“I would ask the Council members to be prepared to vote in a month, offer amendments if you'd like, or vote it up or down, and not kill this bill via deferral,” said Gary, who chairs the Committee. “If you don't like the bill, we vote it up or down. Amend it as you wish and move on. That would be my suggestion.”
I can understand why Gary doesn't want to dilly-dally on this hot topic, or let the bill shilly-shally into the often-lethal abyss of deferrals. It's far too important an issue to languish in Council Committee Purgatory as we all pray for its ascension.
I can also understand why he was resisting the call of his less zealous colleagues to wait until the legal opinions come out.
Because let's be realistic. The Attorney General is not likely to issue an opinion supporting a bill that says counties can make any kine with an industry the state has aggressively courted. Nor is Deputy County Attorney MaunaKea Trask expected to back a bill he balked at before it was even introduced.
So no, let's not be waiting for those opinions to give the Council a convenient out.
But up or down in 30 days on a bill of this complexity? An issue that has each side ardently proclaiming only they speak the truth? A measure that generated more than 2,000 Council emails, countless phone calls, hours of testimony, and submittals that included studies and reports? A law that will require our rather hapless county to perform a number of new functions?
Is it really fair to expect the Council to digest all that and get up to speed in 30 days, when Gary himself spent months working on the bill and co-sponsor Tim Bynum claims he's been boning up on pesticides/GMOs for a decade?
More importantly, are we likely to get a good law if it's cobbled together in one marathon Committee meeting? Because even if we pretend that Bill 2491 is perfect, Gary clearly does not have the votes to pass the bill as written. Which means amendments and compromises for sure are coming. And all that is to be hammered out in one meeting? With the public weighing in where?
What's the burning rush?
It's already evident the Council is not going to pass "the bill" as introduced. So we need to make sure they pass a good bill — one that's not too watered down, one that can effectively protect environmental and human health from toxic pesticides. Based on what I've seen in my 26 years of following county government, that ain't gonna happen in one meeting, or 30 days.
I think we can get a Council majority to do something about the pesticide problem. But if they're cornered into a 30-day decision on a bill of this magnitude, I'm frankly afraid they'll vote no — even if it will expose them to more fury from the haters who characterized them as "pesticide-lovers" and "Satan's vipers" because they didn't pass the bill yesterday.
And where will that will leave those of us who are seeking disclosure on restricted use pesticides, and more controls on the companies that apply them?
It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook yesterday about the new cloned hamburger. The poster commented, If it's a choice between that and cutting down Amazon rainforests for beef, I'll choose that. To which I replied, Surely those aren't the only alternatives!
I'm pretty sure there's a middle ground somewhere between endless deferrals and up or down in 30 days. Let's steer for that place.