Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Musings: More to the Story

When activists and others want to make a point, they're often very selective in the information they present, and omit.

A case in point is Bill 2501, which allows A&B and other users to temporarily keep their revocable water permits while the system is revamped. Activists roundly criticized both the Lege and gov for “selling out to corporate interests” and “abandoning East Maui farmers.”

But what they didn't mention was how the Lege appropriated $1.5 million for a grant program, administered by the Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp., aimed at helping East Maui farmers improve their land to both accept the water that will be returned to eight streams and increase the profitability of their farms.

And when activists claimed that A&B is still “hogging” water, despite a court order requiring the company to restore the flow in those eight streams, they never mentioned that flows have been restored on three streams. But it was determined that restoring water to the other five streams could cause floods downstream, damaging farm land and structures. So the Lege allocated $3 million to improve state-owned land along the five stream beds to safely accommodate the restored flows.

What's more, the Lege allocated funds for two new positions so the state Department of Land and Natural Resources can establish the in-stream flow standards required for the Water Commission to allocate surface water. Though every stream in the state is supposed to be assessed, priority will be given to streams affected by revocable permits so the agency can process the longterm permit applications in a timely fashion.

Though activists have denounced biofuels, and the genetically engineered corn and soy that typically produce them, SciDev.Net reports that a laboratory study in Brazil has found that diesel made from soybeans is less toxic to human lungs than other fuels.

“Investing in research on biofuels is, without a doubt, a mid- or long-term solution to reduce emissions of toxic contaminants in the atmosphere and prevent disease,” says Solange Cristina GarcĂ­a, a toxicologist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, also in Brazil.

Though organic advocates decry the use of pesticides in conventional crops, and claim their products are healthier, they've failed to disclose that “organic pesticides pose the same health risks as nonorganic ones,” according to evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox. 

Take neem oil, which so many “natural” gardeners/farmers treat like holy water. But “the stuff is known to cause seizures and comas in humans if consumed in large doses, and it kills bumblebees at very low concentrations,” reports Henry I. Miller, a Stanford University physician and molecular biologist. He continues:

A 2012 report by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy analyzed data from 237 studies to determine whether organic foods are safer or healthier than nonorganic foods. They concluded that fruits and vegetables that met the criteria for “organic” were on average no more nutritious than their far cheaper conventional counterparts, nor were those foods less likely to be contaminated by bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella.

What's more, “organic foods amounted to 7% of all food units recalled in 2015, even though organic farms account for only about 1% of agricultural acreage."

And finally, it seems like folks are always clamoring to pull up the drawbridge once they've settled in to a place. An example is yesterday's letter to the editor from Michael Wells of Moloaa:

Kauai has become a zoo with too many people and cars and too little infrastructure to handle the massive immigration of folks seeking a “better life.” Can’t we just take a break and put a moratorium on further development until the infrastructure can catch up?

[A] growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy.

Unlike past decades, when people of different socioeconomic backgrounds tended to move to similar areas, today, less-skilled workers often go where jobs are scarcer but housing is cheap, instead of heading to places with the most promising job opportunities, according to research by Daniel Shoag, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and Peter Ganong, also of Harvard.

One reason they’re not migrating to places with better job prospects is that rich cities like San Francisco and Seattle have gotten so expensive that working-class people cannot afford to move there. Even if they could, there would not be much point, since whatever they gained in pay would be swallowed up by rent.

[W]hen zoning laws get out of hand, economists say, the damage to the American economy and society can be profound. Studies have shown that laws aimed at things like “maintaining neighborhood character” or limiting how many unrelated people can live together in the same house contribute to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They also exacerbate inequality by restricting the housing supply in places where demand is greatest.

The lost opportunities for development may theoretically reduce the output of the United States economy by as much as $1.5 trillion a year, according to estimates in a recent paper by the economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti. Regardless of the actual gains in dollars that could be achieved if zoning laws were significantly cut back, the research on land-use restrictions highlights some of the consequences of giving local communities too much control over who is allowed to live there.

