Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Musings: Self-Serving

After coming in ninth for the Primary, Councilman Gary Hooser has become fixated on visibly demonstrating a show of support.

Whether it's sign-holding or, curiously, finally opening a campaign headquarters just three weeks before Election Day, Hooser seems more concerned with people showing face than actually casting votes:

To be clear, your physical presence at the above events is very important. Your presence at these events will add even more energy and momentum – and is needed now during this very important upcoming three week period.

Hooser also continues to beg for money — “to fund our final media” — even though he's already raised and spent more than any other Council candidate, with little to show for it.

Desperate times.....

Speaking of which, the Kauai Community Cat Project is so keen to derail the work of the county's feral cat task force that it's blowing money on legal fees rather than kitty care. KCCP President Basil Scott, a Hooser supporter, has filed suit claiming the county violated the Sunshine law when it failed to open the task force meetings to the general public.

KCCP doesn't want to wait until the task force introduces an ordinance for dealing with feral cats. Instead, it hopes to pre-empt the process in order to work its own will and continue its trap-neuter-release (TNR) activities.

Never mind that the task force includes TNR advocates. KCCP wants to dominate with its own agenda, which offers no protection to native birds.

While we're on the topic of self-serving lawsuits, Winston Welborn has failed in his attempt to besmirch the reputation of Green Aloha, the entity that won the state's medical marijuana dispensary license for Kauai.

As I previously reported, Welborn filed suit against GA founder Justin Britt, his former business in Wasabi Design. Welborn claimed Britt had stolen $375,638 from Wasabi's accounts.

Though the lawsuit was filed last February, Welborn's attorney, Katherine Caswell, used the April 29 announcement of the dispensary license to argue her case in the media, saying "we strongly suspect" Britt took the money to show GA had the $1.2 million in assets required to obtain a dispensary license.

But what Caswell didn't reveal is that Welborn's lawsuit was preceeded by a shakedown message he sent to Britt:

“You have seven days to accept. If you do not accept, then I will file a lawsuit, we'll go to court, spend a lot more money, and I will get fully compensated for money due to me, to Wasabi, plus penalities, damages and fees. It may also put your dispensary application in jeopardy.”

Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano dismissed the lawsuit last week.

Though Green Aloha intends to pay its workers well, other organic growers in Hawaii rely on a different approach. 

Mindy Pennybacker had a piece in Sunday's Star-Advertiser romanticizing and glamorizing “woofers” — the unpaid drifters who labor for free on many organic farms in Hawaii. In fact, they pay $30 per year for the opportunity.

But few organic growers — some of them operating as nonprofits — were actually willing to talk to Pennybacker about their use of woofers. Perhaps because that's because the practice raises so many questions about the lack of governmental oversight, illegal and potentially unsafe housing, wastewater disposal issues, exploitation and unfair competition with commercial farms.

WWOOF administrator Jonathan Ziegler, who lives on Kauai, estimated that 20 to 26 farms may be currently using woofers on Oahu, 23 on Kauai, “a little more than 50” on Maui and between 160 and 170 on the Big Island. As he told Pennybacker:

In the last five years, the number of woofers registered in Hawaii has grown from 1,800 to nearly 2,500. They typically work 10 to 35 hours a week and live in tents, cabins or in a room in a house.

[S]ome woofers have expressed frustration that farmers weren’t teaching them anything, just running a bed-and- breakfast, while others have complained they weren’t being fed, Ziegler said.

He endorsed woofers as “one tool that can help cash-poor small farmers survive while benefiting the local economy and food security in the islands.”

That may be. But it creates an uneven playing surface for commercial farms that must pay their workers wages, taxes, benefits and overtime, and whose farm worker housing is subject to inspection and regulation.

Grants and free labor are not sustainable or economically viable models for the longterm success of Island agriculture. So let's not pretend like they are.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Woofers should be tested for health issues like being potential carriers of hepatitis . So many woofers look exceeding dirty. In fact, I stopped eating from some of the organic farmers because the workers look so sick and staph ridden. Bring back steady well paid workers .

Anonymous said...

Organic farms using woofers still have to comply with state laws. The regulations for health, pay and other guidelines should still apply for these farms and "outlaw" operations. Mahalo Joan. Also GH wants some local "color" faces In his crowd as he knows the anti GMO white faces are not enough to set his image as a viable choice amongst the local mainstream voters. Anti ag, anti dairy, anti what I want.

