Politics at its best.
Politics at its worst.
Depending on whose side you were on, it’s likely you saw the actions by our elected officials regarding Bill 2491 as brilliant strategy or underhanded maneuvering.
Let’s recap the latest dealings with this bill before it was approved Saturday in a 5-2 vote by the Kauai County Council.
• The council passed the bill Oct. 16 by a 6-1 vote.
• Nadine Nakamura, council vice chair who voted yes when it was approved on the 6-1 vote, announced she would be leaving her position to replace county Managing Director Gary Heu. Some are immediately suspicious and see this as a move to get Nakamura and her yes stance on 2491 off the council. She takes her new role Nov. 1.
• The mayor vetoed the bill on Oct. 31. At the same time, he released the county’s legal opinion on the bill, which some criticize as a mistake.
• The council voted on a veto override Thursday, which needed five of the six council members to vote for it. Because it was going to fail when Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa opposed it, the council then voted 4-2 to recess to a special meeting Saturday to give it time to meet Friday and select a new council member.
• On Friday, Mason Chock joined the council. Some questioned whether Chock had the background and experience to vote on this critical issue and said he was selected simply because he would vote for the override.
• On Saturday, the council voted 5-2 to override the mayor’s veto.
Whew. That’s political gamesmanship.
We don’t criticize the legal navigating council members Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum pulled off to select another council member when it became clear the override would fail. That’s politics.
The law, which will go into effect in nine months, will require the island’s four biotech seed companies to disclose their use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. Kauai Coffee will also be affected. It will also create buffer zones and calls for a study of the impacts of the industry.
The mayor has expressed concern the county doesn’t have the legal authority to enforce the new law. There are worries the county could face lawsuits and have to defend itself in court. We’ll see. But at last, a decision has been made, Bill 2491 is law and Kauai is moving forward. We hope the companies in question — DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, BASF, Syngenta and Kauai Coffee — honor this action by the council instead of digging in and fighting it, though our guess here is, that’s exactly what they will do. We hope they recognize the fears some people have regarding restricted use pesticides, and do all they can to alleviate those fears. The best way to do that is to release information regarding what is being sprayed.
We hope all sides put the battle behind them, and move forward, together, with a common goal. Then, perhaps, the days for political warfare on Kauai will no longer be needed for someone to claim victory.