Thursday, December 8, 2016


[PNN] (Kaua`i) -- Kayak Wailua owner Peter Fisher reportedly says he will no longer conduct kayak tours of Wailua River when a flash flood watch or warning is in effect after a tourist drowned in a flash flood Sunday while taking one of his kayak tours.

A flash flood warning was in effect for all of Kaua`i at the time and had been, on and off, for three days .Fisher has reportedly claimed it was a "calm... sunny day" on Sunday.

Flooding had been occurring on the North and East sides of Kaua`i all weekend.

During a flash flood, flooding happens suddenly and during a "warning" flooding is imminent or currently occurring.

Another of Fisher's customers died in 2010 when one of Fisher's tour guides reportedly told a man it was okay to swing from some long vines "like Tarzan," according to a lawsuit filed in Utah where the tourist was from. He apparently fell and hit his head on a rock and wandered off after first landing on hos mother-in-law and braking her leg His body was found six days later.

Calls for Fisher's arrest and prosecution have permeated social media this week. So far there has been no comment from the Kaua`i PD on possible charges. There have also been numerous, but thus far unverified, claims on social media saying that his employees had told people before the incident that they are pressured never to cancel tours no matter what the weather.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


by Andy Parx

(Parx News Net- PNN) Oct. 12,2016 --- (Kapa`a) Beck's Hybrids has purchased and will be taking over BASF's GMO corn seed pesticide experimental facilities in Kekaha, although a Beck's press release and web site attempt to downplay if not coverup their intent beyond "hybrid seed production."

Although the terms GMO. genetically modified seeds and in fact pesticides are absent from the release and apparently impossible to find at Indiana-based Beck's web site a spokesperson from Kauai Farming & Jobs Coalition (KFJC) who refused to be identified did confirm the nature of Beck's intentions for their purchase of the former "BASF Seed Research Facility" on the Westside of the island of Kaua`i.

In a "sponsored" post from their Facebook page, the spokesperson refused to be identified because "each of our admins have been personally attacked by activists in the past." (S)he accused PNN of engaging in "haphazard activist reporting."

"We're used to you spreading misinformation," we were told.

KFJC is a pro-GMO/pesticide group that bills itself as "an issue-based organization (that) seeks out and presents answers on issues raised in our public discourse (and) represents a wide range of individuals and organizations in our community.

The soft-sell approach continued as the spokesperson deflected and misrepresented Beck's intentions until persistent questioning by PNN and others forced an admission that Beck's produced more than "traditional hybrids" and in fact did intend to continue BASF's pesticide experiments on genetically modified seed corn.

Despite a thorough search of the Beck's web site the term "genetic modification" or references to either pesticide use (RUP or otherwise) specifically or generally could not be found. The closest we found to a disclosure of GMOs was the use of the term "trait introgression" under the research and development section

According to Wikipedia "Natural introgression does not have human direct interference while the exotic introgression is induced intentionally (as for instance genetically modified organism)."

Beck's web site does not differentiate between natural and "exotic" introgression. It does say that they "practice genome-wide selection with a state-of-the-art molecular marker laboratory," although they do not further expand on that statement.

Apparently due to these deceptive tactics many who have been active in opposing the chemical companies' genetic modification/pesticide experiments on Kaua`i actually "liked" the KFJC Facebook post linking to the Beck's press release.

In 2013 up to 4.000 people on Kaua`i (population appx. 60,000) marched in support of Ordinance 960 which required disclosure of pesticide and GMO use and required buffer zones.

"(N)obody is claiming that Beck's won't be growing any GE corn" the spokesperson finally disclosed following a series of evasive answers to both our and others' directed questions in the comments section of KFJC's Facebook post . "Beck's carries hybrid corn both in conventional and GE varieties.

"Beck's will be using some of the approved pesticides that you listed," (s)he said referring to questions regarding use of glycophosate (Roundup) and restricted use pesticides (RUPs) atrazine, 2-4D (part of "Agent Orange") and others.

"(I)t is likely that they will participate in the Good Neighbor Program on Kauai." (s)he said referring to a voluntary unverifiable project sponsored by the governor and mayors of the neighbor islands in response to the Kaua`i legislation and a temporary ban of GMOs on Maui and a permanent ban (except for papayas) Hawai`i Island.

The Good Neighbor Program falls well short of the disclosures and buffer zones required in Kaua`i Ordinance 960.

The three laws are currently before the 9th Circuit Federal Appellate court awaiting a decision after being blocked from implementation by local federal magistrates.

Though, as usual, invitations to "tour the facilit(ies)" were extended we were, as usual, refused permission to bring a camera crew to record questions and answers. The spokesperson questioned whether "you could pay attention to what someone is saying or be genuinely interested when you're just trying to catch something on film."

