Monday, January 27, 2014

Musings: Blow Back

The gusty winds have finally calmed, though not before ushering in the first indication of a political blow-back to Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 — Kauai County's contentious pesticide/GMO disclosure law.

Political observers were keeping a close eye on the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative smart meter opt-out fee vote, as it was pushed by many of the same players behind 2491. The turnout was the largest in KIUC's history, with 74% voting yes, those who opt out should pay the associated fees. It was a resounding defeat for the activists who petitioned for the vote.

When I texted the results to a friend — a local guy who voted NO on the fees and supported 2491 — he replied:

Expected something like. Backlash against loudmouth protestors n tree huggers.

Meanwhile, despite the fray over 2491, Kauai state House Reps. Jimmy Tokioka and Dee Morikawa were sufficiently emboldened — even in an election year — to join 34 other state Representatives in introducing House Bill 2506, the so-called “right to farm” bill that activists have dubbed the “Monsanto protection act.”

Ironically, the two counties where Monsanto does operate, Maui and Honolulu, have not adopted any legislation regulating biotech activities. A version of Bill 2491 was introduced in the Maui County Council, but it has failed to gain traction.

Though one Facebooker claimed Dee had “signed her political death warrant” in affixing her name to the bill, I suspect Dee, who represents westside Kauai, has a better grip on the mood of her constituents than a Facebooking pundit who rarely leaves his house in Kapaa.

It will be interesting to see whether House Speaker Joe Souki, who also signed on to HB 2506, pressures Rep. Jessica Wooley into holding a hearing on the bill. Wooley, who chairs the House Ag committee and is married to an attorney for Earthjustice, the environmental law firm that vetted Bill 2491, has indicated she won't move the bill.

Rep. Derek Kawakami, who represents the northeast side of Kauai, did not sign on. Nor did Sen. Ron Kouchi, though a companion bill was introduced in the Senate by politically powerful players like Sens. Clarence Nishihara, Clayton Hee, Malama Solomon and Donovan Dela Cruz, among dubious others.

The Legislature's willingness to consider such a measure in an election year, even as Ordinance 960 faces a serious and well-funded challenge in the courts, is an indication that the state isn't prepared to relinquish any power to the counties — or let them punish the most valuable sector of Hawaii agriculture.

Meanwhile, another hot potato issue will go before the public tonight: the county Department of Water's proposal to drill a horizontal well into Mount Kahili. The meeting, set for 6 to 8 tonight at Kapaa Middle School, is intended to present the “cost-savings analysis” of such a plan and accept public testimony.

Aside from cultural concerns, which I will leave to the cultural practitioners, I still have the same reservations I did when I wrote about the proposal more than a year ago. The project, which would double the water capacity of the Lihue-Kapaa area, is planned for land owned by Grove Farm.

And Grove Farm, as evidence by its recent sale of thousands of acres to billionaire Brad Kelley, is no longer in the land-holding business, but the land sale and development business. All that extra capacity would certainly sweeten the pot — especially since Grove Farm has long struggled to serve its own projects in the area. It looks to me like Grove Farm could be a major benefactor, though water customers would pick up the tab.

The decision ultimately rests with the Board of Water Supply, and none of its seven members are elected.


Anonymous said...

Souki made Wooley ag chair. If he wants the bill heard it will be

Anonymous said...

Amends Hawaii's Right to Farm Act to ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices.

Who are these politicians who represent Kauai, really work for?
Why would they vote for this bill unless they are being "pimped" by the Big Ag/Chem companies?

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

i wonder how the definition of farming relates to experimental test crops. when i think farm, i think food. aloha Dean

Joan Conrow said...

I looked up the campaign contributions and found that since 2009, Jimmy Tokioka has received $3,500 from Monsanto, $1,400 from DuPont (owner of Pioneer) and $500 from Syngenta.

Dee Morikawa received just $250 from Syngenta and $300 from Pioneer since 2010, when she first ran.

Anonymous said...

The hottest word was how Foster got his $30,000 bonus when he worked for Kauai's prosecuting office.

Why come nobody is asking about Nakamura's salary raise from county council to admin asst/managing dir? I believe that's more than what Foster got.

What was it a $40,000 to $60,000 raise?

Was it for weakening bill 2491, making it liable for a civil suit?

Was this also a ploy to make someone or more than one a white knight of the county for the county? (elections are coming soon and tarnished reputations needed repairing)

The chemical/biological (seed) companies are wheeling and dealing extensively to strike down the counties powers to protect when the state has failed.

