Friday, November 1, 2013

Musings: Now What?

Like the folks waking with a post-Halloween hangover — the keiki from candy, the adults from alcohol — Kauai politicos and activists are trying to figure out how to make the pain of the mayor's veto go away.

Because certainly the County Council doesn't want to again listen to hours of testimony — ramped even higher by rage and despair. And the pro-2491ers aren't especially keen to again don their red shirts and camp out at the county building. As GMO Free Kauai's Blake Drolson said on KKCR yesterday, we were looking forward to taking it easy this month, preparing for the holidays.

No such luck.

Instead, as Elton John would say, the bitch is back. Back on the Council's doorstep, where Chair Jay Furfaro has been handed a hot potato he thought he'd successfully tossed two weeks ago.

And back in the lap of activists, whose leader, Councilman Gary Hooser, failed to prepare them for this eventuality, apparently believing the bill was in the bag with the rest of his treats: national publicity, an adoring throng, political notoriety.

No such luck.

Instead, the nitty gritty reality of real politics — not the make-believe magick kine, where the biotech boys bow out, Gay & Robinson gives away organic farmsteads and Steve Case kicks down tractors — has intruded.

So now what? 

First, face facts.

Though no one knows exactly how the public feels about 2491, the mayor never would have vetoed the bill if he thought 80 to 90 percent of Kauai residents support it, as one KKCR caller maintained. As I've been saying from the get-go, people are forgetting the quiet constituency that doesn't march, send the mayor pens or post skin shots on Facebook. They don't need to. They've got the direct line, the key to the back door, the money and influence to get the mayor re-elected.

I know, I know, it sucks, it's unfair, it's wrong, it's hard to be the underdog. I've cried those same tears. But that doesn't change what is. Ignore the powerful at your peril, and don't be wasting your energy on foolishness like impeachment.

Second, get over the sentiment expressed by Sol Kahn in today's paper, that this is not the mayor's bill, but the people's bill.

Uh, no, Sol, in a democracy, it is the people's bill AND the mayor's bill AND the Council's bill. As in collaboration is the name of the game. Time to ditch the “us against them, with us or against us” mindset that has people donning different colored shirts and anonymous snipers snarking at me, for daring to criticize the missteps of the movement, “What's your agenda?”

My agenda? Same as it ever was: tell it like it is.

Third, don't count on the Council to salvage the wreckage. The Council has 30 days to act on the veto — a time frame that coincidentally coincides with the need to pick a replacement for Nadine Nakamura, now the mayor's right hand woman.

So who do you suppose it might be? Let's go over the list. Throwing their own hats in the ring are Felicia Cowden, Pat Gegen and former Councilmen KipuKai Kualii, Dickie Chang and — hold on to your hat— Kaipo Asing. Nominated by others are Sandi Kato-Klutke and former Councilwoman Lani Kawahara — both of whom reportedly withdrew — Mason Chock, Jan TenBruggencate and former Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro.

Now I'll give you a hint: it won't be anyone who will rescue Bill 2491 from the dumpster.

Fourth, make lemonade. If the purpose of this bill was truly to raise awareness about pesticides, and protect the health of people and the environment, then it has been somewhat successful. The issue is on the table, the chem companies are taking notice — we shall see if they actually act — and the county is poised to launch a study that can, if properly guided, assess the health of westsiders, identify pesticide impacts and hopefully give us a better handle on what's really going down.

Fifth, put pressure on the state to commit resources to health studies, environmental testing, pesticide enforcement, education. Wanda Shibata is the governor's liason on Kauai. Start showing up regularly at her office, located in room 106 of the state building, to see how things are coming along. And since they'll no doubt be moving slowly, state-style, politely push for progress.

Sixth, begin drafting a new bill, one that actually will fly, one that doesn't merely monitor pesticide use on this island, but actually reduces it.

And seventh, start grooming some serious, electable candidates for the Council — Mason Chock, Luke Evslin, Kepa Kruse and Fern Rosenstiel are a few up-and-comers that come to mind — because it will take a good year to get their names positively positioned in the minds of the voters.

Or, whimper, whine, bang your head against the wall, stick pens in a BC voodoo doll, go back to bed, slip back into delusion, disillusion, give up.

The choice, as always, is ours.

To end on a lighter note, I'll share this contribution from a friend:


Anonymous said...

Like Joan, I am dumbfounded that anyone was surprised by the Mayor's veto.

