The “Our View” editorial is short-sighted. The thrust of the column is that nothing can be done since no legal provisions exist in the charter to address the Brun calamity that our island is tarred with. “The law is the law.” That is short-sighted. Elected officials do not give up their common sense when they took office. Let me illustrate.
As a judge I presided over many criminal cases. Some of the most common cases was bail setting for the accused. Before trail the law is: the accused is entitled to bail out of jail. In Santa Clara county judges had two methods: Release from custody on a promise to return (OR) or set bail.
In the jury box ten feet in front of me stood a young man. He weaved slightly, his eyes appeared glassy, and he was very agitated. His attorney requested OR. He had no bail money. I looked at the charges. They all reflected drug use or possession. I thought him a danger to himself and someone in the community. I said, “OR Denied.” He seized the railing and began to climb over to attack me.
Once courtroom control was re-established, I ordered him held and for his parents to be notified to pick him up. They came and he was released by the time he had sobered up.
This is not the end of the story. Days later, a grateful young man and his parents asked me to perform his wedding. I still remember standing by the living room fireplace and putting the man and his woman together. There was happiness in the faces of the family and friends. There were promises to be responsible in the future. I made no request for money. My reward was the belief that I might have saved a young man and protected the community.
My point is that “the law is the law” yes, but there is something called common sense. Find a way to help the man get better, protect the community, and act within the law.
I can tell you more stories, but that is not my purpose. I am disturbed that those in authority are doing nothing to set an example for our community as to what right conduct is for elected officials.
Councilman Mason Chock got it right. Pass a resolution telling Brun to step down. Apply peer pressure. Remind Brun as well as all who seek office, they take an oath to “support and the defend the Constitution.” It may be too late for the indicted councilman but it sends a clear message: “We, your elected officials will not tolerate the breaking of the oath.”
There is more. Remove him from all committees and any other discretionary duties. Order County Counsel to immediately draft an amendment to the Charter regarding public officers charged with misdemeanors and felonies. I could suggest the wording, but that’s not my responsibility. Order County Counsel to draft a petition of impeachment for the public to sign and/or create a committee to do so.
There is more that our elected officials can do, but I trust you get the idea. Send a message: “We do not approve of criminal behavior by our public officials. We will reestablish public confidence in our government. We will show the greater world outside of Kauai that we are not a “Wild West Community.”
It may be too late to change Councilman Brun. Although I can tell you stories of how hardened felons can be changed by stern disapproval. A former criminal living on our island has thanked me for my warnings and “giving him one more chance.” His conversion into being a model citizen brings tears to my eyes. My point is: express disapproval and condemnation of wrongful acts. It may not help Brun, but it will tell the community and others who seek public office: remember your oath and model your conduct so it does not bring discredit on yourself and our community.
I love our island. I want to help our community and especially young people grow and be good citizens. Pubic officials must lead by example and be pono. Do what is righteous. For me, saying “we no can do da kine” is not an option.
William Fernandez, Judge retired, Kapaa