Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Musings: Fleeced

It was so odd reading Councilman Gary Hooser's letter to the editor today, like he actually wants and hopes to learn that westside Kauai babies are being born with defects, just so he can advance his political agenda.

Instead of welcoming the news from westside ob/gyn Dr. Graham Chelius, who last week publicly assured us, “There is not an increased rate of cardiac defects of any kind on the Westside of Kauai,” Gary disputes it.

Well, he doesn't actually come right out and dispute it, because he's not a doctor, and he doesn't have one tiny shred of proof that Dr. Chelius is wrong. But in the smarmy, deceptive rhetoric that is so typical of Gary and his followers — most notably Andrea Brower, who used the same tactics in a guest editorial on Saturday — he casts vague aspersions on Dr. Chelius' report before noting:

I sincerely hope Dr. Chelius is correct.

However, other physicians on Kauai’s Westside have submitted public testimony indicating their increased concern about high birth defect rates and the need for further investigation into this area.

What Gary doesn't say is those physicians made that testimony more than a year ago, and since then, further investigations have been made. These include updating the birth defects registry, which Gary himself acknowledges is under way, and conducting the review of Kauai birth defect data upon which Dr. Chelius based his letter.

I also find it curious that Gary claims he got a letter from the state Department of Health on July 1, advising him that the birth defects registry was in the process of being updated. Yet in an Aug. 31 letter to the editor and a Sept. 16 post on his blog, Gary makes the case for the county taking matters into its own hands, stating:

the State birth defect registry has not been updated since 2005.

Seems that an honest person would've revealed the full story:

The state is working hard to bring current the most recent few years of Kauai data, however 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and 2013 remain incomplete. Data collection from 2010–2012 and input for Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital is complete and for Wilcox Hospital they have completed 2010–2011.

Instead Gary waits until now to disclose that tidbit, hoping it will cast aspersions on Dr. Chelius. Whatta guy. Can you spell sleazy?

In his letter today, Gary goes on to reference the EPA and American Pediatric Association, both of which say — duh — that “people who live and work in areas that are subject to regular pesticide use have higher rates of various ailments including certain cancers.”

What Gary refuses to acknowledge is this: 1) the state DOH did a cancer study that showed no elevated rates of cancer anywhere on Kauai, save the North Shore, where haoles have higher rates of melanoma; and 2) there is no indication that field workers — folks with the greatest exposure — are having health problems associated with pesticides, much less people who live nearby.

For Gary to continually raise the specter of “increased birth defects, nerve damage, cancer and autism," without having any proof that residents are, in fact, subject to pesticide exposure from the seed companies is classic fear-mongering. What's more, it's absolutely irresponsible, even perversely sick.

Look at the facts: Hawaii SEED, whose mission is to destroy GMO cultivation on Kauai, never found any evidence of pesticide drift, despite spending tens of thousands of dollars on studies. Surfrider, which has joined the lawsuit defending Gary's Ordinance 960, came up similarly blank with its bee pollen and water studies. And state Department of Health tests found pesticide levels were far below the acceptable federal levels in water samples conducted in rural areas, but elevated in Oahu's urban streams.

Yes, studies should continue, and even be expanded, but shouldn't Gary ramp back his rhetoric? I mean, he's been screaming "wolf!" for two years now and so far all we've seen are his huddled sheep, baahing in fear.

Which brings me to Andrea, who took the exact same approach in her guest editorial, seizing on the health effects of one pesticide, chlorpyrifos. Once the seed of fear was planted, she fertilized it with bullshit:

On Kauai, chlorpyrifos is sprayed by the chemical and seed companies at a pounds-per-acre rate that is estimated to be 10 times the national average.

Strange, how everything is always 10 times the national average. Not five, or 20, but always 10. Guess because that's an easy number to repeat and remember.

The problem with estimates, as Andrea herself acknowledges, is they aren't precise — especially when they're being figured by a “reporter” whose "research" was funded by the same anti-GMO/anti-Big Ag Media Consortium that financed 10 biased reports.

But Andrea blames the seed companies, “because the industry has refused to give us precise data.”

