“So are you happy with the decision?” my sister asked as I fielded phone calls, emails and texts yesterday after a federal judge overturned Kauai's GMO/pesticide regulatory bill on the grounds that it was pre-empted by state law.
No. How could I be happy about multinational chemical companies gaining more power? How could I rejoice in having the pre-emption issue so starkly defined and clarified? How could I be reveling in the realization that environmental and progressive politics have been set back 20 years by fools who thought their little mob action was more powerful than state law?
Those of us who were environmentally conscious and active before some of the “red shirts” were even born will never be happy with the ignorance, the drama, the ugliness and now the stunning precedent that has been set by this epic political failure.
A precedent that gives the chem companies the right to thumb their noses and say, we can do whatever the state lets us do. A precedent that will stymie any future attempts to manage pesticide use at the local level. A precedent that will leave us worse off than we were before Bill 2491.
Yup, we're talking about a precedent that goes way beyond anything that could have gotten through the state Legislature. Instead, it was all wrapped up with a bow and presented to the chem companies, courtesy of Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum — the self-righteous, posturing apostles of Bill 2491.
What's more, this precedent affects the entire state. Kind of makes you wonder who they're really working for. Because it sure as hell ain't the public good.
Still, I do find some satisfaction in seeing Gary and Tim fall flat on their faces. Just as I find some small vindication in being able to say, yeah, I was right all along and I stuck to my guns, even as Gary's “red-shirts” and “fistees” turned on me with a savage vengeance for daring to tell them the truth: They'd been suckered into supporting a bill that was legally flawed and would never give them any answers or relief.
It brings to mind some lyrics from the Prince song, “Face Down:”
4 those who know the number and don't call
Huh, fuck all y'all
So here we are, with nothing — nothing but a legal bill, a torn community and a potent political backlash, just as I and others predicted. Even the Environmental and Public Health Impact Study (EPHIS) is in danger of being tossed out, with attorneys trying to determine whether the judge's order invalidating the entire ordinance precludes that study from moving forward.
And if it doesn't, the worried westside folks are gonna have to throw themselves on the mercy of the state, and beg for health and environmental studies. Because Hawaii SEED, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network, Surfrider, Earthjustice, Kauai Rising, Babes Against Biotech, Kauai Ohana and the other folks who fed their fear and led them down the primrose path ain't gonna do shit to help them.
Gary, still dangerously seeped in his delusions of grandeur, says he wants to continue the fight, as does Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff. Of course they want to appeal. That's how Earthjustice gets money, and Gary gets publicity. But they don't have a hope in hell of getting the Administration or the rest of the Council to go along with their charade. The game is up.
Sadly, Gary has become so accustomed to lying during this whole boondoggle that he just can't stop, as evidenced by his quotes in the Associated Press article:
“These companies have fought compliance for over a year now. They have much more money than the county ... they're billion-dollar corporations determined not to follow the rules of Kauai County," he said. "This is a long way from over."
Actually, they haven't fought compliance because “the rules of Kauai County” never went into effect, and now they've been declared invalid. Wake up, Gary. It is so over — just like your political career.
Gary goes on to say:
"This is just disclosure and buffer zones, nothing more. If they were good neighbors they would just comply."
But they have. They are voluntarily disclosing their monthly pesticide use, and according to court documents, they'd voluntarily adopted buffer zones around schools and hospitals before the law was even passed.
So what is that you really want, Gary? Aside from carte blanche to keep blowing the taxpayers' money on a dead law, just so you can keep yourself in the spotlight?
Sadly, like all good propaganda, lies spread by Gary and the “red shirts” have become entrenched in the citizenry, as evidenced by John Patt's comment on the same AP story:
How many more young mothers will give birth to deformed children, how many more cancer victims must we endure because these mega international companies refuse to comply with buffer zones between their test fields where they spray unknown amounts of restricted use pesticides, and our schools, our hospitals and our elders?
Yes, the uninformed rhetoric will continue to live on, even though the law is dead and soon to be buried.
So no, I'm not happy at the incredible waste of money and human energy burned by by this bill, or the disgusting divisiveness it spawned. I'm not happy to have discovered that the so-called “progressive” media is a witting or unwitting propaganda machine when it comes to GMOs.
I'm not happy that Tim and Gary played Mason Chock for their own purposes, effectively derailing what might have been a promising political career. (Which is not to say that Mason couldn't have taken the high road and refused the Council appointment, a move that would have elevated him in the eyes of many.)
I'm definitely not happy that decent, highly intelligent, caring people, like Deputy County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask, were trashed by know-nothings who never even read the bill.
Still, I can take heart in thinking that maybe some of the sleazy players who came and disrupted our community will go back where they came from, now that the flow of money is about to dry up.
And I can smile with irony when I stumble across ridiculously grandiose headlines, like the one that “red shirt” activist Andrea Brower attached to a 2013 Huffington Post blog: “Chemical Corporations Tremble at Kauai's Unwavering Determination.”
Oh, yeah. They be tremblin' alright. Shaking with laughter as they chortle with glee.