Sometimes Councilman Ross Kagawa gets it so right.
Like his comment at yesterday's meeting, when the Council was again considering the Kauai Rising initiative, which the group is trying to pass off as a charter amendment, because fewer signatures are required to get it on the ballot:
Why are we at the Council going to pass the buck to Ricky (Watanabe, the county clerk] and put that pressure on them when it's our job to listen to the county attorney's office and what their work has discovered?
By which he meant the opinion from Deputy County Attorney Mona Clark, who determined the measure is indeed an initiative, and not a charter amendment, which means 20 percent of the registered voters must sign a petition to get it on the ballot, rather than the 5 percent needed for an amendment.
Not only that, but the 18-page document would need substantial revisions in order to become an amendment. And even if that were to happen, Mona said, there would remain the question of whether the altered measure reflected what those who had signed the petition wanted.
Or as Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura clarified, even if voters approved the ballot measure, it wouldn't take effect, because it's not a charter amendment, it's an initiative.
“Yes, and there would be a huge expense involved with this,” Mona said.
And she wasn't just talking about the inevitable lawsuit from the ag/chem companies it seeks to regulate, “but the ripple effects,” like “county personnel running around developing regulations and all that time would be wasted, in my opinion.”
Sort of like what we're seeing now with the legally flawed Ordinance 960/Bill 2491.
But Councilman Gary Hooser, proving once again that his desire to please the anti-GMO contingent outweighs any sense of fiscal responsibility or duty to uphold his oath of his office, pushed to move the flawed document forward, anyway.
“Let the people decide for themselves if this is a charter amendment or an initiative,” Gary said. “Let them vote it up or down.”
Except as Gary very well knows, or should, the vote itself wouldn't determine that. The legal question would still be decided by the courts, with the county footing the bill to defend Kauai Rising's crappy measure.
Not to mention the costs associated with counting the signatures and printing ballots with an 18-page measure.
It seems Gary has no problem blowing the taxpayer's money if he thinks he may score a few votes in the process. Councilman Tim Bynum also went along, which is to be expected, since he and Gary pander to the same crowd.
But while Tim and Gary had no compunction about supporting a totally bogus measure, Mona made it clear that their duties lie elsewhere.
“You have certain obligations as officers of the county,” Mona reminded them. “You have the implied authority to determine whether what you are accepting is correct. You do have a duty to uphold the law.”
Unfortunately, neither Tim nor Gary have the spine to stand up to the people they're sucking up to for re-election. They'd much prefer to kick this dented can down the road, let someone else make the hard call, take the blame. Like County Clerk Ricky Watanabe, who could also reject it as not meeting the requirements of a charter amendment.
What they refused to acknowledge — and The Garden Island never printed, because reporter Chris D'Angelo is embedded with the antis — was Mona's key revelation.
She said she'd met early on with Kauai Rising to voice her opinion that it was not a proper amendment, and had twice discussed her concerns at length with the group's attorney, Bob Grinpas, “who acknowledged he agreed.”
“So the group has apparently known that [it's not a charter amendment] throughout the process and made a decision of some sort to proceed this way, anyway,” Mona said.
In other words, Kauai Rising knew all along they were trying to pass off a dog as a cat. But like so many in the anti-GMO movement — including Tim and Gary — they have no ethical compunctions. Ends justify the means, and all that.
Which is why the group's “leader,” Michael Shooltz, can state such bald-faced lies as Kauai Rising acted in good faith and followed all the guidelines provided by the county — patently false verbiage that Chris, per usual, regurgitated without question or correction in his article.
It's not surprising that Kauai Rising deliberately and intentionally tried to skirt the 20 percent signature requirement, even though advancing their measure to the ballot would put county taxpayers in a costly legal predicament. Irresponsible, narcissistic behavior is typical of fanatics obsessed only with their own point of view.
But for Gary and Tim to go along — with Tim even pushing the county attorney's office to help clean up the mess — is just too much.
Sadly, even though JoAnn appeared, from her questions, to recognize the charade, she cast a cowardly silent vote, which was counted as yes.
So two weeks from now, when Councilman Mel Rapozo is back to break the 3-3 deadlock — yes, Councilmen Jay Furfaro and Mason Chock actually did the right thing and rejected the measure — the issue will come up yet again.
And once again, the Council will say what a shame that Kauai Rising did all that work for nothing, and Shooltz will have a chance to spout more anti-chem pure bullshit, like the wild pigs and goats all have tumors so the hunters can't eat them, and Tim and Gary will be able to pretend like they alone are the true advocates of the people, even as they're sticking it to all the poor schmucks who foot the legal bills.
Fortunately, there are a few members on the Council who are more concerned with getting it right, than advancing their own political careers.