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passed Overrode

Dying 2491 revived by new council member, voted into law

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Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 1:00 am

LIHUE — Bill 2491 is headed for the Kauai County law books.

The controversial bill’s five-month legislative saga closed a major chapter Saturday, when the Kauai Council voted 5 to 2 to override the mayor’s veto.

“We passed the bill!” a joyous and emotional crowd screamed repeatedly in front of the Historic County Building after the vote came in around 12:30 p.m.

The law, which will go into effect in nine months, will require the island’s four biotech seed companies to disclose their use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. Kauai Coffee, the country’s largest coffee grower, will also be affected.

In the end, 2491’s fate fell on the shoulders of the council’s newest member, Mason Chock, who was sworn in Friday as the replacement for former Council Vice Chair Nadine Nakamura.

While some had urged Chock to recuse himself from the vote because he was so new to the debate, he said that was not an option for him — that he had “been called to act.”

“If I’ve been given the opportunity to make a difference in the health of a child’s life, I’m going to take it,” he said, causing those inside the council chambers to gasp and cry in approval. “So let’s take the step. I’m all for overriding the veto on Bill 2491.”

Chock’s vote officially reversed the first-ever veto of a bill by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in his five years in office.

Five votes is the minimum required to override a veto. Council members Ross Kagawa and Mel Rapozo voted against overturning it.

Those gathered inside the council chambers and in front of the building erupted in applause. People cried and hugged one another.

County oversight over the island’s largest agricultural companies, mandatory disclosure of pesticide use and GMOs, buffer zones and a comprehensive study of the impacts of the industry are on the horizon.

And so too may be a lawsuit.

Saturday’s override is the latest twist in what has brought national attention to the Garden Isle. Last month, the council passed the bill by a 6-1 vote, only to have it vetoed by the mayor Oct. 31.

While he has said he supports the bill’s intent, Carvalho questions its legality. On Saturday, he attempted to explain his position once more, but to no avail.

“The bottom line is this,” he told the council. “I cannot, in good conscience, support 2491 as written, because I do not believe the county has the legal authority to do what is proposed. That has been my message from day one.”

However, he said he would honor the council’s decision and continue to work with his administration to determine how to implement the new law.

“While a legal challenge is expected, and that may prevent us from immediately implementing 2491, I can assure the public that nothing will stop us from moving forward as quickly as possible with the public health study, working with the state to ensure the voluntary program gets off the ground in a timely manner, and lobbying the legislature for additional resources for enforcement on Kauai,” he said in a written statement issued shortly after the council’s decision.

The veto override came just days after the Hawaii Department of Agriculture announced details of a new voluntary program related to pesticide use on Kauai. It is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1 and applies to the five companies mentioned in Bill 2491, including DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, BASF, Syngenta and Kauai Coffee by asking the companies to voluntarily disclose their pesticide use to the public.

In addition to implementing voluntary disclosure, the department plans to establish a “Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program” to provide more information and education on pesticide use on the island, according to the DOA release.

Some, including council members Kagawa and Rapozo, applauded the state’s announcement. Others said it was nothing more than a last-minute effort to prevent the bill from becoming law.

Councilman Gary Hooser, who co-introduced the measure in June, called it insulting.

“They insult me. They insult this council. They insult our community,” he said Thursday, before the meeting was recessed. “They think we’re fools. It’s ridiculous. To think they’re going to come up here on the last day and save us with a volunteer compliance. It does nothing.”

On Thursday, it appeared 2491 was headed for defeat after Kagawa indicated he would not be supporting an override, which requires five votes. His no vote would have swung the outcome from 5-1 to 4-2, with Rapozo also set to vote against.

That’s when Hooser called for a recess, which would allow time to fill Nakamura’s empty seat. Just like Chock’s selection, the recess was supported by four votes, with Kagawa and Rapozo as the minority.

Rapozo expressed his disgust with the decision, and said it was unfair and inappropriate to put the burden of an override on Chock. It was only after the bill was headed for defeat that a seventh member became important, he said.

