VOICES: Representatives need to ‘face’ their constituents, really

Sixteen months ago, our county leaders enacted extraordinary measures on Kaua‘i due to COVID-19 (e.g., prohibiting/limiting gatherings, denial of in-person education, mask enforcement, etc.).

If you are like us, you have outstanding questions, because our leaders have avoided or completely ignored them. You may have contemplated meeting face-to-face with your representatives, or envisioned attending a council meeting in public, via notice with an opportunity to be heard … but you cannot, even now. Why not?

According to recent information obtained from the county clerk’s office, County Council doesn’t keep regular office hours. The office has been “closed” since COVID began. It is unknown when it will reopen. If one wants to meet with a county councilperson, one must schedule with the secretary for that representative.

Meetings are by phone or Zoom only. The number of persons who may meet (remotely) is limited. No in-person meetings are scheduled. It is unknown when in-person meetings will resume. According to the council’s own published agenda, their meetings have been “closed to the public” since the governor’s emergency declaration of March 16, 2020. This prohibition keeps getting extended.

The mayor “earns” over $140,000 a year in salary. Council salaries are over $65,000 (for each of six members) and the chair rakes in $75,000 annually (assuming they approved the raises they contemplated for themselves circa March 28, 2019, as reported in The Garden Island).

They have never missed a paycheck. Voters effectively hired these leaders. Taxpayers pay them. Yet these leaders continue to deny taxpayers/voters/constituents of Kaua‘i the opportunity to meet with them even after over a year of managing COVID, even with vaccines available to whomever wants one. Kaua‘i is “open to tourists,” but there is nothing “open” or kosher about how our government has been operating.

We, the undersigned, expect that our government representatives will take immediate, necessary steps to mend this broken relationship with constituents, starting with a resumption of in-person council meetings and in-person office hours so that we may actually, physically come together to discuss the best way forward. We must find a way to restore individual rights, together. Mayor and council took an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution when they took office. We simply ask that they honor it.

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Levana Lomma is CEO and founder, For Our Rights.

12 Comments
  1. james July 11, 2021 7:28 am Reply

    I actually agree with you on this point. We have resumed jury trials. Courts are back in session. Government agencies meet with people face to face for a variety of things, registration of vehicles, planning issues, etc. Police, fire, ocean safety, and any number of other government employees deal face-to-face with the public. Why not all government employees, at least to some degree? It is definitely time to open all government offices and return to normal now that we have more than enough vaccine for anyone who want it. As a suggestion, anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination must have a negative Covid test before meeting in person with government officials until we move to Tier 6, but, with proof of a negative test, then should still be allowed to meet with officials.


  2. kauaidoug July 11, 2021 7:33 am Reply

    Yes, it is time for the govt officials to come out and meet their constituents just like we the public have to meet our retuning visitors.


  3. Kip Goodwin July 11, 2021 8:17 am Reply

    Ever notice how when members of our Washington delegation come to the island, you never hear about it until after they’re gone? Town hall meetings are a healthy expression of democracy. These people raise an important issue. We wish them success.


  4. Kauaian July 11, 2021 8:36 am Reply

    Great letter. I’m an insurance agent, and as an essential business, our office stayed open Monday to Friday when other businesses closed. Our doors locked, but we serviced customers outside, masked of course, by phone, and email. I am disgusted that our State workers especially, still work in lockdown. Get some guts and get out of hiding! Time to earn your pay.


  5. RGLadder37 July 11, 2021 9:09 am Reply

    If you like working with high school flunkouts and that they are now county council. That would be the reason for an appointment with a county councilmen. Otherwise, I see no reason to meet up with them. It will be wasting my time and money.


  6. RGLadder37 July 11, 2021 9:18 am Reply

    They actually check if someone is qualified as a county councilmen. How anyone can write a ridiculous letter like this is ludicrous. Plus, couldn’t you see for yourself that some were not qualified. Get real with your opinions. Too lame to even write it down.


  7. Jjjames July 11, 2021 10:11 am Reply

    Welcome to a DEMOCRAT run State!!
    What did you expect!!!!


    1. RGLadder37 July 13, 2021 2:28 pm Reply

      Foul play and stealing from the county councilmen just so they can eat. And look good. The mayor makes $140,000. Dollars per year.


  8. RGLadder37 July 11, 2021 2:12 pm Reply

    Levana Lomma: I do not consider unqualified county councilmemember constituents. Mason chock, Billy Decosta, Bernard P. Carvalho, Derek Kawakami, Kipukai Kuali’i. And some state senators.

    Please show a degree. Then apply the work. Then get paid. None of them followed procedures.


  9. LTEreader July 11, 2021 3:11 pm Reply

    Levana et al:

    It’s completely understandable why Mayor Kawakami and/or our County Council members wouldn’t want to meet with you in person. Throughout this pandemic your “For Our Rights” group has been behaving like a pack of spoiled brats displaying careless disregard for the COVID-19 precautions in place. You’ve organized protests, whined constantly about wearing masks, wrote letters to our newspaper with false information, harassed businesses, and filed multiple lawsuits against those trying to keep the State as virus free as possible.
    Levana: Many of us viewed the video of you arguing with the National Guard at Lihue Airport a few months ago. You refused to get tested prior to re-entry on Kaua’i, insisted you didn’t have to quarantine, and behaved like you’re someone special who should be exempt from the rules. Get over yourself lady, you AREN’T special. In fact, you’ve all been a thorn in this Islands side with your disrespect for our Governor, our Mayor, our DOH, Kaua’i residents, and the visitors adhering to the mandates during this pandemic. It’s surprising that any of you would want to associate your names with this group as you should be embarrassed of your behavior.
    On your GoFundMe page June 18, 2021 it states: “For our 1776 Freedom Challenge we are seeking 1,000 donations of $17.76 by July 4th.” You received FOUR donations totaling $243.00. I guess the other 996 “Fellow Freedom Fighters” woke up?! And, one of the contributors on that page states > “Freedom over Safety.” Jointly, this says it all.
    The time has come to hang your heads in shame and find something else to amuse yourselves with, while the rest of us try our best to avoid the variants now taking hold around the world.

    *When I hit refresh all the other names were gone. Not bold enough to associate yourselves with this group publicly? SMH.


    1. Payback July 12, 2021 4:36 pm Reply

      Profound!


  10. Lawaibob July 11, 2021 3:46 pm Reply

    Says the “CEO” of a “non-profit” specifically set up to “question authority”

    Weird. How much is your salary Levana?


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