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David Shapiro: Color-coded mayhem marks Hawaii coronavirus response

                                Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell at a press conference at Honolulu Hale in April.


    Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell at a press conference at Honolulu Hale in April.

It’s the last Sunday in May and time to “flASHback” on the month’s news that amused and confused:

>> The Legislature’s COVID relief session adjourned with little relief, $1.3 billion hidden from Gov. David Ige, subpoena threats and a top Ige aide accusing senators of harassment. It was like a pro wrestling match that ends with everybody hitting each other with folding chairs.

>> Lawmakers refused funding of $10 million for utility exec Alan Oshima to serve as Ige’s coronavirus “navigator.” With so many critics, Ige is more in need of a tail-gunner.

>> A color-coded plan for reopening the state was finally released after delays and disagreements among top officials. Red means stop, green means go and yellow means keep squabbling and hope the problem solves itself.

>> Oahu residents scratched their heads on what they could and couldn’t do as Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell dueled with often contradictory emergency proclamations. It was a classic battle of (half)wits.

>> Legal marijuana dispensaries remained open as essential services, while hair cutters were locked down by the state as unnecessary. Hippies partied like it was 1968.

>> The governor and mayor finally said they’ll allow hair salons to open under strict social distancing rules. To keep proper space from customers, stylists will cut your hair with mango tree trimmers.

>> University of Hawaii economists forecast three possible outcomes as Hawaii restarts its COVID-frozen economy. The possibilities were labeled optimistic, pessimistic and sadomasochistic.

>> Oahu rail’s first-phase opening will be delayed from December to at least March because of the pandemic. For all our trouble, we’ll end up with a $9.2 billion coronavirus super-spreader.

>> Enterprise Services Director Guy Kaulukukui, accused of sexual abuse while a Kamehameha Schools teacher in the 1980s, became the fourth top city official put on paid leave because of legal tangles. They get their checks like clockwork while many of our 200,000 unemployed wait.

>> Caldwell ordered Honolulu Hale lit up in ambulance colors of orange, blue and white lights to mark National Emergency Medical Services Week. Most fitting for a city government in need of life support.

>> Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said summer school classes will have six to eight students who are “most struggling.” Sounds like what used to be called “detention.”

And the quote of the month … from Assistant Public Defender Lee Hayakawa, defending COVID-related prison releases: “The world didn’t end. Yeah, you’ve got these dummies that are beating somebody up or stealing something or threatening somebody, but … nothing’s gone to hell, you know?” As long as he’s not the one getting beaten, threatened or stolen from.

Reach David Shapiro at

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