Anonymous said...

If someone works for you, on your land, using, your tools, and at your allotted time slots. They are without a doubt an employee and must be paid minimum wage and the employer/farmer must pay payroll taxes (even on the housing and food). End of story.

Under those abovementioned circumstances there can be no argument that they are independent contractors.

Aloha

Anonymous said...

Maybe Hooser should use Woofers.

John Kauai said...

Did anyone else see the fireball last night @ about 9PM? Report it here.

http://www.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Anonymous said...

Hooser needs who his friend, Fern calls "poor, uneducated, brown-skin residents" to hold his signs. It seems that his supporters are only white.

Anonymous said...

Go talk to woofers, especially former ones regarding their experiences, for example, one in particular (actually the two)
prominently mentioned in the previous blog regarding water diversions. People in glass (or peephole) houses . . .

Anonymous said...


Years ago I went to Australia with a surfboard, tent and a desire to surf legendary waves.

I stayed in my oneman K-Mart tent the whole time and the waves were even better than I could dream of..

I then worked on a "organic farm" to pay for my quart of milk and a meat pie! I could eat all the bananas I wanted if no one was looking!!

I WAS IN WHITE SLAVERY. Then it went from,,, well at least I'm surfing perfect waves,,, too My board was taken by the masters until I produced!!!!!!!!!! And then I stole board back and and got far away from these slave runners... Then ,i lived/camped without any help. Untill I met the girl/ family of my dreams and the Aussies are great folks.

I was contributing to a false economy in OZ!! Point blank!! And shitting in a slit trench by the fields was beyond my comprehension of environmentally bad things under the title organic back then!

I have seen this rodeo before , and organic or rightious ain't even in the ballpark.

My point is simple,

Anonymous said...

Well, woofing is a good way to learn different farming techniques through hands-on experience. For those with little money, it is a great chance to exchange one╩╗s labor consensually for such an education, including living space, board, and sometimes a stipend. Have met many woofers around the world, and they have a lot to offer in terms of agricultural knowledge and positive food production for the communities where they work. A little off topic, but here is a link to an article in the Garden Island today about the two pesticides atrazine and chlorpyrifos. It appears that these pesticides may be more dangerous than we thought: http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/guest/of-kauai-s-pesticides-are-having-a-bad-year/article_f419ec77-6e03-5c44-92c9-b23264b28a97.html

Anonymous said...

Old news but apparently still relevant. I do remember seeing this particular Monsters Inside Me episode and freaking out about all fruits vegetables in general after that. Haha!

https://sunpatriot.com/2013/04/10/reinert-tells-his-rat-lungworm-story-for-cable-tv-program/

Anonymous said...

And people complain about how Trump treats employees? Woofers are more Hilary Clinton's style.

Anonymous said...

Woofer is just a new trendy word for apprentice. legally all labor laws apply including minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Don Heacock is still (mis)using woofers?

http://wwoofchronicles.blogspot.com/2007/11/hawaiian-rollercoaster.html

Anonymous said...

Wow so the lawsuit against the dispensary was BS.
After all that media hype the judge just threw it out of court.
How fast the tables turn. Wonder if there will be a counter-suit for legal fees now.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, woofing can be a great experience, educational, and fun. But it can also be a nightmare if the set up is illegal, dangerous, or just unfair, and you're in a strange and faraway place like Hawaii with no one to help you.

As for the local "organic" farms that use woofers or provide other "volunteer opportunities", it's definitely a way around the system, and it's especially exasperating when they display a holier–than–thou attitude, while housing their slave labor in completely illegal shacks. God knows where the feces end up. Hopefully not in the compost that grows the vegetables, although I wouldn't be so sure. "We can feel the harmony between the land and it’s inhabitants. Whatever the land gives needs to be given back for harmony to be deepened and better understood. We have developed multiple sources of composting as sources for feeding the soil."

Two of these morally superior, several acre set-ups on Maui come to mind; Kupa'a Farms and Greenleaf Farms. But hey, it's organic, so they can't be breaking any laws, can they?

Anonymous said...

I am brown-skinned, and I support Hooser.

Anonymous said...

