Thursday, August 6, 2015

Musings: Kapakahi Kine

Someone left this astute comment on a recent post that featured photographs of mostly white people blowing pu to protest global trade talks under way at a luxurious Kaanapali hotel:

Not that long ago, the protest would be about the resort in the background of that pu photo.

But now, thanks to the influence of the anti-GMO/anti-agriculture movement, tourism is the friend and farming is the enemy.

The latest offspring of the strange union between the anti-GMO/anti-ag/pro-tourism movement and some Hawaiian groups is Sunday's Aloha Aina Unity March. 
According to its Facebook page:

The Aloha ‘Āina Unity March is to express political views regarding issues that are impacting the management and use of land and natural resources in Hawaii. At the forefront of these issues are the construction of TMT on Mauna Kea, regulation of pesticide use on agricultural lands in rural communities throughout the state [never mind the studies showing urban areas have the highest pesticide levels] and mismanagement of agricultural lands across the State. 

By marching in Waikiki, the hub of the tourism industry, one goal we hope to achieve is to call attention to the fact that if our policy makers continue on this trend of over-development and exploitation of natural resources, Hawaii will undoubtedly lose its appeal as a picturesque tourist destination.

And maintaining and promoting Hawaii as “a picturesque tourist destination” is now compatible with the goals of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and the concept of aloha aina? When did that happen?

Another post exhorts:

The decision makers of this state have failed us. Let's organize unity among our lāhui and the various Hawaiian and environmental organizations in Hawai'i. Let's huli the system in 2016 and get aloha 'āina warriors in office. Pūpūkahi I Holomua!

Our long term goal is to build a pac with the various groups and endorse our own candidates next election. What we need to do is get our people in office.

Which people, exactly? Who do they have that's electable, or that didn't lose power in the Legislative shake up at the end of the last session?

But though they talk about politics and pacs, march organizers are careful to skirt the touchy issue of independence:

Steven Tayama: is there a reason why there is nothing about sovereignty on the flyer?

Aloha 'Āina Project: the march is about aloha aina unity

Steven Tayama: Thats great. Its not what I asked.

Aloha 'Āina Project: There are people on each side of the fence, we're just trying to unify people for aloha aina

Yeah, and don't keep bringing up all those pesky sticking points. 

In its story on how some opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope are joining the protest, Civil Beat includes this quote from Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, University of Hawaii professor and director of the Hawaiian Studies Center:

“The land is our grandmother. Caring for the land, or malama aina, is “one of the basic tenets of Hawaiian philosophy and culture. If we don’t protect the land then we are not Hawaiian anymore. This is kind of a defining moment.”

So the expression of this defining moment is to march through Waikiki to warn the tourists that the Islands won't be such a great place for a vacay if a telescope goes up on Mauna Kea and the seed companies continue to operate?

Though flyers for the march play up the “protector” role, by marching through Waikiki the message is this: We're here to protect Hawaii for the tourists.

Yet it wasn't long ago that environmentalists were trying to protect Hawaii from a voracious visitor industry, which drives development and gentrification, gobbles up ag land and pushes locals out.

Ironically, one of the march supporters is the Sierra Club, which at one time was pestering the state to assess the impact of tourism on the Islands. But even though visitor numbers keep growing, and no assessment, much less mitigation, has been pursued, tourism is suddenly all-G and telescopes, even with an EIS, are all bad. 

Environmental groups now value tourism more highly than science and agriculture, both of which have a lighter footprint and provide advanced educational and employment opportunities that will never be achieved in the visitor industry.

Civil Beat doesn't even mention that this march is orchestrated by the anti-GMO movement, though it's clear from the list of sponsors that it's the dominant force. Yet the anti-GMO groups — Babes Against Biotech, Hawaii SEED, HAPA, SHAKA, Center for Food Safety — are so culturally tone deaf that they doctored a reviled stereotypical hapa-haole image for their organic cotton goody bag:
Is it just me, or has everything been turned on its head here?

A friend called yesterday, and noted that Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser used to be viewed as a progressive politician. He "got " progressive issues and was in a position, as Senate president [correction, majority leader], to advance them. But then he binged on ego, got derailed by the anti-GMO movement and lost credibility and influence.

So now Hawaii progressives are rudderless and deeply conflicted. Those out front claim they want to protect and promote agriculture, even as they work to destroy it. They claim they're aloha aina warriors even as they seek to protect a tourism industry that is environmentally destructive, totally unsustainable and deleterious to the Hawaiian culture.

