Monday, March 21, 2016

Musings: Keep the Faith

Back when the anti-GMO/pesticide regulatory Bill 2491 was snaking its way through the  Kauai County Council, a woman named Jen Ruggles came to my attention.

I wrote about her because she claimed she saw Beth Tokioka, then county spokeswoman, texting two Councilwoman in a supposed attempt to orchestrate a take down of Bill 2491.The bill, as you may recall, was ultimately passed by the Council, vetoed by the mayor, upheld by the Council and then overturned by the courts. It's now on appeal.

Councilman Gary Hooser piled on, referencing Jen's claims in a memo to the mayor, in which he demanded to know whether his administration was improperly influence the vote. In my post, I challenged their account, maintaining that Jen was a paid political activist with the Pesticide Action Network who was engaged in a dirty tricks campaign with Hooser.

Sen. Russell Ruderman rushed to her defense in comments:

I will say that Jennifer Ruggles has the highest personal integrity, and I will swear by that. She is a respected activist with clear morals and the best intent.

Jen came to my attention again today, posed here with her friend, patron and co-conspirator, Gary Hooser, whom she praised for “responsible leadership” after he donated to her Big Island County Council race.
Curious, I went to Jen's campaign website, which features a banner photo of the Bill 2491 victory crowd. I was quite interested to find she had listed this job as part of her experience:

Pesticide Action Network North America Community Organizer (2013 KAUAI, HI)
Built coalition, core team, facilitated meetings, recruited 60 endorsers, engaged over 50 volunteers into action teams, worked with and lobbied council members and organized largest march in Kauai history. Coordinated campaign that successfully passed a bill to protect community from irresponsible GMO pesticide spray.

Ah, so the woman of “highest personal integrity” and "clear morals" finally admits she was working as a paid lobbyist when she and Gary orchestrated their little charade. But Jen never, ever identified herself as such at the time, even in a 2013 letter to The Garden Island:

I live in Kauai and recently participated in the democratic process for the first time. I sat through over 65 hours of testimony and deliberation. For all you elected officials out there, I hope that one day you will remember what it’s like to be a citizen engaged in the democratic process for the first time. Do you remember thinking the public’s testimony actually affected your representative’s decision? Uphold the people’s faith in the democratic process.

Only now are we able to confirm — through her own admission — that this virgin of the democratic process was actually a paid lobbyist who had worked on Sen. Ruderman's campaign and a number of other Big Island initiatives when she penned her phony letter.

And only now are we able to confirm that PAN, a mainland-based advocacy group, was building the coalition, running meetings, recruiting volunteers, lobbying politicians, even organizing the big march on Rice Street — in short, orchestrating every move and tactic of a movement that was being passed off as grassroots, Kauai-based, a spontaneous uprising of the island's truly concerned citizenry.

What a crock! 

As Jen herself admits, while working for PAN she:

Coordinated campaign that successfully passed a bill to protect community from irresponsible GMO pesticide spray.

Yet even as Jen was actively engaged in political advocacy work, neither she nor PAN had registered in Hawaii as lobbyists. Instead, they maintained the charade that they were involved in 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational work.

And now we're seeing the Joint Fact Finding Group reference pesticide drift tests that were paid for by PAN, and conducted by Hawaii SEED, as evidence that drift occurs and reason to impose buffer zones, disclosure and other requirements on the seed industry.

Yes, Jen, let's let's "uphold the people's faith in a democratic process" where undisclosed and unregistered lobbyists are paid by mainland groups to influence politics on Hawaii, working in tandem with elected officials who claim to be leading a grassroots campaign.

Yes, Jen, let's "uphold the people’s faith in the democratic process" even as your very actions reveal it as a total sham.

Oh, and Jen is also featured prominently — along with Fern Rosensteil, Malia Chun, Andrea Brower and others — in this disturbing video of the screaming-crying theatrics that accompanied the mayor's veto.

It's worth another look, just in case you forgot the ugly insanity of that time — and the folks behind it.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joan. So revealing.
We will never forget what she and her paid friends have done to our communities.

Her campaign ad states: "Proven track record of grassroots community service!"

