Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Musings: On Momentum

Though Bill 2491, Draft 2 — the pesticide/GMO measure passed last week by the Kauai County Council — has not yet been signed into law, some folks are already using it to make money.

The San Francisco-based Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) sent out a fundraising appeal to its mainland email list under the subject heading: A victory for Kaua'i and beyond!

The less-than-truthful message read, in part:

A diverse coalition of local advocates, including Hawaii SEED and Ohana O' Kaua'i, led the creative, powerful campaign to "Pass the Bill" — collecting more than 50,000 signatures, coordinating a march of more than 4,000 people, and packing the house at multiple marathon council meetings. And PAN was with them.

Testing has found the known neurotoxin chlorpyrifos in the air, and the potent endocrine disruptor atrazine has been found in the island's drinking water.

Support communities in action » Kaua'i residents took matters into their own hands — and won! The new law requires public disclosure of pesticide use on the island. It puts more protective buffer zones in place. And it requires that pesticides be monitored for their effects on community health and the environment.

With your gift today, you'll help continue this important work. Momentum is building. Working together, we can overcome the power and influence of the pesticide industry — in Hawai'i and beyond.

I suppose they figure it's their due, considering they paid for the Stop Poisoning Paradise website and funded “Kaua'i-based organizer” Jennifer Ruggles, who arrived on the island a few months ago.

And why slow the momentum with such dreary details as it's not yet a “new law,” it will be another two years before any pesticide disclosure occurs and the Environmental and Public Health Impacts Study (EPHIS) — whose scope remains undefined — won't be pau for 40 months?

Speaking of EPHIS, my ears pricked a bit when I heard Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura suggest that perhaps the Ceres Trust or Hawaii SEED could fund the study. Really? Mmmm, or how about they split the bill with the chem companies and then we can be assured of a totally discredited effort?

Which leads me to another bizarre twist in this saga: an email that Blake Drolson circulated to his GMO Free Kauai mailing list "in gratitude to JoAnn for her work in passing Bill 2491."  In it, JoAnn denies that the angry crowd in the Council chambers pressured her into voting for the bill, rather than a deferral, as blogger Andy Parx speculated in his post “How fast can you turn on a dime?”

Her statement was supported by her husband, John Wehrheim, who wrote:

The most important point I want to clarify is the rumor that JoAnn was in any way swayed by the exhausted, frustrated and emotional outburst of the crowd when she began her convoluted rational of why she was voting for the bill--leading with why she had wanted a deferral!!!  This was an almost tragic rhetorical error [that lead to a near riot...] but typical of JoAnn's indirect and tortuous style of speech.

To think for a moment that JoAnn’s vote was in any way swayed by the crowd’s outburst that night is to completely misunderstand her very tough and stubborn nature. JoAnn cannot be swayed by threats, anger or outbursts. They only make her more stubbornly fixed in her position.

I never believed JoAnn was going to vote for a deferral or kill the bill. Why should she, when her amendments had already successfully gutted the measure and introduced loophole language that chem company lawyers can exploit?

What struck me was the way she apologized for not getting to the point sooner, so as to prevent that "near riot" that John referenced, rather than chewing out the disruptive rowdies for their lack of civility:

I was trying to explain my reasoning in my exhausted 3:30 am speech. In retrospect, I should have started with my conclusion to vote against deferral, but instead, I led to my conclusion by first outlining my thought process. In retrospect, this was not very smart.

No, let's not waste time with reasoning, or decorum, or any public discussion of the final weakening amendments that were hashed out entirely behind closed doors after midnight.

Momentum is building, so all aboard......


Anonymous said...

PAN is not making money off our struggle; they are recovering costs. this campaign has costs; both sides of the issue are forking over plenty kala but one side has deeper pockets than the other. one side is looking out for community interest while the other is protecting it's corporate interest. not sure why you're tone is so critical and cynical because one could, from your previous posts, assume that you would prefer to have some type of legislative action that would address the environmental concerns that GMO & pesticides pose in our community. PAN has helped many communities wage campaigns against the poisons that Big AG use to exploit and damage the aina, the workers and our planet. andrea b questioned your approach and was met by a defensive response from you. what gives? are you playing the devil's advocate or just being a contrarian to the cause?

Joan Conrow said...

