else, people across the United States and around the world are gathering and marching by the tens of thousands.

In a pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, everyone, it seems, seeks a scapegoat.

Here in our United States, good ole boys from the heartland and Deep South blame the urban “elites” from the North and West. Too many “haves” blame the “have nots; the “have nots” often blame each other. Agent provocateurs on both sides are manipulated by those in power who benefit from the unrest and uncertainty.

Those with guns, engorged by testosterone and arrogance, are convinced they stand on, and must defend, the side of justice.

Meanwhile, the media, both mainstream and live-streamed from the streets, focus and thrive on the amped-up, anti-hero wanna-be; the 15 seconds of fame-seeking bad actor, and other sideshows made for YouTube. Sadly, the outcome is increasingly real violence, real bullets and real deaths.

The world, as they say, seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. Live, in real time.

Unfortunately, a great majority of us have no confidence in the government institutions responsible for leading us out of the mess they led us into.

In Hawai‘i, we have so far escaped the social unrest and violence that have torn apart communities on the continent. While there is broad-based dissatisfaction with our state government’s management of the COVID-19 crisis, our problems have not been compounded by police shootings, looting or riots.

We can and we should engage in the greater dialogue, and vote in the coming presidential election. I am hopeful the conclusion of that election will be one that honors our constitution.

For today, and for the foreseeable future, my thoughts are to think global and act local. I hope you will join me.

Mayor Derek Kawakami has done a good job keeping Kaua‘i County safe. While the rest of Hawai‘i has to a great extent been rife with dissatisfaction over their local governments’ management of the COVID threat, most of us here on Kaua‘i give our mayor high marks for both style and substance. His recent personal and direct involvement in defusing and ultimately ending the standoff between community and cult is another example of his excellent, hands-on and relatively-low-key style of leadership.

Moving forward, I am hopeful that Mayor Kawakami will remain focused first and foremost on protecting the health of our community. There is no doubt tremendous pressure from the visitor industry and others in the business sector, both large and small, to open up our island to air travel. There is talk of “visitor bubbles,” pre-testing, post-testing and all manner of possible protocols that might allow visitors to return safely. But, at the end of the day, I believe the community response to any such proposal at the moment would consist of just three words.

“Don’t do it.”

Our island is now relatively free of COVID-19. While we still wear our masks and keep our distance when in the store or at the beach, we do not want to return to a full lock-down. The economic pain for our community is real, but we do not need to move backwards after having come so far.

The ramping up of “contact tracing” seems to only now be getting up to speed. The number of daily cases on O‘ahu remains in the triple digits, while Big Island and Maui cases continue to climb.

Kaua‘i is in a good spot, and we should strive to stay there. The state of the science with regards to testing is moving at lightning speed. In another few months the tests will be faster, cheaper and, most importantly, more accurate. It makes sense to sit tight for now and wait.

And while we wait, we patronize our local businesses. We buy from local farmers and local markets. We eat at local restaurants, and we donate if we can to local organizations. We look out for each other, and we help our neighbors. We cut the sarcasm and the constant criticism of each other. If needed, we get off of social media entirely. We show respect to one another, and we live aloha.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.

  1. Ehu September 9, 2020 2:07 am Reply

    Aloha. First I have to disagree with Gary about the racial injustice. I seen real racial injustice and it does not resemble what is taking place in society today. I strongly agree that Kawakami has done an above superior job making difficult decisions and keeping Kauai safe from the pandemic but not without the usual difficult people trying to second guess him. Let’s not have short memories. Many in the community were upset with his policies but from inception I saw them as wise decisions that would keep everyone safe. The Mayor is a great leader with vision, and Kauai is lucky to have him.

    When Love Cult came to Kauai, we ran them out. Lets not be hypocritical. In my life, I have known and met, worked with and served in the military with many good old boys. I would not be here today if it was not for them. Racial bias is a two way street, and looting and burning begets an equal response. The Love Cult is an example. AntiFa and some members of BLM are nothing but criminals who have burnt and looted the homes and business of poor people worked and sacrificed to make a better life for themselves and family. Many were Asians who started with very little money.

  2. Debra Kekaualua September 9, 2020 5:38 am Reply

    Come On GH, you and the minion you rep, the gooberments institutions ARE “responsible” for the mess made by Them, especially COK retroactively 61 years AND you have also been complicit with your own version of collusion corruption and fraud as are other, “guilty kealoha stolen mailbox Kauai fraudulators” that continue to present the ol’boy activities from lOng before Taylor Camp Hippies and the recent “paylay mom” cult arrival, which is much like the mormons locally, the stealing of Heiau bell stones Wailuanuiahoano, including the cult “Daybell” murderer mormons before them. How about Mr. Brun? Who should have had “drug addict rehab option”. In that case, the COK and GMO’s knew the history and even though, Mr. Brun, like Bernard, Janine, and Mel willingly entered and with the 5th, they scaped the goat with the gasgate scheme? how about your skipping out on tax payment responsibilities, or Kusaka racisms in the county council chambers that I was criticized for speaking at. “Only haole come to council chambers, while the locals are well-behaved!” Do you really think we have forgotton all the collusion that has been born from Our Kauai gooberment, via peoples that think they know better than We the Q-tipped peeples? I think nOt AND i have tried to educate you GH awa others,, by running for mayor alongside Derek, but money coffer resources werent put forth to out mode all those that ran alongside of me, but were nOt paying attention!

    The Banker/Real Estate Mogals J Black in July 2020 Evicted my son, his wife and five children to Homeless and continue in September to bring family company trash roll-off to eviction site, removing household beds, refer stove etc, and childrens outdoor toys to the Kekaha landfill while KPD, Sheriff, banker and RA agents stood smirking. Ehich is just EXactly like ALL the other “players” in this corrupted Mess that u.s. pilauticians, military, and judiciary continue, without one iota of Jurisdiction! HKGA has arrived and no longer can the words “In Perpetuity” be ignored! Media mafia is trying but they and you all are failing! bye bye!

