Thursday, January 15, 2015

Musings: Getting Burned

In regards to Councilman Gary Hooser's anti-burning bill, Assistant Police Chief Roy Asher summed it up perfectly: “It all comes down to us spinning our wheels here.”

Councilman Ross Kagawa similarly nailed it: “I have heard every department we are counting on to enforce this bill...and all of them are telling us it's not reasonable, not doable, it doesn't make sense, it doesn't solve the problem.”

But the Council is going to hash it out anyway, let the public weigh in, try and hold the state Department of Health's feet to the fire, go through the process. That's their choice, even if it is a terrific waste of time and money.

At least it's clear that Gary's previous histrionics about how Council Chair Mel Rapozo was going to keep his bills off the agenda, stymie public participation, were totally off base and overblown.

And given the Council comments, it appears unlikely the bill will survive.

What bothers me, though, are three things: Gary's total denial about the possible cultural and community impacts of his bill; his misrepresentations about a similar ordinance on Maui; and his use of this bill as a backdoor attempt to achieve some of the goals he failed to secure with Bill 2491.

Let's start with the last first. Gary spoke repeatedly yesterday of his real reason for the anti-burning bill: “If my neighbor is doing something that harms my health, or my mother's health, it should be against the law.”

Sound familiar? It should. Because that's the same language and reasoning he was using to push through Bill 2491 – if you're spraying, or tilling and making dust, or experimenting with crops, and somebody thinks it's harming them, they should be able to shut you down.

Even if it's difficult or impossible to prove that the activity is causing a health problem, having such a law on the books still allows people to fuck with you — call the cops, maybe get you arrested, force you to hire an attorney to protect yourself, make you paranoid every time you light a fire. Gary also spoke about citizens gathering their own “evidence,” such as video recordings and affidavits from doctors, which is a bit chilling.

And farmers are worried, with one farmer friend observing:

How long do you think it will take once this bill is passed before farmers start feeling the heat? We can now legally burn crop residues with a permit to get rid of diseased plants but once this ordnance is in place all of that ends, same with dust caused by tillage.

While Gary claims the bill “has nothing to do with agriculture,” it does reference “poisonous gases, dirt, dust and debris of any kind,” which is very curious, when it's supposedly only about smoke.

Though Gary has grown a beard to hide his jowls — he's very sensitive about them, you know — he can't disguise his raison d'être nor his raison d'état: to get rid of the seed companies and conventional agriculture. And he's gonna do it any way he can

Then there's the Maui ordinance, which has been on the books since 1949. Gary claims that since it hasn't been a problem there, in terms of shutting down hulihuli chicken stands, it shouldn't be a problem here. And when Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura asked about him enforcement issues on Maui, Gary replied, “We haven't heard anything.”

First, he most certainly has heard something. Just the other day, the mayor's office released a statement saying Maui was not enforcing the bill. Then Asher, the fire chief and Prosecutor Justin Kollar all got up and said they'd contacted their counterparts on Maui, and not only were they not enforcing the bill, they didn't even know it was on the books.

If Gary truly was working on this issue for two years, and using Maui as a model, wouldn't you think he'd have checked to see how it was working there? If he didn't, he should have. If he did, he was lying to JoAnn. In any case, Maui is a moot point, because the law isn't being used there.

Gary then made like he couldn't fathom how this bill could create divisiveness or lead to complaints about cooking fires. “I would encourage people not to go down the path of this is newcomers vs local residents. This is about harming health.” People should “focus on the bill,” he admonished, “not spreading fear about changing our lifestyle.”

It's not at all far-fetched to think people would complain about their neighbors' imu, smoke houses, pulehu or what have you, especially since the guy who has been getting dinged for his fireplace smoke said he also got complaints when he cooked on his hibachi. And face it, newcomers are a lot more likely than locals to call the cops on their neighbors.

Fears about the changing local lifestyle are valid, and they're currently fanning a flame of anti-haole, anti-newcomer sentiment that one local described as hotter than he'd ever observed on Kauai. This bill literally adds fuel to that fire.

Gary may be so out of touch with the local community that he truly doesn't see it. But as an elected official, he shouldn't blithely dismiss the legitimate concerns of those who see his bill as yet another attack on the local lifestyle.


Anonymous said...

I was in the room. This is one time I absolutely disagree with Gary on this bill. Also, housing issues were also brought up.

I have no loyalty towards anyone. If i agree with them, fine, if i don't fine, I am not going to just blindly agree with what every councilperson says and does, just because I voted for them.

