Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Musings: Happy?

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.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two things: 1) Don't vote for Gary (for any office), and 2) I hope the seed companies pursue defamation action against Gary. He's knowingly telling lies in an effort to damage the corporate reputations of all the seed companies. Gary, your time has passed. Step aside. I hope there are enough fair-minded voters who give you a BOOT in November.

Chuck Lasker said...

My only disagreement in this is:

"A precedent that gives the chem companies the right to thumb their noses and say, we can do whatever the state lets us do."

By what information do you believe they WANT to do anything that hurts people or the environment? It's time to take the next step, Joan, and get to know the people at the seed farms, take the tours and learn who they are, what they do, and why. They are more than happy to share.

Anonymous said...

No one is chortling Joan. Saddened for sure by the many things you so astutely pointed out. Relieved that the flagrant attempt to penalize/oust the seed companies based on conjecture and falsehoods failed. But this has been an overwhelming disaster for each and every one of us, including the companies.

Anonymous said...

Read how the Chem/Bio poisoned the whole city of Annison Alabama and the soldiers that were at Ft McClellan Alabama.

That Superfund site is a Chem/Bio cover up like agent orange, gulf war syndrome, and the poisoning that they are doing on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Bad and absolutist policies make terrible legal precedents that can be impossible to overcome. This heedless strategy threw caution and sense to the wind by galvanizing a base unschooled in the basics of civic engagement, public policy and litigation. Perhaps they'll go back to their crystals, vortices and other tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories now. After all,complex federal litigation (like real science) can be hard to follow and doesn't confer a false sense of enlightenment like red shirts on Rice Street re-enacting some fantasy of the '60s.

Hats off to you, Joan. Your continuing lucid and courageous commentary on this sad episode in island politics has been a continuing bright spot. It can't be easy facing the unremitting hostility and unsigned vitriol you've encountered, but you're a courageous woman and a huge resource for this island where journalistic skill and energy are virtually nonexistent. It's also a relief to read literate writing that stands out in an online maelstrom of poorly reasoned and articulated commentary. Mahalo nui.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Chock's family activists with the red shirts and supporters of Barca? I recall them testifying on the bill before the appointment to fill the seat and seen then in videos. They probably selected him because they knew that was a for sure vote to override the Mayor's veto. That's what I've observed and the word that went around. The way it went down seems corrupted, but guess not if it was legal. Now saying Chock is not qualified to take the 7th seat. It just seems that Gary, Tim, Joanne, and Jay wanted the bill to be overrode and it was obvious that Chock was their trump card.

Anonymous said...

This is a sad time for the very reasons you have stated, especially the division of our people. I had a bad migraine during the "Big March" so did not attend. What color shirt would I have worn if I had been able to attend - red or blue? I am for organic food and feel all food should be labeled GMO or organic, that gives people choices. It doesn't eliminate GMO, which is okay and it lets me know which food to buy. I am an educator, very pro-keiki, pro-schools, pro-school teachers and know we need buffer zones for the safety of our schools, hospitals, and elders. I will stand up strong for this belief. But I also know State laws have higher jurisdiction over County laws and we need to work with that. Having the Seed companies do their voluntary buffering, don't we just need a County Watch-dog Committee to oversee this? Or at least look at what we CAN do, working within the system. So what color shirt would I have worn? Purple. Kauai's purple and hope that others would join me in trying to re-unite our community and do what is pono by our citizens. There are people running for Council that have lied, not paid taxes, and are pulling the wool over our young people's eyes who are idealistic and very impressionable. The people who tell the lies, may seemingly be for what we all want - the safety of our people, but they are really more concerned with their egos and their political careers. I am hoping that our young voters will see through the facade and work with positive energies towards watching over our keiki, schools, hospitals, and elders and work within our system and our appointed public servants.