These people obviously define grassroots differently than the rest of us.

Joan Conrow said...

Jen also participated in training sponsored by Hooser's HAPA on the Big Island this month -- yet another example of political advocacy work by yet another group that claims it's an educational nonprofit.

Anonymous said...

Good job Joan. Curious though why you only point out the flaws and negatives of the red shirt side of 2491? Why not give equal time to the similar activity occurring on the blue shirt side? Beth Tokioka has clearly violated ethics rules by not waiting a year from time she left the Mayor to engage the same issue but now as an employee of Syngenta. I understand she is a close friend and valuable source of inside info, but why not be fair?

Joan Conrow said...

I just looked at the Kauai County code of ethics, and there is nothing in there that prohibited Beth from going to work for Syngenta immediately upon leaving the mayor's office. Your assertions about my relationship with Beth are similarly incorrect.

And though I've said it many times, it bears repeating: I'm especially interested in the dubious, devious deeds of the "red shirts" because they have tried repeatedly to claim the high moral ground, only to be exposed as liars, phonies and hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

You should read ethics code again. Beth has clearly been involved and worked on "same issue" over past year. She was spokesperson for Mayor when 2491 was discussed and now she is spokesperson for Syngenta when 2491 and JFF report ie same issue is being discussed. To comply with ethics law she should have waited one year.

Joan Conrow said...

No, you need to read it again. Here's a link to the Charter.

The code of ethics starts on page 33. Go in there take a look. Don't come back unless you either can reference the exact language to support your contention or admit you were wrong.

Anonymous said...

Joan

I have been reading you for years. Sometimes I find you disagreeable, sometimes I find you agreeable, sometimes I loathe your opinion and sometimes you are just f*#king awesome. Today you are f*#king awesome.

Funny thing about the internet; you cannot hide from your past as you leave an electronic trail easy for an investigative journalist like yourself to find.

Anonymous said...

Great work, again. With reference to Malia Chun's claim about 36 pesticides in the kids' hair is utter bullshit. Would like to see the analyses. Used to be the custodian of all chemicals MSDS for a sugarcane company on the westside and never saw that many pesticides. It's another fear mongering tactic, "It is so because I say it is so." Besides, it was fact finding group and not a forum to make outside interests demands.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you Joan. You know there's more than just the charter, there is the law and the ordinance. I will look it up and get back to you.

Anonymous said...

You are so good at getting to the bottom of issues....great job!!!!keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

3-1.10 Restrictions on post employment "No former officer or employee shall within one year...assist any person...for a fee or other consideration...on matters in which he participated as an employee..."

Anonymous said...

The issue with Senator Kouchi refusing to release communications between lawmakers on their private cell phones comes to mind - Star B wrote about it yesterday.
Regardless of whether that activist is paid or unpaid, the legislators are serially evading the public records laws with text messaging from their private phones. This new public records case involving Ron Kouchi may be the one where the Courts say the public gets access to those communications as well. Such a rule would catch Nadine if the supposed texting really happened.
Wonder if anyone has done a public records request for her private phone messages to other legislators.

Joan Conrow said...

11:47 -- The question then becomes, has she assisted Syngenta on matters in which she participated as a county employee? To answer that, you would need to be versed in the duties she performed for the county and performs now for Syngenta.

Anonymous said...

When you show what the antis did wrong they point the finger at someone else to say "look what they did." They do not take responsibility for what they do.

Mr Mafia Sheriff said...

Papa Ruggles' criminal transcript

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/Portals/0/Article%20Attachments/Ruggles%20Michael%20Drug%20Dealer.pdf

Anonymous said...

Who cares about Nadine? I like see Hooser's text messages.

Anonymous said...

Beth Tokioka is one of the most calm and collected individuals I've ever met. She holds herself high on the moral scale and doesn't bend to unnecessary conflicts. Her personal texts are not for the public to know.

As for the mayor he was fair in his decision. The instrument of the anti gmo movement isn't part of our community on Kauai. They're high paid activists who just want a pay check and experience.