Actually, if you go to the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program website — a restricted use pesticide disclosure site that Andrea claims arose from “more than 10 years of persistent community members’ efforts” when it was negotiated by Gov. Abercrombie's team — you'll find very precise data. The companies report exactly how much of each RUP they used, as well as the total area and total field area to which each pesticide was applied.

There's no need to estimate, just go in there and do the tedious basic arithmetic, which is how I discovered that Andrea, Gary and the rest of their flock have long been lying about overall pesticide use. Yeah, that "18 tons" they keep parroting is pure shibai. But apparently Andrea is too lazy and the reporter wasn't paid enough, because neither did the work.

But then, haven't we seen that over and over and over again among Gary and his flock of fistees? They don't actually want hard data, because it doesn't support ANY of their claims. And when evidence emerges that points out their falsehoods, they move on to another hazy accusation.

A perfect example: Right after Dr. Chelius reported the 10-times-national-average cardiac birth defect claim was bogus, I had someone persistently (and anonymously) try to leave the comment that gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines stick outside the belly, is occurring on Kauai at 10 times the national average. There's no shortage of rumors spread by those disinclined to tell the truth.

Both Andrea and Gary again repeated the lie that the seed/chem companies are suing to keep their pesticide use hidden. Andrea made it the entire basis of her article, which was entitled “Why the facts make our 'right to know' more important than ever,” while Gary ends his letter with the disingenuous:

All we are asking for is basic disclosure, modest buffer zones and a health study. It shouldn’t be so hard.

Again, as I previously reported, the companies are already providing more than basic disclosure and they have voluntarily imposed buffer zones around homes, schools and hospitals. As for the health study, tell us, Gary, have you asked the CDC or any other agency to come in? Or are you putting all your stock in the EPHIS, which is now in the same legal limbo as Ordinance 960, and thus unable to provide any information for years, if ever?

But then, that will suit Gary and Andrea just fine as they can continue to make their claims without being bothered by the discovery of any new pesky facts.

At least Andrea is honest enough to admit, “We do not know the extent of current harm,” though it was negated by this comment:

While fear is never a good basis for politics, accusations of “fear-mongering” are serving to marginalize very real concerns and shield an industry that does not have the health and well-being of our community as a priority. A lot of misinformation has circulated around this issue, much of it intentionally manipulated by the industry, and some of it genuinely confused by well-meaning people trying to make sense of a scientifically, politically, legally and socially complex situation.

At the risk of mixing metaphors, what you are experiencing, Andrea, is a phenomenon known as "your chickens coming home to roost." You and your cohorts consciously chose the fear-mongering, misinformation-based approach to this issue. It worked to get Bill 2491 passed, but now it's backfiring, because the claims just aren't holding water under scrutiny.

So don't be blaming the industry for your own devious tactics, while claiming you and the other activists were “genuinely confused” and “well-meaning people.” Yes, you're confused, though you're too smart to pretend your manipulations weren't intentional, Andrea.

And no, I can't believe any of uou were well-meaning, because all of you continue to deliberately deceive the public to keep your agenda afloat.

If you're truly well-meaning, you, Gary, Councilman Tim Bynum, Council candidate Felicia Cowden  and the rest of the fibbing flock would sit down and figure out a way to get this important discussion into the realm of facts and truth.

You might even have a chat with your dad, Rob Brower, about his hypocrisy in denouncing the pesticide use by seed companies when he, as a contractor, used tons of treated lumber and sprayed chemicals on the ground beneath houses he built. 

But you're not doing any of that, are you? 

Which is why you're losing control of the debate to those of us who are not "seed company shills," but discerning citizens seeking some reality, and in the process, outing the real wolves in sheep's clothing — the ones that are preying ruthlessly upon their flock.


Anonymous said...

