Sunday, July 28, 2013

Musings: Big Game

Wednesday's public hearing on Council Bill 2491 is starting to look a lot like another familiar spectacle: the Super Bowl. And it's not just because opposing teams will be butting heads for hours to the cheers and jeers of an amped-up crowd.

We've also got the pre-pre-pre-game events, starting with last Friday's “Save Kauai Farms” rally on the westside. The Garden Island covered it via press release, which perhaps explains why rally coordinator Kirby Kester was never identified as a manager at BASF, one of the chemical companies targeted by the bill.

Since the chem companies get pissed when the anti-GMO activists make like the field workers are too dumb to understand pesticide risks, they decided to employ the same tactic, in reverse. Which is why you have Synenta's Mark Phillipson, who is also president of Hawaii Crop Improvement Assn., saying:

Farmers from around the island, and hundreds of people who work on farms, as well as their family members and friends, are tired of people who don’t farm and don’t understand agriculture trying to destroy our livelihood, mischaracterizing our excellent record in caring for the environment, and belittling the good work we do for our community.”

Why is it that people on both sides think the other side isn't smart enough to fully understand the issue, yet they have this blind faith that our County Council is? 

The pre-game skirmishes will continue with public forums on Monday night in Waimea and Tuesday night in Kapaa, where biotech and farming reps will talk about “how today’s food is grown and raised safely and responsibly, and what tools are used to preserve and protect our lands and resources for future generations.”

If you aren't keen to drag yourself out in Flossie's rain, you can peruse the "Save Kauai Farms" website, which invites you to “learn more” about such dubious pronouncements as “Bill 2491 will cost farmers their jobs, Bill 2491 will destroy agriculture on Kauai, Local regulation of pesticides and GM crops are unnecessary, the EIS and moratorium will hurt the economy, GM crops are safe for people and the environment. GM Papaya saved Hawaii Ag.”

The Empire strikes back.

Because the best way to counter hysteria and hyperbole is with more hysteria and hyperbole, right?  Especially when you have the money to buy radio and newspaper ads, and hire PR firms to spin, baby, spin.

If John Lennon were to rise from the dead and sing, “All I want is the truth, just gimme some truth now,” he'd be met on both sides with a derisive, "Truth? We don't need no stinking truth.”

Meanwhile, the pre-game and half-time entertainment planned by the anti-GMO team has been squelched with the venue change to the Kauai Veterans Center, as have the hospitality tents that both teams wanted to erect to ensure maximum comfort for their supporters. Which means that everyone will have to buck up and face the reality that this is not street theater, but a public hearing in all its protracted, tedious, repetitious, overheated, under-informed, butt-numbing glory.

For the Council, the event will likely feel much like being trapped on a non-stop flight to New York with a plane full of evangelicals and crying babies. Well, aside from Councilman Gary Hooser, who will be captaining the ship, navigating through turbulence and faced with the delicate task of  telling some long-winded supporter of his bill to STFU as the opponents scream for equal time.

I've seen some folks on Facebook express their dismay at being unable to attend the hearing – breathlessly billed as the biggest ever for Kauai — including one woman who I recall did manage to show when the issue was defending her lucrative vacation rental on ag land. 

To all those who fear they may be missing something, take heart. Unlike the Super Bowl, neither side is going to emerge victorious on Wednesday. No, this game is going to be called on account of darkness, fatigue and possibly some rule that governs just how long Council staff can be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. 

It will then be moved to Gary's Council committee where it will be re-played over and over and over — perhaps extending all the way to the mayoral election.

Because isn't that the end goal here? [Update: Gary says no. "I am not running for Mayor, have no desire or intention to run for Mayor and Bill 2491 has nothing to do with running for Mayor. It is my goal to come to a positive conclusion as soon as is reasonably possible."]

So if you can't make it on Wednesday, or don't have the stamina to sit for hours until your name is called, no worries. This is a democracy, so you'll have many more chances to say your bit. Not that anyone really gives a rat's ass, least of all the County Council.

Getting back to John's song: 

I've had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas

All I want is the truth now 

Just gimme some truth 

Ah, I'm sick to death of hearing things

from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites

All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now 

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mama's little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now

But since truth is illusive, we'll just scrap instead.


