Mayor wants to veto Wailua Golf Course alcohol bill

LIHUE — In the days following Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s announcement he plans to veto the bill allowing alcohol to be served at Wailua Golf Course, some Kauai County Councilmembers say his reasons are unclear.

“He says it would be unsafe, but doesn’t say how it would be unsafer than now when unregulated drinking is prevalent on the golf course,” said Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.

Councilman Derek Kawakami agreed.

“The concerns raised don’t appear to be insurmountable,” Kawakami said. “His concerns are valid, but they don’t appear to be issue that can’t be addressed collaboratively.”

Carvalho announced his intention to veto Bill No. 2635, which seeks to sell alcohol via “roving concessions” on Dec. 17.

“I cannot support this bill for several reasons. First and foremost, the bill would put the safety of our residents and visitors at risk,” he said. “Secondly, there are liability concerns. Lastly, it would require additional staff to monitor the expanded operation.”

He intends to veto the bill 10 days after he receives it from the council.

Kawakami said he’s curious to see where the discussion goes.

“I look forward to to a robust and healthy discussion with our mayor before we consider a veto override,” he said.

If the council decides to pursue overriding his veto, it would need five votes to pass. Since he’s been mayor, Carvalho has vetoed two bills. In 2013, he vetoed Bill No. 2491, which sought to regulate pesticides and GMOs. A year later, he vetoed Bill No. 2546, which sought to establish agronomics as a real property tax class.

Bill No. 2635 was passed 6 to 1 on Dec. 14. Mel Rapozo, council chair, was the lone dissenting vote, citing extra liability incurred by the county.

As it stands, golfers who wanted to drink alcohol at Wailua Golf Course can do so in the restaurant. They were not allowed to bring it onto the course.

Supporters of the bill say the sale of alcohol will improve business at the restaurant, Over Par Bar and Grill. They also said it would better regulate the consumption of alcohol already being consumed by golfers when playing a round.

“It is not clear to me how liability would be more under Bill 2635 than it is now,” said JoAnn Yukimura. “It seems to me to allow the vendor to serve alcohol to golfers on the golf course would add a additional layer of regulation and control — so there would be shared liability; right now, the county is solely responsible.”

Yukimura also believes the mayor is avoiding the main issue, which is how to make the course profitable and viable.

“The council has asked over and over again for an effective plan, but I haven’t seen anything thus far. This is the main problem, and it needs to be solved.”

She also said the mayor did not communicate to the council about his concerns, but instead used a press release to announce his plans.

“If he has concerns about the bill, my expectation is that he would give us the courtesy of meeting with us individually or by two’s (to satisfy Sunshine Law requirements) to discuss his concerns with us,” she said.

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