Back in May, when the Waimea folks won a limited verdict in their dust lawsuit against Pioneer, I sympathized with them, saying the money they — or at least, a few of them — got was not the relief they wanted.
Could it be they were suckered by the attorneys — Kyle Smith, fresh from Las Vegas, and Gerard Jervis, not so fresh from the Bishop Estate suicide scandal — who were brought in by the anti-GMO groups looking for a way to ding the seed companies?
Well, just this week, the Hawaii Supreme Court suspended Jervis' license to practice law in the Islands for six months. As the Star-Advertiser reported:
According to the order, Jervis violated rules of professional conduct for Hawaii lawyers regarding representing and communicating with clients in one case, and conflicts of interest in another.
Some of the factors the high court said it considered in handing down the suspension were Jervis’ false statements during the disciplinary investigation and his one prior discipline.
Now why is it not surprising to learn an unethical attorney was tapped for that case? It's kind of like Lance Collins, who created so much petty pilikia on Kauai, representing the Maui folks who are trying to shut down HC&S in the very first case to be heard by the state's Environmental Law Court. I love how the plaintiffs include people like Karen Chun — anti-GMO and anti-Superferry — who willingly moved to Kihei, and then started bitching about the cane burning that predated them by a century.
Speaking of the judicial system, the Intermediate Court of Appeals heard oral arguments yesterday in the case of the Kauai Police Commission vs. Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. The question, as I've reported previously, is whether the commission or the mayor have authority to discipline or suspend the police chief, under the county charter.
Though it's an important legal point that should be clarified — preferably by a charter amendment — there's another critical issue at stake: Chief Perry was denied due process. He was never given an opportunity to rebut the accusations before Bernard badly smeared his otherwise stellar career with a suspension that got statewide media coverage, even though it was never upheld.
While we're on the topic of media coverage, I noticed that Pierre Omidyar is apparently tired of bankrolling his vanity press, Civil Beat. So now they're going to be “joining a network of national news organizations that is designed for media outlets from all over the country to share content and, yes, generate revenue. That comes from ads running on content that is widely published by all the organizations in the network.”
Let's hope Civil Beat chooses better partners than its current affiliate, HuffPo Hawaii, which specializes in important breaking news, like a passenger finding a filled barf bag in an airline seat pocket, and silly lists about why people should drop everything and move to Hawaii.
And then when they get here, they can pen yet more lists about all the things that are so fucked up, from the perspective they've gained from hanging with the smug haoles at Civil Beat for one whole week. Surely someone could have given new managing editor Bob Ortega a heads-up about humility before he penned that tone deaf introductory column. Instead, he had to be wised up in comments.
The thing that most bothers Bob?
Many Hawaii officials seem to have forgotten the “public” part of “public information,” along with the notion that the free flow of information is vital for a democratic society.
To advance that cause, Civil Beat has even funded a Law Center for the Public Interest, which claims to be an “advocate for open government in Hawaii.” But it focuses primarily on access to information maintained by government agencies, and has remained mum about better disclosure by advocacy nonprofits, especially those that engage in lobbying. That particular free flow of information is apparently not so vital to Civil Beat.
Bob also complains about the high price of accessing government records in Hawaii, which can be a legitimate concern. But the public's right to know, which I fully support, has to be balanced with those who misuse the system. For example, Civil Beat and I both recently covered Hawaii Center for Food Safety's very broad request for all email correspondence between five legislators and the seed companies.
What Civil Beat didn't report is that CFS wanted the records for free. Now this is a group that spent over $1 million to influence an Oregon GMO labeling bill, and most recently was raising money to run ads in the New York Times that falsely link GMOs to cancer.
Why should Hawaii taxpayers be subsidizing their politically-motivated fishing expedition into legislators' emails?
In California, where they don't charge for records, the UC system has had to suck up the cost of having two fulltime attorneys working for more than six months — and they aren't done yet — to fulfill the politically motivated FOIA requests by the anti-GMO US Right to Know for the emails of college professors.
If advocacy groups want records, they should get them. But taxpayers should not foot the bill.
On that note, let me give Kauai County Council Services an A+ for its speed and professionalism in fulfilling, free of charge, a public records request that I made. I'll get into those records tomorrow.
And finally, here's an interesting article by Nathanael Johnson on whether "industrial" or organic ag produces the best yield. His conclusion? "We're almost certainly going to need the best of both for a future that makes sense."
Co-existence is not only possible, it's crucial.