The real community in Waimea and Kekaha are the real activists and they deserve all of our respect. We do not live their lives and therefore shouldn't interfere in their business. It is about pesticides and let them do their investigations. Let the evidence speak for itself.

Anonymous said...

The antis are liars, from Hooser on down.

Anonymous said...

Poison is not PONO. Kauai should not be a living chemical laboratory. What's so hard to understand? People and children are getting sick and dying. Forever shame on you Joan and all of you who so passionately defend these Global Chem companies who profit from death and destruction.

Joan Conrow said...

2:59 am -- Kauai is not a living chemical laboratory, unless you're talking about the effects of crystal meth on so many of its citizens and we have yet to see one shred of evidence that anyone is getting sick, much less dying, from the seed companies' use of agricultural pesticides. I'm not defending the chem companies. I'm defending honesty and truthfulness. If there's anyone who should feel shame, it's the folks -- like you -- who willfully spread misinformation to frighten people, and the folks -- like Jen Ruggles, Ashley Lukens, Gary Hooser, Paul Achitoff, etc. -- who facilitate and profit from that fear-mongering.

Anonymous said...

And forever shame on you, 2:59 am for your ignorance and intolerance of another point of view that has the vastly greater weight of scientific opinion, the work of thousands of scientists in the field of GE, and scant credible evidence of harm of the nature you allege with such certainty. What's hard to understand in this day and age is a point of view that is an intellectual and emotional heir to the 15th and 16th century Inquisitions.

Anonymous said...

You're a complete joke lady - you actually believe your own BS. Try swimming in a stream contaminated with pesticides sprayed by your buddies at syngenta or in the ocean where that stream flows. Try drinking water from waiamea schools water fountains. And your ridiculous ramblings about how much us people who care about the earth and our kids are profiting from fear mongering? Get real nut job. We're just normal folks not multi billion dollar global corporations who have poisoned this planet for decades. You're a waste of time and space. And you're a kook.

Joan Conrow said...

1:37 -- If I'm such of waste of time and space, then why do you keep coming back to read and comment? There's no problem with drinking water at WCMS, and please show us some evidence that streams are "contaminated with pesticides" on the westside. One sample found tiny levels of two pesticides -- far below EPA safety levels -- in one ditch. If you're so dumb you don't know that Hawaii SEED, CFS, HAPA Earthjustice, Surfrider, etc. are making money from scaring you, then you deserve what you get.

Anonymous said...

Joan you are a piece of work. Why don't you add the JFF group to list along with EJ, CFS, HAPA etc? Is the JFF being paid off too? Or are they just a bunch a stupid people that got snookered by Hooser as have so many others?

Joan Conrow said...

5:42, I have no proof the JFF was "paid off" -- they are not an organized group that fundraise around fear, like EJ, CFS, HAPA, etc. However, the JFF was heavily influenced by groups like Surfrider, CFS, HAPA, which do make money from keeping the fear and paranoia alive. Stay tuned, as I will outline some of that influence in an upcoming blog, though no doubt you will also have trouble stomaching that truth. But then, I'm directing my writing to rational thinkers, not the fringe dwellers who are blinded by ideology.

Anonymous said...

5:42 based on 2491 and what the silent majority vote, the JFFG is at square 1 when the bill was introduced.
The silent majority knew the bill had no weight without evidence.
Now the JFFG is asking someone to foot the $ bill for a study.
And it's sad that the island's majority has to endure of this divisional game.
The silent majority is still watching, and speaking for myself, the JFFG is yanking the silent majority's string again and we know it,

Shame shame! But it's ok! Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

You should talk to Ross. He the guy who represents the silent majority. At least that what he says is that he somehow knows what all the silent people are thinking.

Anonymous said...

7:25 a.m. second highest vote getter last election from eas to west. Highest vote getter in seed country.

Anonymous said...

7:25 the silent majority are the people that are too busy, who actually work and struggle to make ends meet, and raise their families in a humble manner, unlike the redshirt hippies and transplants who lie and organize stupid events like "mana March". Local people are humble and are raised not write letters to forums or testify at public hearings in a rude and condescending manner. That my friend, not, is the silent majority defined for your ignorant transplant brain.