comscore Richard Borreca: COVID-19 crisis calls for high skill, but Ige’s confusing actions barely clear low bar | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | On Politics

Richard Borreca: COVID-19 crisis calls for high skill, but Ige’s confusing actions barely clear low bar

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Gov. David Ige gives an update on COVID-19 at a press conference held at the state Capitol, April 14.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Gov. David Ige gives an update on COVID-19 at a press conference held at the state Capitol, April 14.

Gov. David Ige has been Hawaii’s governor for 1,987 days, but many think the Pearl City Democrat still needs massive amounts of on-the-job training.

It was just last week that Ige announced that retail stores and shopping malls would be allowed to open last Thursday, but that wasn’t correct — and although he said he had talked to the mayors, neither they nor the many store owners knew anything about exactly when the openings would start.

Reports said Ige failed to say if the order was changed based on worried county mayors who hadn’t been clued in — or if he just failed to clarify differences for each county.

As Hawaii News Now noted: “He did acknowledge the confusion, but also said, ‘I’m not exactly sure what I said that was in conflict.’”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the governor apologized for the confusion that happened with the announcement. In his actual news conference explanation, Ige sounded as if the job is still a bit too hard to master.

“You can look at the state proclamation and you can look at the county proclamation and obviously they are dozens of pages long, so certainly there are times when our staff are looking at it all,” Ige said.

“Clearly we are focused on the big issues of the different proclamations about reopening activities. Certainly there are some that we don’t discuss in fine details,” Ige said.

Yup, it’s a tough job. But for Ige, the problem is that a lot of folks are noticing how he’s doing, and they are mostly thumbs down.

Being in the weeds is a familiar location for Ige.

Last September, he was battling the Thirty Meter Telescope protest on the Big Island. Because of his mishandling of the Mauna Kea controversy, Ige’s job approval rating had sunk to a new low, according to a Hawaii Star-Advertiser poll.

Just 35% of Hawaii residents said they approve of Ige’s job performance, while 56% said they disapprove.

That was just another day at the office for Ige. Last month, the online news report, Politico, reviewed all 50 governors and lumped Ige in with the five worst governors in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

“Hawaii faced an influx of ‘crisis tourists’ looking to ride out the pandemic in paradise. But as the governor of a tourism-dependent state, Ige hesitated to act,” Politico’s analysis said.

Later, a national survey of 22,000 respondents conducted between April 17-26 by researchers from Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers universities, had Ige coming in at the bottom of the class.

The report found that all 50 governors were given higher marks than President Donald Trump in handling the catastrophic virus, but there were some laggards.

“Only two governors — Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) — have approval ratings below 50%,” the report pointed out.

Across the board, there is substantial agreement that the state governments are reacting properly (72%), but Hawaii ranks lowest at 55%, said the report.

All this condemnation is likely to sharpen because the state Legislature is coming back into session Monday, after taking an emergency pause because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ige will have to defend his on-again, off-again calls for cutting state workers’ salaries by up to 20% and additional demands for a resolution to the increasing unemployment insurance troubles.

This is a time for high skill, and there are questions if Ige can reach the bar.


Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays. Reach him at 808onpolitics@gmail.com.


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