Love him or hate him, vote for him or vote against him, you have to give some respect — not threats — to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. for facing his detractors when he vetoed Bill 2491.
Some officials, when making an announcement they know won’t be popular, will issue a press release at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday and disappear out the back door.
Carvalho didn’t do that. He met with supporters of the bill to explain his reasons for the veto, then went outside in the atrium of the Moikeha Building to speak to a hostile crowd Thursday morning.
It was not pleasant.
During the mayor’s talk, and after, people yelled, screamed and swore at the mayor. There was a lot of finger-pointing and accusations. Chants of “shame on you,” filled the air. Some listened quietly, respectfully. Others did not. Such was the animosity in the air, police were present.
If you take a look at the comments on The Garden Island website, the mayor is pretty well blistered. A lot of anger there, which considering this situation, is not unexpected.
The veto shouldn’t have been a big surprise. The mayor made it clear he wanted the council to defer action on Bill 2491 because he believed he could reach a resolution between all sides in the fight related to pesticides and genetically modified organisms. He still believes that.
The mayor, who grew up on Kauai, has also made it clear there must be respect, whether we agree with each other or not. He still believes that, too.
This is an emotional issue. People are upset. They are concerned for the health of their families. They fear for the physical safety of their children. They worry the Earth, the water, the air, are being poisoned. These are justified fears, and the companies in question have done little to alleviate those fears. They need to recognize the rising tension here and step up to ease that tension and offer more transparency in their operations.
People want to know what is being sprayed, where and when. They want buffer zones for schools and hospitals from the spraying. They want assurances the restricted use pesticides being used here aren’t harming their homes. That’s reasonable.
But making threats against government officials and private property owners that are related to the mayor’s decision to veto Bill 2491 is wrong.
Even if you believe the mayor is making a mistake, if you believe he’s acting more on behalf of big corporations rather than the people of Kauai, even if you believe he abused his duties as mayor, there’s no room for threats.
No matter how strongly we disagree with someone, our response can’t be to harm them or their property. Threats can lead to violence, and that’s the last thing we need on Kauai.
The way to approach this now?
If you feel strongly, encourage the council to override the veto. Present your reasons to them. Prepare your argument.
Kauai is known for its aloha spirit of kindness, respect and compassion. It needs it now, perhaps more than ever.