Joan- You forgot to include that big bag of gas known as Jay Furfaro into your fearless four.
Jay has the power and the gavel to direct the Council and keep all dialogue on point.
Jay has allowed the council to go on with bad tax policy, knee jerk reactions and is the steersman of of this Council that has put the County brinking on bankruptcy.
GMO or no-GMO, the County is broke. The Council spends money and with them pressing for the appeal, there is not one mention, that if the Courts re-open 960 and the County loses, will the Seed Companies get all of their costs back?
Strange brew when the previously lambasted devil McCorriston (who represented manslaughter Man- Pfleuger) is now, presto! a shining knight of goodness....Strange bedfellows, Gary---it really is a time to Don't ask and don't tell. The morning after can be a real bad awakening.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Joan!!! I love your boldness. I couldn't agree with you more. You say what we all want to say but don't because it's not worth the bullying, social shaming and attacks, accusation of being " paid shills" and "sheeple" or "pro gmo". Your a true hero for telling it like it is. We can't let people like Gary continue to get away with this. The price is literally too high. Mahalo!!!

Anonymous said...

And don't forget that the cap is on attorney fees for the special counsel only, not costs such as travel, filing fees, copies, long distance charges, etc.

Anonymous said...

As the person who asked what the incidence of gastroschisis was, I never said "is occurring on Kauai at 10 times the national average." What I actually said was, "There seems to be a very high incidence of gastroschisis on Kaua'i much higher than the national average." Perhaps you are speaking of another reader? If you disagree that the incidence of gastroschisis is much higher on Kaua'i than the national average, why not be fair to me and the rest of your readers and actually publish this comment. I am not making claims, I am only asking for facts concerning this issue and I mistakenly thought that perhaps you could help. Mahalo.

Joan Conrow said...

Well then there must be two of you keen to spread this rumor. And yes you ARE making a claim, "that it seems to be much higher," but you offer nothing to substatiate it. Btw, if you're actually seeking facts , leaving Anon comments on a blog really isn't the best way to get them.

Anonymous said...

Beliefs do not change facts, but facts do and should change beliefs.

Thus, if facts are not changing the beliefs of a person, then said person is irrational and delusional.

Simple as that.

Anonymous said...


Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

The Hoos once told me, when I asked him about Roundup being used along roadways that it was his understanding that process had been eliminated. Guess he doesn't drive around much.

Anonymous said...

Gary, give it up. You lost. You lost votes compared to last primary, and your law couldn't even pass a first reading in court. Now you're using the paper to get in a pissing match with a doctor who catches babies all day on the west side? Between the two of you, I think I'm a little more swayed by his view of the situation. As far as other pediatricians, give them a choice between minimal risk to kids and zero risk of exposure to pesticide use (we're talking the greater threat of household use too, right? Oh wait, we're not?), I would hope they opt for zero risk regardless of the details. That's their job. Dr. Chelius probably would too, he was just calling you out on playing fast and loose with the data. And you're not asking, you're legislating. There's an incredible difference. Had you asked, the companies might actually jump for a desperately needed PR opportunity of voluntary buffer zones in areas they hardly use anyway. As far as disclosure, they do that already for the Feds so what's more paper work? Your failed law would have kept no one safer, created more ineffective bureaucracy, not reduced pesticide use or GMO research, and diverted needed public funds to some environmental consultancy for a report that would gather dust on a shelf. Don't quit your day job selling off Kauai piece by piece.

Anonymous said...

What you mean he lost? I thought he still placed in top 7 in primary. So did JoAnn and Jay. It ain't ova yet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again Joan for telling it like it is! If all this money had gone toward a health study to begin with, we would know more about Kauai citizens' health than most states know about their residents. Sad that these politicians got us to this point. The county is broke and it ain't ova yet!

Anonymous said...

Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which an infant is born with some or all of his/her intestines on the outside of the abdomen due to an abnormal opening in the abdominal muscle. Young mothers who use recreational drugs early in pregnancy or who smoke have a higher risk of having an infant born with gastroschisis, but in many cases it is not known what causes the disorder. There is some evidence that gastroschisis may be inherited. We know what's really going on on the west side.

Anonymous said...

Gary and Tim are crackpots. Jay and JoAnne are enablers. Their followers are a mix of habit and crackpots. These crackpots have cost us a great deal of money and rewarded their backers at the expense of local people.
Whenever you here the word 'sustainable' someone has just walked away with your wallet.
Really. How sustainable are these tax increases? The County payroll. The rise in your electric bills? The rise in water meter fees and service cost?