Joan provided the link to the County Attorney's opinion in yesterday's blog. It would be very instructive to go ahead and read the CA's opinion for yourself, carefully, and determine if the bill is legally flawed, or not, and if Mayor Carvalho was justified/prudent in vetoing it.

If you do not read the CA's opinion, then to comment on it is ignorance. If you do read it, and do not understand it . . . that is another issue.

The vitriol against Councilwoman Yukimura is unbecoming, childish rant. She clearly stated in her closing statement before the vote that she believed "there is a 60-40 chance that it would not pass legal muster." What did dumbfound me, however, is that despite saying this, she voted for it.

Before reading the CA's opinion, please understand that all the Council members, including Hooser and Bynum, were in possession of this CA's opinion, and had ample time to study it, well BEFORE the bill was voted on, on October 17th. This is why Raposo, Yukimura, Nakamura and Kagawa had such deep reservations in voting for it. For whatever reason, only Raposo voted against it, and for that, I respect him most for what is, truly, a display of courage.

You do have to wonder why Hooser and Bynum prevented the release of the CA's opinion. I thought they were the champions of "transparency," or is this so only when it suits their purposes? Do you feel that you would have been better informed if you did see the CA's opinion when it was available? Would you have attended the council meetings with such fervor had you seen it? Are you really studying, getting the facts, doing research and informing yourselves by attending meetings and rallies, when you are only being told what you want to hear, or worse yet, withheld information so you don't get the facts? Are you better for it, now that you've read the CA's opinion?

Anonymous said...

Mayor Carvalho did the smart thing in vetoing #2491. Thank you, Mayor--you saved us some major legal pilikia! Say what you may, our Mayor got courage and cajones!

If you haven't, please read the County Attorney's opinion--the link is provided in Joan's blog, yesterday.

Please do read it, and comment only when you have done so. Yes, it is very long and tedious, but we are talking about a legal opinion of a rather complex issue, here.

Anonymous said...

I happened to have read the CA's opinion, earlier today--very informative, and certainly gave me a much better understanding of why Councilman Raposo voted against it, and why Mayor Carvalho vetoed #2491.

Despite all the flaws in our agricultural system, what with monoculture and all, there should be more thanksgiving for our abundance of food. There is so much talk out there about self-sustainability. Well, the reality of it is that sustainability is a tough row to hoe, and too often romanticized. Easy to talk-the-talk, but not very easy to walk-the-talk. Like pulling weed, on at a time, plant some seeds, one at a time.

Here's a reminder:

Anonymous said...

When I become Mayor, I will END all of these back room deals. I will END the GOBAG reign of TERROR.

I will become MAYOR. You can believe that. Run tell that you syndicate whores.

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of the mayor...and certainly no fan of Al Castillo who is almost always on the wrong side of every issue and has the unfortunate tendency to manufacture bogus legal opinions to support the Mayor's agenda. This agenda isn't always fact most of the time the underlying ideals are downright honorable. However, I can't stand Castillo's "whatever it takes" approach to generating favorable opinions for the mayor.

That being said, this legal analysis is spot-on and I wholeheartedly believe that the circus Hoosier and Bynum created would have been more akin to a sideshow had this opinion been released to the public.

Yes he's loud and sometimes crude, but Mel Rapozo is the unsung hero in this mess. Who would have ever thought that he and the mayor, who have such a long history of resentment, would line up on the same side? Sure, he could have taken the coward's way, like Ross Kagawa and Jay Furfaro (we all know Jay never votes on the losing side but Ross - comeon brother, you're better than this!) but he stood firm in his resolve to do the right thing in front of a mob of angry wackjobs.

I'm still positively amazed that the mayor did the right thing here, and my cynical side tells me that he probably did it for the wrong reasons (seed companies = deep pockets). But sometimes the right thing is still the right thing, despite nefarious motives. Hell I might even vote for the guy if he showed true courage and got rid of Castillo. What's the saying...sometimes even a blind squirrel gets a nut? I think that's probably the case here with Castillo's office putting out a legitimate opinion.

Isn't it funny that Bynum has always thrown such fits about releasing county attorney opinions and even tried to brand this as a "right to know" bill. Apparently he didn't think the public had the "right to know" that many of the bill's provisions ran contrary to State and Federal law.

Anonymous said...

