Like the folks waking with a post-Halloween hangover — the keiki from candy, the adults from alcohol — Kauai politicos and activists are trying to figure out how to make the pain of the mayor's veto go away.
Because certainly the County Council doesn't want to again listen to hours of testimony — ramped even higher by rage and despair. And the pro-2491ers aren't especially keen to again don their red shirts and camp out at the county building. As GMO Free Kauai's Blake Drolson said on KKCR yesterday, we were looking forward to taking it easy this month, preparing for the holidays.
No such luck.
Instead, as Elton John would say, the bitch is back. Back on the Council's doorstep, where Chair Jay Furfaro has been handed a hot potato he thought he'd successfully tossed two weeks ago.
And back in the lap of activists, whose leader, Councilman Gary Hooser, failed to prepare them for this eventuality, apparently believing the bill was in the bag with the rest of his treats: national publicity, an adoring throng, political notoriety.
No such luck.
Instead, the nitty gritty reality of real politics — not the make-believe magick kine, where the biotech boys bow out, Gay & Robinson gives away organic farmsteads and Steve Case kicks down tractors — has intruded.
So now what?
First, face facts.
Though no one knows exactly how the public feels about 2491, the mayor never would have vetoed the bill if he thought 80 to 90 percent of Kauai residents support it, as one KKCR caller maintained. As I've been saying from the get-go, people are forgetting the quiet constituency that doesn't march, send the mayor pens or post skin shots on Facebook. They don't need to. They've got the direct line, the key to the back door, the money and influence to get the mayor re-elected.
I know, I know, it sucks, it's unfair, it's wrong, it's hard to be the underdog. I've cried those same tears. But that doesn't change what is. Ignore the powerful at your peril, and don't be wasting your energy on foolishness like impeachment.
Second, get over the sentiment expressed by Sol Kahn in today's paper, that this is not the mayor's bill, but the people's bill.
Uh, no, Sol, in a democracy, it is the people's bill AND the mayor's bill AND the Council's bill. As in collaboration is the name of the game. Time to ditch the “us against them, with us or against us” mindset that has people donning different colored shirts and anonymous snipers snarking at me, for daring to criticize the missteps of the movement, “What's your agenda?”
My agenda? Same as it ever was: tell it like it is.
Third, don't count on the Council to salvage the wreckage. The Council has 30 days to act on the veto — a time frame that coincidentally coincides with the need to pick a replacement for Nadine Nakamura, now the mayor's right hand woman.
So who do you suppose it might be? Let's go over the list. Throwing their own hats in the ring are Felicia Cowden, Pat Gegen and former Councilmen KipuKai Kualii, Dickie Chang and — hold on to your hat— Kaipo Asing. Nominated by others are Sandi Kato-Klutke and former Councilwoman Lani Kawahara — both of whom reportedly withdrew — Mason Chock, Jan TenBruggencate and former Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro.
Now I'll give you a hint: it won't be anyone who will rescue Bill 2491 from the dumpster.
Fourth, make lemonade. If the purpose of this bill was truly to raise awareness about pesticides, and protect the health of people and the environment, then it has been somewhat successful. The issue is on the table, the chem companies are taking notice — we shall see if they actually act — and the county is poised to launch a study that can, if properly guided, assess the health of westsiders, identify pesticide impacts and hopefully give us a better handle on what's really going down.
Fifth, put pressure on the state to commit resources to health studies, environmental testing, pesticide enforcement, education. Wanda Shibata is the governor's liason on Kauai. Start showing up regularly at her office, located in room 106 of the state building, to see how things are coming along. And since they'll no doubt be moving slowly, state-style, politely push for progress.
Sixth, begin drafting a new bill, one that actually will fly, one that doesn't merely monitor pesticide use on this island, but actually reduces it.
And seventh, start grooming some serious, electable candidates for the Council — Mason Chock, Luke Evslin, Kepa Kruse and Fern Rosenstiel are a few up-and-comers that come to mind — because it will take a good year to get their names positively positioned in the minds of the voters.
Or, whimper, whine, bang your head against the wall, stick pens in a BC voodoo doll, go back to bed, slip back into delusion, disillusion, give up.
The choice, as always, is ours.
To end on a lighter note, I'll share this contribution from a friend: