As the saying goes, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And Councilman Gary Hooser took plenty of heat — and got hot himself — at yesterday's public hearing on his anti-burning bill.
Or as a friend observed: “Something is getting smoked — Gary's okole.”
Gary started the hearing by madly backpedaling, claiming it was never his intent, despite the language in his broadly-worded, poorly-written bill, to ban smoke meat, hulihuli chicken, kalua pig and other foods that Islanders hold dear.
Gary said he'd drafted an amendment applying the bill only to residential neighborhoods and ensuring that no outdoor cooking practices are affected. He then pleaded with the audience, “Respect my intent is to do the right thing.”
But folks like Tommy Oi weren't buying it. “The hearing is on the bill that's before us. If it ain't on the paper when the bill passes it don't hold water.”
And when westsider Mike Broyles dared to say, “This is not New York City, this is not the Bay Area, this is not Marin County. But unfortunately, sometimes the wrong kind of transplant comes ashore. One in the likes of Mr. Hooser, one with a special kind of arrogance,” Gary angrily cut him off.
“This is not the time or place to attack me or other people personally,” said Gary, apparently forgetting how he'd allowed dozens of anti-GMO supporters to attack Councilmembers and their fellow citizens during hearings on his anti-GMO Bill 2491. Gary warned Mike not to “raise the race issue” and threatened to use his authority as chair to call a recess if Mike continued down that road.
“Speak in a respectful tone,” Gary scolded, again forgetting how he and his “fistees” had nastily trashed the character and intent of seed company managers and their employees. “Don't denigrate me or my intent.”
“It's not about race, it's about a mindset,” Mike countered, noting that he's hapa-haole. “Go ahead and call your recess. You're the chair. I'm the taxpayer.”
Mike went on to say that "Mr. Hooser should've checked with the wider community to see what we wanted, not a few people. We don't need big government trying to control every aspect of our lives.”
Dozens of Hawaiians and locals spoke against the bill — and presented signatures of another 500 people opposing the measure. Many expressed concerns that those who use wood to fuel their water heaters and cooking stoves would be affected, especially in the old sugar camps. One woman noted that the Island's poorest residents will be harmed the most.
Pig farmer Patricia Lyons was afraid that she and her husband could be busted for cooking the slop they feed to their pigs. Oh, no worries, Gary assured her, because under the state right to farm law, “you can't declare farming a nuisance.”
Uh, so why do you keep trying to pass laws that declare farming a nuisance and gut the right farm law, Gary?
Klayton Kubo, an ardent advocate of Bill 2491, also seemed unaware of the irony of his testimony against the anti-burning bill. “Sometimes it's just jumping the gun. Sometimes it seems like a good thing, but it ends up not to be a good thing in the long run, wasting peoples' time, wasting people's energy. It's like, wait a minute.”
Yeah, tell us all about it, Klayton.
“It's a very small bill with very large consequences,” said Jan TenBruggencate. He pointed out how it could be applied to activities like woodworking, filling a lawnmower with gas and sweeping out a workshop. “It lends itself to selective enforcement. If you happen to be on the wrong side of someone who has the ability to make a complaint or enforce the law, you get targeted.”
Kilauea resident Lorraine Newman, who had been unhappy with her neighbor for making fire to keep his kids warm, asked if the bill could be amended to include a requirement that “anyone spraying chemicals or toxic substances” must give their neighbors 24-hour notice.
Jodi McDonald testified in favor the bill, saying that wood-burning fireplaces are “a luxury in paradise.” Mmm, not even Gary wants to go down the road of outlawing “luxury in paradise.” Otherwise, who's gonna fund his anti-GMO campaigns?
Then Arthur Brun, who has a smoke meat business, got up to speak. “I feel pity for the McDonalds [the Wailua folks who contend their health has been harmed by their neighbor's fireplace smoke] because you guys just using them to get this message across. Why is dust part of a smoke bill? Because it's still your avenue to get back at the chemical companies you trying to get back at. There's more to this bill than smoke meat. It's nonsense, costing us money, costing us time. We have to take time off work to be here. This shouldn't even have passed the first reading.”
Amen, bruddah. But it did, and next week it will be back before a Council committee, which hopefully will listen not just to the citizens, but to the cops, firefighters and prosecutor, all of whom are saying, "no."
Meanwhile, Chris D'Angelo continues his full-frontal assault on the Mahaulepu dairy with today's front-page “news” on how opponents have brought in a hired gun from Oregon to help them stop local milk production.
Of course, attorney Charlie Tebbutt isn't from here, but that doesn't stop him from speaking confidently and knowledgeably about what what Kauai can and can't handle and the “pristine and sensitive" nature of those old sugar cane lands. Because of course a grass-fed dairy of 699 to 2,000 cows on Kauai is exactly like the confined animal operation with 11,000 animals that Charlie fought in Washington.
They're both deemed “industrial” agriculture, and that's all you need to proclaim that Hawaii Dairy Farm's proposal is absolutely unacceptable, even before an EIS is done. Because according to Charlie, and the mind-set of the anti-dairy folks, “an honest” EIS will point out problems far too significant to surmount. And if it doesn't, well then it's just a dishonest piece of crap.
Because the antis are always the experts, and they know best. Even when they don't know nuttin' but they don't want it. At least, not in their backyard. Let someone else produce the dairy products — and everything else — they want to consume.
Kauai is far too pure to pollute with fireplaces, cooking smoke and agriculture. Bring on that "clean" tourism and more of those "zero-impact" new residents.