This bill justifiably vetoed by our strong and caring Mayor, did in fact, bring certain issues with west Side Ag practices. I believe the Mayor, State and Big Corn will come together and produce procedures that will fulfill most of the intentions put forth of in this poorly written bill.
But as our fearless Blogger, Joan has explained, politics is indeed a strange beast. There is indeed a silent majority, which Gary if he attempts to use any momentum from this bill (primarily due to his bungling of fact and fanning fires of tearful, frantic and threatening protests) to run for Mayor will surely find out.
We all want disclosure and buffer zones and these will come to be.
The question is, how long will the sour taste of these poorly behaved and disrespectful actors linger in the mouths of the general public of Kauai? There are some locals in the boisterous group, but far and away the Anti-GMO tribe is primarily Haole. The last thing Kauai needs is holier than thou, silver spooned antagonists steering the island.

Juan Wilson said...

Aloha Joan,

You seem almost arrogant with your idea of "journalism".

I does not seem to me that you are connected to what's happening on the ground or in the future.

The solutions are not in politics or journalism or for that matter fincance or corporate profits.

The corporate system will soon face continual contraction. A few one-percenters will make it out here to Kauai but after the dust clears they and the bio-techies will be seeking ways to grow taro from the locals.

Just a thought from a westsider waiting for a geiger counter and his own garden to grow.

Anonymous said...

Right on Juan, too much misplaced condescension from the 'journalist.'

Joan does give a good list of action items. You can add to that what they do in Europe to GMO fields...

One way or another Kauaians gonna win dis one.

Count on it, Malahini Joan.

Anonymous said...

Sacre bleu, Dumas. Joan does just fine. She has worked all sides of a problem has a better balance unlike the Eurobabble Youtubes frequented the social media savvy provocateurs of the red shirts. Where do you think the Euros get their animal feed to produce their frommage, foie gras and biftec? They don’t grow much of it themselves. You may also have noticed that some of the more tedious bloggers have started to comment on Kauai Eclectic- probably to relieve the unrestrained boredom attending their own. Here’s a nice Youtube for the real farmers:

Anonymous said...

I'm all for corporate contraction. It's the mess that's left behind that worries me. As for connection, I'd rather read Joan than listen to the movement on kkcr. Those people who call in seem disconnected.

Anonymous said...

Did not the voters overwhelmingly vote against him after Lani's revelations?

Anonymous said...

Yes bring Kaipo back!!!!

Anonymous said...

The outcome of this bill only proves that the political system is broken and that working within it is fruitless for those without money, power and connection. And for the comment about the pro 2491ers being mostly haole you're not considering the silent supporters who live on the west side but don't speak out or the workers who support it within the seed companies but fear loosing their jobs. Or the continually disenfranchised kanaka who are tired of their lands being desecrated and water stolen whose voice doesn't seem to count ever. Its easy to criticize those who get involved because they put themselves out there to be seen and heard. If the silent majority remains silent, they allow those in power to control our destiny ala the tvr fiasco. Real change requires a revolution of sorts because working within the current system only gets us more of the same bullshit. When the majority decides to wake from their slumber and get involved, maybe then we can affect real change. Till then, we can let the politicians and their cronies decide the destiny of Kaua'i.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Kaipo would be the best choice

Anonymous said...

Juan, whatʻs got under your scales?
Thatʻs not professional courtesy to rag on Joan that way and because of that I will say: at least she writes (grammatically correct) her own original content, is not afraid to come out with it and has a huge readership.
I respect her ability to neutrally listen to anotherʻs point of view even when sheʻs clearly on one side of the fence.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh. Looks like some people who were stupid enough to threaten the mayor by telephone, email, and social media will be facing FEDERAL criminal charges!

They couldn't take one second to think that they can easily be tracked down?

Oh well. Anyone stupid enough to do that deserves to rot in prison.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:28 a.m., the outcome of the bill has not been determined. Even if they override the veto, the outcome won't be determined until a court rules and after that, it will be the simple matter of enforcing the bill. And when Gary is Mayor and Tim is his right hand man, then the anti-gmo mob can go rip on them for improperly administering the law!

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Mauibrad said...

LOL! Carvalho speaks

Anonymous said...

In the beginning of that video, the woman walking around with the camera man is Jennifer Ruggles, a paid activist for Pesticide Action Network.

Anonymous said...

Not even a resident and telling us what's what. I'm for the bill but all these off island activists gotta go.