Just pointing out the bullshit, as I did when I responded to Andrea, though at least she was brave enough to use her name.

Anonymous said...

Many of your readers , including the above commenter does not comprehend that the amendments made the bill pretty indefensible and useless.

Real pesticide reform would have been the desirable outcome and impossible with you all screaming to pass the bill even after the backroom dealings. Please read the bill that got passed not the others cuz that's all that matters folks.

Anonymous said...

What costs money at a council meeting?

Anonymous said...

Why do you say that it will be two years before disclosures occur? How did the amendments made on the last day make the bill weaker than the amendments made before?

Anonymous said...

Joan this is your blog, it is a good blog, with the rainbow of commentators, you have the right to pick your colors.
Now that this diluted Bill has been passed by the Council and only awaits the Mayors signature, it may be time to relax and try not to focus on the effluvia this whole process has evoked.
JoAnn is no stranger to controversy and tho' during the Council meeting she may have appeared to be looking for spectral evidence to reaffirm her intentions, she was from the beginning, for this bill. She is a good lady and has Kauai in her heart. Somewhere in the mystery of this bill's incarnation, the Council via secret handshakes and other puzzling communications came together and turned hard whiskey into Kool-Aid. Keep drinking the Kool-aid Kauaians.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by your commentary about bill 2491 ever since its passage and the cynical tone directed at its supporters. You say you'd like to see these companies gone from Kauai so I take that to mean you support the intent of the bill. The process has been messy and filled with drama on both sides. There have been half-truths on either side of the discussion. I don't think anyone is happy with outcome but I look at it as a step in a long process of changing mindsets and political will. I welcome the support from outside Kauai to go up against these transnational chemical corporations which is indicative of the national and world wide trend to take back our food sovereignty from the industrial food system. I've been a long time reader and supporter of this bog. I'm just a little perturbed by your biting remarks and I thought the comment about Nomi derogatory,knowing the back story about Monica Alves. Watching the hearings on TV I found myself thinking some of the red shirt testimony was beginning to hurt more than help the cause so I understand some of what you're getting at but hey, I'm grateful for a victory even if its far from perfect. Truthfully I never thought we stood a chance against these corporations and to eek out a "win" is pretty remarkable in my view. The work is far from over but I think pausing and being grateful for this small step forward is warranted.

Anonymous said...

What if some of the red shirts were actually covert operatives getting paid to be obnoxious and piss people off? The fracking company did it in the Matt Damon movie.

Anonymous said...

The pesticide dust is everywhere, my whole house powder red, the air is thick with dust. My throat chokes and I can not breathe. My neighbors come over, they are feeling well, but then as we sit together, we all get sick, no can breathe, hot an cold sweats, all of us, we go to our cousins, they get sick too. Now all of our neighbors and all the kids and all the cousins are sick, coughing, sweats, hard breathing, hot flashes cold flashes. We go emergency and emergency says we are OK. But when we all sick, maybe this is collective obsessional behavior — in sociology and psychology this refers to collective delusions of threats to society that spread rapidly through rumors and fear. In medicine the term is used to describe the spontaneous manifestation of the same or similar hysterical physical symptoms by more than one person.
Don't whine, get a job, there has been ash,cane,dust, plenny worser sabedong, then they are using now for one hundred years steady dust and sabedong and ash,...try not to have hysteria, in the old days no one got sick, man up. No be one wimp.

Anonymous said...

Joan, don't you know if you support the cause you must never question or criticize?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

It's the amendments that were introduced in the middle of the night that changed the bill from a defensible one to crap.
Was it too much to ask for a bill that actually accomplished what everyone is calling for? Is it fair to say they succeeded when the bill actually is meaningless words? Guess that depends who "they" are.Certainly we the people did not win.

Anonymous said...

On the theatre side of this, I somehow find it endearing and entertaining that Joanne's husband came to her defense by calling out his wifes " typical ... indirect and tortuous style of speech."

I could not agree more with her husband. I believe him. Joanne has a good heart, but she has to circle the point about a hundred times before she actually makes it.

Andy Parx said...

Ok- I believe "you" and not my lyin' eyes

Anonymous said...

5:41 AM

Wake up smell the coffee...


American Enterprise Institute...

Another word for big money corporate scholars. probably funded by the chemcos.