Woofers and Tweakers - that's what our island has become. Organic nut jobs on one end and ice heads at the other spectrum. Where's the normalcy we grew up with? Need another big hurricane to get us back to the real core population . Blow away the growing fringe populous, overpriced rentals, and increased visitor counts. One can only hope.

Anonymous said...


12:08,

You missed the point. Australia or the US ----------

Labor laws mean nothing 12:08!!! Understand that please?

WE all seem to care about Who picks our crops??????????????? Bullshit we do not. And neither do you!!!!

Whatever Dems or Repubs,,,, neither of them is going to upset cheap labor practice my friend! That you do not see this basic reality is a great example of what we have become dear sir or mamm.

I would love to be wrong! Please explane?

Anonymous said...


1:35,

Listen up dear brown skin, you need too get a bit deeper than that !!!!

Do YOU have a opinion????????

Please have one 1:35---- that would be unique ?

Dare ya, shit , say anything but that you are a follower?

Bet you are Casper the friendly follower? If you got something to say on this blog, I would recommend a few more words other than your skin pigment.

Good luck with that!

Anonymous said...

You cannot TRUST that judge. He is apart of the corrupt judicial system on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Woofers are laborers who are paid by camping on the massas land. Few if any are paid and the ones that are paid are usually the house slaves that put out.

Anonymous said...

And also poor and uneducated? And gullible and stupid as he?

Anonymous said...

Not really they have lots of EBT money and free Quest healthcare and the rest of you working fools pay for the gentleman AG McMansion estates modern day slaves.

The wealthy and the hippies GAMING the system.

John Kauai said...

Speaking of Woofers, now is as good a time as any to bring up Universal Basic Income

Anonymous said...

The woofers I know are not mistreated, their labor is not forced and they seem happy with what they do. They are adults and can leave anytime they wish if they feel they are taken advantage of. As far as shit goes, has nobody ever heard of composting toilets? And thanks to 11:42 for the info about the pesticides. Woofers are fortunate in not having to work around such dangerous chemicals.

Anonymous said...

That's right 3:03 PM!

Greenleaf Farms is in the Kula 200 "agricultural" subdivision. The mainland golf pro owner retired and bought his two acre piece of paradise in 2005 for just over a million dollars. The house is more than 4,000 sq. ft., and the property is now worth closer to two million dollars:

The Kula 200 subdivision is one of Maui’s "most desirable and prestigious" neighborhoods. The area is close to some of the best schools on island, in an ideal climate zone, and it offers all of the best features of living Upcountry while being located less than 15 minutes from Central Maui. Perfect for horses with beautiful ocean views. Homes in the subdivision are valued from one million to well over two million dollars.

Gentlemen estate with "volunteer opportunities".

Anonymous said...

To 3:55 PM:

Glad you know some woofers who seem happy. But you may want to expand your sampling size.

Your comment that "Woofers are fortunate in not having to work around such dangerous chemicals" is bizarre. Organic farms can and do use dangerous chemicals.

And you're missing the point, which is that:
1. Laws of all sorts, including state zoning laws and county building codes, are typically ignored on woofer farms.
2. Real farmers who comply with all the laws are penalized by the unfair advantage that these woofer farms allow.
3. Composting toilets are not necessarily allowed; it's just not that simple. And septic tanks or county hookups are still required for other wastewater, so good luck with that. The cost of a septic system in Hawaii is in the range of $20,000 to $30,000.

Anonymous said...

Last night at the political forum in Lihue, Gary Hooser started sharing how he works FOR all the PEOPLE OF KAUAI. He works hard to LISTEN and COLLABORATE with people from KEKAHA to HAENA to come to a solution for all. ARE YOU KIDDING ME GARY??? If you keep saying it long enough you are actually beginning to BELIEVE your nonsense! You were number 9 overall, and you were 11 on the Westside. Us Westside poor uneducated people ( that was the description your supporters labeled us) see the real YOU! So much for believing in your commitment to ALL of the people. You will come to our garages to talk to 1 or 10 people you said. The truth no one cares what you have to say. God willing on November 8th the People will bring back to The Council a sense of cooperation, results, and positive direction for the County of Kauai. KAUAI deserves the best qualified for the job, and as number 11 or 9, I guess you know it won't be you.

Anonymous said...