“You don’t want rules made entirely for people that have something, at the expense of people who don’t,” said Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Ironically, Councilman Gary Hooser, whose nonprofit HAPA was founded in part to address social inequity, has supported a moratorium on new development.


Anonymous said...

But if there were a moratorium on building, then real estate prices would go..oh.

Well played Hooser. Well played.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't his proposal tied to infrastructure (like Kapaa traffic) and didn't it exclude affordable housing? How many more cars can that highway take before its at a standstill 24/7? I think is a good idea. Puts pressure on State to fix it

Anonymous said...

How would that pressure the state? What do they care if Kauai has a moratorium.

Anonymous said...

So Joan you are now pro development and pro GMO? Heard you are now getting paid by Cornell and PRP. True?

Anonymous said...

11:56, So affordable housing is just going to magically sprout out of the ground just like all those organic farms we keep waiting for that are going to make us food self sufficient?

Joan Conrow said...


So to broach a topic with an intriguing perspective is to be "pro?" Why do you want to box yourself in so narrowly? That's certainly not my approach to life.

I don't even know what PRP is.

But hey, too bad you don't actually have any ideas of your own to share on any of these timely topics, and so must resort to maligning me instead.

Anonymous said...

12:34- I also would love to hear Joan share with us her relationship with Cornell over the years!

Anonymous said...

PRP = Pacific Resource Partnership

Anonymous said...

Growth is an interesting topic. For us locals to survive, especially those that work in the construction industry, you need a certain amount of growth to survive. On the flip side, you have many newcomers that moved here for the rural lifestyle and want no more growth (i.e. "draw bridge" mentality). They have their piece of paradise and don't want anyone else to come and ruin it ... the same way these folks just ruined it for us already living here. The island's infrastructure was not planned out well and has clearly not kept pace with development, especially north of Wailua Bridge. Meanwhile, the cost of infrastructure has skyrocketed and only new developments can afford to absorb some of the infrastructure expansion costs. A housing moratorium would devalue vacant land and drive up existing home prices, which in turn would result in shifting the tax burden to those properties improved with homes. The rising values of existing homes would price locals out of the market completely, and virtually all purchases would come from out-of-state buyers. New affordable housing won't get built during this moratorium because there's no such thing as affordable construction costs in Hawaii, even when the land is free. So, where is the middle ground in terms of growth? It's a complicated issue that's not going to get resolved by our dysfunctional government. Tighter enforcement of TVRs and B&Bs to take back long-term rental stock; converting more Ag land to residential zoning near water sources; and establishing an impact fee for all developments that can be used for expanding infrastructure would be a good start. Getting the state DOT to actually move towards adding new lanes north of Wailua is a different story, however. Good luck.

Joan Conrow said...

1:15. Over the years? I've been doing freelance writing for them since March 2015. If you want to know more, my work is published on the Alliance for Science website.

Anonymous said...

I'm not calling you a shill, I also would like to hear your relationship with Cornell

However, it's to sit on the sidelines with my popcorn and watch these two get flabbergasted when you present to them a logical explanation of how it is possible to reject hypocrisy, fearmongering, and ignorant regression without compromising your ideals. I'm putting my money on an allegation that big Chem is funding a secret canary island account and that you should disclose your PRIVATE financial statements for them to nitpick.

Anonymous said...