Anonymous said...

I am very concerned about the passage of this bill. I support it, to the extent it considers (should be more and tighter), but I think it is way too much at once. Should have been 4 or 6 different bills.

Completion of an EIS is not a moratorium. It is only a study with no regulatory teeth. The outcome of the study will determine paths of action, options and alternatives.

FIRST: There should be an EIS on GMO and a separate EIS on restricted herbicide use.

SECOND: The safety of the school and public areas should be a priority. Stop spraying the school kids and teachers or move the school.

THIRD: Safety of consuming fish from the streams, rivers,ditches and nearshore should be considered. If fish level toxins are elevated, a Fish Advisory should be implemented.

One side of this issue is not gonna listen to the other. There must be "independent (sic)" studies undertaken, with rational minds of science, then the "Precautionary Principle" implemented.

I support the right to know, and make rational decisions. 18 tons of restricted use pesticides (versus 200 lbs used by the entire rest of the island)is not traditional agriculture. Farmers do not apply chemicals 24 times per day on the same plot. It is outdoor science, turning land into field chem labs. Who is testing the aquifer? The freshwater springs on the reefs?

Anonymous said...

"Why is it that people on both sides think the other side isn't smart enough to fully understand the issue, yet they have this blind faith that our County Council is?"

We have "rocket scientists and brain surgeons" on the Council. NOT!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting John Lennon's lyrics...its as relevant today as it was then. I hope people will make their 3 minutes count by being prepared, organized, concise, factual, researched and able to provide sources. I have chosen to email my written testimony in support of the bill to all the Council Members instead and are debating whether I should show up for the dog and pony show. Proponents of this bill need to realize that we are in it for the long haul and these chemical corporations have the money and resources to fight this as long as needed. The industry came out in full force to oppose the GMO labeling bill and despite overwhelming public testimony in favor of labeling, it failed. Just look what happened in California. These corporations are masters of promoting their propaganda and know how to divide communities. Most folks don't have the time or inclination to do their homework. I applaud Hooser for his efforts but my gut feeling tells me that this bill will not get the necessary votes. It's too politically charged and can make or break someone's political career. At the very least, I am hoping for greater transparency and regulation of RUP's and the enforcement of buffer zones. Most people can agree that our communities should be protected from exposure to these highly toxic chemicals. Knowledge is power and we need to know the long term effects to health and environment these applications will have.

Anonymous said...


If not now than sooner or later Kauai will be renamed the Toxic Island instead of being the Garden Island.

We should call on the EPA to test if the areas where these Chem/Bio companies are using their toxic chemical combinations has become a Superfund site.

Kauai is the new Kahoolawe and the new Johnson Island of Hawaii. Kauai will become inhabitable after years of using these toxins.

This is a FACT that has already happened to many communities stateside and abroad. These Chem/Bio companies have already destroyed many lands, water supplies, and many uninformed/misinformed people including their own workers have died from their experiments.

Communities have been destroyed and are inhabitable because of what they do. All you have to do is Wikipedia these Chem/Bio companies and all the areas the operated and contaminated.

Read and educate yourselves! Or 20-30 years from now the people who survived will be talking about how we the people were once from a place called the Garden Island.

Kauai: 20-30 years and it will be called the love canal, Choccoloco creek, Brofiscin quarry, Pearl Harbor, and the new Kohoolawe.

Anonymous said...

i like scrap!

Anonymous said...

The people who are just concerned about their jobs are selfish. They need to learn that keeping Kauai pollution free is more important than their jobs. They need to stop thinking about themselves and think about the Community.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that people on both sides think the other side isn't smart enough???? Strong anti gmo supporter, Fern Anuenue has the answer. As she chose to post these exact words on facebook...."the overwhelming number of your employees are desperate local people with limited education opportunities and money....please say this to people's face and not on facebook.

Anonymous said...

