Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Musings: Round and Round

The political season is in full swing, with signs and banners popping up like mushrooms in cow pies after a warm spring rain.

And sometimes, they prompt similar mind-altering reactions. Like the surrealistic use of this slogan, “Aloha in Action,” by Steve Yoder, the caustic, sovereignty-dissing 15th House District GOP hopeful. Sure, Steve. If you say so.

Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger, Dylan Hooser, has picked a design that plays up the family name, apparently banking on papa's perceived popularity, though it still remains to be seen whether that ultimately turns out to be a benefit, or a liability. In any case, it doesn't carry the same clout as, say, a Kawakami or a Kaneshiro.

Dylan is facing off against Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, who I ran into yesterday while having lunch at Rob's. He was with Sen. Ron Kouchi, who told me the state had in fact ended up funding eight new pesticide inspector positions. Jimmy said he'd never opposed the funding, it had merely been his stance that if the counties wanted to pass laws they should be prepared to cover the costs themselves, rather than looking to the Lege for funding.

Seems Sen. David Ige was the one who found the dough for the positions. Good thing he's running for governor, and thus interested in currying the favor of neighbor islanders who are convinced they're living in a toxic soup, though one created solely by the chemical/seed companies. Because nobody else uses any poisons on these islands. Right?

Heard Sen. Clayton Hee ran a poll to see if he had a shot at guv. The pollsters floated various scenarios: Ige vs Abercrombie, Hee vs Ige, Hee vs Abercrombie, and a three-way of Hee, Abercrombie and Ige. And Ige kept coming up the winner. Though one politico compared Ige's personality to three-day-old tako poke, bland may prove to be the tonic for voters weary of Abercrombie's abrasive, antagonistic, Washington-style politics.

Locally, we've got Councilmen Mel Rapozo and Gary Hooser teaming up on Wednesday to convince their colleagues to call for County Attorney Al Castillo's resignation by adopting a resolution proclaiming the Council has “no-confidence” in him. Mmm, yeah, so who does? But then we quickly get to the next question: Who else would even want that crappy job?

The resolution, which is totally non-binding, and thus legally meaningless, nonetheless serves a powerful political purpose, providing convenient cover for a “bash Al day” in Council chambers. Gary can rag on Al for not giving him the opinion he wanted re: Bill 2491, and Mel can get in a few swipes about the Tim Bynum case.

Others with a wicked grudge against Al will also crawl out of the woodwork to avail themselves of this opportunity to cast aspersions unchallenged on public access TV. It's kind of like giving the mayor dirty lickin's by proxy. No doubt former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri and her loyal henchmen, Glenn Mickens and Ken Taylor, will each deliver their six minutes of froth and fury.

Speaking of Shay, a very good source says she is absolutely determined to run for Council, though she has not yet pulled papers. And neither, interestingly, has Mason Chock, who was appointed to the Council last fall to cast a vote overriding the mayor's veto of 2491. Oh, yeah, and also to fill the vacancy let by Nadine Nakamura.

But guess who did pull papers? That's right: former Council Chair Kaipo Asing. To which I can only say, OMG. I knew there was an anti-”red shirt” backlash brewing, but I wasn't expecting it to take quite that turn.

Nor was I expecting Sheilah Miyake, whose disgraceful performance as planning inspection supervisor fueled Bynum's expensive civil rights lawsuit, to turn around and make her own claim against the county. Yup, she's trying to recover legal fees incurred while defending herself in her personal capacity. Taxpayers already paid to represent her in her “professional” capacity, if we can call it that, considering she has absolutely no qualifications for her job and got it solely for political reasons.

Ah, the cheekiness knows no bounds. If only we sue her to recover all the salary and benefits she never was entitled to receive all these years.

Tim, meanwhile, is trying to beef up his creds with the anti-GMO crowd by introducing a bill that would create a new real property tax classification that he has dubbed “agronomics.” It will “include properties that use their land primarily for science, research and development of crops that do not directly gain monetary profit from the ultimate consumer.”