  3. Aka September 9, 2020 8:13 am Reply

    Completely agree with how the Mayor has handled the pandemic, including getting financial help to the community and businesses with loans and direct action like the Kaua‘i Economic Recovery Strategy Team back in March right at the start. He’s been a step ahead along the way, including having more contact tracers than the recommended number. He and Chief Raybuck stepping forward and speaking from the heart when George Floyd was killed was moving. And the people of Kauai have responded well. We get that we are really are all in this together.

  4. Ann O'Riley September 9, 2020 10:31 am Reply

    Thank you Gary!


  5. George Ho September 9, 2020 3:36 pm Reply

    Hawaii is spared of the riots as the extemist left funding the terrorist groups blm and antifa can’t logistically bus their minions to the islands – praise the Lord. Law and Order must be maintained. Address your corruption issues and maintain a peaceful island. Come down hard and swiftly on ANY lawbreakers or ignoramuses starting illegitimate “movements”.

  6. Kauaimom September 9, 2020 7:33 pm Reply

    Deb- trying to follow your logic is as hard as trying to follow Trumps rants. If you are right about what you post about, try to be more clear and logical to explain all these issues to us. I’m not disagreeing I’m just letting you know that you make my head spin and I tune you out.

    1. Debra Kekaualua September 10, 2020 6:38 am Reply

      Kauaimom, Read the publishing AGain. Knowing, understanding, and paying attention is Key! Otherwise, “picture ops” are the more important movements, nOt rioting! Kapu Aloha and aloha aina! Perhaps KM is a young adult who has not had the priviledge of real-time observations, a long medical career 35-kauai years, Kauai first EMT/MICT crew, and B4 that, KCC nursing school A.D. R. N. pprogram. Then, my 24-7-365 live voice Successful emergency call-center “coconut wireless” biz, first ten-years out from my Kapaia home aft Iwa, into the Wada building and aft Iniki 2nd ten years service, back into my Wailuaniahoano home! The combinations enlightend all of us that were in the mix, but left them to continue to do their own dirty works, which continues UNabated by the very top dog popo sheriff, real estate Black, judiciary with z.ero jurisdiction, and who keep looking the other way under Kollar office carpeting! It is GAME OVER! That is as “clear” as I am going to pen, due to the need for all of your OWN, due diligence research for Truth and Integrity, Not liars or maneuvers that keep us slaves to the corporate “owners”. IN PERPETUITY is another terminology that if investigated, you will find every nano-inch has been compromised by the very people you all voted for TOP Govner to lolo anti “independent” not from here folks! Let’s check with usaf, their Funded 1.4 Billion $ PMRF Mana 12-stoty ballistic missile launch intercept facility. This build is the reason why “Polihale closed indefinitely”, because Civilians will not be allowed in such a dangerous setting! Two military installations on two western-most NaPali ridges, where tour helicopter crashed, all the way across the six GMO “plants” poisoned landscape, from Mana to Kalaheo cope surroundings, including the Salt Pond, and ALL crown lands, in that area, not to mention across all moku aina, that has Never, without a binding treaty of annexation manifest due to the terrorists that continue to spread their evilian ways or lost the fire-hydrant leg-lifting competition! Pay to play is the new saying and HKGA will flip the agenda retroactively to what is supposed to be “Pono, do no harm, follow Uhane Hemolel lead in every aspect! No scayed those that would say otherwise, cuz peeps and media mafia are twisting the circumstances and KM thinks probably like many, that i “forgot to take meds”!

  7. barbara guiliano September 10, 2020 7:01 am Reply

    Gary, I like what you said.

  8. Kauaidoug September 10, 2020 8:37 am Reply

    GH, And let’s not forget the agents of foreign powers who have been planning on formenting chaos mayhem and misinformation surrounding the election. They have been planning since 2016 for this very time. FB is not your best friend !

  9. behappy September 10, 2020 8:44 am Reply

    Most of the mainland is not having riots and disturbances. Notice it’s the areas that have governors or mayors that allow it for political reasons. In fact they encourage it. Trying to lockdown the whole US like Kauai would not work because the aloha is not there. The people who are involved in this destruction of our cities are not the peaceful marching against social injustice. They are criminals who see it as an opportunity to steal what does not belong to them and destroy whatever looks prosperous to them.

  10. can’t touch dis September 10, 2020 8:53 pm Reply

    pleez hammah no hurt um

  11. Hirondelle September 17, 2020 9:27 am Reply

    I would like to highlight a sentence from Mr. Hooser’s opinion piece:

    “Agent provocateurs on both sides are manipulated by those in power who benefit from the unrest and uncertainty.” I would add to that Kauaidog’s “…let’s not forget the agents of foreign powers who have been planning on fomenting chaos mayhem and misinformation surrounding the election. . . .”

    While we are busy fighting each other, both neighbors and strangers, those who profit from our lack of unity pursue their agendas with less interference. 93% of the BLM-related protests are peaceful, but do not make the news. A majority of gun owners are peaceful, but do not make the news. Our pathways to cries of “Antifa!”, “NRA!”, “Fascists!/Socialists!” (often and erroneously used interchangeably) are so well worn that we leap to them without the important question, “Who’s going to profit from what I’m seeing on television or Facebook, or hear from political figures?” If faith is the belief in things unseen, we might consider having faith in our fellow Americans, no matter how we divide them into tribes, until that faith is proven to be misplaced. Fear and hatred spawned by selective imaging and by repeated anecdotes becomes reality only if we let it.

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