The revelation that David Arakawa failed to register as a lobbyist for the pro-development Land Use Research Foundation between 2008-12 raises these troubling questions:
Was he actually a LURF lobbyist while serving on a Kauai County committee charged with studying revisions to the shoreline setback law, where he promoted the “brightline exemption” that makes it easier to develop on ocean bluffs and rocky coastlines?
And isn't a $4,000 fine pretty much chump change in the development and lobbyist world?
Now let's see the state Ethics Commission — and The Hawaii Independent, which helped to bust Arakawa — apply similar scrutiny to all the unregistered anti-GMO lobbyists, including Walter Ritte, Jeri DiPietro, Ashley Lukens and Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser. [Correction: I see Ashley did register this year, but the others have not.]
Gary has been logging more hours at the Capitol than the Council Chambers, using his title, the cushion provided by his county salary and even county staff to push the agenda of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action group he heads. And it's clearly an anti-agriculture agenda, much as he and his cronies claim otherwise.
Take HB 849, the “right to farm” bill that passed the House Ag Committee yesterday. Da Hoos is pictured on the front page of The Garden Island angrily opposing the bill, which simply states. [Update, TGI inexplicably pulled the story from its archives, but since it was an Associated Press piece, I found it elsewhere.]
No law, ordinance, or resolution of any unit of local government shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations.
That seems reasonable, in that it reinforces Judge Barry Kurren's rulings on the Kauai and Big Island anti-GMO bills, and makes it clear that counties can't arbitrarily and hysterically ban agricultural practices that the feds and states, with their much more comprehensive regulatory schemes, have approved.
It was disappointing to see Rep. Derek Kawakami cave and vote no, taking refuge in the prospect of the Joint Fact-Finding Group offering deliverance from this thorny debate. But then, he's got all the antis in his district, and they've got that ugly “fistee” action going, as evidenced by their unruliness at two House hearings yesterday.
Btw, I've got another post on the Cornell Alliance for Science blog, this one on the Joint Fact-Finding Group (JFFG). The panel may prove useful and we all wanna have hope. But when it includes unreasonable, recalcitrant folks like Adam Asquith, known for his self-serving actions and paranoia (remember his peak oil hysteria, his lawsuits against KIUC that cost members tens of thousands of dollars and most recently, his absurd push, supported by Da Hoos, to create a groundwater management area in Lihue?) and Doug Wilmore, who with Adam hijacked and destroyed Apollo Kauai with their anti-smart meter campaign, it's hard to be optimistic.
In another aside, I wrongly suggested Councilwoman JoAnnYukimura was concerned about the JFFG because it included two reps from the seed companies. I'd forgotten she actually advocated for their inclusion as major stakeholders when Gary introduced a resolution excluding seed company workers from participating in the EPHIS, which has been replaced with the JFFG.
Getting back to Gary's anti-ag agenda, he also strongly supported HB 1514, which passed the House Environmental Protection committee yesterday.
Though the measure is packaged as a warm and fuzzy effort to protect kids from pesticides, if you actually read the bill, you'll find it's based on unsubstantiated premises and functions as a far-reaching measure that targets all commercial farms — “any individual, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company, or organized group of persons, regardless of whether incorporated, that is engaged in commercial agricultural production of any seed, crop, plant, timber, livestock, poultry, fish, bees, or apiary products.'
What's more, it excludes “Indoor applications of pesticides; and Structural or termite application of pesticides.” So in other words, it's OK to expose keiki to pesticides applied in their classrooms and school yard — as long as its disclosed — and drift from termite tenting, golf courses and residential use. Just not agricultural chemicals.
Once they buy or use an as-yet-unspecified amount of restricted use pesticides, the bill requires commercial ag entities to disclose 24-hours in advance their intended use of any and all pesticides, and not just to schools, but to any resident in a “sensitive area,” which also includes watersheds.
The bill also requires ag entities — and only ag entities — to establish unspecified buffer zones around these sensitive areas. But again, no such requirements are imposed on golf courses, pest control companies, waste water treatment plans and others who use large quantities of restricted use pesticides pesticides.
It's the same insanity we saw with Bill 2491 on Kauai, where only pesticides used by agriculture are 'bad” and all the other users of the same chemicals are ignored. But then, this is pretty much a duplicate of Gary's Bill 2491.
Btw, I noticed Gary actually included the number of Council Services Staff as a contact for more information in his written testimony. Isn't it a misuse of his Council position and county staff to lobby for a state bill that the Council hasn't even considered?
And finally, the Hawaii County Council will allow two mainland advocacy groups — the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice — to handle its appeal of a judge's decision overturning its anti-GMO law. CFS, which is based in Washington, D.C., wasted no time in crowing over the decision, which it ironically characterized as a victory for “home rule.”
The lawsuit challenging the Big Island bill was filed by a consortium of small farmers, ranchers and flower growers who live on that island. Now they're being fought by mainland special interest groups who represent a narrow segment of the community, rather than the interests of the entire county.
And that's an odd, even Orwellian definition of “home rule.”