With 9,667 infected Hawaii residents and 83 fatalities, Honolulu’s Emergency Order No. 2020-25 misses all the marks

Hawaii's DOE, DLNR, DoBOR, and fiscal leadership has been all about stoking public perception . . . that's not working anymore

The writing's on the wall - it's time for a leadership clean sweep

 

- commentary -

Currently 9,667 Hawaii residents have been infected, with 83 fatalities . . . the Covid-19 pandemic is serious - this is not the time for make believe, for the purpose of stoking public perception

Honolulu’s Emergency Order No. 2020-25 misses all the marks, penalizes all the wrong people, and once again outs our leaders for worrying too much about public perception at the expense of real-world strategic planning and implementation. 

For starters, some agencies within the state's own government are violating the governor's lockdown proclamation. The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, for example, has repeatedly been found to be exacerbating the spread of Covid-19 with half-thought-through Covid responses that have put the community at risk for more infections. (click here to read more)

Why are we kidding ourselves? Repeated eye-witness accounts in Honolulu clearly indicate that some tourists are not observing the quarantine requirement. While some are caught, many are not, exacerbating the spread of the disease.

According to multiple reports, groups of young partiers in the city and city surrounds who apparently think they are invincible, continue to congregate in groups, no mask, no distance, no worries . . . and no enforcement.  (See this article about a gang of 16 teens on skateboards who pilfered a store at Ala Moana Center)

 

Disastrous DLNR response more focused on their current and ongoing strategy to sabotage public harbor properties than on formulating workable, safe responses to the pandemic

The DLNR, and its Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), are a microcosm of the dysfunction in Hawaii's statewide government, a long-time systemic sickness that continues to exacerbate the effect of the pandemic in the State of Hawaii.  Due to the state’s complete lack of management of the activity in its Waikiki-based Ala Wai Small Boat Public Harbor, eye witnesses report that charter vessels continue, unabated, to run their operations with considerable numbers of customers on board, no masks, no social distancing, and no regard for the resident community here who they may infect after the boat ride. 

 

Illegal liveaboards rampant at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor -- no concern for virus spread -- DoBOR mum, and may be deliberately allowing the infractions

Harbor agents at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor are, and have been, blessing the illegal liveaboard epidemic in that facility, where some boat owners have been renting their boats out AirB&B style to anyone who comes up with the cash.  Drug dealers, right now, find this to be a cozy arrangement and line up for the chance to occupy a boat at this harbor facility.  None of the latter care about masks, social distancing or their negative effect on the community . . . and neither does DOBOR or the DLNR

Harbor agents privately implicate DOBOR administrator, Ed Underwood, because of his out-of-touch and unworkable rules and strategies.  Underwood is mum on the topic.  According to some State of Hawaii workers that we've talked to, stay-mum-and-keep-your-job is how unqualified leadership persists in our current government environment.

 

Covid-19 testing for all travelers wishing to visit Hawaii is not what it seems

As of this writing, visitors to Hawaii are required to participate in a 14 day quarantine.  There is a plan afoot, however,  to require all travelers to get Covid-19 tested within 72 hours of arriving on Hawaiian soil.  The latter plan seems sensible, as long as the tests are verifiable and archived for quick retrieval and as long as there is no one on the plane ride over that hasn't been tested for the disease . . . a scenario that seems dodgy at best because there will, in fact, be untested individuals on the same flight who will have to quarantine when they get here.  Who's to say the infected untested visitor won't infect the already tested (who will be allowed to disembark and immediately commingle with the public here).

 

The DOE pandemic response: silly, but not funny . . . putting our keikis, their teachers, family and community at risk

The Department of Education here is desperately trying to appear responsible –- or, at least sculpt the perception of responsible –- by suggesting that teachers should come to school, “carefully,” and participate in meetings (with other, potentially infected individuals). 

The very notion that our children should attend school in the middle of a pandemic is just plain silly, dangerously so.  But educators are about perception, and they communicate using a special language called edu-speak, the language of smoke-and-mirrors.  Everyone in our community wants real answers and wants to hear sensible, actionable plans.  The DOE has none, other than those designed to perpetuate jobs that long ago should have morphed into something more useful. 

Perhaps it’s time to redesign education in Hawaii through the use of intelligent digital/online design, and by so doing save taxpayers millions of dollars every year while providing our Keikis with an education designed especially for their individual abilities.

 

Tourism revenues: our one-trick pony was just a mirage -- and there is no sign that anything will be different once the pandemic has passed

Let's be honest: tourism is a one-trick pony that has a nasty habit of vanishing from time to time.  Back in the day (about eight months ago), the tourism one-trick thing seemed to be okay with everyone.  There was some $2.07 billion in tourist tax revenue flowing into state coffers each year, tourist industry unions were happier than a pig in poop, and it was all good.  But now it's not so good. We're in the middle of a pandemic, our one-trick pony is refusing to perform anymore, and now legislators and the governor are scrambling to find a way to stay solvent.

It's not pretty. State legislators and the governor are no longer cooperating, top advisors are quitting left and right, and there is still no consensus about how we'll recover from this mess -- all of which suggests that no one had ever really thought this through, pre-pandemic.

The pandemic pulled back the curtain on Hawaii's leadership decisions over the past 10 years.  The Twin Towers 911 disaster briefly halted tourism in Hawaii and was an indicator of just how vulnerable our economy could be. Despite having this first-hand knowledge, no one in our leadership has made a real, actionable, effort to begin the process of laying down an infrastructure for a locally grown solution to our revenue needs. Business as usual.

 

All of those years of mismanaging revenue-producing public assets -- oh, if we only had that income now!

And then, all of those years of mismanaging revenue producing public assets -- oh, if we only had that income now!  Using the public harbor system as an example: $millions of dollars lost over the past decade. $Millions.  The folks in charge of agencies such as the DLNR and DoBOR clearly did not, and do not, have an aptitude for savvy, effective management, yet have been allowed to persist in their positions despite repeated costly failure. In real-world private industry, all of these people would have been, long ago, terminated.  The Ed Underwoods (DoBOR), Suzanne Cases (current DLNR Chair), and Laura Thielens (previous DLNR Chair), people who just do not possess the skills, the aptitude, nor the desire to profitably manage such a potentially lucrative public asset, have been allowed to persist in their positions.  We could use that money now.  Too late. And we still seem addled, indifferent to the incompetence that is allowed to make important decisions affecting the public.

And then there's been the years-long lottery debates . . .  the lottery should have been an income-generating fixture here long ago. 

Local eateries, local farmers, local and subsidiary technology companies, and a wide range of locally owned and operated businesses should have been much more of a priority than they have been.  As for our local business now?  It’s too late for many of them.  900 businesses . . .  gone.  900!

 

The times they are a changing . . . Hawaii can no longer afford to bumble along

The times they are a changing. Hawaii can no longer afford to bumble along. First and foremost, it's time for a top-down shakeup of all of Hawaii's leadership.  New leaders will put residents first, and put pandering to out of state interests and wealthy private financial self interests on the back burner.  New leaders will be innovative, be willing to incorporate experienced individuals from within the public sector, those without economic agendas, into advisory capacities, and new leaders will be 100% transparent in their disclosures and dealings with the public, all of their rationale being easily available, without the hassle and frustration of having to file UIPA requests for information.

 

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