“The reality is we should not be here today,” Rapozo said. “The reality is this should have been resolved at the last meeting.”

Recesses, Rapozo said, are meant for bathroom breaks and time-outs, not selecting new members.

“The integrity of this process has been compromised in this,” he said. “And imagine, all of you out here who are shaking your head, nodding your head, imagine if the vote was the other way. Imagine if it was a different result … This place would have erupted in chaos. You know that. I know that.”

Hooser argued the council’s actions Thursday were both appropriate and legal. If there has been any manipulation of the process, Hooser argued it was the appointment of former Council Chair Nadine Nakamura as the county’s managing director by Carvalho last month.

“That’s where the disruption occurred,” he said. “I think that as a rule, a body, we will make much better decisions today and every day when we have a canoe that is full. We have seven members here.”

Nakamura voted in favor of Bill 2491 twice — both at the committee and full council levels — before starting her new position Nov. 1.

The other final candidate for Nakamura’s empty seat Friday was KipuKai Kualii, who Yukimura pointed out is in favor of 2491.

During her closing comments, Yukimura talked about how quick people are to throw out the word “corruption” when things don’t go their way.

“When the bill was first introduced and deferred for one month, the pro-2491 people thought, ‘must be corruption,’” she said. “And then when the mayor vetoed the vote, again some of the 2491, pro-2491 side, said, ‘corruption!’ And then now, when the council recesses, hopefully to secure an override by letting the seventh member vote, now the anti-2491 says, ‘corruption,’ when, in fact, I believe in all three cases, as council member Hooser eluded to, it was just a matter of good-hearted, intelligent, reasonable people disagreeing and coming to different conclusions.”

Whether the county ends up in court over the measure is yet to be seen. Some attorneys representing seed companies have said they would challenge the bill in court, claiming its preempted by state and federal law. But several attorneys and law firms have promised to defend the bill pro-bono. And several council members have expressed a willingness to fight it out.

Attorneys representing the agrochemical companies have assured the county the bill is illegal. Others, including those from Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety, have promised it’s solid.

Yukimura said no one really knows “until the court speaks.”

“If it’s legal then we can move ahead,” she said. “I’m not sure why anybody, on either side of the issue, is opposing going to court. And the only way we can go to court is through a bill.”

When asked how he felt after Saturday’s vote, Hooser said “very, very good.”

Bill 2491, according to Hooser, asks for a few basic, simple things.

“Just give us good information,” he said. “Stop spraying next to schools. And let us study the issue to determine the safety of our community.”

Last to speak Saturday was Council Chair Jay Furfaro, who said the major difference he sees between the state’s voluntary program and Bill 2491 are the words “may” and “shall.”

“We have nine months to make it a ‘shall,’” Furfaro said. (Gov. Neil Abercrombie) is saying he’s going to work in the next two weeks to make it happen voluntarily.”

When speaking with the mayor during Saturday’s meeting, Chock, owner of the outdoor education company Kauai Team Challenge, said he is typically an advocate of “less is more.”

“However, let’s call this overcompensation for what could be, and err on the side of safety here, to continue to do more than less,” he said.

Chock also discussed the divisiveness of the bill and how it has “fractured our community.”

“My hope is that my action today will be a catalyst for healing to begin,” he said. “I believe healing will not begin in this issue and will not go away until we unfold the truth, and validate the concerns being questioned.”

• Chris D’Angelo, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or cdangelo@thegardenisland.com.

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • islandwide posted at 10:54 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    islandwide Posts: 187

    FYI.... analysis on Bill 2491...


  • Kulture Tattoo posted at 6:45 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    Kulture Tattoo Posts: 5

    Kupuae.com/news/profiles/mason/ is a good place to get familiar with Mason Chock.

  • PeteAntonson posted at 6:27 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    PeteAntonson Posts: 3118

    I see where the pro2491 crowd is presenting a two "wrongs" make a right argument over the political flip flop that led to override.
    Their first "wrong" is that Councilwoman Nakamura was intentionally removed by appointment to affect a veto override. It is astounding how this crowd will believe ANY conjecture or innuendo that suits their emotion based appeals.