Anonymous said...

no disaster----democracy at work--everyone carries their own truths and untruths----we are entitled to that here in the great USA. We have free choice to make the most of what information we can get our hands on. In most cases we have the believers and those who don't believe and the strong will carry forth and attempt to change things for what they believe is best for themselves and sometimes, for others. I believe that a number of people who respond to this blog are the ones who have divided the island, if there really is a divide! Openly it has been local against the white know it alls, the poor against the rich---i think it's still the same. Nothing much has changed except that some use this democracy at work (red vs. blue)as a reason for the divide. A lot of local people don't even care about what's going on. We have friends who work for the biotechs and friends who are being sprayed to death, and we are still friends and get along! Hope Gary and others will pursue to keep the biotechs in check. They actually started to be more careful after all this started--don't think that they would have done buffer zones, etc. if all this didn't surface. So, thanks to those who supported the efforts of making the biotechs a little more accountable for what they are doing. . . . more gotta be done!

Anonymous said...

Joan, Seems many of your critics who are concerned about the environment have no idea of your decades of dedication to environmental causes and your carefully developed political acumen after years of prolific investigative journalism. Have your critics forgotten the last election when you did so much to rid Kauai of a corrupt and incompetent prosecutor and in the process dished out some serious damage to the former prosecutors supporters on the council? Now some of those critics accuse you of being in the pockets of that former prosecutor’s council supporters. What a joke! Any politician with you in their pocket better not insert their hand or they're likely to get stung! Though I often disagree and have been critical of your style I believe your doing more to promote a healthy political process on Kauai than any other person.

Joan Conrow said...

Mahalo, 3:45 and 4:44!! Thanks for reading. The supportive comments have kept me going.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joan. You are right on.
Time for the island to move forward.

The future is in the election.
Mayor Carvalho deserves to be elected. He held himself nobly in the anti-Gmo affair. He was threatened, called every name in the book and still held his composure. A good man.
Joann will probably get re-elected. No one knows why. She has been around so long, she is like an old couch, comfortable but with many lumps.
Ross and Mel will get in. They both put the people of Kauai first.
Jay should get the catapult. He has missed the fire of the GMO debate, but he was a major part of the whole mess. He has, as many have stated, lost the two dangling ornaments that define manhood. He was a sheep and Gary and Tim led him around like an old gray mare.
Mason Chock, as you said so well, had a future in politics. But he turned out to be Gary's boy, and Kauai needs real men and women to lead, not boychicks.
Tim, it is amazing that he has the audacity to even run after he pillages the taxpayer money and his ultra whiny actions. But, I gotta hand it to him, he has gumption to stay in the fray. He will not be elected.
Gary-what can ya say? Blinding ego, startling self-promotion and condescending attitude. But he is the big Luna of the Council. He gets Mason in and gets Mason's hard lover's grip in exchange. Gary speaks and Jay jumps, Joann malingerly agrees and Tim pantingly complies. Somehow, Gary with all of his obvious self-promotion, grandstanding and lies has taken complete control of 4 Council members. This is power. The Fab 4 under his thumb should all go away and hopefully Gary will go away as well.
Chief Perry has proven his commitment to Kauai and his mind will be good for the island.
Arryl Kanehiro is a well mannered educated, respectful kid. He knows hard work, farming and Kauai's people. There are some who say that his GF employment is a detriment. All he has to do is not vote on anything GF. He is smart and deserves to get elected.
Felicia? let me see, of wait, I can't the electric nuronosonic cosmeeologees are coming off of my smart meter and the lights don't work. She is as whacky as they come, but she has behaved well in her Council run. Just don't ask her where she buys her Unicorn food, she will tell you
"Ma'am, Unicorns eat rainbows and Kauai has lots of those. I want to pass a law to make lots more rainbows, they are really fun"

Anonymous said...

3:45 and 4:44- Well said and agreed to by many

Anonymous said...


"Common sense is not so common."
- Voltaire

Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, Jay Furfaro and JoAnn Yukimura should not be reelected, and not be legislators because they allowed their ideology get in the way of responsible policy and legislation.

Good government is not about ideology and emotion.

Chuck Lasker said...

Just a couple of quick responses to comments...

4:05 said: "and friends who are being sprayed to death" - how can you have dead friends? Or are they dying right now?