This issue is serious, we are going down a very slippery slope here, and I for one am extremely frustrated.

I didn't stick around for the afternoon session, but on this issue I wholeheatedly agree with Arthur Brun. This is just wrong.

And for once, Joan, I agree with your entire blog-post. I can't tell if my eyes are being opened, or what, but if I start agreeing with you more and more, either you are swinging more my way or I am swinging more yours.

Either way, its a good thing. We all need to stick together and stop the divisions. Nuff already.

I also found the family that came up to testify overly histrionic. Now I know what people meant about us at the meetings of 2491. I see it now, I really do.



Anonymous said...

Bob Jones nails Hooser, Ritte:

Anonymous said...

Love this post and I also love these two comments!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great day the the veil is beginning to lift?

Regarding 10:53, thank you for the link - this too opens eyes being that it comes from quite a reasonable voice (Bob Jones). Here is the meat of it for those who may have a hard time opening it:

This is not going to make local anti-GMOers jump for joy, but the news is that everything seems to be going against you.

The government has approved genetically modified potatoes to reduce the amount of a chemical in french fries and potato chips suspected of causing cancer. (The GMO potato company supplies McDonald’s.)

And the Department of Agriculture says it has no regulatory authority to stop “genome edited” Roundup-resistant grass, herbicide-resistant canola corn or an ornamental plant that glows in the dark.

Next up for approval is a genetically modified salmon from AquaBounty Technologies. It will grow much larger much quicker than standard farmed salmon (see accompanying graphic), and was created by micro-injection of a gene into fertilized eggs of wild Atlantic salmon.

Scared by all this? Don’t be. At least not yet. A team of Italian scientists has analyzed 1,783 studies about the safety and environmental impact of GMO foods and didn’t find anything even hinting that they pose any harm to humans. That analysis was published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology (March 2014, Vol. 34, No. 1).

What’s happened locally on the GMO front is that any legitimate concerns about engineered food and pesticides used on experimental crops were pre-empted by the low-on-facts, high-on-emotion rants by such as Kauai politician Gary Hooser and Molokai activist Walter Ritte.

Something likely could have been worked out with the GMO companies had concerned people not let their self-appointed leaders use bad science and tactics like the Facebook posting “MONSANTO IS POISONING OUR CHILDREN!” to fuel a protest.

Weak protest leadership seems to be a mostly-in-Hawaii failing.

Semi-worthy efforts are led down a dead end by leaders more focused on their own ego fulfillment than politically smart strategies.

Civics lesson? Avoid showoff leaders. Don’t overestimate people’s willingness to endorse your protest. Be willing to settle for less than the whole enchilada.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. If Mr Gonsalves fireplace is so harmful that the neighbor had to try to have him arrested 80 times, why isn't she dead? I think I know why. She is a crank. We do not change society for cranks. Leave the Gonsalves alone. His fireplace doesn't seem to really have any effect at all except to bring a smile to other owners that enjoy the smel of a wood burning fire on a cold night.,

Anonymous said...

Well, i have to draw the line at cirisizing Uncle Walter, he is a friend, and a hanai uncle, and also, is a very important man in Hawaiian History and culture, and was one of the original people who started the Hawaiian Renaissance. He in my opinion is not someone i am going to criticize, like ever. He is considered a saint by many people, many Hawaiians, all over the world. I think people that criticize him do not know his history, or who he is. And Walter, is absolutely pure Hawaiian, with no mixes in him.

And, I am saying that i do not agree with Gary on this issue. I am saying that I clearly see where sometimes we went wrong on how we reacted in the GMO debate.

However, I continue to disagree with those who will vilify the man. Disagreement ois one thing, and just because others on the perceived "other side" do it, is no justification for others on the "other side" doing it as well. Just perpetuates a cycle of vilification which does nothing to solve anything.

But I am certainly not about to back down from my stance on the issue.

Simply put, i do not wish to INGEST GMO's. I have no problem however, with them in Inanimate items that I will NOT be ingesting.

I think that is reasonable.

However, I will continue to object to the land grab here, and in spraying downwind of populated areas on Kauai.

For other issues, however, where there is clear overlap, I think that you will find, many GMO Legislation supporters, and Seed Company supporters can actually agree on many issues, and I agree that this may be one that we can agree to agree upon.

The veil may also be lifting on the general misconceptions about 2491 supporters. They have been wrongly represented, and overrepresented as well.

So, lets just take off the veils people, and dance naked in the sunlight of honesty and truth in advertising...on both sides.

OK, so maybe that example was a bit...over the top. *winks*

Mel Rapozo said...

