Gosh, the Kauai County Council hasn't even been sworn in yet, and Councilman Gary Hooser has already come out swinging, sowing divisiveness and assuming the role of Council crybaby previously held by defeated Councilman Tim Bynum.
Gary even engaged the perennially inaccurate blogger Andy Parx to do the whining for him, just as Tim so often did, using him to stir up shit by claiming Council Chair-apparent Mel Rapozo is trying to "consolidate power" and make "public and Council participation discretionary."
Oh, that evil, scary Mel.
The subject at hand is the Council's rules, or more specifically, a few revisions introduced by Mel as a resolution for adoption at today's inaugural meeting.
Andy, channeling Gary, claims the revisions will “deny Councilmembers the right to introduce bills.” They apparently came to that conclusion because Mel eliminated a provision that says any bill or resolution must be placed on the agenda within 120 days of a written request to the Chair. Mel says the 120-day deadline isn't realistic because legislation must be vetted by the County Attorney's office. Gary automatically took that to mean he ain't gettin' nuttin' on the agenda no more. Paranoia, anyone?
Andy/Gary also falsely claim the rules will “cut public testimony in half.” Mel is proposing to eliminate the time at the beginning of the meeting, where up to six people can speak for three minutes each on any agenda item. Under the existing rules, if they speak then, they're not allowed to testify when the item comes up. While this provision can be useful to those who don't want to wait to testify, it is most often used by Council nitpickers Glenn Mickens and Joe Rosa to ramble on, creating a deadzone at the beginning of each meeting.
Under Mel's revisions, people would still be allowed to speak for three minutes when the item comes up on the agenda, with an additional three granted at the chair's discretion after everyone else has testified, just as in the existing rules.
This seems reasonable. It's very rare that people actually need more than six minutes to make their point — including Councilmembers. I've found it's often best to testify when the item is being discussed, as often new information has come forward with staff reports or Council discussion. Those who can't wait, or don't want to, can still submit written testimony.
This is a red-herring that Gary/Andy have thrown out to make it seem like Mel is trying to shut down public testimony. Just like how Gary/Andy falsely claimed that Mel's “major rewrite” of the rules would allow the Chair to cut off testimony characterized by “intemperate or abusive behavior or language,” giving rise to “arbitrary and capricious” attacks on free speech.
Which sounds so alarming — except that provision is already in the existing rules.
In going over both the existing and proposed rules, I did notice the provision for the public petitioning the Council, and the process for receiving such petitions, had been eliminated in the new rules. So do petitions go straight in the trash?
Gary's also whining because the Chair must approve workshops under the new rules, which means Gary may not be able to use that process to pander and push his own private agenda, as he's been doing with the bogus, totally unbalanced sessions on groundwater resources in the Lihue area.
Gary needs to face the fact that Mel is now the alpha dog in the Council pack — the hands-down top vote-getter, chosen by the will of the people in a democratic process, to use phrases that Gary and his anti-GMO contingent love to toss out — but only when it suits their purposes. Gary, on the other hand, barely squeaked in at seventh place, which places him at the bottom of the pack hierarchy. And that means submission will serve him better than aggression.
But then, Gary's ego has yet to align with reality. Which is why he sent out a fundraising appeal for his HAPA organization, claiming the group will continue to reap its successes — despite all those failures in the courts — if it can just do a better job at working with the mainstream media, educating the public and building a stronger statewide coalition.
Gee, that's all?
Oh, and by supporting our “friends in the legal community.”
By which he means Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety — two groups that have joined the appeal process for Bill 2491/Ordinance 960, an appeal that Gary voted to authorize.
Gary then goes on to outline the group's objectives, which he has helpfully reduced to bumper sticker simplicity: Taking Back Our Government, People over Profits and Think Global, Act Local (as in doing the bidding of mainland advocacy groups while flashing a shaka and speaking fake pidgin.)
To alleviate all our concerns, Gary added this caveat:
NOTE: H.A.P.A. is not and will not be involved with lobbying or direct advocacy on any issues pending before the Kauai County Council.
Why should it lobby? It's got a member on the Council.
He then goes on to write:
In general H.A.P.A. does not lobby. We educate, we support grass roots movement building and we support legal efforts to protect and preserve the health and well-being of people and the environment.
In other words, it uses its nonprofit status to hide its donors and serve as a political actor, without actually registering as a lobbyist.
And it will do so until someone calls them on it with a complaint to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission that hopefully includes unregistered lobbyists and HAPA allies Center for Food Safety and Hawaii SEED.