Anonymous said...

Gary has always been lazy. He didn't want to do the hard work of being mayor or some other executive starter office. He just wanted to be anointed as Lt. Gov or US Congressman or whatever prize came up.

Lazy and a bit dim is a bad combo. Add in hubris and you have Gary.

Anonymous said...

The number of birth defects, and whether the number for any given area is higher than normal, is based on empirical data, objective data. This is not based in opinion. The number is either higher than normal (however one defines "normal") or it's not. I don 't understand the debate. I am concerned about the issue, but I don't understand why it is being debated as if it were a matter of opinion.

Anonymous said...

Here’s his second consecutive self written article he wrote trying to continue to justify his actions (August 31, 2014, Ebb & Flow). I’ve read it and he’s still trying to sell the general public of ordinance 960. If you dissect his article, there’s no mention of “genetically modified organism” or “GMO” in it. He’s only concentrating on what the judge said about the concerns of health and safety “pesticide use.”

He dropped GMO in both articles. For whatever reason he dropped “genetically modified organism” or “GMO” only he knows. A lair with a straight face. As a responsible voter, I cannot vote for someone who lies with a straight face and wants us to believe him. As a responsible voter, vote for someone who’s a little more honest to ALL of Kauai.

I’ve watched since the beginning of 2491 from the sideline hoping both sides can come together and work together for the better of our kids. Both sides sing the exact same comments about each other, except they use different words and justify it with whatever data makes them feel good about their views and beliefs. (I’m dam tired of the same old sales pitch)

The silent majority who I am a part of, showed by our vote! That lairs are not accepted in government OUR GOVERNMENT. Now, we as the voting public just have to say, lairs aren’t acceptable in our County government.

One side says big money, deep pockets is very bad. Yet, the other side holds their hands out for their non profit from big money individuals. How did these contributors get this money, by being born into it or being in the right place where the big company bought them out. RVCA no different.

One side says we conduct business safely, the other side says no you not. Both sides says to each other prove it!

People like the silent voting public sees the hypocrisy of the name calling and we just vote based on honor and integrity that will serve ALL of Kauai.

Self serving lair! Enough. Just run your political campaign and let us vote come November.

Anonymous said...

There is a ten times likelihood that Gary will be re-elected.
He knows this and he knows that BFFs Jay and Joann will be also be elected. Gary also knows there is a 10 times likelihood that the local people advocates Ross and Mel will be elected.
Gary will have at least 2 Council members in his parka.
We need at least 2 new members to take Bynum and Chock's place. The Council Cabal of throwing the County into bankruptcy, whilst they address ONLY GMOS and forget that there are many other issues that need attention must be stopped.
Perhaps, Perry, Kualii and Kaneshiro are potentials. Perry will bring common sense, Kualii will bring compassion, Kaneshiro will bring local roots and local care, brains, balance and youth.
Felicia will bring studies on aliens and electric feedback from the KIUC meters. She would fit in with Gary's cabal.
This election is up to the voter.
Elect Gary's people and have a focus bankrupting the County and social unrest or elect others who will do Community building.
This anonymous voter will vote for anyone except da Hoos, gasbag Furfaro, dawdling Yukimura, Tantrum Tim, Say nothing Gary Acolyte Chock or Unicorn Feliica.
Of course there is the wild card Artur (Atta) Brun, who will bring basic values and a real feel for the essence of any BS that gets spread. He would be another good one. A coach and a man who loves Kauai. He would NOT be in Gary's parka.
We are on a precipice and the crazies are running the circus.

Anonymous said...

GMO - Global Warming. It's the same message.

Anonymous said...

Oh BOY, The gig is up! Hoosier the snake charmer has finally shown his true colors. How anyone can still support this obvious deceiver is beyond me. I guess when you get shot down as the top environmental administer for the State you got to jump into a smaller pond so you can at least look like a bigger fish. Sorry Gary you are just a tadpole and you will soon turn into a toad and leave the pond. Oh and take your minnow, Bynum with you.