4:05 also said: "don't think that they would have done buffer zones, etc. if all this didn't surface." - the buffer zones existed long before Hooser and Bynum sprung 2491 on Kauai. The seed companies use about 1/3 of the acres they own at any given time. They don't need to run the crops right up against schools, hospitals or even roads. Buffer zones have been used by farmers for decades. The seed companies spend billions on safety protocols for their employees and the public and have no desire to harm anyone. After all, their own kids go to those schools, their friends and families go to those hospitals, they drink the water and play in the ocean, too. The whole "spraying near schools, hospitals, etc." thing is just one of the lies Hooser uses to push his agenda.

6:02 said, "There are some who say that [Arryl Kaneshiro's] GF employment is a detriment. All he has to do is not vote on anything GF."

Gary Hooser is on the Board of the Hawaii Organic Food Association and President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organization. 501c3s are "absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign." Talk about a conflict of interest regarding Bill 2491! Yet he doesn't recuse himself from any votes based on this conflict. I, like you, 6:02, have no similar worries about Arryl, who will do what is right when the time comes to vote on anything where there might be a conflict.

Anonymous said...

Kipukai was ready to support bill. It was his alignment with Mel and former prosecutor Shaylene, and his tenuous relationship with some on council as the basis for not being picked. Mason was chosen as a better fit with the majority, not solely for bill 2491.

Anonymous said...

Whether the Chem companies are around or not babies are still going to be born with deformations and people are still going to get cancer so what's the difference?

Anonymous said...

@6:02 thank you! That was sooooo funny! And true! Lmao!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Kauai Rising petition. More insanity from the reality challenged.

Anonymous said...

Chuck, yes, my friends are dead,sick and dying. Can you imagine having children who have bloody noses when we smell the pesticides from the seed company? Can you imagine having friends you worked with at WCS dead from cancer and others diagnosed and treated for cancer--(10 in total since 2000)? Can you imagine your friends and neighbors who have cancer or died cuz of cancer? If you want to have this experience, come live with us! If buffer zones were in place prior to 2491, he powers in control(the State?!) didn't make sure the chemical companies followed the rules, cuz i live next to some corn fields---no buffer zones until about a year ago. WCS' predicament was even worse, the field was right up to the fence that separated the school from the corn field. They moved away only after the big issue of the kids getting sick. So, don't tell me that they had buffer zones in place---i live it, many live it!
Yes, friends and family are being(have been) sprayed to death. Oh, forgot, we now have to prove it!

Edward Coll said...

The tactics and actions undertaken to control corporate behavior were comic, tragic and a waste of energy given the outcome. Many people will lapse into an apathetic naval gazing future. Buck up! All of this could have been done with greater effect and at a fraction of the costs, but unfortunately it takes takes cooperation of a few real activists.

Here's how - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRfbaPdHvVo


Anonymous said...

Reading KauaiEclectic is a bright spot in my day...I only wish I had the good fortune to attend weekly get-togethers with you Joan, and your many equally bright and witty supporters. What fun!

Anonymous said...

August 27, 2014 at 10:06 AM
Yes you do have to prove it ....
Otherwise it is just more ancedotal exaggeration from a dubious source.
If your claims had any factual validity verified by Health Dept or actual medical data records your story would make the cover of Time magazine.
Without factual documentation your "story" is simply more mass hysteria promulgated by the Anti Chem lobby. Hyperbolic bloviation from an "anonymous' source. Please provide the 911 calls, emergency evaluations and diagnosis signed by a actual practicing physician. Not the 3rd hand diagnosis from a naturopath anti chem prophet from Kansas.
Any foul smell is now accompanied by mass hysteria and panic attacks.
Next time you fill up your gas tank will you fall into a swoon by the benzene gas released into your atmosphere? Not to mention the possibility pf asbestos and heavy metal emanation from your vehicle? If you really want to avoid chemical contamination stop driving your car, much more exposure there from toxic poison.
Testing equipment now can read dust from the Gobi desert so alarmist data sounds scary but put in perspective it is no more dangerous than the allowable level of bug parts in a can of chile.

Anonymous said...