This is in keeping with an urban myth that Tim and the red-shirts actively perpetuate: the seed companies are using Kauai solely to test experimental pesticides and crops, while producing nothing of agricultural value. Which is partly true, and makes for great propaganda. 

Except they also produce seed that is shipped to the mainland and planted there to produce more seed, which is sold to the farmers who cultivate commodity crops that are fed to livestock and also turned into Cheetos and baby formula and the corn syrup ubiquitous in so many processed foods.

Gee, I wonder how that bill would impact  acreage where Grove Farm is testing biofuel crops? Or the land owned by College of Tropical Ag up at the experimental station, the research plots at KCC? Does the state even pay property taxes?

Oh, and Tim wants to have it in effect for the 2014 election 2015-16 FY budget, which means they have to adopt it by July 1. Right. Can you spell political posturing? Yes, Tim, let's rush through another bill affecting only the seed companies. Because, ya know, we didn't learn from 2491, so let's adopt another industry-specific bill that has lawsuit written all over it.

And then we can blame Al for burning through special counsel money like gasoline-soaked guinea grass.

Round and round and round it goes, and where it will stop, nobody knows.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Same ole "dog and pony show" and politics as usual. What should we expect? Enlightenment? Change?

Get your popcorn and soda, and watch the drama unfold.

....and of course, vote for the best qualified idiot.

Zero Seven

Charlie King said...

Very entertaining - thanks, Joan.

Anonymous said...

"This is in keeping with an urban myth that Tim and the red-shirts actively perpetuate: the seed companies are using Kauai solely to test experimental pesticides and crops, while producing nothing of agricultural value. Which is partly true, and makes for great propaganda."

What part of that is not true?

Joan Conrow said...

The "solely" and "producing nothing of agricultural value" parts.

Anonymous said...

What do tourists produce? We all know the answer to that it is supposed money, trash, lots of pesticide use on each tourist who slathers themselves in Deet and other mosquito repellents, not to mention their body waste which overburdens wastewater systems everywhere. Hanalei smells like sewage , it stinks from sewage from too many tourists ,but tourists produce money which equals green.

Anonymous said...

Joan, just curious, who do you endorse

Anonymous said...

You nailed this one.
Mel, who is mad because Tim's case settled and Gary who is mad the County Atty disliked 2491 organized a bash the CA day.
No matter what the outcome, the resolution means nothing and has no effect.
Its dreadful just thinking about. What a broken government it is here. We are paying these fools to pass meaningless resolutions and bash their enemies on TV.
The feud continues.

Anonymous said...

Locally, we've got Councilmen Mel Rapozo and Gary Hooser teaming up on Wednesday to convince their colleagues to call for County Attorney Al Castillo's resignation by adopting a resolution proclaiming the Council has “no-confidence” in him. Mmm, yeah, so who does? But then we quickly get to the next question: Who else would even want that crappy job?

How about a No Confidence in Kauai's county council and The Mayor and his Admin.

Is the council going to have some 50 plus executive sessions or is it political grandstanding and let's ROAST AL day so I can get some brownie points amongst the voting zombies.

Speaking of Shay, a very good source says she is absolutely determined to run for Council, though she has not yet pulled papers. And neither, interestingly, has Mason Chock, who was appointed to the Council last fall to cast a vote overriding the mayor's veto of 2491. Oh, yeah, and also to fill the vacancy let by Nadine Nakamura.

Shay should never serve in another public office ever again. I am very surprised that she is not in federal prison. All the EEOC, public drunkenness, abuse of county vehicle privileges, witness being murdered while she was on duty, retaliation, trying to pimp her subordinates, and many more suspicious activities.

Mason Chock could win if he gives alcohol to his baby momma in the elections and her and the elections office parties while counting votes.

But guess who did pull papers? That's right: former Council Chair Kaipo Asing. To which I can only say, OMG. I knew there was an anti-”red shirt” backlash brewing, but I wasn't expecting it to take quite that turn.

Should stay retired but he knows that the time is ripe to get another seat. He and his cohorts destroyed Tim. To blame Bynum for the retaliation by Sheilah Miyake an unqualified planning inspection supervisor. The damage has been done, The GOBAG are celebrating and at the same time salivating at getting bacvck into positions of power.

Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger, Dylan Hooser, has picked a design that plays up the family name, apparently banking on papa's perceived popularity, though it still remains to be seen whether that ultimately turns out to be a benefit, or a liability. In any case, it doesn't carry the same clout as, say, a Kawakami or a Kaneshiro.


I am sick and tired of having the same GOBAG families to vote from. Their LUST for Money,Ppower, and Control is Despicable.

I am happy to hear that Retired General Hertog is Kauai's newest commissioner. I believe that she would be a better asset as being Kauai's Mayor of county manager. Even Cowden would be a better candidate as a county manager than what we have in place. I believe that General Hertog could clean up the counties corruption and nepotism. The military has already cut the pork in many areas and utilizing the federal government strategies would reduce Kauai's budget and get the best available people into critical positions. Kauai will not survive under the current Mayor and the current councils rule. We will go bankrupt like Oahu in no time and if you think taxes are bad now they will only get worse.

Anonymous said...

Joan wrote: 'The "solely" and "producing nothing of agricultural value" parts.'

Yeah, I saw where you made the claim; I was hoping for some fact to back them up. Besides testing experimental pesticides and crops, what else do the seed companies do here? What do they produce here "of agricultural value"? Where can we buy their crops?

Please, dispel the "urban myth" and correct the "propaganda."

What do the seed companies do here besides testing experimental pesticides and crops?

Anonymous said...

That is apropo, Tokioka and Kouchi meeting in the bar.
Tokiokaʻs so full of crap. All the behind the scenes bs that translates to: I better not get involved even though Iʻm a politician. They might not vote for me or I might not get that campaign contribution. Kouchi and him trying to cook up another way to develop more land. Maybe with that stinking bypass road, huh?

Maybe they should stay out of the ʻbarsʻ and those other ʻplacesʻ and get busy raising the alcohol tax to equal the cigarette tax. What a concept. Even the Korean bars would get hit.

Wish youʻd run, Joan. At least youʻd be thinking and voting with your brain instead of other bodily parts.

Anonymous said...

Who would want that job? Look at the clients. Egomaniacs who think they know it all. Was it the County Attorney who told the ex prosecutor to go after her political enemy? Or told the council to pass that stupid law that led to another costly lawsuit? Or told the chief of police to violate federal anti discrimination laws? And on and on. None of these lawsuits were caused by the County Attorney but he's being made the scapegoat.

Anonymous said...


I hope Shay does run. She will get a lot of support.
Kauai is on the brink of bankruptcy. The council has already raised taxes, tipping fees and other costs of business. When the reality of the anti-Ag law hits us with huge court costs and perhaps, enormous damages, who will pay?
One suggestion, have the Council members pledge their giant pension money to help pay off the loss. Then the greedy frothy fistees will back up.
A law passed in frenzy, in the shrill chants of pre-dawn and then a veto over ride vote provided by a hand picked lemming is bound for failure.

Anonymous said...

I do not like those laws that the County Attorney tells us to follow, I think we need to fire him.

Anonymous said...

There's a saying in politics... "When you're out, you're out." And Kaipo, Shay, etcetera, are out.

Anonymous said...

Shay is part of the crowd going after the poor guy who got stuck with some of the biggest bozos for clients. Shaylene, Tim, Sheila, the council, the mayor, and that's just the politicians! Get out while the gittins good!

Anonymous said...

Joan can't run for office because she is the ultimate "anti". she doesn't have anything to run "for."

She can attempt to fact check though...other than Kouchi and Tokioka said so, can you provide actual verification that "8 new pesticide" inspectors will be added?

Chuck Lasker said...

"What do the seed companies do here besides testing experimental pesticides and crops?"

You can ask them. All four of them will give a tour if requested, show exactly what they do. But to summarize:

The seed companies in Hawaii do NOT test experimental pesticides. They use the same pesticides as mainland farms, in the same amounts as most farms in warm areas. They also have NO laboratories in Hawaii, do NO gene testing, and no GMO development. All of that is done on the mainland or in other countries.