    The political flip flop to "pack the council" and change the outcome was merely defended as "legal;" and it was. That it was a political maneuver is a fact.

    That the appointment, which came long before any veto decision or a 4-2 vote scenario existed, was a maneuver is both conjecture AND innuendo and more of the same from the tin foil hat wearing conspiracy addicts that couldn't locate a fact with both hands in the dark!

  • Kulture Tattoo posted at 3:22 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    Kulture Tattoo Posts: 5

    A top notch Pro bono legal team vs corporations. Please let the Big AG corps launch a lawsuit. History shows that the Hawaiian Supreme Court picks the environment. So the Ag corps want to turn Kauai into the monocropping industry like the Midwest? No thanks! This is the Garden Isle!! Not the Genetic Corn island!!
    I pray for the new amendments and a clamp down on the Biotech industry. Mahalo to all who have lent energy to this bill!!

  • Tiki808 posted at 1:39 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    Tiki808 Posts: 1159

    I never met a Ross Kagawa, so I don't care about the politics there. Keep going. But still, who was Mason Chock? We want to know or I want to know. I guess backup?

  • Tiki808 posted at 1:35 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    Tiki808 Posts: 1159

    Who is Mason Chock? Unknown still. Talk or just unaware still?

  • good eh posted at 9:41 am on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    good eh Posts: 56

    Now the fall out begins!!! I hope that all the people of Kauai has a lot of money, because its going to cost the county a lot of money to implement and enforce this bill. I know.....make the pro 2491 people pay for it, they wanted it, now they pay for it!!

  • Tiki808 posted at 5:31 pm on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    Tiki808 Posts: 1159

    GMO and bill 2491

    Too much red tape on this bill. Final votes and people are happy. One more question, who was Mason Chock? No campaign, therefore unknown still. What's happening?

  • islandwide posted at 4:16 pm on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    islandwide Posts: 187

    Yes, SO WHAT ? Pro 2491 won the battle but will lose the WAR. What a joke!

    The selection of the 7th council person is very troubling and falls short of democracy.

    A very transparent ploy. It definitely falls into the legal premise. Its gonna be fun in court. We will now see how good lawyers are. Talk is cheap!!


  • bpeyton posted at 2:48 pm on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    bpeyton Posts: 1653

    Bravo Mason Chock! Ross Kagawa - make up your mind. If you were for the passage, stick with your guns! Did you lose your nerve, or what? Little sour grapes by Mel Rapozo. Nadine Nakamura voted for the bill, you know. The votes were there! Then Kagawa changes his vote and Nakamura disappears into Mayor land. The outrage would have been appropriate if the override had failed. Nakamura voted for the bill and then Chock voted for the bill, as it should be. I know you anti 2491 people are not happy, but you lost. Suck it up and take it and show a little class in defeat.

  • Hanai posted at 1:57 pm on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    Hanai Posts: 1

    Hulo! I am watching all of this unfold from the Southern Hemisphere with great pride and hope for the people of Kauai and for the effect this may have in Hawai'i and the world. Gary and Tim and other people-voting, health-voting, truth-voting council members, mahalo nui loa to you and to all supporters for your spirit and determination.

  • Truth Be Known posted at 12:12 pm on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    Truth Be Known Posts: 110

    It's good to know that the majority of our city council has the people's best interest in mind. Perhaps Mayor Carvalo, Ross Kagawa and Mel Rapozo can find lucrative jobs as lobbyists for the chemical companies. They're going to need them. My congratulations to the Big Island for declaring their island a GMO free zone. We should follow suit ASAP. I for one would like Kauai Coffee to voluntarily disclose what chemicals they are using on their coffee fields. Until then, I will order organic coffee from the internet. May the truth be known to all.

  • onegeaeme posted at 10:59 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    onegeaeme Posts: 5801

    I was alost afraid to open the paper this morning. I can't 'believe' we did it. The best and the brightest on Kauai defeated the sickest, most destructive and powerful two entities in America and in the world. And we did it peacefully. The entire world cheers.

