In the Orwellian newspeak-doublespeak category, Edible Hawaiian Islands has conferred a “local food hero” award on the Hawaii Center for Food Safety.
That's quite a feat, considering that CFS has done zip to advance either local food production or food safety. Not to mention its fear-mongering, ignorance-fomenting activities are decidedly non-heroic. But since when do facts matter?
More revealing was CFS director Ashley Luken's response:
Once again, we are reminded that CFS represents less than 1% of the state's population, even if we accept its questionable claim of “nearly 11,000 members." Then there's the hogwash about how Hawaii folks “fund our work.” As I've previously reported, CFS receives more than 80 percent of its funding from mainland foundations, and what cash it does get most likely generates from there, too, since its headquartered in Washington, D.C.
But most intriguing is Ashley's admission that Hawaii CFS is first and foremost a lobbying entity. Which raises serious questions about how it can legally pass itself off as an educational 501(c)(3) public charity, while apparently violating the federal law that prohibits nonprofits from using foundation funds to engage in lobbying.
Which leads us to a partner organization of CFS — Gary Hooser's Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action. It runs the Kuleana Academy, which claims:
Curious, then, to see the comment left by Russell Ruderman, the decidedly left-of-center and anti-GMO senator from the Big Island, on a Facebook post showcasing the spring crop of Kuleana Academy graduates:
Send me some reinforcements? Meet you at the barricades? Phony revolutionary rhetoric aside, that doesn't sound very nonpartisan to me.
Others offering their congratulations were anti-GMO activists Ashley Lukens and Jeri Di Pietro, president of of Hawaii SEED, as well as Jonathan Scheuer, the state Land Use Commissioner who secretly taped a video of then-Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi offering a drunken toast to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho at a privately-hosted reception at the Hawaii Congress of Planning Officials.
Nope, no partisan politics at work here.
It's ironic, then — considering how American anti-GMO activists idolize Europe — to learn the European Parliament is starting to cast a critical eye on where non-governmental organizations get their money, according to an article in Politico:
On March 27, the Parliament’s budgetary control committee discussed a proposal put forward by German center-right MEP Markus Pieper calling for the EU to cut public funding for NGOs “demonstrably disseminating untruths” or campaigning for “objectives [that are] contrary to the fundamental values of the European Union.”
Even MEPs close to the NGO community are advocating for more transparency about funding. “It’s legitimate to have sources of funding from rich individuals who have convictions, but it should be transparent,” said Green MEP Sven Giegold, who backed a proposal in the Parliament obliging NGOs, think tanks and trade associations on the EU’s transparency register to disclose who their donors are.
Gee, that might be something for the Hawaii Legislature to consider in its next session: a law requiring nonprofits to disclose their donors. The article continues:
Among the most vocal critics of NGOs like Corporate Europe Observatory are corporate lobbyists, who accuse them of pushing narrow political ideologies, rather than the public interest they claim to represent.
“Most [NGOS] are open about who is funding their work,” said Marco Mensink, the director general of CEFIC, the chemical industry association and one of the biggest spenders on lobbying in Brussels. “Regrettably, some others don’t practice the transparency they preach or comply with the letter and spirit of EU transparency laws.”
Far from representing the will of the people, some NGOs distort the public debate “with dubious arguments, often fake figures and by fear-mongering tactics,” said Markus Beyrer, the director general of BusinessEurope, the bloc’s largest business lobby. This “raises broad questions over their democratic legitimacy and representativeness,” he added.
Yes, as the lobbyists register and disclose their funding sources, the so-called public educational charities in America operate in a murky world of “invisible donors,” many of them very wealthy, who wield undue influence on local and national politics.
Not to mention that the lack of transparency makes it almost impossible to track where money is going and how it is spent. Which leads us to a recent real estate transaction involving a two-unit parcel across from Koloa School:
County tax records show it was bought by Gary and Claudette Hooser last month.
Curious, how a failed politician who ended his last campaign in the hole can afford an expensive piece of southside real estate, even though he still owns his house in Wailua Homesteads. It's even more curious when you consider he is currently not working, and instead claims to be serving in a solely "volunteer" capacity for HAPA.
Perhaps he's planning to go into the B&B or TVR business — both of which he vigorously defended, even on ag land — or build that possible third unit. Maybe he's adding to his inventory as a landlord. Or it could all be on the up-and-up.
But so long as Hooser has a reputation as a liar, and access to what is a essentially a slush fund of undisclosed funding and expenditures through HAPA, it raises questions — questions that could be answered with a bit of the transparency he is demanding from agricultural entities and others.