The seed companies in Hawaii only do two things:

1. Bulk up seed. The companies send to Hawaii, say, 100 of a particular kind of seed that has already gone through multiple phases of testing and gotten approval for open air. The farms here take that seed and turn it into, say, 100,000 seeds and send it back.

2. Grow seed to sell to farmers. They grow fully tested and approved seed crops that are already on the market.

These are the facts. When you hear otherwise, that's the propaganda.

Joan Conrow said...

Dear 1:16,
Didn't you parents teach you to say please? Or do you actually think you're "entitled'" to make demands of me?

So no. I'm not going to waste a minute of my precious time finding "verification" for a rude and nasty Anonymous.

I have since learned, however, that just 4 positions were funded and no guarantee they'll be on Kauai.

And thank you, Chuck, for providing that info. Though of course it will not be believed because it diverges from the propaganda script.

Anonymous said...

The lil fisties get ugly when they donʻt get their way.

watchdog said...

That's what the seed companies SAY they do, but is there reason to believe them 100%? Because corporations selling unpopular products never lie or put a spin on their public communications.

I believe the 2 ends of the spectrum: they grow GMO seed crops in great quantity (Chuck's #2 above). These are "normal" fields planted and grown to sell the seeds on the mainland. Make no mistake however: these are patented GMO crops with the same issues such as pollen cross-contamination (that is, if we had any farmer trying to grow conventional or organic nearby) and probably the application of roundup and whatever other herbicides they are resistant to (not sure how much, but the FDA/USDA says it's safe, so I'm sure it is--that is sarcasm by the way).

At the other end, I'm pretty sure they are not doing the gene splicing or research here on Kauai. I don't see the facilities and the personnel for that.

But in the middle, there is a lot of wiggle room for weasel words. Chuck's #1 calls it "bulk up seed," but how is that different from experimental seed? What is the process for open air approval? I thought the FDA/USDA let the seed companies write their own rules. Ok, so the gene-splicing or bombarding happened in a mainland lab, the seed grew in their greenhouse one or two generations with or without being doused in chemicals, and now it comes to Kauai. So now seed #56fd2 gets put in a plot and bulked up, the question being with or without the application of target chemicals? Keep in mind that the whole reason for the bill was that according to federal law, the company does not need to disclose what and when and how much they are spraying, and the companies didn't seem to want to do this voluntarily. So what is there to hid, if not the spraying of experimental chemicals on experimental crops?

Anonymous said...

12,000 acres leased, 2200 seed, what is the rest? Seed crops don't require 660 ft buffers.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog...whoever it concerns they will witness the Seed Companies evidences in court in their suit against Ord. 960. The Seed Companies are very high profile corporations and have a lot to lose in any screwups. Thus don't think you know more than they do about what they do. Are you another Google PHD. ?

Chuck Lasker said...

If you believe the government lets the seed farms lie about what they're doing, what they're spraying, why do you think MORE laws will change things? When the state shows pesticide levels as being safe, the antis scream "lie." But then demand more tests. If you have information that the seed farms are doing anything illicit or illegal, report it. If not, it's just conjecture based on anti-corporate ideology. It is actually possible they are telling the truth, isn't it?

Oh, and no, the companies don't set their own FDA/USDA testing rules. GMOs are regulated to the point of costing about $100 million and taking 8-10 years to get approval on every single trait. If the companies had control of the testing rules, that would be $50 and 10 days, right? Again, the facts just don't fit the anti-GMO narrative. That is why, when asked for facts and data to back up anti-GMO claims, the normal response is personal attacks, threats and name calling.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lasker, I am with you and to the point!
Comments 6:53 pm

GOGO GMO

Anonymous said...

This election is about one thing. GMO, Roundup and all chemicals.
My vote goes for Dylan Hooser and Justin Barca, they may not be educated, experienced or have any business knowledge, but they really love Kauai and will stop the poisoning of the aina.
Everything else doesn't matter. But perhaps, if they stick to their beliefs they could limit the number of tourists, ban helicopters, ban Na Pali tours, investigate PMRF and arrest all agricultural home owners who aren't doing real ag.
Finally we have a choice.

watchdog said...