While there is much in your post here Joan that I cannot argue with and did in fact enjoy reading, I do take some exception to the inference that this Bill may somehow be connected to the Mayor's race as "the end game". While I cannot speak for anyone else on the Council, I can say for myself - I am not running for Mayor, have no desire or intention to run for Mayor and Bill 2491 has nothing to do with running for Mayor. It is my goal to come to a positive conclusion as soon as is reasonably possible. In addition, while yes it is theater in many respects, public hearings are an important part of the process and I encourage all to attend on July 31st because I truly do believe it can make a difference. Gary Hooser - Member Kauai County Council

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks for your comment, Gary. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the post and I really appreciate your clarification about the mayor's race. It has been the subject of much discussion and speculation among both your supporters and your opponents, so it's good to hear directly from you.

And despite my cynicism about the process, I join you in encouraging people to attend Wednesday's public hearing and/or submit testimony on the bill. It's a far better use of one's time than watching the Super Bowl.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on-
This emotionally charged bill, is nothing more than a Mayoral bid by Gary and a "vote for me" by Bynam.
These two well fed individuals would serve the County better by focusing on water safety, roads, parks, effluent odor, lua control and other core duties. Keep to the basics. The County has proved time and time again, they can not even do the basic services.
Gary should pay his ( "adjusted" ) GET taxes that he never paid IE *Tax cheat* and Bynam should stop his scam of suing the, a group can be judged by the moral fiber of it's leaders and y'all have a lack of fiber and a lot of fat.

Anonymous said...

Again you mentioned someone who you say owns a "lucrative" vacation rental-Obviously you have never owned one-if you did you would know that there is nothing lucrative about it-most all the $$ actually goes back to the community to County/State taxes, and their employees, paying utility bills, paying the people who care for the property-Housekeepers, gardeners, handymen, service providers and property managers-all who live and work in this community and are your neighbors, friends, ohana-who then pay their own landlords and feed their families and the circle continues-homeowners are lucky if they are able to cover their costs to keep their property for their families and future generations....

Anonymous said...

8:04 a.m. - Remember that there is a certain playbook that anti-TVR activists use whenever TVR's are mentioned. It goes like this: Always mention that TVR's are "lucrative", even if, as you've pointed out, they are often lucrative to everyone BUT tvr owners. Words like lucrative are sure to whip up resentment - Always mention that every tvr is a "resort" - even when actual occupancy is about the same as most other homes. And most importantly, make sure you dehumanize the owners. Never ascribe a desirable human quality to them. Describe them as being solely motivated by the lure of money - use pejorative terms like speculators, developers, house flippers. Never, ever say that they own property here because, first and foremost, they love Kauai. Never mention that many of them have been here longer than many of those who oppose them. No, no - demonization is essential. Best of all, try to communicate all this under the cover of "journalism" with it's implication of fairness and even-handedness.

Anonymous said...

Its a disease......and its intensifying!

Corporate control of local politics!
Money, perks, and trips on a diet of misinformation plague Hawaii.

The "biggest stick" with backing from the police department wins the day. The antiGMO crowd will most likely be treated like Islamic Terrorists. GOt Swat?

What's wrong with this picture?

When will people WAKE UP and flush these self important politicians out of office?

Dr Shibai

Joan Conrow said...

Poor, poor little TVR owners. So abused and so benevolent.

Anonymous said...

It's not about benevolence - tvr owners encompass the full range of human behavior and motives - good, bad, indifferent - like the range of behavior exhibited by almost sizable all groups of people. Your demonization of tvr owners in particular - and tourism in general- underlies something else. You seem to want Kauai to be what it was when you arrived there in the 80's - a Kauai that has far fewer pesky tourists to share the beaches with, and far lower rents for you. The same reaction all locals who live in a place of stunning beauty feel when it finally gets discovered - like the locals who lived in Aspen, Lake Tahoe, or Mailbu before they were discovered. This is an inevitable process. People find beautiful places and want to live there, and if they can't, they want to buy 2nd homes there. You are part of this process. You "discovered" Kauai in the 80's - probably displacing a person who couldn't pay as much rent as you could. Maybe a few ex-Taylor Camp veterans rued the day you and others arrived. Wealth is all relative. But now that you're here - why, no more invasions by people with more money than you! Let's keep everyone from coming here and enjoying Kauai in the form of owning 2nd homes here and renting them to people that you, god forbid, will be forced to share the beautiful beaches of Haena with! Lets stick these toursits in little boxes in Princeville or in a ticky tacky hotel room in Poipu, keep them only on the hotel beaches, and force them to have only a plastic superficial experience of Kauai. Out of sight and out of mind. Above all else, keep them from renting homes on the north shore -and increasing your rent. After all, these are the beaches you should be able to enjoy in solitude. After all, you got there first - well ok, not exactly first - there was an entire native population that had to be whittled down and overrun by our collective ancestors and then another 150 years of locals gradually displaced by successive waves of new arrivals - but the point is, no one should be allowed to discover Kauai after YOU did. And if these pesky tourists aren't satisfied with the artificial hotel room experience, and insist on having the real experience of Kauai that you yourself insist on having - why, then, demonize them for ruining the environment, destroying the reef, creating traffic messes, driving up property values, and - god forbid - committing the unpardonable offense of having more money than you.

