(Ken Hupp - KPUA) The County Clerk’s Office is at the center of another firestorm this week, as Clerk Jamae Kawauchi found herself fielding questions about the rumored dismissal of elections staff and problems at the Kona elections office.
At issue during a media availability was the status of Leina`ala Lee, who had identified herself as part of the elections staff handling public relations and media, and Odetta Shimotsu, a Kona-based employee, whose departure closed the Kona office on Monday and part of Tuesday.
Kawauchi has so far declined to answer questions about the earlier firing and subsequent reinstatement of longtime administrator Pat Nakamoto and had little to say about the latest reported dismissals.
“There have been no separations from our office within the last two weeks,” Kawauchi said. “However, for workers who are employed by Altres, those questions have to be directed to them. I can’t answer that question.”
Kawauchi was also forced to defend a decision to end the practice of providing election printouts for media on election night, saying she was acting on instructions from the state Office of Elections.
“In the past, they have wanted to make sure that all media get the information at the same time,” Kawauchi said. “So in order to insure that, the only way they can do that is to publish it on their website. And that’s the explanation I received.”
Kawauchi had hoped to discuss logistics for Saturday’s primary and provide an update on the status of walk-in absentee voting. Walk-in sites are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. through August 9th. Content for this report was provided by Big Island Video News.