As California is ratcheting down on stay-at-home orders once again, and limiting the common folk’s holiday gatherings claiming the coronavirus is to blame, California lawmakers are headed to their annual Maui junket.
Politico reported: “Roughly 100 people from four states converged at the Fairmont Kea Lani for a four-day legislative conference organized by the Independent Voter Project, said the group’s chair and executive director, Dan Howle.”
The problem is, California lawmakers do this every year, and we usually have to wait until the next financial reporting period to find out who went.
Several years ago, another reporter and I called into every Senate and Assembly office and asked if the lawmaker went on the junket. We were surprised at the honesty of some offices, as well as the dodgy responses by others.
Since then, Capitol staffers have been told not to answer questions about the junkets.
This trip to Maui is perplexing as all other “pleasure” travelers from the mainland are required to quarantine and/or never leave their hotel rooms.
The State of Hawaii’s travel restrictions are explicit:
Current Travel Restrictions & Requirements
Hawaii 14-day Quarantine in effect until further notice
Last Updated: November 16, 2020, at 11:00 am HST
What are the current travel restrictions in Hawaii?
Effective March 26, 2020, and until further notice, there is a quarantine restriction for all in-bound visitors to the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii Governor David Ige mandates all visitors arriving in the Hawaiian Islands to self-quarantine for 14 days, meaning all passengers traveling to Hawaii (visitors and returning residents) must self-quarantine for 14 days following their arrival. However, there is now a pre-travel testing option that will allow travelers an alternative, allowing them to bypass Hawaii’s quarantine restrictions, as long as they bring along proof of a negative COVID-19 test from a state-approved trusted testing partner.
The annual Maui junket is almost a bad joke in the Capitol as members from both parties avail themselves of the freebie Hawaiian travel.
But this year’s junket is of particular interest to so many Californians as Monday Gov. Gavin Newsom announced 40 California counties were being moved into very restrictive COVID lockdowns, with holiday “gatherings” limited, bars and restaurants being forced to close or serve outdoors, gyms to close, and many other businesses deemed “non-essential.”
The governor’s lockdown restrictions announcement came on the heels of learning that he and his wife attended a large birthday dinner party in Napa Valley for Jason Kinney, a 20-year friend and political consultant to Newsom, at the famed Michelin-starred restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, despite his own restrictions to the 40 million California residents, California Globe reported.
So the governor can dine in Napa with select important friends, and lawmakers can travel to Maui on an all-expenses paid junket, but restaurant owners, bar owners, gym owners, salons and spas, and numerous other industries are being forced into another political shutdown by Gov. Newsom over COVID “positivity” rates, all while deaths are dropping.
Normally, most Californians roll their eyes and yawn at the annual Maui junket for lawmakers, after bristling for about five minutes. This year however, while California residents desperately want to get back their normal lives, get their kids back in school, and get back to work and their businesses, the Maui junket is particularly offensive… so offensive, I can’t report several of the comments I received when I made inquiries.