You want nothing less than to deny everyone a more real experience of Kauai - not a perfectly real experience, but a lot more real than they would be getting in a hotel room in Poipu. Just a small taste of the experience you yourself moved here for and have enjoyed for thirty years. Ultimately, the realization of your anti-tourist "vision" would result in about a quarter of Kauai's population - including most of those who's jobs have any connection with tourism or 2nd homes - having to relocate back to the mainland. You're entitled to your vision, but to those of us who can't live year-round in Kauai -and that's most of the world - your vision is anything other than benevolent.

Anonymous said...

I think what you are doing is misinforming in regards to the TVR's matters. First off there were rules and laws that were violated. Permits and Tax records were fraudulent for illegal TVR's.

The crux of this matter is not about how certain people from different races and wealth or lack there of should be able to enjoy Kauai but how laws were broken and who conspired with these white collar criminals.

Some unsuspecting visitor died from an illegal TVR earlier this year and there' no denying that. The TVR's that are legal can operate on Kauai like any business that follow laws do.

Those who are illegal and fraudulent should have a cease and desist order while awaiting their day in court. Those TVR's that are on AG land are just wrong and the law states it but they were given preferential treatment by a suspicious bunch of county characters.

Anonymous said...

@11:21 yawn. what a crybaby

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

He was a successful businessman except for the unpaid taxes.

Anonymous said...

Hooser or Bieber for mayor, I second that motion.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean Kauai will become UNINHABITABLE!

Anonymous said...

You think this might turn out like Kauai Springs? The court opinion stated the Planning Commission had to do it over and do it right this time and lambasted Watanabe for her errors in allowing them to take water.

I see this as the same thing.

They have no right to poison the land and their ʻworkersʻ have no right to dictate these issues just so they can keep their ʻjobsʻ. If any of them are Hawaiians that support this abuse, then shame to them.

Anonymous said...

We're playing right into the hands of these transnational corporations by demonizing the other side. They have succeeded in dividing us. We need to empathize with those who work for these companies in order to support themselves and their families. Limited job opportunities particularly on the Westside equate to having very little choice where one works. Anti-GMO activists need to drop the self-righteous anger at these employees and have some compassion for the fact that we are in the same boat and if we are going to be successful we need to address the issue of better jobs. Many have grown up in families who have worked generations in the sugar plantation. Working for the seed companies was a logical progression. It filled the void that sugar left. We can't vilify them for that. We need to work toward a different, better type of agriculture that provides food locally and jobs that don't entail exposure to heavy doses of chemicals. These corporations are masters at manipulating communities, using divide and conquer tactics. Don't let them succeed.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Very well put.

Anonymous said...

We need a well narrated video on YouTube to warn the tourists. Let the tourist industry multinationals fight the pesticide/chemical industry multinationals.

Anonymous said...

Don't swim in the ocean or breathe the air or drink the spring water from Kauai!

Anonymous said...

On Kauai, tons of poisonous chemicals are applied throughout the island and the state and county governments spray tons of roundup right next to the roads you drive on. Think about it, you women of child bearing age and men who want to procreate.

Anonymous said...

