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I own a business that installs business phone and voicemail systems, data cabling for phones, and computer networks. I’ve worked for just about every industry on Maui for the past 25 years. The majority of the businesses I serve are reliant on tourism or the trickle-down from the tourism industry in one way or another.

I have been through all the economic growth and downsizing of the past 25 years with my customers. I have helped them when they grow into larger offices and added employees and more phones. I have helped them when times were tough and they had to downsize and lay people off.

But now, the COVID lockdown has been the most devastating thing I have seen. The disregard that our elected officials have had for the well being and economic health of the residents of Hawaii is appalling. So many of my customers will never recover — ever.

The random picking and choosing of who can be “allowed” to operate, who is deemed “essential” is irresponsible and will devastate the economy here for a long time. The continued quarantines and the over-reaching regulations imposed on my customers is unsustainable.

The costs and threats associated with required compliance is the death knell for any business operating on a slim margin — and that is the condition of many of the small businesses here. The fact that the large corporate stores were able to continue operations while almost all of the small businesses were shut down is unconscionable.

The fact that our economic security has been destroyed at the whims of a small-town mayor and a terrible governor is unbelievable. And I see no end in sight to the bad decisions being made by them. It’s as if we are just pawns on their chess boards. Horrible.

I am no longer able to make a living here on Maui, nor afford the high (and getting higher) cost of living. I am reluctantly leaving the island this week and have to take the chance to start all over in a more affordable and liberty-minded state.

Also, the difficulty in coming and going by plane, the reduced shipments of goods, the services that have been cutting hours and availability (county, state, etc.), are making it harder to get important business done. The moratorium on evictions has only postponed the collapse of small business here.

I am heartbroken for Maui, and for the futures of my hard-working clients who will see nothing but hard times for the foreseeable future. I have had a great run here, but time ‘fo go! Paradise Lost.

Valerie Sisneros
Makawao, Maui