What we might "catch" was not further defined.

For the record PNN has done dozens of TV interviews in producing "The Parxist Conspiracy" newsmagazine during the 90's, as do all professional video journalists- even while "touring" facilities.

Despite repeated requests from PNN and many other national and international news organizations all requests for formal interviews from a Kaua`i-based chemical company spokesperson have been refused.

The industry, through spokespersons, paid bloggers, PR companies and trade organizations has insisted that there is no difference between traditional cross-breeding that has been creating hybrid seeds for millenia and modern "gene-splicing" genetic modification technology which has been producing commercial products for less than a quarter century.

Caution flags have been raised by many predominant independent geneticists who say that the industry engages in bad science and produces stilted studies that presume the absence of evidence is the same as evidence of absence when it comes to health concerns over but genetically modified foods and moreover the use of restricted use pesticides such as atrazine which has been found to be probable carcinogens by the World Health Organization.

Genetically modified foods have been banned across the globe but not in the USA where the presumption of safety until harm is proved defies the science-based "precautionary principle" and the logically fallaciousness of "proving a negative" which cannot, by definition, be done.

Evidence of RUPs have been found in Westside Kaua`i waterways outside the boundaries of the chemical company experimental facilities - a violation of federal law.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Environmental activist Fern Anuenue Rosenstiel's campaign for the North Shore (14th district) State House of Representatives seat got an unintentional boost last Saturday when her opponent, former Councilmember and assistant to Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Nadine K. Nakamura published an inexplicable letter to the editor asking voters to "be sure and get the facts" regarding her supposed "longstanding support for small farms and local food sustainability," revealing what she claims was "a telephone campaign from a Mainland group that is misrepresenting my position."

The facts are that, as a councilmember, Nakamura was instrumental in "watering down" and trying to indefinitely defer Bill 2491 (Ordinance 960) during what was known as "Text-gate" and later, as Mayor Bernard Carvalho's top lieutenant, supporting and engineering his veto of the bill as reported in 2013 by PNN.

In her LTE Nakamura didn't identify the supposed "mainland group" and didn't address her support for the chemical companies, nor did she discuss actual local food production agriculture or small, "healthy food" or organic farms, referring instead to her support for the corporate "Value Added" and "Kaua`i Grown" programs.

Rosenstiel is an environmental scientist who was one of the leaders in creation and passage the Ordinance 960 requiring chemical companies on Kaua`i to disclose specifics regarding the types, locations and amounts of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) and experimental genetically modified organism (GMO) crops used and the maintenance of modest buffer zones, especially around schools, hospitals, waterways and residences. Rosenstiel's testimony on the bill can be seen here.

Rosenstiel, who was born and raised on Kaua`i, has been a staunch supporter of the healthy food/sustainability movement. Her platform calls for "Food Production Agriculture" saying "(i)t's important to our entire community and our ongoing survival that we put our attention to supporting food production agriculture, farmers and food security.  We must support food production agriculture parcels and programs and projects to get farmers initiated and self-sustaining."

The divisive use of the "dog whistle" term " Mainland group" has been at the heart of an often divisive split in the community between the Chamber of Commerce crowd and employees of chemical giants like Syngenta, BASF and Dow on one side and members of the community who have battled for years for disclosure of and protections against the use of RUPs and GMOs on the other.

The term is actually a misnomer because many of the families affected are multi-generational former plantation families, some of whom sued and won a settlement against Pioneer for damages to their homes due to wind-blown "drift."

The story behind Nakamura's attempt to parse and re-write her record was reported by PNN shortly after the Oct 16, 2013 marathon county council committee ,meeting (see newspaper report) and poat-3 a.m. vote on the bill. As a councilmember Nakamura was been observed discussing strategy with and taking directions from Carvalho's then chief political advisor, Beth Tokioka, with whom Nakamura- along with Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura- had been texting all day on the 15th and into the night of the 16th during the meeting.

Following the passage of the bill Tokioka quit her long-time county job as confidant to three different mayors and went to work doing PR for Syngenta and right after the bill passed Nakamura was appointed County Manager, Carvalho's "deputy mayor," where she backed his eventually overridden veto of the bill. Tokioka was recently appointed to the county Board of Water supply

Syngenta has sued the county over the bill and the matter is awaiting a decision by the Federal 9th Circuit Appellate court.

The oddest part of this is Nakamura's decision to publicly repeat allegations about her lukewarm- or even lack of- support for small farms and sustainable or organic local food production, countering it the claim by citing her promotion of things like "value-added products" and the "Kaua`i Made" programs when most see the real issue as centering around promoting actual food production for local use vs experimental "seed" production which supplies no food whatsoever- a subject that has, due to the LTE, now been raised to the forefront in District 14 which has thus-far avoided having experimental pesticides and GMOs grown there.

