Pressure mounts as special meeting approaches

LIHUE — The stage is almost set for deciding the future of Bill 2491.

Four of the council members, including Jay Furfaro, Tim Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura and Gary Hooser, said their initial vote to approve the measure is not likely to change.

“My decision is entirely focused on what is best for the people who live and work here full time, not what’s best for people who want to do business here,” Bynum said. “I believe and I hear loud and clear that the majority of people on Kauai want their Council to pursue this issue.”

But council member Ross Kagawa, who originally voted in favor of the bill, said he will hold off on making any decisions until a call for a vote has been made.

An override of the veto would require five votes. Former councilwoman Nadine Nakamura also voted in favor the bill, but she left the council to take a job as county manager. She will not be voting in the matter.

Councilman Mel Rapozo, who voted against the bill, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

If the four other council members stick to their positions, that could make Kagawa a swing vote.

“Like every decision I make, I don’t go in there with the idea that this is my decision and it is set in stone,” Kagawa said. “Nothing is set in stone.”

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.’s veto on Bill 2491 last week, some council members say, has generated new challenges and a renewed influx of emails and phone calls from residents and Mainlanders, proponents and opponents.

“The Council continues to receive a large volume of emails and phone calls daily regarding this issue,” Furfaro said in an email. “Members of the public, from the beginning, have always sent passionate testimony on their position of the bill and continue to send passionate testimony standing for what they believe in.”

What has been difficult, Yukimura said, has been sifting through many of those correspondences.

“To the extent that emails from other places provides new information, the new attention is helpful, but that doesn’t happen often,” Yukimura said. “Most of the time, the input is not terribly helpful and mass emails by which people sign onto a form letter simply clutter our mailboxes and interfere with my ability to stay in touch with those who live here and have the greatest stake in the matter.”

But that outside attention, Kagawa said, shows how important the underlying issues are on a larger scale.

“It’s a hot topic,” Kagawa said. “Many people say it’s a battle ground down here, because I think if they can get Kauai County to do it, I think they feel they can get that same thing done by their own counties or municipalities in the Mainland.”

• Darin Moriki, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0428 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.

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