Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Musings: Code Green

While perusing the Malama Kauai newsletter, I saw the curious claim: “We won a landmark Supreme Court case for water rights.” So I clicked on the link, and what do I see? Earthjustice and MK are claiming credit for winning the Kauai Springs water bottling case.

Mmmm, as I recall it, Kauai County put up all the dough and did all the heavy lifting over eight long years of litigation. Earthjustice slipped in at the appeal, filed a measly amicus (friend of court) brief and deftly positioned itself and MK's Keone Kealoha as heroes.

Excuse me, but WTF do Keone and MK know about water, and what has he or that group ever done on its behalf? Their one claim to fame is school gardens. Oh, and giving Superferry opponents a spokesman with a Hawaiian name to counter claims it was a haole movement.

But that's how Earthjustice operates. They cherry pick high-profile cases and nonprofits, then spin it for publicity and fundraising. Just as they're doing with their intervention in the chem companies' lawsuit against the pesticide/GMO regulatory law, Ordinance 960.

Councilman Gary Hooser is quoted as saying the intervention is a “big win for the people of Kauai.” It'll only be a big win for the people of Kauai if Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety pick up a substantial portion of the legal fees we're incurring defending the crappy bill they wrote. 

But don't hold your breath. Because this isn't really about the little people on Kauai. Though EJ and CFS claim they're representing “the community” and “those who have been most harmed by these toxins,” they picked as their clients not real folks with health problems on the westside, but Pesticide Action Network, another publicity- and cash-hungry national group; Ka Makani Hoopono, a group formed solely for the purposes of joining the lawsuit, and Surfrider Foundation, another national group, which is trying to pretend it's neutral enough to test water for pesticides. Uh huh.

Speaking of Surfrider, the Star-Advertiser yesterday picked up on its chummy — and ironic — new alliance with high-end tourism and real estate development.

The piece focused on how upscale Poipu vacation rental properties and the Grand Hyatt have aligned with “environmental” groups like Malama Mahaulepu, Surfrider and Sierra Club to kill the proposed Mahaulepu dairy.

I laughed out loud when I read one of their gripes:

They argue that the dairy's plan to use partial grains to feed the cows and to ship milk from Kauai to be bottled on Oahu isn't part of environmentally sustainable practices.

But the totally unsustainable Grand Hyatt, which depends on a steady stream of imported tourists, food and booze to keep afloat, guzzles massive amounts of electricity and water, generates tons of trash and produces thousands of gallons of sewage gets a free pass?

That wasn't the only amusing bit:

"This is kind of a clash of cultures," said Jerry Westenhaver, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which is about 2.5 miles from Ulupono's proposed dairy farm. "Grove Farm, which owns the land under the proposed dairy farm, doesn't understand the fragile, competitive nature of the tourism industry and how one round of bad press could affect a lot of people's lives.”

I guess Jerry doesn't know that Grove Farm sold developers the land that became the Hyatt – a resort project bitterly opposed by his new BFFs in the Kauai environmental community, btw.

Jerry went on to say:

"Once the community opens the gate, it's going to be hard to close again," he said.

Yeah, that's why a lot of us were worried about turning ag land into resorts and gentleman's estates, and going gang-busters into tourism promotion.  And sho nuff, here we are facing the monster that Grove Farm helped to create.

Only now, our sadly co-opted environmental community has joined forces with the so-not-green tourism and luxury real estate industries in opposition to agriculture, claiming it's not green enough.

But don't worry, the environmentalists are still dedicated to “green” principles — as in the color of money. So keep those tax-free donations flowing, folks. Just don't ask for any accounting of the funds or a list of donors.

Because disclosure and transparency are for the other guys, the “bad guys.” Whereas they're the good guys, the aina warriors. Right?

Yeah, right. 


Anonymous said...

Earth Justice will get more out of this then just publicity and guess what.. We will pay for that too! They abuse the Equal Access to Justice act and demand as much as $600 an hour compensation. Shady bunch. https://westernlegacyalliance.org/eaja-abuse/equal-access-to-justice-act-abuse

Anonymous said...

"EarthJustice is no ordinary citizen. It has $35,922,744 in net assets, including nearly $1.2 million invested in an offshore limited partnership and $26 million in corporate stock. The attorney fee demand seeks between $500 and $600 per hour for EarthJustice’s in-house attorneys, nearly three times the statutory rate allowed under the Act and in far excess of the prevailing rate for private attorneys doing this work."

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, no agriculture, no tourism, no development, no more hoales, just plain old trust fund babies that want to shut the gates and raise the draw bridge or locals that want sovereign nation status. Hmmmm. Wonder what would happen to Kauai if these wishes were true. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Anonymous said...

Wow Joan, these hypocrisies and incongruities appear to be very well researched, documented, and laid so graphically bare.

Word that first comes to mind is duality . . . more precisely, duplicity.

Unknown said...

Mahalo Joan for a thorough review of the facts...again... For the record, it was Hui Ho'omalu i ka Aina, that sat at the Planning Commission table, being guided and advised by Kapua Sproat (Earthjustice at the time) and Koa Kaulukukui (OHA), that did the early work on Kauai Springs.County of Kauai truly stepped up and paid the tab to defend the Commission's correct ruling. Malama Kauai was not in the room, ever. Save Our Seas supported the Kauai Springs application because they said that fresh water is bad for the ocean, and, it turned out, Jason Donovan was an investor in Kauai Springs. So, true gratitude to David Minkin from Mc Corriston law firm. He is the hardworking hero here,assisted ably by Mauna Kea Trask.

Anonymous said...

What has Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety actually done for the environment? Nothing. Only sue, sue, sue to fund their nice lavish offices in San Francisco and D.C. Where's their contribution to the land? Nothing. Donate your money to groups that actually do something and not to lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Haaaa surfrider partnering with hotel industry is half way between sad and ridiculous. Had it been the same hotel they have been fighting in waikiki for setback rules, that would have made for a very interesting situation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Joan. Very informative. Nonprofit bad actors are legion. The tactics you articulated so well have been mastered years ago by Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center
SPLC only picks very few high profile Civil Rights cases for the millions they take in donations.

Anonymous said...

In other news, the Kauai Fire Department is asking for more money to cover for over time.

Haven't the police and fire department learned how to balance a budget?

All they need to do is have reserves fire fighters and reserve police officers.

Yes they will probably hire more of their family and friends but at least they won't be asking for more pork after getting their servings.

Do I have to do everything around here?

Gee Gosh Golly George the animals are running the farm-No wonder!

Anonymous said...

Looking at the Big Picture these days - all the 'haves' people know the best way to sway public opinion from the 'have-nots' is to HIDE within a 'non-profit' and the definition/image of 'non-profit' has morphed from what we knew as 'grass-roots' and barely hanging in there - to 'corporate lawyers,' expense accounts and bully money pushing agendas under the guise of 'doing the right thing'

Anonymous said...

With profound apologies to the Whiffenpoofs and cows who deserve better.

From the pastures of Missouri
To a place where rich folks dwell
So nearby to Kōloa the tourists love so well
Moo we milk cows assembled
With our udders dragging low
And the magic of our reception
Is talk of mostly smell.

Yes, the magic of our coming
And our milk they love so well
Is marred by all the bullshit
The fling at us pell mell.
We’re only cows on grass and turf
And yet they think we’ll taint their surf

We’re poor little cows
who have lost our way
Moo, Moo, Moo
Were little lost bovines
Who have gone astray
Oh Maha’ulepu

Poor little bovines off on a spree
Bound for there and asperity
Lord have mercy on such as we
Moo, Moo, Moo.