Sunday, April 13, 2014

Musings: Deliberate Distortions

OK, so now it's clear the “biologists” and Koloa Nimbys were exaggerating and even flat-out lying in their hysterical, hyperbolic “urgent” plea to the county to intervene and halt the Hawaii Dairy Farms project.

They lied, and said HDF had never consulted with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). But County Engineer Larry Dill, in his detailed response to the fear-mongers, wrote:

I have contacted Mr. Ben Vinhateiro of the NRCS who informed me that HDF consulted with NRCS early on in the process to develop their Conservation Plan, and that HDF continues to consult with NRCS as new concerns are made known and new information becomes available.

They lied, and said the West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District (WK SWCD) had “rubber-stamped” the dairy's conservation plan, which was not given a “thorough review.” But Dill notes:

I have also contacted Mr. Peter Tausend of theWK SWCD . The WK SWCD, with technical support from the County, reviewed and approved the Conservation Plan prepared by HDF with assistance from the NRCS. The WK SWCD continues to monitor the project.

They lied, and claimed “HDF has begun major construction (moving large amounts of soil), despite their failure to secure the required State permits for their proposed dairy.” Again, Dill noted that HDF had qualified for an ag exemption to the county's grading, grubbing and stockpiling ordinance:

Additionally, on April 3, 2014, without having received a complaint but because of concerns that had been raised by the community, the DPW [county Department of Public Works] inspected the site. DPW found that any grubbing or grading work that had been done by that time did not surpass the thresholds established by the Grading Ordinance. Also, significant clearing had been done, but clearing is not an activity that is regulated by the Grading Ordinance.

They lied, and claimed the New Zealand rotational pasture model that HDF is following “has had a devastating nationwide environmental impact” in that nation. Except a) that's a blatant overstatement; and b) it's more than a little skewed to compare one dairy on Kauai to the nationwide impacts in a country where dairy is the primary export industry.

They lied, and stated flat out: “Based on the nutrient load (waste) that the cows will deposit on the grazing acreage and which will remain there, pollution cannot be prevented.” But they don't actually know that for a fact. Even they had to admit the dairy's revised comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is still being reviewed by the state Department of Health. As Dill wrote, after communicating with Sina Pruder, Chief of DOH Wastewater Branch:

I have contacted her and she confirms that the Wastewater Branch is reviewing all aspects of the proposal dealing with management of waste to ensure the protection of water quality. Hawaii Dairy Farms has been responsive to comments from the Wastewater Branch, and Ms. Pruder noted that Wastewater Branch's approval of their building permit applications is contingent upon approval of their livestock waste management plan in accordance with Chapter 11 -62, Hawaii Administrative Rules, "Wastewater Systems" and the Guidelines for Livestock Waste Management.

They lied in the letter and to the newspaper, which quoted Surfrider's Carl Berg as saying:

[T]those who signed the letter support having a dairy farm, but not in Mahaulepu.

It’s just the location, really,” he said. “If we didn’t have to worry about everything running into the ocean, Surfrider wouldn’t care.”

Except that's not true. Surfriders Gordon LaBedz and Robert Zelkovsky have been quite vocal about the evils of milk-drinking, the unacceptable levels of greenhouses gases released by cows and the horrors of “industrial agriculture." The letter-writers also whine the dairy isn't completely "sustainable." Mmmm, like Zelkovsky's tourist-dependent wedding video business is?

And both Carl and Don Heacock have been complaining for years about Grove Farm's control of Waita reservoir.  If the dairy, a big water-user, is destroyed, or at least driven out of Mahaulepu, it may help to loosen Grove Farm's lock on Waita — a lock that was tightened when GF was allowed to designate that acreage as Important Ag Land largely because it has abundant water.

Ironically, the letter-writers claim that HDF should be booted because it supposedly misrepresented the facts. By that same reasoning, we should also reject the letter-writers, because they're doing the exact same thing, while claiming everyone is lying but them.

There are legitimate questions and concerns about the dairy. For example, New Zealand dairy consultant Derek Fairweather is quoted in a 2011 Star-Advertiser article as saying a 1,000-cow pasture farm needs about 1,000 acres. HDF, however, is proposing to start with 880 cows on 582 acres, with plans to expand to 1,800 cows on the same acreage. Sounds like a disconnect.

