For Immediate Release: January 14, 2021
Press Release by:
Kelly Takaya King, Councilmember
South Maui Residency Area
Council to continue legislative oversight over county’s pandemic response, welcomes collaboration with administration
WAILUKU, Hawaii—As COVID-19 continues to distress Maui County, the council will maintain its legislative oversight over the county’s pandemic response and welcomes collaboration with the mayor, Councilmember Kelly Takaya King said.
On Monday night, King hosted a virtual COVID-19 town hall with state and county officials and other experts, which drew hundreds of viewers on Zoom, Facebook Live and Akaku Community Media and was covered in a Maui News article on Tuesday. During the town hall, community members submitted more than 500 comments and questions and expressed appreciation for the informative event and opportunity to collaborate, King said.
Yet, in a news article published by MauiNow.com on Tuesday, Mayor Michael P. Victorino was quoted as saying in a talk on COVID-19 to hospitality leaders that he would “fight” the council, which he said was attempting to “take over this county.” King said all councilmembers have been working to support the administration’s efforts on the pandemic, including by providing oversight of spending and policies—a core legislative function.
“For nearly a year, council committees have devoted substantial meeting time to provide a forum to help the administration communicate its COVID-19 plans,” said King, who chairs the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Maui Emergency Management Agency.
“This collaboration has been helpful, but obviously more needs to be done to vet the county’s decisions and actions, especially as we look at Maui’s recent rising case numbers. I have been contacted by numerous Maui citizens who are pleading for more transparency, consistency and effectiveness in creating and enforcing our local pandemic rules.
“The mayor has enormous unilateral authority to exercise emergency powers. That status makes it especially important for the council to use its authority for legislative oversight to publicly review and comment on how those powers are being used.”
Last year, King proposed Resolution 20-159, which by a unanimous council vote on Nov. 9 urged Victorino to establish a COVID-19 task force composed of experts.
The resolution said the task force should “advise the administration and council in planning for and implementing mitigation strategies, including emergency responses to hot spots and other unforeseen events.” The task force should also “work in collaboration with the Maui District Health Office and be transparent to the public,” according to the resolution.
On Nov. 18, Victorino issued a press release announcing his rejection of the resolution’s suggestions.
As the county’s elected policy makers, councilmembers remain committed to collaboration, transparency and science-based decision making, King said.
“Especially considering the managing director’s useful participation in the town hall, I’m surprised by the mayor’s criticism,” she added. “Following last week’s violent insurrection in Washington, DC, it is important that residents of Maui County know we aren’t interested in fighting.
“We want to work together to help save lives, families and businesses. I’d suggest the mayor take another look at our request for a blue-ribbon COVID-19 task force to guide both the council and the administration on rapid, effective actions to combat the pandemic here in Maui County.”
For contact and more information, go to King’s page at MauiCounty.us.