I happened to be down at the County building yesterday morning, in the rain, when the Harleys came roaring in, bringing toys and food for the island's many needy citizens via the Keiki Toy and Food Ride.
Besides the stuff collected by the bikers, workers from the island's four chemical/seed companies, supported by some corporate funds, donated more than $1,000 worth of toys. Though a lot of the workers don't make much money, and many support relatives in the Philippines with their pay, they still managed to come up with a significant amount of cash to benefit a local charity.
And I couldn't help but think, how have the anti-GMO groups given back to the community lately? I don't mean individuals in those groups, because I know many are involved in worthwhile endeavors through their employment and/or volunteer activities, but the groups themselves. Because they do have money — money to fly people to other islands to testify and march, money to buy ads and run their various campaigns.
They've gotten money from the anti/pro-GMO groups that fund them, money from selling tee-shirts, money from donations, money from a benefit concert, money that will never be fully accounted for, much as they demand full transparency in others.
Just curious why groups that supposedly formed because they're so worried about the community aren't simultaneously doing something to help it — other than push through a badly flawed bill that could help the chemical companies and the state definitively establish their pre-emptive powers over the counties.
Because Kauai is all about giving back, and I'm not seeing it from that particular segment. Perhaps it's because a lot of the newbies in those groups don't understand local culture, just like they don't know history.
Which is why they kept proclaiming — with the aid of newcomer TGI reporter Chris D'Angelo — that last summer's red shirt march on Rice Street was the biggest coming together of people ever on Kauai.
Wrong. Take last Friday's Lights on Rice event, which had 2,000 marchers in the parade alone, and some 10,000 people total in attendance. Friday night football games regularly attracted 5,000 people, and back in the day, the union rallies attracted far larger crowds than the march, as a percentage of the total population. But since Chris doesn't know any of that, he accepts the misinformation that's fed him as fact.
Whenever I write something critical about the red shirt movement, or highlight its connection to the real estate and construction industry, I get a comment or two about how I must be working for the chemical companies. Because there couldn't possibly be any other reason for finding fault, right?
Just like I got heat when I dared to criticize the petition drive to hold an election on the KIUC smart meter opt-out fees. Oh, we're not trying to stop you from having an opinion, I was told, we just can't understand why you would express it, why you would say anything that might hurt “our side.”
The message seems to be that if you hold any sort of progressive views, you should just quietly march in lock step with all the others, parrot all the commonly held stances, and if you see something wrong or stupid going down, then look the other way and keep your mouth shut.
How, pray tell, is that any different than a county worker in, say, building or planning, who sees one of their colleagues accept a platter of sashimi, a bottle of Scotch, from a developer, but doesn't say anything, because hey, that's my co-worker, or my cousin, or my classmate?
Wrong is wrong and stupid is stupid, no matter who is doing it.
Which leads me to today's article in The Garden Island on red shirt leader Felicia Cowden — the second fawning piece that Leo Azumbuja has written about her in the past three months — which designates her as “the voice of agriculture.”
Really? Where in the world did TGI ever get that patently erroneous idea? When you consider all the real true farmers on this island who have devoted their lives to agriculture, who have struggled to actually feed large numbers of people, keep irrigation systems alive, ag lands from being developed, TGI has the hubris to proclaim a home gardener living off her investments "the voice of agriculture?”
Gee, Leo, you might want to stop parroting what you hear in the KKCR/Facebook echo chamber and get out in the community more. Because I can tell you, if you asked them that know, "who speaks for ag on this island?" they sure as heck wouldn't say Felicia. What an insult to farmers.