Joan, i concur on occasional specifics within your blog and do spend time consuming yours and others opinions. Within the semantics, your sway is belligerent and self advocating solely geared towards adversity and contemp for other than your tight portrayal. Attitude of benevolent concern masked as an honored pro industry crusade to showcase the process and then harm done TO companies careless about anything other than their agenda keeps your fan club appeased. It sickens me that the saga is scripted as unchained government vs job creating corporations vs false harm on our uneducated populace. I'm with 4:05...many here don't have care due to barely surviving and breathing, daily simple life needs take precedence to barking at the moon along side you or a colored shirt. Not apathetic. Just disadvantged while deeply caring, not knowing how to voice beyond their kitchen table or eloquently blogging. I'm a born and raised conscious "alarmist" constantly jumping into the middle of the many challenges plaguing Kauai and my entire state, watching myself within the dialogue. Stirring away,like you, yet not applause seeking. online dry heaving will never replace civility and consideration. We're in a poisoned pit and its getting tougher yet imperative to stay optimistic.

Anonymous said...

@August 27, 2014 at 10:06 AM
Of course your friends’ cancers could have nothing to do with their diets of fatty meats and starch with no vegetables. Of the smoking and BBQ’ing on charcoals and all the other crap they put in their bodies. Or maybe the wood treatment and ch9nese drywall your school building is built out of or so many other possibilities that you discount out of hand with your jaundiced convictions. And if you’re telling the truth (which I doubt because the Anti’s are such liars) how come you aren’t dying of cancer? No, it MUST be the seed companies' fault because cancer never occurred before they came to Hawaii. No NEVER!!! And you’re teaching our children your venomous unfounded lies??? No wonder people put their kids in private school.

Anonymous said...

@ August 27, 2014 at 2:10 PM

"...no more dangerous than the allowable level of bug parts in a can of chile."


And that's ORGANIC chile.

Anonymous said...

The loud silence from da Hoos and Jackpot Bynum is deafening.
Gary did comment that the fight was still on, but the reality is there will not be much support from his former Fistees on the Council. Jay and JoAnn have skidaddled and Mason is trying to figure out what to do now that Gary's former full throbbing bigness has turned shriveled and flaccid.
All of the islands have been hit with the knockout ruling from the "friendly" Judge. Some bloggers are suggesting that the ruling was actually friendly to the Fistees because the Judge did not specifically address each individual issue in his ruling. Their marry-wanna must be dazzling. The ruling was very clear. The State has jurisdiction Period.
It is time to take a deep breath. It is time to let the person who uses a little Roundup around his fence line be allowed to put in her 2 cents without being blasted as a "poisoner".
Kauai has had many challenges. Together we can get some good results.
I heard a rumor that our good Legislative team of Tokioka, Kawakami and Kouchi are already making overtures to State Ag and they will get some help for tests. Maybe Big Ag will share some of their testing as well. Believe it, Gary and Tim, Big Ag does test and Big Ag does care.
Everything will be better if Gary and Tim are not elected.



Anonymous said...

The Hystericals got their bill shoved down their throat.

Anonymous said...

"Everything will be better if Gary and Tim are not elected."

AMEN!!

Anonymous said...

Mahalo, Joan.
For your tenacity, research, your caring nature...and especially, for your prose and poetry!

Anonymous said...

to 2:10----FOUL SMELL-no! smell of bubble gum to disguise the foul smell. MASS HYSTERIA-no, visits to KVMH emergency or a lot of kleenex to stop the bleeding, or inhaler for the asthma attack. PANIC ATTACKS-definitely! Filling gas-3-5 minutes once a week---pesticides almost daily for 4-6 hours.

Anonymous said...

"pesticides almost daily for 4-6 hours. "

Total BS

Anonymous said...

Pesticides 4-6 hours daily would be the least amount of time we get dusted. On most days, they spray from 7 am- 4 pm. Many nights are spray time also. Then the dust laden with pesticides is stirred up while they do their planting after the fields are safe to work in. The dust filters into Waimea, settles on/in homes, cars, gardens, everywhere. So, 4-6 hours on average is the very minimum.