Council should keep its priorities straight

Where do we even begin on this one?

Kaua‘i County Council members last week considered two new laws designed to clean up outside their old home at the Historic County Building, which they will be moving back into this month now that multi-million-dollar renovations are complete.

The first piece of legislation would outlaw the consumption, possession or control of intoxicating liquor within the parking lots and grounds adjacent to the Historic County Building, County Annex and Lihu‘e Civic Center. The other would make it illegal to urinate or defecate in public areas adjacent to the same three buildings unless in a portable toilet or rest room.

Both bills, introduced by Council Chair Jay Furfaro, passed unanimously on first reading. A public hearing will be scheduled, then the council will work on them at the committee level before returning them to the full council for final approval.

Really? This is the priority right now in county government? Banning something that can be addressed under existing laws? And why just those county buildings? Why not add police stations and stadiums?

Let KPD tackle this one with codes regulating public decency. We’re confident there are more important and urgent items that our council needs to address, such as affordable housing, drug abuse and recycling.

We find these new proposals to be an absurd waste of time and tax dollars.

If the council wants to clean up its front yard, why not just introduce some bills that get straight to the point. We don’t buy Furfaro’s assertion that these laws are not targeting the homeless who camp out on the steps of county buildings and loiter in other public areas.

As is typical in government though, officials would rather beat around the bush and work to mask problems than address the root. The state did the same thing recently by boarding up one of its unused buildings where homeless frequently hung out.

Scooting the homeless population around from one place to another, trying to make the issue out of sight and out of mind, does not solve the problem.

If the council members want to keep the homeless and others from drinking on their front porch or using the bathroom behind a tree in their side yard, they should invest their time and our money into creating jobs. They should also develop programs that give the less fortunate members of our community the skills they need to become gainfully employed.

Instead of finding new ways to temporarily lock them up, let’s provide incentives so the homeless quit taking advantage of government handouts and start contributing to society.

This is not to say that government alone bears this responsibility. Temporary assistance — not permanent or long-term — is a necessary ingredient to help our neighbors get back on their feet.

We urge the council to scrap these bills now before wasting any more public resources.

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