Kaua‘i Democratic Party wants troops home

The Kaua‘i Democratic Party passed resolutions at its yearly convention Saturday, including those to close the U.S. Naval base in Guantanmo Bay, bring the troops home from Iraq and create a county commission to address global warning.

Meeting at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, party delegates rejected a resolution calling for impeachment proceedings to begin for President Bush and Vice-President Richard Cheney, saying such actions would detract from the war in Iraq.

At the same time, the party also rejected a resolution calling for a moratorium on resort, commercial and industrial development, apparently on the strength of an already-approved Kaua‘i County Council resolution calling for no new rezoning of land for resort development

While the resolutions don’t have the force of law, they do reflect issues that are of key concern to Kauaians, party delegates said.

The resolutions are be sent to the state Legislature and Hawai‘i’s congressional team.

The delegates approved resolutions calling for:

• The Guantanamo Bay base to be closed because it is regarded worldwide, the resolutions states, as an “icon of lawlessness, a legal and moral disgrace and a symbol of injustice and abuse.”

Since the first detainees for alleged acts of terrorism were transferred to the camp five years ago, “every stage of their ordeal, their dignity, humanity and fundamental rights have been denied, the resolution states.

• The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq should occur by mid-2008.

• The Bush administration and Congress to provide first-rate training and equipment for troops and to provide to the fullest extent possible, well-funded military and veterans’ facilities and benefits for service personnel and their families.

• U.S. House of Representatives for Hawai‘i to live and be eligible to vote in the districts they represent.

The resolution states all districts in Congress, except for the 2nd Congressional District in Hawai‘i, are represented by people who live in those districts.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-2nd Congressional District, represents the Neighbor Islands and rural areas of O‘ahu, but lives in Honolulu.

Had there been any questions about her residency, they would have been brought up during last year’s election. But no concerns were raised, said a Hirono representative on Kaua‘i who asked not to be identified.

If those concerns were valid, Hirono would not have been able to run for that seat nor win it, the supporter said..

• Mayor Bryan Baptiste and the Kaua‘i County Council create a scientific advisory commission to advise and address the impact of global warning on Kaua‘i in the next 50 years.

The resolution states that some scientific studies report that the most impacted area of global warming will be Hawai‘i.

The commission, the resolution states, should report the effects of global warming to the island’s coasts, highways, food supply, energy sources, tourist industries and changing weather systems.

The party also rejected resolutions calling for:

• U.S. Reps. Hirono and Neil Abercrombie to introduce and U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka to support federal legislation requiring the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to initiate impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney.

The men have gone about their jobs in a way that have raised “serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality and abuse of public trust,” the resolution states.

Party delegate Ernest Moniz said impeachment proceedings would interfere with an ongoing issue that has more higher national priority — the war in Iraq.

• The council to pass legislation for a moratorium on zoning and permitting of any lands in resort, commercial and industrial use until an analysis is complete.

The resolution states the lack of long-range planning and implementation of plans threaten the rural character of the island and quality of life for islanders.

Councilman Jay Furfaro said he sympathizes with the sentiment, but noted the council already has passed a resolution calling for no new rezoning of land for new resort development.

In line with the party proposal, the Kaua‘i County Planning Department and planning departments statewide also are required by law to identity prime agricultural lands and to submit the first draft list to the state Land Use Commission by Dec. 31, Furfaro said.

The council also is moving ahead with a housing policy to address critical needs on the island. Furfaro said. A county survey, for instance, identified a shortfall of 2,300 homes, of which 1,100 homes are needed for lower-income residents, Furfaro said.

And not permitting resort projects could close out alternatives in which developers could help the county pay or make road improvements, Furfaro said.

The 40 or more Kaua‘i Democrats who attended Saturday’s conference said the meeting was an important first step to prepare for the 2008 election year.

“(The war in Iraq) hit us close to home with the funding, unfunded mandates,” said Rep. Hermina Morita, D-Hanalei. “That is why we need to get interest from all comers.”

Federal money that was slated for the recovery after the March 2006 Ka Loko Reservoir breach in Kilauea went to support the war in Iraq, Morita said.

“A lot of funding for programs that should be available to help people in disaster situations, especially (Hurricane) Katrina, went to fund the war in Iraq,” Morita said.

Barbara Robeson, a party member and a former Kaua‘i County Planning Commission chairwoman, said the war and “the state of our nation in terms of our reputation in the world” should serve as a wake-up call to party members to elect a Democrat as the next president.

“Health care and unresolved issues have been sidetracked because of the war,” she said.

Moniz, a one-time candidate for the council and a former battalion chief with the Kaua‘i Fire Department, said preparation for election campaigning cannot start too early.

“We believe in getting started early in the Democratic Party,” he said. “(Democratic party at the national level) is starting early. So we should get everything put together and get our platforms, candidates and issues in place.”

He said he believes the party wants to tackle key issues, such as improving education and welfare programs, head-on.

“I always believed if we get a group of people together to brainstorm, we can address the issues better than our Republican counterparts,” he said.

The party also recognized Martin Rice for having led the party as its chairman for the past two-to-three years, before stepping down in January due to health problems.

The party elected Linda Estes as its chairwoman, Steven Nishimura as vice-chairman, Beverly Nagano as secretary, Lloyd Clayton Jr. as treasurer and Carl Wright as an information technician.

Estes paid tribute to the past chairpersons of the party, including Turk Tokita, Jerry Kaluna, Betty Matsumura, Clyde Kodani and Rice.

Among those attending the event were Dee Crowell, the Kaua‘i liaison to Hirono and a former county planning director, Bernie Sakoda, Hirono’s campaign coordinator, Phil Tacbian, a former state legislator and a board member with the Kaua‘i Island Utilities Cooperative, and Alfred Laureta, also a board member of KIUC and a retired state judge.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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