They claim they're culturally sensitive even as they focus solely on a telescope and ignore homelessness, substance abuse, a skewed criminal justice system, a corrupt Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a dysfunctional Hawaiian Homelands system and all the other issues and structures that are bleeding Hawaiians pale.

But nevah mind all that. March organizers are preparing to bus in folks from Waianae and Nanakuli, just to make sure the event has a browner complexion than is otherwise likely.
You can also order a sign on line, to be assured you're delivering a pre-vetted and accepted message.
But be sure to "wear red." That way they know you're one of them.

Just don't be surprised, if and when the Waikiki tourists look up from their mai tais, beach towels and shopping bags, to hear them say, “So what's the problem? This is paradise.”


Anonymous said...

Another great post ms. joan....what I'd like to know is who da hell is that group "decolonial pinoys?" (bottom left of the march flyer)....that is so clowning and lame

Anonymous said...

More than anything else, these activists are ruining Hawaii. We've always had difficult problems but with the poisonous atmosphere that has been generated by these groups, true aloha is becoming a thing of the past.

This type of activism is an unfortunate distraction that may help some feel like they're accomplishing something but nothing GOOD has come out of it. It has caused irreparable divisions and harm to community relationships, making it more difficult to sort out priorities and find solutions to real issues. Activism requires deep understanding of the issues and the consequences of one's actions. As an older, and hopefully wiser former local activist, this movement makes me so sad.

Anonymous said...

The real estate - v GMO is a bit of a false dichotomy. With the amount of land the big 5 hold, there is plenty room for both.

Anonymous said...

11:18, not at all, note the Hyatt is suing because they don't want the agriculture land used for cows, no corn, no cows, too hot for greens. the two are incompatible, resort and agri

Anonymous said...

Another excellent piece, Joan, in a state that dearly needs such frank analysis.

Dave Smith

Manuahi said...

12:06 - I think they're suing the dairy not because they don't like ag, but because they're scared to death it will stink up their property. Unfortunately, I don't think there's anyway to determine that until the dairy is built. But once it's built, I'm sure they have the legal resources and avenues to shut it down.

Anonymous said...

“…if our policy makers continue on this trend of over-development and exploitation of natural resources, Hawaii will undoubtedly lose its appeal as a picturesque tourist destination.”

This of course is pure BS attempt to rewrite history. Before the seed companies, there was “industrial” “mono-crop” sugar cane (which used pesticides responsibly as do the seed companies) and it drew the tourists! They loved to look at the green fields. Remember, when agriculture was good? Visually, which is pretty much what brings the tourists here, ag is appealing… least to normal folks.
Oh, ya…”mismanagement of agricultural lands” claimed by a non-farmer? That’s hilarious! Ya, most of the 60s hippies grew up and got real but some didn’t and they had lots of kids because condoms aren’t organic and those kids grew up to be people like Gary, Hooser, Dustin Barca and Fern Rosenthal. Isn’t that wonderful?
Remember that gentrification of land happened here because of the failure of agriculture: sugar and pineapple. There was nothing left to do but sell the unproductive land. And guess who end up with a lot of it? Newcomers with the big bucks and the desire to make Hawaii look Mediterranean. The less wealthy ones bought into the old neighborhoods and tried to fit in except that they were the very cause of the value/price increases which shot up to more than folks could afford. So even the pandering middleclass transplants hurt locals simply my moving here. “Oh, can I be one of you? Gimme your house!!”

Anonymous said...

Progressives rudderless because the big fist left the Senate? While Hooser may have been an influential progressive voice in the Senate, progressives are far from rudderless. That in fact is their problem. They have so many rudders in the water that they travel in circles.

Anonymous said...

How Hawaiian activists can even TALK to a realtor, let alone stand beside one, is beyond me.
But I suppose our young people will learn from their mistakes, just like we've had to...

Anonymous said...

"They claim they're culturally sensitive even as they focus solely on a telescope and ignore homelessness, substance abuse, a skewed criminal justice system, a corrupt Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and a dysfunctional Hawaiian Homelands system."

How's that different than they way you have fixated on Gary Hooser and the anti-GMO protesters to the exclusion of homelessness, substance abuse, a skewed criminal justice system, a corrupt Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and a dysfunctional Hawaiian Homelands system?

I don't really see much difference between you and them. You each choose some things and ignore others.

Anonymous said...

BS @ 4:49 - Joan doesn't need to address all ills as she is a critiquer of critics. And a very good one if I may add.

Anonymous said...

ho hum

Another march. What is it this time? Save the aina. Support tourism. You guys are confused. Maybe too many marches makes the reason for marching come out ass backwards.

