Governor stayed behind the scenes for Hurricane Ana

Published: Oct. 20, 2014 at 8:53 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2014 at 10:40 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Governor's last day in office is December 1 although some are wondering based on his low profile lately if he's already checking out.

While the county mayors were front and center during Hurricane Ana, Governor Neil Abercrombie was nowhere to be seen.  It was much different from how he handled Hurricane Iselle.

"We're ready. I can assure you we're on the ball and ready to respond in any way necessary," said Governor Neil Abercrombie, back on August 7, 2014 when referring to Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

That was Governor Abercrombie two months ago before Hurricane Iselle when he was in front of a camera multiple times a day.  It was also the week before the primary election.

"He was on television so much during that period he was criticized for it. Now he seems to have gone to the opposite extreme," said Colin Moore, University of Hawaii Manoa Professor and political analyst.

"I think it's pretty hard to deny that when the Governor was making a lot of public appearances during Iselle it was in part to show he was commanding and deserved to be Governor and now that he's lost this is obviously less important to him."

With Hurricane Ana he wasn't on camera once.  The Governor was in Taiwan for a business trip but returned on Wednesday to sign the emergency declaration.  Then he hosted a concert at Washington Place that night with Amy Hanaiali'i and Willie K, but didn't make any storm-related appearances.

"That's not to say he's in any way behaving inappropriately it's just that once a Governor has lost he doesn't need to engage in these public relations things anymore," said Prof. Moore.

The Governor's Communications Director Christine Hirasa says they were different scenarios. Iselle was a category three hurricane followed by Julio.  Ana was barely a category one and it veered away from the state and never triggered a hurricane watch or warning.  They also didn't want to cause people to panic.

"It wasn't an issue of not caring, not being involved. The Governor does care and was involved he just wasn't out in front and that was a decision that he made," said Doug Mayne, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator.

"There was never any issue with the Governor not being aware what was going on or not caring what was going on."

Mayne says the state wanted to keep the focus on the counties and feels the situation was handled appropriately.

"The event was handled at the County level almost exclusively. There were very few issues that even came to the state level so there was no need for the Governor to become involved," said Mayne.

"Everybody kind of stayed in their lanes and did those things they needed to do. As a team we weathered it very very well."

The Governor was part of morning and evening conference calls and his staff says he was informed and would have gone in if needed.

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