There ain't no such thing as "affordable" housing.
Fact. You could give a lot, free of charge---to most Kauai residents and they still couldn't afford to build.
Fact. Even if Ag zoned land got an upzone to urban and thru altruist efforts by Big Land, Builders and Realaters it would be difficult to build little 3 bed 2 bath homes for 450K inclusive.
Fact. The process to upzone Ag to urban takes St Peter's patience and Midas wealth. The prospect of State LUC is one thing, but just think of a good-natured developer facing the likes of JoAnn, Mason and Da Hoos in the year long Council controlled density meetings....and then you gots to deal with another year at the Planning Commission. JoAnn's fear that a "have" might get something sizzles and juices her long forgotten dried parts and she will be shrill in her objections. Da Hoos will be afraid he ain't in the action and unless he is made a hero, any project is lost. And poor Mason won't understand what is going on.
The abolition of TVR properties will do zilch to help the local rental market. What? rent out a 2 million to 12 million dollah house for peanuts. Nope, won't happen.
Da Hoos, Joann and their minions have won. No housing for the folks.
I gots mine, you can't have yours.
Plus, it wouldn't be a bad thing if one f*ckin' person on the Council, Planning or Admin actually knew what it takes to dream, design and build anything.
Crimeny Sakes...the leading achievement in 2015 for this County was building 9 piddly little bus stops. A bus stop that any Rotary Club could build in a weekend.
But Kukuiula is booming, Kauai Lagoons (Hokual) another gazillionaire resort is exploding.......and not one new neighborhood for the folks.
Shoot me with my nail-gun Batman, we can't even provide basic shelter for our people.
Give Planning back to the Plantation Lunas, they would have homes up in 2 shakes.

Kauai County Planning motto for the future generations....How young can you die of old age?

Anonymous said...

The entire economy is dependent on what is done with the land that is owned by the old sugar families. They can keep or sell it as they wish and dramatically affect the economy in the process.

In my experience the locals favor development much more than the drawbridge crowd. I'm so tired of the uneducated Felicias and Dustins polluting the dialogue with their emotional reactions posing as facts.

No growth - no economy. Period. The whole F-ing world is concerned about ensuring a bit of growth but the anti's on Kauai know better! Of course they do. They work at KKCR.

Anonymous said...

"The abolition of TVR properties will do zilch to help the local rental market. What? rent out a 2 million to 12 million dollah house for peanuts. Nope, won't happen."


Anonymous said...

Joan Organic land and food borne illness have very little correlation. I understand that makes your point but the relevant statistics you should be using is the percentage of food that is organic which is 5% or the percentage of produce that is organic which is 12%. I know it doesn't quite make the same point but at least they are statistics that correlate.

Anonymous said...

"The abolition of TVR properties will do zilch to help the local rental market," is only your feeling,many TVRs are just regular normal houses rented to touristas that could house residents in a flash, and yes, some are too big to rent but they can be used as a residence to someone who does not need to have an endless stream of transients sleep in their bed. We have pimped the whole island instead of keeping a healthy visitor industry and intact neighborhoods, we have made all the local people compete with the tourists for housing. And that my friend stinks like bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Joan - "When activists and others want to make a point, they're often very selective in the information they present, and omit."

This of course does not apply to journalists who continually blast Babes Against Biotech for using sexuality in their fight against GMOs, but omit that Cornell Alliance for Science partners (ISAAA and UBIC) exploit young women hoping to be Miss Universe by sending them to an "agricultural boot camp", and inserting GMO questions into the Miss Uganda beauty contest. "Questions on agriculture dominated the final round of adjudication, and the GMO question was directed to the eventual winner." Miss Universe was created to sell swimsuits.

"NBC and Univision dropped the pageant in September 2015 when NBC cancelled all business relationships with the Miss Universe Organization and with Trump in response to his political comments in June 2015 about illegal immigration during his campaign for the presidency of the United States. As part of the legal settlement, in September 2015, Trump bought out NBC's 50% stake in the company making him the company's sole owner. Three days later he sold the whole company to WME/IMG."

Kinda omitted the Cornell Alliance for Science partners role in the sexual exploitation of women to promote GMOs.

Anonymous said...

What is so wrong about making local people compete for housing?
Why they get exempt from the same dog eat dog capitalism that everyone else in the western world has to suffer.
Everyone in the gaddamn world has to compete for housing. So what.
Oh but I live Kauai and I go on KKCR. I should get a house with my section 8 and trust fund remnants.
What, you get some special exemption cause where you live?
You can't afford housing well neither can no one else.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan, thank you for the explanation to the East Maui irrigation situation. Some people bitch and moan about A & B without the facts. A & B did a lot for Maui County. The so called "Dream City" in Kahului was well planned. Here on Kauai the infrastructure is in the design stage??? We have outgrown the infrastructure. We need to plan better "Planning Department".