A lot is being said about the passing of Bill 2573 (Open Air Public Nuisance Bill) at yesterday's Council meeting. First of all, for any bill to pass into law, it must pass two readings of the full Council, and be signed by the Mayor. The first reading of any bill, which happened yesterday, allows the bill to get a public hearing. This allows the public to provide testimony for or against the bill. Following the public hearing, it goes to the committee for discussion and recommendation to the full Council. At the full Council, which is the second reading of the bill, the decision to pass or kill the bill is made. As you can see, yesterday's action by the Council provided the vehicle to get the bill in front of the public. I believe that this is an important step in the deliberation of any bill before the Council. I publicly stated yesterday that I DON'T support this bill, but the public has a right to provide testimony regarding the substance of the bill. The first reading of any bill is primarily a formality and DOES NOT determine whether the bill will become law or not. The public hearing process is a very important component of the legislative process. If anyone has any questions, feel free to message me and I will answer any questions that you may have. Thank you.

anonymous said...

@12:42, Here are 2 articles that counter the assertion of GMO safety. { } and { }

Anonymous said...

Mel- The Council does NOT have to allow every half smoked bill go to public testimony.
Da Hoos has a penchant for BS, disruption and self glorification. Just when we thought that a little common sense could eek it's way into the Council with the absence of Tantrum Pencil Throwing Bynum you oblige his Fistee Buddy, Gary. Hopefully Mel, you will use your elected power to table BS bills. Jeezo- If a limp soft wanker like our Prosecutor, makes a solid opinion against a Bill. And the Pohleece are agin it, what benefit is there in ANY discussion?
As far as Maui not enforcing a law....again this is BS. Laws are there to be enforced.
Mel, you are creating a fertile soil for Da Hoos, JoAnn and Mason to spew forth any and all bills that are part of the holier than thou attitudes of people that want to control how you and I live.
It ain't leadership to let the loonies run the loony bin.
I am sure in the long winded whiny public discussions Da Hoos or one of his minions will bring up Doobie Smoke. Will the Doobie Doctors be prosecuted for prescribing smoldering Smoke? On the other hand, maybe the Council should stand downwind from the Ganja Gushers and maybe get another outlook..... Reefer Reasoning couldn't be much worse than what is happening.

Anonymous said...

Gary's bill 2574, which would perpetuate the tax cap for owner-occupant, is not really for the taxpayers, it's for him. He rented out a room in his home and lost his homestead tax class so he wrote this bill to keep his taxes the same while renting out a portion of his home. Hooser trying to cheat the tax office again ... deja vu anyone.

Anonymous said...

Mel, I've heard that the first reading is "just a formality" before, and I think this is one of the biggest dysfunctions of our Council.

There's a reason for the first reading. It is not just a formality. It's the Council's responsibility to consider bills on first reading and kill them if they're this nonsensical.

If you want to hear from the public, you can invite comments via email or regular mail, while voting against having an expensive waste of time public hearing for a complete waste of time bill. The public always has ways to get in touch with you.

These "just a formality" first readings have got to stop. There are important things to accomplish that we can't even get to, because the council's time and the public's time and money is being wasted this way.

Dawson said...

9:49 AM wrote:
These "just a formality" first readings have got to stop. There are important things to accomplish that we can't even get to, because the council's time and the public's time and money is being wasted this way.

It's true about the waste of time and money when demagogues like Hooser exploit the process for their own political gain. But fixing it isn't that simple.

At the core of the democratic process is the fact that even demagogues and nut cases are allowed the same opportunity at the public podium as everyone else. It's based on the idea that no one individual may decide for another what is worthwhile legislation and what isn't. Even when gamers like Hooser blatantly abuse the system for their own gain, the slightest appearance of stifling their speech is the first step on a slippery slope that no democratic process dares take.

Mel has it right: no matter how painful the process, it has to be the same for everyone, or it won't work for anyone.

The solution is to power up the two weapons that democracy provides against demagogues like Hooser: the ballot box and a free press.

Anonymous said...

4:01 pm , Well stated.

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Holy Quivering Jowls of a Firebrand, Batman- You mean to tell me that a neighborly dispute over a fireplace can get a law considered that can make BBQs, Huli Huli and Camp Fire Girl giggle fests illegal?
So Gary says that the County attorney said...."uh, use the old Maui Law about smoke and what-not" and Gary says "uh gee, the Maui bill is OK because even tho' it is the LAW, nobody enforces it"....wise words from a man whose job is to make laws. So, Da Hoos, does this mean, in your labyrinth reasoning that LAWS, are really not intended to be obeyed?
AND No Dawson...every pea-brained idea is not supposed to be brought up to a legislative level.
Da Hoos and this Council by even addressing this bill PROVE that Kauai is not ready for "Local Rule"......this island needs supervision.
Just think, if this bill was submitted a year ago...that koo-koo Council would have passed it. And your weenie roast could gitcha in jail.