Joan highlighted the most blatant examples of tvr abuse in her chronicles. If you've followed the law and have a legal tvr, than you have nothing to worry about. From what I read, her chronicles shed needed transparency on some of the rampant abuse that is taking place and I support that whole heartedly. Again, if you've followed the law what do you have to complain about?

Anonymous said...

8:51 --- "Never, ever say that they own property here because, first and foremost, they love Kauai."

The chemical companies say they love Kauai too but they are poisoning it and destroying it.

Anonymous said...

Joan's reports on supposed TVR abuse are not the real facts of each case-she puts her own spin on it to make them seem like these owners have been devious and were given illegal permits-all for her own notoriety and because as she just does not like TVR's in certain neighborhoods-she has never blogged about all of the owners out there who are operating without permits or were turned down for one or never even made the effort to go through the application process-check Craigslist or VRBO or just walk through the neighborhood-blatant abuse all over the island-

Joan Conrow said...

I challenge you to come up with even one instance where my TVR reports did not present the real facts of a case. That's why I link to the supporting documents, so people can verify for themselves.

Much as you and the other whiners would like to make this all about me supposedly "demonizing" TVR owners, hating tourists or seeking "notoriety," it's so obvious that you're angry because I exposed your game.

And more is still to come.

Anonymous said...

How about one example-Hale Hoku-you attached a video of a second building on the property saying it was a second living space and kitchen and it wasn't even the same property-it was from another house in the same neighborhood-BTW none of these properties are mine or belong to anyone connected to me-I am just a concerned member of the community who wants to real truth to come out-and why haven't you exposed those who are operating under the radar or even blatantly out in the open without a permit? they are the owners who should be held accountable and shut down if anyone should-

You should really check your facts better-but I guess being a reporter you don't have to worry about your being held accountable for what you say or the fallout to those who make an effort to follow the laws

Anonymous said...

I do believe that Joan would like to turn the clock back to an earlier time and that she resents new arrivals and tourists. I also believe she is doing the community a service in exposing illegal TVRs and a corrupt permitting process. Sometimes you get the good with the bad.

Anonymous said...

yeah Joan-what is your real reason for the TVR blogging? you say these owners are taking away your beach access-not true-public access is everywhere-you say that visitors are clogging up the neighborhoods-if they were residents wouldn't it have the same impact? I just don't get what all of the hoopla is about?

Joan Conrow said...

The videos are both labeled as being of the Hale Hoku property. If you have some evidence that they aren't, other than your Anonymous word, please provide it.

Since I've got a bit of a back log, I'd urge you to begin right now on the investigations you'd like to see into the TVRs operating without permits, .

Surely you're willing to devote hundreds of hours of your own time to see "the real truth come out." Like you said, it's all right there on Craig's list, etc. Start digging and documenting.

Dawson said...

> Joan's reports on supposed TVR abuse are not the real facts of each case-she puts her own spin on it to make them seem like these owners have been devious and were given illegal permits-all for her own notoriety and because as she just does not like TVR's in certain neighborhoods <

> You should really check your facts better-but I guess being a reporter you don't have to worry about your being held accountable for what you say or the fallout to those who make an effort to follow the laws <

Give it up, guys. Joan's reporting has sent Humpty Dumpty tumbling off his illegal wall, and no amount of your wailing will put him together again.

Anonymous said...

7:10 - Here's all you need to understand that the TVR attacks are just a sideshow for Joan's anti-tourist agenda. Ask yourself this: She claims that she highlights TVR's that have unpermitted additions and flood zone violations because she's so concerned about the risks that people face by living in the flood zone. And yet, you can read every blog article she's ever written and you will never - I mean never - see a single reference to the fact that haena and wainiha are filled with NON-TVR homes with unpermitted additions in the flood zone. What? - no danger to life posed by unpermitted flood zone living spaces in these NON-TVR homes??? No "Abuse Chronicles" for these hundreds of Non-TVR lawbreakers? Could it be she just doesn't really care WHO is actually living in the flood zone - unless it's a tourist??

Anonymous said...

The County should be looking at all permitted and unpermitted land use and building issues. So I am going to support Joan on this. Spot lighting illegal TVRs is a good place to start whatever her underlying motivations might be.