Yes, it probably would be appropriate to leave the space blank after “Legacy” in the Wikipedia biography when Gov. David Ige’s final term ends in 2022.

If I were a permitted Wikipedia editor I’d add “failed to quickly act to curtail Covid-19 infections in his home state of Hawaii.”

* He did not shut down quick enough, or long enough once we did.

* He allowed too many shutdown exemptions. I even had screens installed by an exempt company. That’s “essential”? Is all construction essential, like the spec-house going up behind me?  And if we have grocery stores, why do we need convenience stores and those small liquor stores?

* He did not ramp up contact tracing back when infections were just a few per day.

* He had a myriad of people throwing in their two cents at his Covid news conferences, which was like asking us to vote on which one we thought was was right. We needed a single, authoritative, voice.

* Command and control became a mess with the eventual resignation of the health director and squabbling within that critical department about who ran what.

* His voice timbre and read-the-script style projected tentativeness. We sensed that either Josh Green or Kirk Caldwell was really in charge. Ige is no Mario Cuomo.

* He allowed “voluntary” quarantine with few or no inspections to insure that incoming people were staying indoors rather than beaching or shopping at exempt Walmart, always jammed with customers maintaining about 2 feet of social distancing.

My daughter visited us from her current residence in Australia and that gave me a chance to compare what’s been done there and specifically in the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra.

No one hasever called or come by to check if she were complying here. In Canberra, where she also quarantines after travel, someone calls daily and police visit daily at random times to make sure she is in-house. You need special permission to leave or enter Australia. Canberra  in the Australia Capital Territory has had negligible cases since April [see chart below for tiny red dots representing cases], none right now, and masks are not required.

Australia has one big advantage over us. It can ban travel. Our constitution gives us the right to travel between states. But we could have made coming into Hawaii very onerous with enforced quarantines in guarded hotels and charging each person for that 14-day stay. We didn’t. We made coming here easy.

This failure of great governance would not be so bad if it were not that we’ve had three no-legacy governors in a row — Linda Lingle, Neil Abercrombie, and now Ige. Some would give Ige a checkmark for his goal of renewable energy, but that’s a long way off and not assured. The PUC recently killed the Hu Honua Bioenergy plan to burn renewable wood for electricity. But even that would have required enormous amounts of precious water to cool down the burn ovens.

Who will step up next? We know a couple. There will be others.

We need to do better vetting next time before we vote.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “The Failure Of David Ige”

  1. Cultural background plays a big role here. That is not a racist comment. You really can’t compare Ige with Cuomo. Their actions are really about how they were raised. My mid- west straight forwardness in speech, action are quite different from an Asian up bringing or Hawaiian, Micronesian, etc. . You have made good suggestions about travelers held at airport motels for the quarantine two week period. This would have been a common sense action. I follow closely what other countries do during the coronavirus. There are non- compliant people everywhere. Now how can we sensible ones help Ige get on the right track for the sake of our state? Caldwell has not been helpful, and Greens motives aren’t suspect. I expect that Bruce Anderson just shook his head in despair. Masks and social distancing please! That is common sense, caring!

    1. I meant to say that “ Greens motives are suspect”, but if more people are being tested that is good.But let’s let people enjoy sunshine & exercise please.

  2. I always felt that the only true failures are those who quite trying. David Ige has tried to address the situation in The best way he knows how. It is not easy to shut down the state. So much suffering and stress. Even now people have not received any financial assistance. I am not sure how they are surviving.

  3. I agree with you 100% that the onerous 14 day quarantine in a guarded hotel would have stymied most visitors and stopped early introduction, but the biggest mistake in my opinion is the lack of a rapid build up of a large cadre tracers to track down positive cases and strictly enforce isolation of those tested positive.

  4. It’s easy to hide behind a wall and throw rocks. Ige has been under huge pressure from ALL sides since this began. Open/Don’t Open, Quarantine/ NOOOO, You’ll kill the State, Masks/ NO Masks, and on and on. Ige has had little support or agreement since this horror began. BUT, if you look early on, he was headed in the right direction as our infection level was among the lowest. But all those special interests (including “Brutus” Green) pushed and pushed and the plan went south. It’s easy to blame Ige. It’s also dishonest. Every politician, the Hotel and Tourist Industry, the Chamber of Commerce, and critically, everyone living here who hasn’t followed the rules has a piece of this mess. The cartoonist Walt Kelly summed it up decades ago: “We have met the enemy and he is US”. As for Ige’s “voice”, Ige speaks in calm tones..tentative to you, maybe, thoughtful to others. The blame game should be beneath you.

  5. I agree with Mike Apo when he said that early on, Governor Ige was headed in the right direction with curtailing Covid-19 infections. Then I agree with you that first shutdown should have been longer (or second shutdown, with exceptions, should have started sooner before numbers climbed so high). I also agree better job should have been done with tracing and stricter enforcing should be done with quarantining. However, there are two areas that I think are unfair to criticize the Governor: (1) multiple officials speaking about government’s actions and (2) his public speaking. Government isn’t run like a corporation so the Governor cannot reprimand or fire the Lieutenant Governor or Mayor Caldwell. He can request cooperation but cannot do anything if they choose not to cooperate. I think, like you, that speaking in one, united voice is preferable, but Governor can’t control this. As for his speaking ability, this is not where he excels, but actions are more important than being a good talker. I’d rather listen to a good speaker than a not good one, but I think people in general place too much value on oratorical skill which is just a ‘nice to have’ skill, not a ‘get things done’ skill.

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