CIRA de CASTILLOTGI Staff Writer
LIHU’E – Gov. Ben Cayetano’s veto last week of a bill that would have made it
feasible for the county to post lifeguards on more beaches was anticipated by
lobbyists who had worked to get the measure approved.
“I think we got
trapped in the bureaucratic madness,” said Hanalei fire captain Bob
“On one hand the AG (attorney general) doesn’t want to have to
defend the counties and the trial lawyers don’t want the counties to have
immunity. I don’t think there is any consideration here on what is
A member of the fire department’s water safety and rescue team,
Kaden has taken part in many North Shore rescues and has witnessed many
What is needed, he said, is an assault on the system. “This
ocean is the state’s jurisdiction. I don’t care if you have to cross county
parks to get to the ocean.”
Cayetano said he vetoed the bill because it
would have imposed liability upon the state for personal injury or death
occurring at county-operated beach parks, even though the state is not in
control of the beach parks and cannot avoid the injury or death.
the bill should have called for immunity from legal action rather than
Councilman Billy Swain, who headed the county’s legislative
lobby this session, said he had anticipated that Cayetano would veto the
“In the hearing, the Attorney General had testified against the bill
and asked that it be killed because of the indemnity part, and we knew it would
be tough to get it past the Governor based on that,” Swain said.
positive side of the situation, he said, is that Cayetano’s veto message stated
his support for granting the counties immunity from litigation resulting from
“So the county will start right now and put together a
bill that would grant immunity to the counties and introduce it next session,”
The Councilman cautioned however that immunity bills don’t do well
before the Legislature because of the strong plaintiff attorneys’ lobby. “So
the battle would be with the plaintiff attorneys as opposed to the attorney
general,” said Swain.
Kaden like Swain saw a positive side to the
“The Governor is saying specifically what he didn’t like
about the bill and we can come at it next time and get it right. We are going
to get this right next year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kaden says that the
county and the visitor industry has to be as straight forward as possible to
inform visitors about the dangers of the ocean.
Kaden said the Kusaka
Administration tried hard to get the bill passed.
The rest of the state,
he said, needs to get the same message that the Kaua’i media has been putting
out about the importance of the lifeguard legislation. “It seemed to be a
non-issue in Honolulu,” he said.