A friend called the other day, stuck in traffic in the never-ending roadwork between Kukui Grove and Puhi, ranting a bit and wondering if the massive concrete highway was intended to double as an emergency runway, before observing, “I don't know how these guys pronounce their company name but I just want to say Kiewit already. Enough.”
I must say, when I drove through there Friday evening, along a span so wide that some pedestrians would be hard-pressed to cross the street in the time allotted by just one traffic signal, I thought, with a shudder, is this ugly, impersonal, urban monstrosity the future of our little island?
“It's all to benefit PMRF,” another friend said. “We will have whatever roads they think they need to keep doing whatever toxic, dangerous shit it is they do out there.”
And that got me thinking of how Councilman Dickie Chang is pushing a bill to ban smoking in county parks, supposedly to protect people's health, when meanwhile, the county continues to spray herbicides at the parks and alongside roads. As I reported for Honolulu Weekly back in 2009, county ADA coordinator Christina Pilkington, who has since been inexplicably relieved of her job, met a lot of resistance, but was finally able to convince the county to stop spraying at some East Kauai parks. But just the other day I saw a county worker ready to Roundup Kapahi Park, which is heavily used by very young children.
The Council is pushing the no-smoking bill at the behest of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, and I thought, so how come you guys aren't also listening to the coalition that is pushing for a GMO-Free Kauai? How come the Department of Health, which is throwing money at the Path and the anti-tobacco coalition, doesn't give the anti-GMO guys any money? Because GMOs are inextricably linked to pesticide use, and we know that pesticides are harmful to human and environmental health.
As Dr. Basko reported on his Pets, People and Paradise radio show yesterday, a new study by Dr. Charles Benbrook of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University found that herbicide-resistant crops have resulted in a dramatic increase in herbicide use. In the first 16 years that these Roundup Ready-type crops were on the market, farmers used an estimated 527 million pounds more herbicide than they otherwise would have.
Meanwhile, the heavy poison use has caused some 22 species of weeds to develop resistance to the glyphosate in Roundup. So now the chemical companies that are cultivating lands from Lihue to Mana want to up the ante with the next generation of crops resistant to such super nasty concoctions as 2,4-D, dicamba, and paraquat.
Since Kauai is used for both experimentation and seed cultivation, they'll be seeing just how big a dose the crops can withstand, which means more pesticides leaching into our soil, water and ocean, floating on the breeze.
So I kinda had a WTF? moment when I read that Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura supports the non-smoking bill because “One of the visions for Kaua‘i is a place for health and healing.”
Guess it's a lot easier to bully smokers than confront the multinational chemical companies that have assumed control of the island's agriculture, with the full support of the county and major landowners like Grove Farm, Gay & Robinson and Kamehameha Schools-Bishop Estate.
Meanwhile, the Kekaha Hawaiian Homestead Association has expressed concerns about the state's plan to ship soil contaminated with dioxin and arsenic years from Kilauea to their back yard. Aside from the social injustice issues, rapidly accelerating coastal erosion is a serious concern, seeing as how the Kekaha landfill is right on the ocean.
I was a little concerned when I read the July 31 opinion issued by Special Counsel Gary Slovin, in which he gave this description of his duties:
Special Council was retained, effective June 25, 2012, to analyze and assess the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the P.O.H.A.K.U. diversionary program that was established during the year 2011 by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.
I didn't recall the County Council giving any such direction when it authorized spending up to $15,000 on Special Council to represent the OPA. So I checked, and here is what is stated in Slovin's contract with the County:
Scope of Services. Special Counsel shall provide all such professional legal services as may be necessary to represent the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney limited to civil matters related to the POHAKU program.
So him issuing “a decision” that prompts a press release from Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho claiming “P.O.H.A.K.U. Cleared: Declared Legal and Valuable” seems to be just a bit of a stretch.
Since the county has not yet made any payments to Slovin, perhaps he could bill Shay's re-election campaign, instead, since that seems to the primary beneficiary of his work.
And finally, the best "laugh out loud" experience I had all week was seeing a guy driving a pick up truck on Kuhio Highway, with a big dog sitting in the passenger seat, gazing at him with adoration and steadily licking his face.