It wasn't prescience, but political predictability, that prompted me to previously proclaim that Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser was using the anti-GMO movement to position himself as the head of an organization.
And sure enough, shortly after he filed for re-election, Gary announced he is president of a newly formed nonprofit — Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, or HAPA — and immediately began soliciting donations.
Which means he's created a new funnel for mainland money, and it will be years before we can see who is supporting this group's agenda and activities. Once again, transparency and disclosure are for the "other guys."
While Gary contends HAPA is devoted to fostering “grassroots participation in democracy,” the group has just one campaign: “defending Kauaʻi and all Hawaiʻi from the harmful actions of these companies.” By which is meant the chemical/seed companies.
That made me think of a letter I got from a westside resident who was saying she had supported Gary and the pesticide/GMO regulatory Bill 2491 because she and her neighbors needed some relief.
And while I could certainly understand that desire, I thought, yes, but what relief have they gotten, or will they actually ever get? Nothing has changed, other than what the companies voluntarily agreed to do, in terms of buffers and disclosure. Nor will it change through the years that this badly flawed bill drags through the courts.
When are people going to wake up and see they are being shamelessly used to further one man's ambitions? Remember, this is the man who told me "it doesn't matter if the bill is enforced. All that matters is getting it passed."
As in giving Gary a new schtick and sound byte with "the little island that could."
Meanwhile, in the real world, no enforcement = no relief.
Though Gary claims the group's board of directors is “diverse,” a quick look at the like-minded line-up proves otherwise: Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff, Andrea Brower, Aria Juliet Castillo, Lorilani Keohokalole-Torio, Josh Mori, Malia Chun (Councilman Mason Chock's sister), Bart Dame (who I know only from the extremely vicious and ugly hate messages he sent me), Laura Harrelson, Bianca Kai Isaki, Ikaika Hussey, Maui publicist Katie McMillan, Josh Mori, Karen Shishido, Cade Watanabe and good old Walter Ritte Jr.
In catering to the non-thinking/group-think set, HAPA has helpfully boiled down its mission to three bumper stickers: Take Back Government; People over Profits, and Think Global, Act Local.
Of course, Gary doesn't mean we should also take back our government from him. Just "the other guys."
And should we vote him out of office, he will blame the dirty deeds of the chem companies — though the anti-GMO movement certainly rivals its foe in that department — and assume the role of martyred victim.
The press release says Gary serves as president of HAPA in a volunteer capacity, but you can be certain that should he lose the election, he will quickly be paid to sell his message of “the little island that could.” Which is what he's been seeking all this time at our expense: a voice on the national — shoots, international; heck, intergalactic — stage.
Meanwhile, whether Gary's a volunteer or paid, his affiliation with HAPA creates a severe conflict of interest for him — and possibly Mason Chock, due to his sister's involvement — in dealing with any issue regarding pesticides, agriculture and the seed/chem companies that comes before the County Council.
And that's more than a little troubling, considering there's litigation pending and an environmental and public health impact study to be planned.
Which raises the question of why Gary would place himself in a position that renders him totally useless as a Councilman on the issue nearest and dearest to his heart.
But then, he's got bigger fish to fry than our dinky little County Council.