The Kaua’i Police Commission will take up at its next meeting Police Chief K.C. Lum’s petition to exclude Commissioner Leon Gonsalves from further action involving the chief until his federal discrimination lawsuit is resolved.
That decision was made Friday after Lum explained why he wanted Gonsalves excluded, and after Lum played a videotape of Mayor Bryan Baptiste addressing the County Council in April 2005.
The commission voted 4-0 to take up Lum’s petition at its March 24 regularly scheduled meeting. Commission Chairwoman Carol Furtado was not at the meeting when the vote was taken, though she had been at the meeting earlier in the day.
Lum pointed out that the petition is not to remove Gonsalves from the commission, just to exclude him from action concerning the chief.
He said that the nature of the petition is to preserve the integrity of the Kaua’i Police Department and to eliminate the perception of racial bias in the public eye.
He brought the petition before the commission under its administrative rule concerning formal hearings. That rule states in part, that people aggrieved by actions of the commission may petition for a formal hearing.
The chief also pointed out that he petitioned the commission because of the discrimination lawsuit he filed Feb. 6.
Additionally, Lum brought up a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week that reversed a lower court’s decision regarding a racial discrimination case, where an employer used the word “boy” to pass over two African-Americans in favor of two Caucasian employees.
In Ash v. Tyson Foods Inc., the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the use of the word “boy” by itself alone was not evidence of discrimination.
However, Lum pointed out, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s ruling Tuesday, saying the word alone, by itself, is evidence enough for discrimination.
“The Supreme Court said that it was enough for a racial discrimination case, and it should go forward,” said Lum.
Lum also played a videotape of Mayor Baptiste addressing the County Council April 28, 2005. During that meeting, the council was to determine if Gonsalves was to continue as a police commissioner.
In the videotape, the mayor said, elected officials and commissioners are held to a higher standard by the community.
The mayor also pointed out that the council had a tough decision about whether to remove Gonsalves from the commission.
Additionally, the mayor pointed out, people need to trust the decision-making process and how decisions are made by public officials.
“It’s more than about Leon,” said the mayor. “It’s about the integrity in our process and how we try to do things and how we try to make those decisions,” continued the mayor, on the tape.
When the videotape ended, Lum asked the commission to accept his petition to exclude Gonsalves.
Commissioner Thomas Iannucci made a comment, after the tape was played, that the mayor is the same person who asked Lum to be removed as chief of police.
Commissioner Michael Ching asked Lum to turn over a copy of the videotape to the commission.
Commission Vice Chairman Russell Grady made the motion to defer discussion about the petition to the next meeting, and the commission voted to do so.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 256) or firstname.lastname@example.org