    The children of Kauai thank you from the bottom of their hearts.

    Kauai is such a special place, filled with the most wonderful folks on the planet.

    Everyone will be watching this play out. Never forget the names of those who had the courage and the moral integrity to do this. We need them. Our future will be safe in their hands.

    Peace and love Bettejo Dux

  • Kulture Tattoo posted at 10:55 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    Kulture Tattoo Posts: 5

    The reality is we should not be here today,” Rapozo said. “The reality is this should have been resolved at the last meeting.”
    This comment from Mel is ironic. The facts are that if Nadine had not left council, the reality of the matter is that she most likely would have kept her "yes" vote and the override would of happened. Aloha to all who worked so hard to pass Bill 2491

  • kauaiBlake posted at 10:17 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    kauaiBlake Posts: 18

    Many thanks to all the people of Kaua'i who worked so hard to stay engaged with the political process, and push for bill 2491 to be passed into law. It was abundantly clear that many people on Kaua'i are suffering from the damaging effects of the chemical/GMO crop experimentation done here. The bill is a start , to provide the basic protections and information, so that we can start down a path where every person on Kaua'i is safe in their homes , schools, and places of work and play. Everyone, from the keiki's to the kapuna, and everyone in between, deserves the right to their full health and well being.

    Many thanks to Gary and Tim for introducing the bill, to JoAnn and Jay for shepherding it through, and to Mason for casting the deciding vote. Mason's short chance to elaborate on his position on the bill was so moving, look forward to seeing what else he does on the council.

    Kaua'i made history yesterday, and delivered a powerful win for the people!

  • kauaiboy posted at 8:55 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    kauaiboy Posts: 328

    All-in-all, a well balanced and well-written article, other than the reference to "biotech seed companies". I'll say it again: Here on Kauai, these companies are biotech CHEMICAL RESEARCH companies. They may raise GMO corn seed and other seed elsewhere in the world, but here on Kauai they package no seed or food, sell no seed or food, ship no seed or food. These companies utilize the aina to test experimental pesticide concoctions. As a research facility, they are a commercial entity, NOT an agricultural one, and the land which they control should be taxed accordingly. The difference in taxes between agricultural and commercial use can be used to defend any lawsuit these companies may bring in an attempt to de-rail mnadatory disclosure and buffer zones.

    As far as Mr, Raposo's disgust with the process and outcome, I reserve my disgust for him for failing to see the goodness in the intent and outcome of 2491.

  • outofhere posted at 8:04 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    outofhere Posts: 649

    What a wonderful day for Kauai! Thank you to the courageous County Council members for caring about the people and the aina.

  • sgoold posted at 6:25 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    sgoold Posts: 477

    “We passed the bill!” “We passed the bill!” “We passed the bill!” Kauaians have taken a CRITICAL step in ensuring their own safety and the safety of food across America. This is a historic and landmark piece of legislation -- Americans taking back their land from corporations!!!

    Much mahalo to Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum for the initial leadership on this action; much mahalo to Mason Chock for stepping up when called by this 'ohana. It is a shame Ross Kagawa and Mel Rapozo refused to stand with human beings, their children and their families.

  • maricarmen posted at 5:21 am on Sun, Nov 17, 2013.

    maricarmen Posts: 55

    Way to go kauai! Thank you, thank you. Now maybe we can get some disclosure but nine months is a long time to wait. Nonetheless we are moving forward thanks to our wonderful council members: Furfaro, Hooser. Bynum, Yukimura and newest member Chock who saved this bill. Thanks to all the community members who were always present during the meetings and always ready to testify, research and document. All of that pulling teeth for a little disclosure?

    Doing their open air business in secret is legal but demanding disclosure from them is not? I can't accept that. And choosing a 7th member was the only way to correct the inappropriate removal of one of its members in the middle of this process. Again thank you everyone involved in seeing this through. It's about time!


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