2:01
Ditto. Soon not a single local born on the makai side of Kuhio/Kaumualii except some concentrated areas where the highways don't get close to the coast.

Anonymous said...

Winston Welborn is a whiner. Winnie the Whiner.
Justin had an idea and carried it. Justin is an upright person.
How the three Hawaii Life owners Winnie the Whiner, Matt Beall the Liar and Justin have gotten along is a mystery. 2 pieces of dogshit and a regular guy.

The NS has had hundreds of Hippie/Surfer dudes and dudettes working the organics for years. Tents and portable poopy places...not bad. Foodstamps and welfare, good surf, good dope and a camping experience....organic farming at its finest.

Winnie the Whiner's newbie attorney tried her best to smear the Legal Dope Seller at an opportune moment. Judge V saw the the BS in a minute.
These types of lawyers, like Mz Caswell are a blight on the already dubious profession. Sue and Squeal to the GI and try to undermine a Dope Seller? C'mon Ms Caswell, even tho' the GI will print anything, to bring this to the public's eye in an attempt to portray a guy as a thief, sucks the big one.
Learn a little about the island Mz Caswell....your techniques do not fit in. Or maybe, a new breed of lawyer is taking roost on this island.
But I guess, even Lawyers have to learn. She turned herself into a laughing stock.
Winnie the Whiner and his newbie lawyer.......You'd think with all that Hawaii Life Land Pimp Cash, that Winnie could at least get a good lawyer.
What a couple of douchebags.

Anonymous said...

3:17 John California----------------Apparently you don't listen to Mason Chock who contends with deep nods from Yukimura and Gary.
Mason says---"Er, Uhm,....The average family on Kauai makes over a hundred thousand per year" As he tried to increase the GET.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the state court records the dispensary case is still open. The judge did not throw out the case. In fact, the judge dismissed unjust enrichment claims, and allowed fraud and conversion charges added, which leaves Mr. Britt in a worse position. On top of that, a motion for compelling discovery was recently brought up, meaning that Mr. Britt has failed to provided the asked for evidence. It sounds like Mr. Britt has something he is hiding or else the request would have been met. I read the full letter that Wellborn sent to Justin Britt which is available online. I wish Joan included the whole letter which ask Justin to return the nearly $400,000 that he stole from him so he doesn't have to take him to court. Wellborn in the letter even states that if Justin would have asked for help with the dispensary Wellborn would have. Im not sure why your so adamantly defending Mr. Britt, but I think in this case if you look at the evidence so far he is in the wrong.

Anonymous said...


Rodger that 17:31.

Johnny Z, I saw the amazing lights up in the sky last night my friend......

I guess I am up at night a lot looking at our universe,,,,, so it did not strike me as unusual. But it makes me happy that you saw it also 10:49! Thanks buddy for your observation ..

Anonymous said...

The Plaintiff filed a case against Britt and the dispensary both.

For now, all anyone knows is that the judge threw out the whole case against the dispensary before it even got off the ground.

That says a lot.

Anonymous said...

Reliance on woofers to work your crop is NOT sustainable agriculture. Not sustainable!

Anonymous said...

Wow, it seems that Justin Britt started his pakalolo business with money he misappropriated from his former business and Winnie is the douche? If you have a dispute with your partner on the division of company assets, most would leave the assets on deposit and come to an agreement before those assets are released. It seems that Justin just took the money, and left his partner to figure it out in the courts. Whatever the final disposition of this case is, not a classy move.

Anonymous said...

7:13, Britt only took 375k of the 1.8 million it took to get the weed selling permit...What has me curious is how Wasabi Web Design had presumably 2 million in cash just sitting around to begin with, and where did Britt's other venture, HI Life get so much cash to launch themselves the way they did in 2008? Does anybody really think that Britt had zero involvement in weed commerce before they created Green Aloha?

Anonymous said...

Send Gary Hooser packing! He can join Basil Scott caring for feral cats on their own dime.
Fuck the Anti's, Fuck the Feral Cats, Go Dairy!

Anonymous said...

@8:17, Wasabi had just settled a law suit for the 2 mill. Stop spreading rumors.

Anonymous said...

Just check to see which incumbents voted to support GET increases, vehicle weight tax increases, fuel tax increases, exec pay raises, etc. I think you'll be surprised.