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Council might fight texting-ban veto


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POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The City Council could take the uncommon step tomorrow of overriding a veto by Mayor Mufi Hannemann—a move that would ban Oahu motorists from text-messaging on their cell phones and playing video games while at the wheel.

The City Council secured enough votes for an override—seven members voted in favor, and six votes are needed for an override—but some councilmembers are unsure of their vote while Hannemann expresses publicly his disagreement with the proposal.

In a radio address, Hannemann outlined his reasons for vetoing the measure, saying it is not enforceable. Hannemann also urged the public to call councilmembers to sustain the veto.

Hannemann echoed concerns by the Honolulu Police Department and city prosecutor's office that the law would be virtually unenforceable because it is too specific.

“;I would like to see this law passed,”; said City Council Chairman Todd Apo. “;I'm trying to get more information about the impact.”;

Apo, who voted in favor of the law in a January Council meeting, said he has not made up his mind to approve an override.

Meanwhile, Councilman Charles Djou called on his colleagues to vote consistently to secure the override.

“;The mayor hasn't given many vetoes, so this is unusual for there to be a veto override,”; Djou said. “;The facts as they stood at (the last vote) are the same. Any councilmember who flips and changes his vote is because of politics.”;

Councilman Rod Tam was the lone councilmember who rejected the bill. He has since introduced another measure that would create a more restrictive ban for Oahu motorists by requiring use of a hands-free device.

Hannemann, HPD and the prosecutor's office support the more restrictive ban because it would be easier to enforce. The City Council is also considering this measure, but it would be at least another three months if it approves the ban.