Mayor's landfill veto gains support
The bill to close the Leeward facility was originally passed 7-2
>> Opposition to Maili landfill expected
Mayor Mufi Hannemann's veto yesterday of a City Council bill to close Waimanalo Gulch landfill by May 1, 2008, was the right thing to do, said Councilman Gary Okino, who had voted for the measure.
"I think it's the best decision he could have made. I'm very supportive," said Okino, who added that he would not vote to override Hannemann's veto of Bill 37.
The Council voted 7-2 in favor of the bill on Feb. 15, with members Barbara Marshall and Rod Tam voting no. Six votes are needed to override the mayor's veto, so if another member who voted for the bill changes his or her mind, Hannemann's veto will stand.
Hannemann told reporters that he believes enough councilmembers would support the veto. "I can count," he said.
Councilman Charles Djou, who said he still favors the bill and would vote to override the veto, also said he doesn't think there will be six votes to override.
Tam and Marshall said they would not vote to override. Councilman Todd Apo, who has long called for closing the landfill in his Leeward district, said he'd have to review Hannemann's veto message.
Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said she'd consider letting Hannemann's veto stand -- if she could be convinced that he is serious about investigating new technologies.
"I waited a year for the administration to put out an RFP" (request for proposals) on alternative technologies, Kobayashi said. "That's why I voted to close the landfill."
In his four-page veto message to Council members, Hannemann warned that letting the bill become law would mean either operating the landfill illegally, "subjecting the city to possible regulatory fines, injunctions and other lawsuits, or ... no collection of municipal solid waste, islandwide. Neither alternative is acceptable to me, nor to you and your constituents."
No other landfill site could be prepared and permitted by that time, nor could other arrangements such as shipping garbage overseas or new waste-to-energy technologies be ready, Hannemann said.
The mayor warned councilmembers that making Bill 37 law could even put the city at risk of losing its permit from the state Land Use Commission.
"I think it's a threat, but I think it's a real threat," Djou said. "The mayor is confronting reality."
Several residents of the Waianae Coast, where the landfill is located, attended Hannemann's veto announcement yesterday. They said afterward that although they don't like a landfill in their area, they'd rather keep a known landfill in place than open a new one.
Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz credited the bill with putting discussion of solid-waste issues back before the public after a more than yearlong hiatus since the Council voted 6-3 on Dec. 1, 2004, to keep the landfill at Waimanalo Gulch.
"It's obvious that this issue is top of mind," he said. "I think Bill 37 helped create that atmosphere. I think there is activity that is occurring because of the bill."
Dela Cruz wants to see the city get a comprehensive solid-waste plan that looks at new technologies and the possibility of shipping waste to the mainland.
"The Council position, until proven otherwise, is that we want to close Waimanalo Gulch by 2008," Dela Cruz said.
Hannemann's position is that it's ridiculous to close a landfill before alternatives have been found.