Joan Conrow said...

@9:24. Wow, so it's exploiting women to teach them about agriculture? Kinda twisted thinking there. Especially when you compare it to the Babes, who revel in ignorance while flaunting T&A to get attention be ause their message is so weak. And just because Cornell has a partnership with various organizations doesn't mean they participate in everything the others do.. But your comment is an indication of just how desperate the antis are to find something to criticize about the Alliance.

Anonymous said...

"And just because Cornell has a partnership with various organizations doesn't mean they participate in everything the others do" Joan does not this go for Civil Beat and their funders support in a very roundabout way of the Center for Food Safety? Pierre O. gives money to the Hawaii Community Foundation and CFS gets a grant from the same foundation and you say Pierre O. is supporting CFS agenda. Come on now. What happened to your journalistic integrity?

Anonymous said...

This may not be news, but there is a small but growing homeless camp on the beach in front of the Russian Fort. I wanted to go fishing there but the area is being taken over by these long term campers.

Joan Conrow said...

@3:26. You're really grasping at straws now! The two situations are not at all analogous. There is no money involved in the partnerships between Cornell and ISAAA and UBIC. And contrary to the scenario you presented, CFS got money specifically from the Omidyar Ohana Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike past decades, when people of different socioeconomic backgrounds tended to move to similar areas, today, less-skilled workers often go where jobs are scarcer but housing is cheap, instead of heading to places with the most promising job opportunities, according to research by Daniel Shoag, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and Peter Ganong, also of Harvard."

If you're from here and people from another socioeconomic stratosphere start buying up the place then you gotta move? Life is hard.

Anonymous said...

3:28. Old news they've been there for months, guarantee smoking ice. KPD do something, you get paid big bucks! For what? Easy paycheck?

Anonymous said...

A major point that the anti-TVR crowd miss is that owning a TVR allows the owner, most of whom only own one property, to come and stay there when they wish and then to earn money to help pay for it when they're not here. That's a major advantage over other property uses.

Anonymous said...

7:54 major advantage to the tvr owner. To the rest of the island, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just open ADU's for the entire island?

Rental units bill deferred

Before the council votes on the bill, they need to be sure of its focus, said Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro.

“Is it for affordable housing, or is it to increase housing supply in the market?” he said.

If the goal is to increase housing inventory, Mel Rapozo, council chair, questioned why the ARU permitting would be limited to the Lihue Planning District.

“Affordable housing needs to be taken out of the bill if that’s not the intent,” he said. “If we’re trying to boost inventory, wouldn’t it make sense to allow ARUs everywhere?”

If it is successful in Lihue, the bill can be amended to apply islandwide, said Councilman Gary Hooser.

Mel is right and this is coming from a person that don't support that BITCH. Gary is just trying to panhandle for votes.

But the county is just playing the deceitful game: ADU's means increases in taxes means increases in property value(s) and the drums keep beating to their own music.

Sale prices and rent prices should decrease a little with competition of the ADU's.

Bynum's rice pot is VINDICATED. "He who laughs last, laughs best."

Anonymous said...


The strong and growing anti TVR lobby is not missing anything. What you may be missing is that the law of the land sez that unless you have a pre-existing operating permit, you cannot site your rental business anywhere but within a Visitor Destination Area. If you plan to do what say you wanna do make sure your place is in the VDA. If its not and you don't have a permit, we goin to turn your ass in to the Planning Department. The day of not saying anything is over. Eyes all over the island watching.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, 7.54

Musta just got off the boat. For your information, residents all over Hawaii do not want TVRs or BnBs as neighbors and are demanding enforcement of laws to keep them where they belong.