Anonymous said...

It was only about 7 years ago when real estate agents were considered the enemy by the born and raised locals as they felt they were driving/enabling the out of control RE prices at the peak of the (last) bubble. Seems things have changed a bit and RE/tourism is now "pono"?

Also the whole conflict over the telescope is a bit odd. I don't get the underlying motivation, other than people want a pay day to go away perhaps. Make enough of a stink, politicians will slide your "organization" a few hundred K to to go be an "activist" somewhere else. I do believe there is a general aversion to high tech jobs in this state however because deep down locals know 90% of those jobs will go to mainlanders with the education, skills, experience and work ethic - all of which is extremely hard to find locally. Those getting the high salaries will continue to drive the cost of living up and eventually force the natives to go elsewhere for better opportunities or be part of the modern plantation workforce - supporting tourism. The culture just doesnt promote what the skills needed to land those jobs, but all of us here like aspects of the culture, otherwise we probably wouldnt be here, right? So its a weird dichotomy.

Anonymous said...

The culture? Try examining the educational system. Why do so many politicians send their children to private schools? And how motivated are they to improve the school system when they don't have a personal stake in the outcome?

Anonymous said...

History repeating itself. All the politicians and the so called powers on Kauai and in the state of hawaii wants only their kids to get the best education and the best jobs.

They will even turn their heads and also help their family sell drugs to their culture to keep them as criminal slaves.

The system is screwed because you have the same families in positions that help keep the families that aren't in the powers to be treated as low life's.

It's the new monarchy/chief system that enslave its own people through drugs and crimes so that their families can have money, power and control.

Why do you think the culture(s) haven't progressed. This master/slave plan has been proven in the inner city and in the back woods. Kauai and the state of Hawaii is no different from inner city ghettos and the hillbilly sticks. The problems is the same.

How can we change things: (1) vote the families out of office and put in place a clunty manager system (2) go after all the drug dealers and their import and exporting businesses (3) invest in education for all with at the bare minimum of having a 2 yr degree (federal government has talked about this idea that has worked I. The state of Tennessee and Oregon will become the 2nd state to do so) (4) have drug facilities on all islands for adults and children (5) create a one stop center where people can get educated like the military does when they go through ACAP.

So how are we going to fund this? Well the state of Hawaii people spends billions of dollars going to Las Vegas every year so how can the state of Hawaii tap into that revenue and keep some of that if not all the billions of dollars spent in Las Vegas without building Hotel Casinos? A Lottery system? Scratch off's? Bingo? Casino's on ships? Whatever it is, we need to find ways to keep some of that billions in the state.

The state of Hawaii already approved medical marijuana dispensaries so that's a tax incentive for the state. Hopefully with that increase and decreased government spending, the state will give back the islands their TAT so the Mayor and council won't find ways to raise taxes and invent hidden taxes to fleece the people of Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Manager system more palatable than status quo

Walter Lewis - A Better Kauai | Updated 13 hours ago

In 1992 hurricane Iniki slammed into Kauai causing major damage. It destroyed the Eastside resort hotel Coco Palms and caused leakage in the roof of the Kilauea gym.

After 23 years, our government has failed to demolish the Coco Palms eyesore and the Kilauea leakage is unresolved. A considerable number of other neglects and failures including absences of solutions for solid waste disposal and traffic congestion could be mentioned.

About seven years of these disorders have occurred under the regime of Mayor Carvalho. Yet, he recently declared he would like to run again for mayor when his term expires in 2018.

Wake up Kauai! We do not need to have another four years of a patronage laced, inefficient and misguided form of government. We should consider the potential that a subcommittee of our council is now examining changing to a council-manager (CM) system that is growing in popularity throughout our country.

A statistical item used in the study is of interest. It said that on average cities employ 632 employees per 100,000 population. But for the top 20 percent in performance cities the average number is 519 while for the bottom 20 percent the number is 953. It seems evident that a more efficient work force is a vital element for controlling costs.

On Kauai we have nearly 1500 clunty employees. That's 1 out of every 5 people on Kauai is a county employee with a population at about 77,000 people but if you subtract the kids and elderly on Kauai that would equate to 1 of 2.5/3 people on Kauai is working for the county. This is gross ineptness. Statically speaking it's ridiculous! You people wonder why you see 1 county worker digging a whole or weed whacking while 5 watch him/her. It's because that's the only person who his qualified to operate the equipment and work for the county while the other 5 are enjoying a family reunion and posing as county workers while collecting county family welfare checks.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of the county manager model. It is in place in San Diego and I watched the manager there (Jack McGrory IIRC) do all kinds of shenanigans, completely unaccountable to the people. The politicians would hem and haw and say they were powerless to control him - after they read the fine print regarding the position created by them. Same thing will happen here. I think the county manager is a convenient foil for the powers that be to get what they want, getting public assets for pennies on the dollar. Mark my words. EVERY government position should be accountable to the taxpayers, no exceptions.