So yes, we should be scrutinizing the dairy plan. But it serves no one well when concerns are inflated and distorted and fears are intentionally fanned. 

The Garden Island, in a follow up with the facts that was given a smaller splash than the fibs, quotes lead letter-writer Bridget Hammerquist as saying Dill's response is “scary” and “sad.”

Actually, what's sad is seeing some of the names that were affixed to that letter of deliberate distortion. Because next time their expertise is needed in a legitimate environmental issue, they won't have any credibility.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Larry Dill is honest and is a good engineer. Who is Bridget Hammerquist? What qualifications does she have to judge anyone or anything?

Anonymous said...

The complainers (aka "The Professional Protesters") seem to think that if they say it often enough, it must be true.

Thanks for keeping the playing field clear, Joan.

Anonymous said...

i'd rather have some embellishments and exaggerations by those concerned prior to anything moving forward than the proponents shaving the overall impacts to mere knubs. The saying "better to ask for forgiveness later than permission prior" is the ongoing theme of this islands develpments.The end result will not be as glorious and unobtrusive as they are claiming as the focus is to get it going and operating. As if milk is such a needed commodity for sustaining Kauais future? more to it than simply stated in any blog or quiet press release.
Both sides flavor their rhetoric according to self serving needs.

Joan Conrow said...

Well, since you're willing to accept lies, 10:46, then that's what you'll continue to get. Me, I'd rather have both sides tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

Joan, don't you know lying is virtuous when you're wrapped in the flag of self-righteous environmentalism?

Anonymous said...

Joan,
A couple corrections. First, it looks like you misspelled Zelkovsky’s name in the sentence referring to his wedding video business. Second, nobody took Heacock seriously even before this letter. His association with this group ensures that they will receive the consideration they deserve. The only thing keeping him employed with the state are the civil service rules that make it too difficult to fire him.

Joan Conrow said...

Meanwhile Surfrider today released its monthly water quality findings. Though they are so supposedly so devoted to Mahaulepu, they've only now begun monitoring its stream. And whattya know, it happens to be the dirtiest on the entire island, according to them, anyway -- some six times worse than any place else.

But how are we supposed to trust Surfrider's water testing when through this letter it's shown itself to be so biased? It all goes back to that credibility thang.

Mark Barbanell said...

Just dropped by to see how things are. As ugly as ever I see....

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, you just stay in your rarefied world of sleazy vacation rentals and blocked accesses. So much prettier there.

Anonymous said...

From today's garden island letters... " If they needed to rezone this area why didn’t they? It would make a nice hotel. ..
the real reason to oppose the dairy, eh?

Anonymous said...

Because that is what the antis do. They lie. Just like in 2491 and just like they will in the next controversy. The truly sad part is the people who believe them!

Anonymous said...

easy to spin…

ease of discrediting anything someone not in your opinion poll as lie…
ease of disclaiming anyone as believing lies due to dialoguing on a blog…
ease of one dimentional rhetoric on paper…
ease of certainty that your research is supreme to others…
ease of rant without showing up to any public forum due to conclustion that the overall system is corrupt and all are liars…

Anonymous said...

I really feel uncomfortable with the need to call people liars when discussing testimony and comments for and against. Labels like this do not promote a healthy dialog.

Dawson said...

"ease of discrediting anything someone not in your opinion poll as lie...
ease of disclaiming anyone as believing lies due to dialoguing on a blog...
ease of one dimentional rhetoric on paper...
ease of certainty that your research is supreme to others...
ease of rant without showing up to any public forum due to conclustion that the overall system is corrupt and all are liars..."


You left out:

ease of not using eyes to read...
ease of not using brain to think...
ease of accepting status quo of corrupt government and do-nothing local newspaper...
ease of not using little finger to operate shift key...

Joan Conrow said...

It often makes people uncomfortable to call something what it is, which is partly why I do it. It's the lying not the accurate labeling that undermines healthy dialog.

Anonymous said...

Make the "facts" fit your reality or you can fool Ken and Glen and they'll do it for you every chance they get.

Anonymous said...


The end justifies the means..?