Waiting on the seventh

LIHUE — In yet another bizarre twist in the Bill 2491 saga, the Kauai County Council voted to recess Thursday’s meeting, postponing its vote on an override of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s recent veto of the bill until Saturday.

By then, the council will have selected a replacement for former Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura. And it will be that new member, who will likely decide the bill’s fate.

Nakamura’s replacement will be chosen during a special meeting today.  

On Thursday evening, after hours of public testimony, it appeared the bill was doomed after Councilman Ross Kagawa indicated he would not support a veto override.

His vote would have likely swung the final outcome from 5-1 to 4-2, with Councilman Mel Rapozo also indicating he planned to stand by his dissenting vote.  

An override requires support from five council members.

Kagawa explained his reasons for supporting the measure before — both at the committee and full council levels — but said it was no secret that he was against the bill and questioned its legality.

While he agrees something must be done, Bill 2491 is not the answer, he said.

“I wish I did not have to cast a vote on either side, because truly this is a tough decision,” Kagawa said. “But I’m going to follow my heart and my mind, and I’m going to continue to work with the state, with Mr. Rapozo, in getting some answers to those families that are suffering. I will not be supporting the override.”

His comments caused a stir in the audience. Some cried. Others stormed out of the room.

Then bill co-introducer Gary Hooser threw a curve ball — the possibility of recessing the meeting so that the new seventh council member could participate.  

At its Nov. 7 special meeting, the council chose to vote on the measure with just six members, those who have been with the bill since its introduction.

At that time, both Hooser and councilman Tim Bynum said they preferred to wait for a seventh member.

“A decision of this magnitude, I believe, warrants the time it takes to make a decision properly,” Hooser said Thursday.

As he did last week, Rapozo expressed opposition to the idea, as it will “undoubtedly have an effect on the selection of the seventh member.”

Rapozo said the decision shouldn’t hinge on the applicant’s stance on 2491.

“Obviously, that’s what’s going to happen,” he said.

Ultimately, the council voted 4-2 in favor of the recess, with Rapozo and Kagawa dissenting. Unlike an override, only four votes are required for a recess.

Council Chair Jay Furfaro, who supported the recess, said the bill is about modest protection, disclosure, reasonable care and stewardship.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said the council can still conduct its selection of the new member based on general criteria.

Well over 100 people testified on Thursday, many of whom spent the night outside the Historic County Building.

Today’s meeting to select a seventh council member begins at 9 a.m. at the Historic County Building.

Thursday’s meeting will continue at 11 a.m. Saturday.

• Chris D’Angelo, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or cdangelo@thegardenisland.com.

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