I knew they were out there, that rare alignment of five planets, very visible on this moonless dawn, and I wanted to see them, but I was sleepy, snuggling in, telling myself, “maybe tomorrow.” But then Paele got up, and so we all did, which is how I found myself gratefully gazing up in wonder at that celestial arc of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury and Venus, sparkling silver against a backdrop of black-becoming-blue.
Now that's something special and thrilling, starring in a sky near you all month long.
Not so special was the state's recent clean up at Kalalau, which resulted in officers issuing 70 citations over the past few weeks to people who did not have camping permits.
Though it's always sad to see kanaka arrested — Alekai Kinimaka was busted for four petty misdemeanors, including landing a jet ski with a passenger on the beach — he's been offering illegal transport services out there for how many years already?
The worst, though, was watching (11:16 on the video) the tons of opala being hauled out – full-size lounge chairs, surfboards, fishing poles, rubbish, bongo drums, full-sized coolers, a five-foot-long plastic table.
Oh yeah, they wanna be part of that “pristine wilderness” – but with all the comforts of home. And let someone else clean up the mess.
At the end of the video, there's a DOCARE guy (I think it's Kauai Branch Chief Francis “Bully” Mission) saying:
“It really upsets me, just to see a pristine area like this...be destroyed with all the trash and illegal activity. It really saddens me... and more so the attitudes. They say they take care of the aina and clean up the area – but then we come back here and have to clean up the area for them. It's just really upsetting and saddening to see that sort of stuff going on.
Yes, so often we see that sad gaping disconnect between the rhetoric and actions of those who believe — and claim — they love the land.
Which brings us to HB 2574, the pesticide disclosure bill that passed out of the House environment committee Thursday afternoon. Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing wasted no time cashing in. That very same evening he sent out an email citing his vote and asking for contributions, with the message:
He has our backs, let's have his.
At best, that's blatant pandering. At worst, it's selling votes.
But hey, fear for sure sells, which is how Ing and the Center for Food Safety, which sent out its own “pony up now” email, cash in. First, they make you afraid. Then they promise to save you from the danger they've amplified. But only if you send enough money.
It's not unlike the people who used to prey on an elderly friend of mine, sending him letters asserting that he'd been cursed, but if he sent $5, they'd remove it.
Here's the biggest disconnect of all: Though they claim they are protecting the keiki, aina, kupuna and other Hawaiian words, they only want agricultural companies to disclose. Yet as farmer Larry Jefts pointed out, ag accounts for only one third of all restricted use pesticides (RUP). Even the hated Monsanto uses just 1 percent of the entire statewide RUP total.
So who is using the bulk of the RUPs? You got it: Pest control and termite treatment companies. They are using the most, in structures inhabited by keiki and kupuna, yet state law explicitly grants them an exemption from disclosure.
But somehow, this does not faze CFS, Councilman Gary Hooser, Pesticide Action Network and others who are demanding disclosure from ag under the guise of “our right to know.”
It's not like these pest control products — advertised as “Great for trenching, soil drenching and wall foaming” — never migrate off-site when applied in a residential neighborhood. And they're certainly not benign: Sulfuryl fluoride, commonly used in termite tenting, is described as a “toxic gas..Inhalation may be fatal due to respiratory failure.”
Shoots, these products are even produced by the same “corporate criminals” and “pathological liars” — to borrow phrases used by those testifying in support of the bill — who operate the seed fields.
But pest control is given zero scrutiny by the activists. Is it any wonder that so many of us see bills like HB 2574 as targeted attacks on agriculture?
Though some have urged passage, saying it would “ease the worries” of concerned citizens, Allan Parching used his testimony to point out the dark side of the legislation:
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this bill is the provision that would permit anyone in the general public to file litigation to enjoin use of pesticides in a particular location on a particular date and stack the deck against the agricultural entity seeking to use the pesticides—even with all appropriate and required state and federal permits and authorizations.
Both Parachini and Jefts said the bill should apply equally to all agricultural users of any pesticide, including so-called organic farms, and all other users of any RUP pesticide, especially golf courses and termite control contractors.
Or as Jefts elaborated, "If the true intent is to reduce pesticide exposure and increase the safety of families and community" homeowners should have to go through an education process akin to hunter safety training to show they know what they're doing before they can buy pesticides.
What struck me about about the testimony submitted in support of HB2574 was its sameness, as in 98 percent regurgitated the canned spiel that the activist groups had fed them. Which means they a) can't think for themselves, b) are essentially puppets, c) have insufficient grasp of the issue to craft their own testimony or d) all of the above.
I was also struck by how little of the testimony came from people who actually live near Kauai Coffee and the seed fields — the only entities that would be forced to disclose pesticide use. Much of it came from people living in Princeville — uh, go check out the poison closet there, guys — and Honolulu, which actually had the highest pesticide levels in the state, despite being devoid of agriculture.
Those who did go off script probably shouldn't have, like Rebecca Sydney of Makawao:
Do you not see that EVERYTHING on Maui is contaminated and potentially unsafe for its life forms? The soil is poisoned with chemicals! The water we drink is full of toxic chemicals! The air we breathe is still toxic with smoke and chemicals from agriculture and golf courses! The ocean is acidifying and dying from chemical runoff and the dumping of waste! The food sold in the stores is covered in chemicals (except organic) which can’t be washed off!
Geez. Might as well slit your wrists right now. Or, get educated, alleviate your fears and reconnect to reality.