How important is it to you that a Kauai County Council candidate purchase locally grown food, compost or have a solar hot water heater installed on his or her house?
According to a political litmus test being circulated by Surfrider, Apollo Kauai, the Kauai branch of the Hawaii Farmers Union and Zero Waste Kauai, it's essential information. More valuable, say, than a candidate's morals, ethics, intelligence or knowledge of government.
And much more crucial than his/her stance on such non-issues as affordable housing, drug abuse, spending priorities, shoreline protection, vacation rentals, preservation of ag lands, roads, parks, tourism, youth programs, homelessness or the elderly — none of which are addressed at all.
In keeping with the black-white, bumper sticker mentality that has come to characterize “progressive environmentalists” on Kauai, all the survey questions must be answered yes or no, or in 20 words or less. No chance to explain, elaborate or even question the question. You're either with us, or against us. And an answer is required for every question, no matter how ludicrous.
These questions were given a 20-word limit:
What are the three most dangerous environmental hazards facing Kauai?
Not counting the shallow, superficial, self-interested, ill-informed groups trying to make bad policy?
What percentage of the food you purchase each week is grown or produced on Kauai?
Do you figure it by pound, or volume? What if you're growing your own, not buying? And what, pray tell, is the politically correct percentage, especially if you don't like kale?
What is your level of concern regarding water resources on Kauai? (high, medium or low and why)
Do you mean surface water, ground water, municipal water or ag water? Availability or purity? Cost or abundance? Dammed water or flowing water? Fresh water or salt water?
How would you support expansion of Kauai Bus services?
Notice this comes from the premise that expanding bus service can only be a good thing, whether people use it or not. And what if you thought they should do stuff like put up bus shelters before adding more stops? Nope, not allowed.
Do you believe that Waste to Energy is an appropriate solution for Kauai? Why or why not?
Mmmm, exactly which model are they referencing? Giant incinerator? Magic box that transforms tons of waste into a small, completely innocuous black pebble? Technology untested elsewhere but sure it'll work on Kauai, just sign right here and give us your money? Don't overthink it now, you've got 20 words or less.
These get a yes or no only:
Will you, as a Council member, initiate actions to help reduce greenhouse gases on Kauai and address climate change consequences?
You mean like forbid any members of these groups from flying off the island, driving cars or buying anything imported so they don't contribute to carbon emissions? Oh, wait, you can only answer yes or no.
Do you support more extensive County testing of streams, reefs and beaches for pesticides and other pollutants?
OK, this is a trick question. If you think the state should be doing the testing, and vote no, you'll be dinged. If you don't think County money should be diverted to a biased group like Surfrider for testing, as has happened with the bee pollen testing money that Councilman Jay Furfaro pushed through, and you mark no, you'll get dinged. If you check yes on what is an open-ended, blank check, you're stupid.
Would you support establishing recycling requirements for commercial entities (e.g. businesses, hotels, agencies, construction projects, etc.)
Again, it depends. How much would it cost the county to enforce such a requirement? Is there a market for all these recyclable materials? Does it make carbon cost-effective sense to, say, ship our cardboard to China? Who will be deputized as the dumpster monitors? Could we possibly start with education and incentives, or must we jump right into regulation? How many are doing it already, voluntarily?
Then comes the question that reveals the groups' bias in favor of Councilmen Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser:
Would you support a separate zoning classification for ag land used for research and development of new patented seeds and proprietary ag chemicals?
Yup, that's Timmy's bill they're referencing, and code for, are you against GMOs?
Oh, and here's the self-serving one for the Moloaa farmers who got their land cheap because it had a zero density zoning, but now they want to increase their property values by getting a house approved under guise of worker housing:
Do you support amending the Farmworker Housing Ordinance 903 to allow new farms that were not dedicated to agriculture prior to 2010 to apply for a use permit if they meet all other criteria in the Ordinance?
Again, no discussion. Just yes or no. But curious, no questions about CPRs and TVRs on ag land, or enforcing the farm dwelling agreement — all major factors in the destruction of farm land, but issues that hit too close to home for Tim and Gary and many of these groups' members.
Do you support the return of the Super Ferry?
Which one? The one that was sold to the navy, or the one that hasn't been built yet?
And I love this one, emphasis added:
Do you support the concept of an Environmental Public Health Impact Study to determine if any detrimental health or environmental effects have occurred or may occur from the extensive use of restricted use pesticides on Kauai?
Again, what exactly do they mean? Are they talking about concept because the EPHIS was struck down along with Ordinance 960, so now nothing is gonna happen? Do they mean the crappy EPHIS that fortunately was struck down because it would take years to come up with any results, and even then, they would be suspect, because the group overseeing the process would be highly politicized and driven by an anti-GMO agenda? And are they talking about a study that looks at all RUP use? Or just that by the seed companies? And when you get into what may occur, well, isn't that a bit speculative?
Can the County Council significantly help the county reduce its own energy consumption?
Like funneling all that hot air from the Council chambers into hand dryers in the bathrooms? Oops, yes or no only.
And my favorite:
Are you an environmentalist?
To which I would reply, by whose definition? Al Gore's, or Edward Abbey's? Earthjustice, or Earth First? Or in this case, the hypocrites who don't practice what they preach?
But again, it's just yes or no. So dear candidate, take off your thinking cap, put on your blinders and you'll do just fine.
Though signed “respectfully,” the email with the survey link includes a club: Failure to respond will be so noted in the display ad in the elections publication.
That's the line that prompted Police Chief Darryl Perry to post on Facebook that he “respectfully declined to participate." The chief, in his first bid for public office, wrote:
Their BOLD "encouragement" to participate lacked any sincerity to allow transparency when the response is "yes" or "no". It took me all of 2 seconds to decline.
I am about having honest, well reasoned and researched-supported discussions.
Let's change the models of communication. Let's model the behavior we need to see in our Kauai County Council.
Vote For Change!
You'd think he'd score points for knowing the difference between honua — earth — and aina — the land that feeds — which puts him heads and shoulders above those administering the survey.
But no, that wasn't on the test. And the lock-step “Kauai greenies” do not allow anyone to color outside the lines or think outside the box. Especially not for themselves.