She is right

Over a weekend, a message is circulating on social media that Honolulu City Councilwoman Andrea Tupola spoke on Instagram. 

It was the verbal reading of a letter she sent to the Mayor of Honolulu, Rick Blangiardi, asking him, in essence, to end the emergency decrees over COVID-19, and return the power of management of it to the Honolulu City Council. 

You can hear the entire piece here

Although there are a lot of people who have a lot to say about Councilwoman Tupola’s decision not to be vaccinated, she puts that to the side and discusses, instead, the core issue of our government’s actions. The fact remains, regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not, the proclamations are still imposed by a small group of people, with very little input by the public, of which they then don’t have a choice of whether to follow it or not. 

And protesting, as you can see, doesn’t do much to move the needle in this town. So here is the transcript from Tupola’s Instagram post.

A note to the reader: Citings of Hawaii Revised Statutes are hyperlinked so that you can look at the wording for yourself.

I wanted to read this letter to you. We had a meeting in the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee and I laid out potential steps that we could take for a multi-pronged approach moving forward. So that we don’t need to live under any more emergency orders, and this is the letter I addressed to the Mayor. 

I thanked him for his willingness to meet with me over many, many months of us deliberating about what to do in the city. It is actually been one year, 7 months, and 18 days since the first Proclamation was issued on March 4, 2020. And since then 84 different County Emergency Proclamations have been issued. And the way that they have been issued has hindered our ability as council members to represent our communities because there is no public input. There’s no hearings. Not on the emergency proclamations. And somebody could argue that the rules under these orders have been confusing at times, contradictory, and sometimes arbirary. 

For example, what’s the difference between a luau and a wedding? Why do we continue to restrict restaurants at 50% capacity if they are complying with vaccinations and testing requirements? Why are we even restricting any spectators outdoors at sporting events when it’s been done safely nationwide? How are we determining what is the imminent threat? That is requiring the ongoing use of proof? Which needs to be actually addressed per HRS 127A-14

How are we defining the threat or mitigating that threat per HRS 127A-18? The purpose of these rules in the beginning, was to decrease the spread of COVID-19, but some of the unintended consequences have been confusion, division at the expense of substantial city resources and personnel. 

I recognize the efforts of the mayor in trying to address community members. However there are still constituents of ours asking for a reprieve, wanting to know timelines of how they can keep their jobs. Given the prolonged state of emergency, I am requesting the city administration delegate and confer authority back to the legislative body per HRS 127A-11. And if needed, in conjunction with the Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Emergency Services, if we need to establish rules moving forward. These powers should be rightfully restored to the public through their representatives. 

I am respectfully asking that you not extend or issue any additional emergency orders relating to COVID-19 without seeking community input through the Honolulu City Council.

We are clearly moving into the next phase, and we need a multi-prong approach, moving forward. We now have very high vaccination rates, widespread community testing, monoclonal antibody treatments, companies helping with quarantining cleaning and rapid response teams going out to homes, providing education, support and delivery services. Immediately to people who test positive for COVID. The city plane should consolidate its effort and organize rapid response teams that can immediately provide this support, sanitation services, nasal irrigation, pulse oximeters, vitamins, information on what to do immediately when you test positive for COVID before it becomes severe. Way before hospitalizations. Other countries have used this method of response to bring their case counts down to zero. 

We choose when this pandemic ends.

States have used three tools to end the pandemic. One the administration can decide no imminent threat. Two they can let the emergency orders expire. Three they can have a legislative vote. It is contrary to our democracy for any one individual to have unilateral authority to suspend the laws indefinitely for over a hear and a half without a mechanism for public input and review. Similar to the ARPA federal funds by distributing these singular decision-making powers from your administration to the nine City Council Members. The decisions will be made in collaboration with agencies, and we can move forward together as a team. Ultimately, it is time to restore power back to the people. 

Andrea Tupola, Councilwoman, Honolulu City Council October 22, 2021
Inside Honolulu Hale
The Honolulu City Council at Honolulu Hale is on the third floor of the building, the same floor as the Mayor’s and Managing Director’s office.
PC: “Inside Honolulu Hale” by coconut wireless is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0