Lets face it, Hawaii exists as a military outpost and tourist destination - a warfare/welfare state. It has I believe the 2nd worst underfunded pension system of any state in the union. The Oahu rail project is a backdoor mechanism for the federal government to channel money they print out of thin air to Hawaii and other states (Illinois, California) that face similar problems. Taxes and fees will continue to eat alive those in the middle class, as the rich have shelters and the poor get handouts in order to buy their votes.

Anonymous said...

better check your math 1:09

Anonymous said...

Math is wrong.....his point is valid......your tax dollars at work !!!!!! Typical Kauai

Anonymous said...

Just add a zero but you get the point?

If not just read the stats that Walter Lewis wrote in TGI. Top 20% efficient is roughly 500 clunty employees and bottom 20% inept government is roughly 900 employees. Kauai has over 1400 for 77,000 residents. That's 3X more than the top 20% and nearly 1 1/2X more than the worst ineffective county governments.

Kauai's county government has to change those numbers in order to be a functional government body because as of right now it's dysfunctional, inept and over staffed with cronyism.

Anonymous said...

How do we close the gap?

I believe that medical marijuana and possibly recreational marijuana will partially help the state get out of bankruptcy.

I believe that a lottery, scratch off, bingo, or even boat casinos will create a surplus for the state but don't say surplus out loud because the politicians will find some way to spend it and create deficits.

If Hawaii could be a state without payroll or sales tax and or one without the other then we are talking about a win win situation.

(1) no payroll tax and up the sales tax 1 or 2 points. So everything bought by tourist and locals will help balance the budget.

(2) payroll tax and no sales tax? I think that idea is a no go because of the lost of tax revenues from the millions of tourists that visit Hawaii.

So no payroll tax and increase in sales tax is the best plan to help the state increase revenue while increasing the money locals can have to pay rent and spend on other items. A win win situation for the state and locals. A 5% or 6% sales tax is not that bad and most states pay that and then some.

Anonymous said...


Show me a state that obtained a sustainable surplus after enacting a lottery or legalized casinos. Never gonna happen! Money goes who knows where, but it sure doesnt end up in the people's pockets. You want to increase taxes? LOL, good luck with that. Economy is a dead man walking as it is, it just doesnt know it yet.

Anonymous said...

The Puyallup American Indian tribe in Washjngton state.

The own the Emerald Queen Casino.

The tribe members receive free education, free housing, free medical from their own hospital, and each and every person who a Puyallup tribesman gets 2K a month free money.

This is all from owning a casino and having federal programs to help native Americans.

But they still face a lot of social problems as in drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, and all associated with being spoiled through receiving free benefits and a $2,000 a month free money.

Why can't the native Hawaiians build these kinds of benefits for their people? Why don't they seek advice and help from the Puyallup Native American nation? It's all about greed and not wanting to let a entire nation rise. It's about only the few and the few families that only want their families to succeed. They want to drug and poison their own people with lies and chemicals so that they can keep the power, control, and wealth all for theirselves. Look at Hawaiian homelands and why haven't they build houses for their people for over 70 years. It's a travesty and the great secret lie that the protect. A lot of people have said that many factions created the debacle that the Hawaiian nation is in but who is to blame and when is it time to stop blaming and start working towards building what the Puyallup tribesman have. Imagine young and old native Hawaiians with free housing, free medical from their own hospital, free education, free programs and a supplement income through casino profits.

Some will call it selling out but people in their nation has already sold them out.

Why not test this theory and see what can be gained.

Maybe even a cultural center on Kauai that will invest it's profits in it's people and to preserve the cultural through education and practicing at a cultural center.

Their ideas and all their talk has not worked so far so it's time to move on and make things happen. IMUA

Anonymous said...

Reality is blame the union and management. Not the employees fault for walking into a job that allows mediocrity performance. Your numbers are pretty fudged by the way.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance can be cured and you might want to find out how it's done.

Imma help you out. Read information about the Puyallup American Indian tribe and the Emerald Queen Casino.

I'll spot you some edumacation on that one but next time Imma have to charge you.