Our state reps are nothing but a bunch of puppets controlled by strings attached.

Anonymous said...

9:25 you are way off base. Nadine Nakamura is one of the most qualified thoughtful people in the county. She was most likely picked for the position because of her talents.You may think everything revolves around the GMO issue, but that is just 1 issue of many important issues facing the county. For most people who live here, we are pleased with the Mayor's choice and wish her well in improving the county.
Her seat got replaced with Mason who supports GMO free far more than Nadine, so stop complainin and makin shit up

Joan Conrow said...

9:25 -- Unlike Foster, who got a raise without any additional duties, Nadine moved from the Council to a position with far more responsibilities. What's more, the salary for that position is set by the salary commission, whereas Foster's raise was handed out ad hoc by the former prosecutor.

If you want to blame someone for a weak law, look at Gary Hooser, who drafted this piece of crap and voted for it repeatedly, even with the junk amendments.

Anonymous said...

Yep Hooser sure F'd it all up.

Anonymous said...

Went to the Water Board meeting last night. It started off with the introduction, then an onslaught of Kanaka Maole marched in chanting. After an hour had passed their resistance and control became more intense. At that point the Water Board was still stuck on the first slide, first block. I decided to leave.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Hooser introduced a bill that generally speaking needed to happen.

After many years of medical issues that has sparked up in that area of the island the medical community raised questions and concerns. The bill justified the concerns of the health of the people, land, air, water, other plants and animals in those areas using toxins and combinations of toxic pesticides(RUP's).

After the Waimea canyon school bloody nose sickness that affected over 20 people, there was a need to take action against what was the cause.

It took a year for the agencies to do a study. A year! How convenient and the result was to blame a stick weed. BS

The seed companies refused to give a database that would show the real use of RUP's in those areas. This is something a good neighbor or company would not hide if they were abiding the laws that are already in place.

If any of you would research areas that are now considered Superfund sites than you people will understand that there is a correlation in their practice of abuse.

The right to farm House Bill 2506 that the state takes precedent over the counties rights and privileges to protect the health and welfare of its people is absurd.

Tokioka and Morikawa should be removed from office immediately.

Anonymous said...

One could agree with almost all of these comments.

Joan is right that that some of the 2491 supporters used terrible tactics and utterly lacked civility. Also that the final ordinance is in-artful and much of it may be thrown out. Of course, if the Tokioka amendments to HRS are passed at the State level, then 2491 does not matter much anymore.

But those who think 2491 needed to happen are also right, IMHO. These corporations prove time and time again that they cannot will place corporate profit over human and animal suffering. They are not trustworthy. They have endless resources. I take 10 minutes to comment, they probably have paid employees ready to counter it. Good lawyers volunteer to work for the County for free, and the Corporations get lawyers to say that is not allowed.

To me, our physicians have noticed strange problems- even both defects - that are consistent with pesticide-toxicity. I take this at face value, and I don't trust these companies. Someone had to do something. And doing something is hard and mistakes are bound to be made along the way, especially when multinational corporations are hawking and exploiting your every misstep.

So I thank Gary Hooser for trying.

Despite all the real mistakes of the red shirts that have been documented here, this still had to be done. It was mostly a young movement. Mistakes happen. It is just a new generation cutting its teeth on activism.

Dow and DuPont and Pioneer and Syngenta will get over it.

Anonymous said...

January 28, 2014 at 10:34 PM:

1. Just because an activist with an MD says something, does not make it true. Even they need data to back up their claims. It does not help their credibility when activist Lee Evslin, MD, continues to misrepresent the applicability of the report by the American Academy of Pediatrics to Ordinance 960 (Bill 2491). See:
a. “Can’t believe we’re debating pesticides”, 2014.01.28. The Garden Island.
2. Being young and inexperienced does not excuse the trampling of the processes established to safeguard our liberty and the division created in our community. The end does not justify the means. The a priori designation of people as “good” or “bad” created unnecessary and hurtful division in our small community that will not heal quickly. To me, that is a high price to pay for “cutting your teeth”.
3. By “in-artful” I take it you mean “illegal”. Because “illegal” gets thrown out by the courts. “in-artful” gets fixed by subsequent legislation.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe Dr. Evslin, who has treated who knows how many of Kauai's children. Believe the chemical companies that brought us Agent Orange and DDT. They only have the interests of the Kauai (and not their shareholders) in mind.