Thursday, March 5, 2015

Musings: Hard to Grasp

Back when Bill 2491 —which solely targeted pesticide disclosure by Kauai Coffee and four seed companies — was up for debate, the County Council amended it to include this bit of reality:

In 2012, restricted use pesticides were used on Kaua’i by agricultural operations (7,727 pounds, or 13%), county government operations (28,350 pounds of Chlorine Liquefied Gas, or 49%), and nongovernment operations for structural pest control (25,828 pounds, or 38%).

Yet even though the termite treatment guys use far more pesticides than agricultural operations, and they use them everywhere, including on and around schools, none of the anti-GMO folks or Councilman Gary Hooser seem to think they should be included in the pesticide disclosure bills moving through the Legislature.

The pest control guys agree. Tim Lyons, executive director of the Hawaii Pest Control Association, submitted testimony on SB 1037 that ironically mirrors the concerns of the seed companies:

We don't believe and hope that we are not the target here and, therefore, there should be an exemption section within the bill.

We are particularly concerned with eco-terrorism. That is, situations where neighbors fight with neighbors regarding what they are about to apply via the use of a structural pest control operator. We are also worried about compromising information between pest control operators dependent on the type of information they would have to disclose and the possibility that a competitor can receive that information and use it to their advantage.

So they get a free pass while the attack on agriculture continues, with SB 1037 now amended to require all farmers to disclose their pesticide use. But non-farmers in the ag district can spray home and landscape pesticides to their heart's content, with no disclosure. WTF?

Our own Sen. Ron Kouchi voted in favor of the amended SB 1037— perhaps because he and his fellow committee-members know that's the poison pill that will ultimately doom this bill. Because now all the farmers are gonna be up in arms, not just the seed companies.

Meanwhile, we're confronted with yet another example of the hypocritical disconnect that runs through the anti-GMO movement. In late January, the anti-GMO nonprofit U.S. Right to Know went on a FOIA fishing trip, seeking the correspondence of 14 university scientists who have written favorably about GMOs.

What the group hopes to find, with this McCarthyite witch hunt, is some indication — whether contrived, or taken out of context — that the scientists are in the pay of industry. Because under the anti-GMO logic, only paid shills support biotech.

The Cornell Alliance for Science has mounted a petition drive in support of these scientists, and I urge you to sign. While I agree that access to public records is a crucial component of democracy, I don't like to see it misused to bully and intimidate scientists or anyone else from engaging in free speech.

This initiative is particularly hypocritical because the anti-GMO nonprofits — U.S. Right to Know among them — are some of the least transparent organizations around. They file their financial disclosure forms late, or not at all, and frequently fail to disclose who is funding them, or where their spending goes.

Meanwhile, the rash of anti-dairy letters and commentary continues unchecked, as folks clamor to keep Poipu “pristine” for the tourists. Most recently, we have developer/builder Jay Kechloian putting up $100,000 in matching funds to support the anti-dairy movement. Uh, hello! Next up: More TVRs, hotels and homestays. Because tourism is a clean-green-sustainable industry, with no shit, no runoff, no water use, no imported feed.....

Speaking of no shit, former Council Chairman Jay Furfaro has released a statement countering the self-serving public claims made by county auditor Ernie Pasion, who just got a $300,000 legal settlement from the county — even though he performed his job miserably, used his post to conduct politically-motivated investigations, sucks down a salary of $114,000 per year and hasn't been in the office since last May.

It's hard to feel too sorry for Jay, since he helped hire Ernie, a good old boy former county clerk who lacks a CPA. But once Ernie got in, it was hard to terminate his sorry ass — even though the Council's own investigation found he had “over-promised and-undelivered," mishandled audits, and let former county attorney Lani Nakazawa, whom he hired, rack up $15,000 in overtime and work on Oahu for seven months on audits that had already been completed.

According to Jay's statement, the Council first voted to fire Ernie, then voted to suspend him. Ernie hired a lawyer and sued for retaliation, claiming his politically-motivated audits somehow made him a "whistleblower." Orwell, anyone? Long story short: taxpayers got stuck with a $300,000 settlement and over $500,000 in legal fees, as well as the $1.5 million annual operating tab for the fully dysfunctional Auditor's office, which opened in 2009.

Add it all up, and that's about $10 million down the Ernie Pasion rat hole.

Moral of the story? Hire qualified people from the get-go. And when you do, don't discriminate against them on the basis of age — which prompted the recent settlement with Department of Water engineer Dustin Moises — race or sex.

Why is that so hard for the county to grasp?


Anonymous said...

So much in this post, thank you for linking to Jay's letter. I had not seen that and he explains the sorry episode well.the auditor seems to have gotten in way over his head and cannot understand simple plain words, he never should have been chosen the auditor to begin with. Marion Higa he's not, but seriously someone like her or her would be great. I'm so tired of this stupid gas BS, when there is so much more real tings the auditor should have been doing.

Anonymous said...

Pesticides used by the seed companies is 10 times more toxic than the same pesticides used by termite companies and the county. Go to for the real story (if you dare--graphic images of faces melting in corn fields).

Joan Conrow said...

That's a dead link, and it certainly doesn't sound like a very credible site. Because we all know that no faces are melting in the corn fields — except possibly if you're on mushrooms or LSD.

Anonymous said...

Good post Joan. Jay was an interesting read. As for Moises, looks like he was winning in court. County attorney losing that motion was big. Judge commending Moises is big too. Who was county attorney on this case?

Joan Conrow said...

Stephen F. Hall, recently appointed first deputy, was the county's attorney on the Moises case.

Anonymous said...

@8:59AM where did you find -Is that where you go for the "real" story? Did you know that anyone can create a website -even you! And why believe sites like "" and not real scientists?

The County does waste a lot of money on suits. Some are due to bad decisions, other times people know that they can usually get the county to settle because guess what? They almost always do! Good for Moises, in this case the County made a bad decision.

Anonymous said...

10:09 I made it up. You went there before I could set up my fundraising link. And yes, you do need to drop acid in order to see the faces melting in the cornfields.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way of calculating the time and salary of council members spent on the pesticide and smoke bills?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link to the science petition, Joan. This madness has got to stop.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. Face melting in corn fields happens like once a day. Then there is the feet dissolving, inside out ears, and the permanent hairless zombies that roam corn, rice, wheat, cotton, sunflower, tobacco, fields throughout America. All from seed developed on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Some of this idiotic comments is so stupid that even if I tried to make it up I couldn't they must be smoking some good shit boy some of these Hoosier supporters is out of this world good job joan I wish mel would shut gary down I thought he would be a better leader n don't put up with this bullshit

Anonymous said...

12:41pm, you should be able to request that information from the council staff because at some meetings they referenced how many hours were used for that bill. then look on the county budget for last year for each of the council staff salaries and council member salaries and do the math. lots of overtime and meeting time.

ernie should not have been the auditor to begin with. how can someone who is NOT a CPA be an Auditor???!!!

Anonymous said...

Is that Moises related to the Moises who married the last Queen of Kauai Deborah ? If so, chalk one up for the Ali'i, finally.

Anonymous said...

Ernie Pasion is a smart man. He's laughing all the way to the bank. Don't mess around with him. (Hello, mayor, Jay).