Letters for Sunday, October 18, 2020

County government needs ‘controlled opening,’ too

I have no doubt that it is a huge relief for councilmembers and staff not to face the public in person when debating the weighty issues before our county.

Along with being relieved of any threat of COVID exposure, they are also relieved of the public exposing in our response and on camera live that the discussion held was perceived as a load of kau manua.

On-line meetings deny the opportunity to petition the government, which should not and will not be limited to secretive electronic communications. You can’t look an elected official in the eye through an email or Zoom lens.

The public reads that the Chamber of Commerce and state opine it is necessary and safe to allow “controlled” tourism in this county by following the published protocols. The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t represent mine nor the general public’s interest in anything. The chamber is a privately-owned-and-operated system of franchises dedicated not to enhancing my life, or your life, or to the public’s direct benefit, but to enhancing its paid members’ personal or corporate fortunes.

With the return of tourism, what is the council’s intention regarding a “controlled” reopening of the county government (especially council and committee meetings) to the public? Does the council claim a special exemption from some, or any, or all possible COVID risks that the state and county now impose on the public? The governor’s proclamation ending public access to government meetings now seems largely hypocritical in light of the resumption of tourism, most especially here on Kaua‘i with no known public COVID.

When will “controlled” council meetings re-open to “controlled” in-person public testimony? If the council can’t figure out a method and location to include the public in meetings, hopefully all seven will be replaced by candidates who will.

We, the public, will be happy to take our request to re-open the council to the arrivals area of the airport, and on public property in front of the various resorts marketing COVID-based tourism for their shareholders’ investment returns. We can better debate the wisdom of the Chamber of Commerce’s and state/county response to COVID versus that of epidemiologists and public-health professionals in a more-robust public forum, versus secretive emails to councilmembers.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

See you in person at a council meeting soon.

Lonnie Sykos, Wailua Houselots

Single test is ‘half-baked’ program

Aloha, Mayor Kawakami,

According to a generally-accepted historical account, Kamehameha I twice tried to invade Kaua‘i. Samuel Kamakau reports that his first attempt, in 1796, was thwarted by a storm that sank much of his fleet in mid-channel. Tradition ascribes the tempest to Queen Kamakahelei’s powerful invocation of natural forces to protect her island. Another tradition says that Kamehameha’s troops landed near Koloa, but were routed by local warriors. These two stories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A common denominator is that Kamehameha was defeated by the courage of Kaua‘i people.

In 1804, the king tried again. Interestingly enough, what saved Kaua‘i from that invasion was an epidemic, the infamous ma‘i oku‘u that incapacitated or killed much of his army.

What do these events have to do with us today? I suggest a parallel to the invasion we have been facing for most of this year. Our enemy now is not people, but COVID-19.

Kaua‘i has so far been protected from what could have been a medical disaster thanks largely to your courageous leadership and the willingness of so many local citizens to support it.

Now, once again, O‘ahu is proposing an invasion. The notion, widely debunked by medical experts, that a single test of potential arrivals 72 hours before they board an aircraft will ensure our safety strikes me as at best irresponsible. It is tantamount to posting a “Welcome COVID-19” sign in the arrivals hall.

If O‘ahu chooses to expose itself, that is O‘ahu’s business. However, it should not expect the outer islands to follow its irrational lead. Denying Kaua‘i the option of screening arrivals is idiotic.

Since Gov. Ige has seen fit to refuse your request for a local testing protocol, I hope you will once again show the kind of leadership that has kept us safe by following Harry Kim’s example and opting out of O‘ahu’s half-baked program.

Heu‘ionalani Wyeth, Anahola

Consider the evolution-of-society model

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

These nations have progressed through this sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to selfishness;

6. From selfishness to complacency;

7. From complacency to apathy;

8. From apathy to dependence;

9. From dependency back again into bondage.

Attributed to Sir Alex Fraser Tyler (1742-1813), Scottish jurist and historian.

The pandemic cure for our affluence and apathy requires us to redefine our “New Norm.” Kaua‘i’s Resiliency Project, and others, are showing the way.

With respect for each other, we can go from #7/8 to #2, and avoid a lot of carnage. A little faith goes a long way. We need that now.

Mike Curtis, Koloa

  1. LTEreader October 18, 2020 10:45 am Reply

    RE: Heu‘ionalani Wyeth –
    “I hope you will once again show the kind of leadership that has kept us safe by following Harry Kim’s example and opting out of O‘ahu’s half-baked program.”

    Unfortunately, Harry Kim’s plan, having arrivals test at the airport, is not much better. If you’ve been watching the medical experts (from around the world) on the Mel and Charlie show they’ve all said that even 72hrs after arrival is just too soon. 2nd tests should be done on day 4 or 5, when those with COVID will start testing as positive. In the meantime they’ve had 4-5 days to unknowingly shed and share the virus among us. This ’72 hour before arrival’ test is simply offering a false sense of security.

    I feel Gov. Ige has made a dangerous mistake opening up the State. I hope he can prove us all wrong, but with cases and hospitalizations escalating dramatically on the Mainland and in Europe, it’s highly unlikely that we won’t get overwhelmed too.

    The BEST defense we have is to continue wearing masks, keeping our distance, and avoiding crowds. We saw with yesterdays news that some residents are already getting careless. I can understand flying to O’ahu for a medical reason, but for a funeral? Sorry, not a necessity IMO. We can only hope that everyone on the same plane, and/or at the Airport(s) kept their distance!

    Part of the ‘Kaua’i 4 Tier Plan’ requires masks within 6 feet of non family members. Don’t just grumble about it on social media, BE VIGILANT and remind everyone who isn’t wearing one that our Mayor’s Emergency Rule #19 requires them for anyone over 5 years old – unless they have a medical exemption from a Dr.

  2. smedley aberdeen October 18, 2020 9:20 pm Reply

    I don’t want any government workers or any other workers to lose their jobs, but is there is a protected class of workers on Kauai?

    How many elected politicians on Kauai lost their jobs due to COVID or took a pay cut? Did the county furlough any of the higher ups? Did they furlough anyone at all or just make them work from home and pay them using the CARES money? Did Mayor Kawakami take a pay cut like most of the Kauai residents?

    If I missed a previous announcement on this issue, I apologize.

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