Dawson said...

AND No Dawson...every pea-brained idea is not supposed to be brought up to a legislative level.

Correct, it shouldn't. But if a legitimately elected pea-brain tries to make a bad law, the legislative process can't be changed to dismiss, limit or exclude him because he's a pea-brain with a bad idea.

If you do, then good, honest legislators will be vulnerable to having their good ideas excluded, too.

The only way to stop pea-brains from pulling this crap is to not elect them in the first place. And if they do get elected, to vigorously expose their game to the public, and get them kicked out at the first opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Point of clarification. A similar bill was proposed a year ago. Championed by Joanne. And no doubt she is in on the wings of this one. There are still too many lose cannons on the councils ship of state. Tax, grab and destroy alll industry and individual freedom.

Anonymous said...

Hooser was duly elected. He may be a demagogue, but 8,257 people cast a vote for him.

However, having taken his seat at the council table, nobody is stifling his right to be heard. This is obvious from the fact that he introduced and advocated his "open air" bill.

As to the legislative process, arguably the purpose of first reading is to afford the legislative body, as a whole, to winnow and sift proposed legislation and cull and reject those pieces which clearly lack any merit. The "open air" bill is one such.

The bill would provide angry malcontents and ideologues carte blanche to lash out and harass anyone they perceive as violating the law, particularly those with whom they have other grievance. Merely summon the police, complain of burning eyes and scratchy throat and demand arrest.

Mel is new at the helm and may be forgiven for being overly accommodating to Hooser's b.s., probably in an effort to appear even handed. But leadership demands discernment and the exercise of power when appropriate. This bill should have been buried on first reading.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rapozo, this bill was introduced by Mr. Hooser. He wrote in his blog that he wants the bill to be changed and is not happy with the way it is written.
How come? Shouldn't a bill say what it is meant? I am confused. If Mr. Hooser doesn't like the language, why even introduce it at all?
The way I read this bill it is so all encompassing and up to an individual perspective that pretty much anything to do with fumes, smoke, gas, smells etc will be illegal.
I know that these things can get discussed until the cows come, but why not just have the bill disappear and have Mr Hooser put up a bill that really has the intent he wants?
I think you are trying to be a nice guy in this case, but there are lots of us that are pissed off and feel that this is an attack on regular people's lifestyles.
There are civil courts for these type of neighbor disputes. To allow a bill to be proposed that could become law because of a neighbor conflict seems to be a very bad precedent.
This whole thing stinks.

Anonymous said...

using the health issues is merely a smokescreen for the real intent of this bill. it will be used to create criminal cases against the seed companies. far-fetched and almost 0% chance of prosecution, this bill is another tool for the anti-gmo mafia. but being supah-smart as they are, they did not anticipate such a huge rejection from the sensible majority. seems as though hooser will take any info if it sounds good and try to write a half-assed piece of legislation. i would rather if he would just sit there, be smug, make ridiculous comments, and irk every sensible person on Kauai rather than try and pretend that he's a prima donna attorney who can write legitimate legislation, showing off his low intelligence, and cost the county millions in time and money.

Anonymous said...

This is a perfect example of why the cost of County government continues to rise above mere inflation. Council members think that they have to write new laws as if it were proof that they were actually improving our island. And with new laws, we need more administrators to monitor them and more employees to carry them out, hence the rapid growth of costs because all these people need to be paid and have wonderful retirement packages and Cadillac healthcare plans. This, of course, means that taxes have to be raised to pay for all this. And you wonder why the cost of County of Kauai has risen so high so quickly. This is why! I'd like to see a new committee of our current Council members work, not on crafting new laws, but at repealing antiquated and unnecessary ones, that studying departments (all departments) to see where we can cut staff and costs. We can no longer afford to be "all things to all people". Grow some council members and cut costs. Show us your talent and intelligence instead of doing what any idiot can do: Spending other people money!

Anonymous said...

.....This is why! I'd like to see a new committee of our current Council members work, not on crafting new laws, but at repealing antiquated and unnecessary ones, that studying departments (all departments) to see where we can cut staff and costs."

how 'bout a county auditor!