In response to Chuck Lasker:

First of all, you advertize yourself as an "online marketing consultant," which is one way to say you accept money for putting things on the internet. As impolite as is to ask, it would help this conversation if you stated clearly whether or not you are being paid by the seed companies or any company related to or contracting with the seed companies, such as PR firms. I will state for myself that I receive no compensation for my writing and that I am writing independently.

Now on with the debate: I never said "the government lets the seed farms lie about ... what they're spraying". I said and repeat: the federal government lets the seed farms HIDE what they're spraying from the public. Please tell me if that is wrong.

It is my understanding that the local ordinance seeks to force the seed companies to report on WHAT and WHEN they are spraying, as well as ensure certain spray-free buffer zones. I believe more laws are needed at the state and local level because I believe the federal law doesn't protect my interests. It's my right to speak up in favor of my interests and to my preferences, and so I support candidates who feel the same way.

When the state shows pesticide levels as being safe, I am happy and I do not scream "lie." Instead, I advocate for, and am willing to pay taxes for, continued and repeated monitoring, more monitoring, at all times of year, all around the island and especially during brown water events.

Your strawman about illegal activity is growing old. The people who oppose GMO crops and the seed companies aren't conjecturing about illegal activity (though I'm sure some happens somewhere, and whistleblowers should be protected), they are generally advocating for more regulations.

The probability that the companies are telling the truth is unknowable. If a corporation has billions invested in long-term R&D, it has a legal obligation to shareholders to get as much return as possible, either by telling the truth or by telling lies, whichever works best, it doesn't matter to the corporation. And while corporations facing intense public scrutiny may avoid outright lies due to public relations, they also use image consultants, public relations firms, and corporate-speak to make things appear differently.

I'm happy to hear about the cost and scrutiny of the GMO approval process. However, regulatory capture is also quite likely and what allows the whole GMO industry to exist in the first place.

Finally, I do not believe I have made any "personal attacks, threats and name calling", so don't try to lump me and my arguments in with those you dismiss so easily as "antis." There are really many groups of people who oppose GMOs, each for their own reasons. Some reasons may be purely emotional, others quasi-religious, and yet other can be scientifically sound.

watchdog said...

To Anonymous at 5:48 PM:

Why would the seed companies present any sort of spraying or non-spraying evidence in court where it can be seen by all? They will have bigshot lawyers presenting arguments of constitutional law and state law that tries to show the county ordinance is unenforceable. And while I support the ordinance, I didn't write the ordinance or have any say in it, so like most everyone else, I have to live with whatever compromises were made by those who did write it. Second, I realize that the local ordinance is imperfect, and I still support it because change starts at home, never in Washington. So yes, it is an activist law, one meant to stir things up and raise issues, and I'm OK with that.

Who's claiming to know more? Not me and that's the point: the GMO companies hide their practices, so those who would like to know more must speculate and advocate for more disclosure.

Maybe calling someone a Google PHD is what Chuck meant by name calling.

Anonymous said...

Why only focus on pesticide use of the GMO companies, why not all pesticide use?

Manuahi said...

Who will pay for all this litigation? Many believe that it will be paid for by only the wealthy landowners who pay property taxes. Not so. The landlords will pass it onto their tenants in the form of increasingly unaffordable rents and the County will have to apportion less funds for keeping our parks and beaches clean and cutting back in all those services that we expect to be rendered. Faulty ill-concieved laws hurt us all. Throw out the creeps who don't give a crap about your ability to remain living in Hawaii.

Manuahi said...

Joan, all TVR's must show their permit numbers in all advertising. So.... Even if a TVR is permitted, it is breaking the law if you can't see their permit # on their website.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joan, I have been requesting proof from the "seed companies" That they actually ship any seed off Kauai for more than a year now, and no proof has been forthcoming. Surely an invoice from a shipper would not compromise their trade secrets. I do not believe that these companies ship any seed from Kauai, and I certainly do not believe anything that Mr. Lasker has to say on the matter. You wrote in your blog that they ship seed. Are you sure? How do you know that to be the case? Mahalo.