Moon, one tick away from fullness, adorned a sky dotted with stars and streaked with spider web clouds when the dogs and I went walking in the welcome chill of a January pre-dawn.
Kauai County is putting out the welcome mat for pro bono attorneys who want to cash in on the publicity surrounding the biotech companies' lawsuit challenging our pesticide/GMO law. Because Lord knows the county doesn't have that kind of expertise or dough.
It'll be interesting to see who turns up. Attorneys George Kimbrell of Center for Food Safety and Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice are already making comments to the media as if they're on the job. How, exactly, will such a scenario work? Will the county's interests be properly represented by attorneys whose first loyalty is to their own nonprofits? I can see the direct mail appeals now: Fighting Goliath in Paradise. Send money. Lots and lots and lots.
And does pro bono mean they'll also pay court costs — and the other side's legal fees if they lose and the judge so orders?
In reviewing the press coverage of the lawsuit, it's as if the attorneys, activists and Councilman Gary Hooser are all reading from the same script:
"They chose to use their money and legal power to bully us in court," Hooser said. "These companies do not want our county to set a precedent that other communities are going to follow."
Come on, Gary. Your primary reason for introducing this bill was to try and set that precedent because you wanted to “do something important” and make a name for yourself.
Achitoff also chimed in:
“The chemical industry has been using bullying and misinformation all along to try to derail this law,” he said in a statement.
Yeah, that's true, but it might play better if those exact words didn't also apply to the tactics used by the movement that pushed the bill through. Amy Harmon's Jan. 5 piece in the New York Times did a good job of portraying the movement's use of that same strategy on the Big Island. Don't think, just attack anyone with a question or a different point of view while Facebooking copious quantities of hyperbole.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura has apparently recognized the resolution implementing an Environmental and Public Health Impacts Study (EPHIS) contains a bit too much hyperbole. She's asking the Council tomorrow to reconsider its approval. As JoAnn notes, the reso got passed late at night, and “I do not believe members understood the implications of some of the proposed amendments...”
Gee, that sounds familiar....
At any rate, JoAnn is now worried about language in the reso that directs the Joint Fact Finding Group to examine and report on findings regarding “economic impacts, food sustainability and environmental justice.” She's concerned it will “politicize the process” and possibly jeopardize the integrity of the EPHIS, while stretching the budget.
Like everything else in this over-reaching resolution won't?
Also on tomorrow's agenda are JoAnn's bills calling for licensing cats and regulating barking dogs. Since dog owners must buy a license for their pets, it's only fair to impose the same requirement on cat owners. Or better yet, forget both. But the bill seems premature. Why not wait until the Feral Cat Task Force completes its work and makes recommendations on how to deal with the wild cats?
As for the barking dogs, no doubt some folks deserve a respite from constant yapping. But when you have the Humane Society acknowledging it made 26 visits to one Waipouli home before finally filing charges of abuse — one dog dead and others starving — it begs the question: how in hell are they going to enforce against barking?
Why not work on a more community-based solution? If one person is upset by a barking dog, surely other neighbors are, too. Let's spend our energy on strategies to help citizens resolve this issue themselves, instead of passing yet another law, and one that will be difficult if not impossible to enforce.