For the full details of the "Text-gate" story go to

The primary election is on August 13 and walk-in voting begins on Aug. 1 while absentee mail-in ballots are currently being delivered to voters' mailboxes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


"Stop us before we appropriate again?"

The now-defeated proposed Kaua`i charter amendment to put 1% of real property tax revenue was an incredibly blatant political move to protect the Kaua`i County Council from itself and allow them to shirk their decision-making responsibilities so they can't be held accountable.

The whole problem is that visitors do not pay their fair share of taxes and vehicle fees especially without our fair share of the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) from the legislature.

So why not raise property taxes on resort-zoned properties and other visitor accommodations? Gee- you don't think it's because the tourism industry sector is the biggest campaign contributor do ya?. Or the fact that we couldn't even pass a decent lobbyist law (such as the one Councilmember Hooser proposed before the rest of the council watered it down to irrelevancy).

We are being robbed blind by the visitor industry. Not only does that keep real property taxes on homeowner-occupants high but keeps residents' fees unfairly high for instance when car rental companies register their vehicles in Honolulu.

And those "jobs jobs jobs" they create are predominantly low (if not minimum) wage putting even more financial stress on residents and the system in general.

God forbid, since the state legislature won't do it, we pass a $15 minimum wage at the county level- something not forbidden under the state's $10,10 minimum wage law. An island like this is the perfect place for a $15/hr minimum wage because people can't just go to a neighboring county for goods and services negating the business' usual (fallacious to being with) arguments against it.
It seems like the concept of progressive taxation has never occurred to the council’s Tea Party majority who want to raise vehicle registration and weight taxes... much less real property taxation where resort and speculative visitor accommodation don't pay their fair share when compared to what they are costing us all.

There's your $100 million in road repairs- a figure that was seemingly plucked out of thin (hot) air - in the first place.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


No matter what Chuck Todd says there actually are staunch Bernie Sanders supporters who say that, in comparison, Hillary Clinton may not not that bad.

A fellow "Berner of a certain age" posted on Facebook today that she "won't be devastated if (Clinton is) the nominee. She'll be an effective executive. Besides, she has made some platform changes that were inspired by Bernie. She's not exactly progressive, especially in foreign affairs. But she's far to the left of the Republicans on social and environmental issues, and her SCOTUS appointees will never overturn Roe v. Wade. Of course, if she resurrects Glass-Steagall I'll plotz. Bernie's supporters can do worse. "

She may be right in some ways but that's not going to convince the burned baby Berners.

Expanding on the Zenish theme I pondered on Monday, even if Clinton has more votes and delegates in the end, it is also true at the same time that she and the party conspired to create rules and processes that essentially made that point moot... and moreover its veracity indeterminable.

Should she win the nomination Hillary's downfall in the General will be in not having told the Democratic Party bosses- and in fact her own advisers- early on to back off and create a transparent, fully democratic process and let the chips fall where they may. Instead of standing up to them (as if) she has, at best, allowed them to embrace the traditional crooked procedures to the point where no one will ever be able to even tell if she would have won without setting up a system to assure she got the lions' share of delegates or whether she earned them democratically or not.

While the threats of misogynous trolls among the Bernie or Bust crowd are not just wrong but stupid and unproductive they are just the ugly side of a frustration with the corporate corruption of the country that has created a generation of revolutionaries who simply cannot wait for another generation or two to magically correct itself incrementally.

Look what's happening out in the street- Got a Revolution?

Monday, May 16, 2016


No one doubts the fix is in if you ask Bernie Sanders' supporters. In a Politico piece this week describes just some of the Democratic Party's shenanigans at the national and state level.

This weeknd Sanders delegates to the Nevada Party convention reportedly stormed the stage in protest of the way the "party bosses" have shut out the millennial Berners. unable to comprehend that the election if not the future of their party itself depends on keeping the newbies engaged.

But at the same time, there's a distinct possibility that Hillary Clinton may go into the national convention with more elected delegates and, if we can suspend disbelief for a moment and assume republican democracy is actual democracy, she should get the nomination.

So which is it? Have the Clintonians set up and knocked down the bowling pins by appointing cronies to the position of pin boy or presuming she wins some sort of "fair" electoral process, should she win the nomination?

The truth is that both are true- even if Hillary wins by a few votes on the up and up at the same time it's true that that the fix is in.

Admittedly it's hard for people to hold two opposing thoughts in their heads at the same time. But think of it like the OJ trial. While it appears the cops framed him, at the same time, it appears he did it.

The Democrats' problem is more existential than who wins or even how they actually win. It's future depends on the perception of these two factors.

How could the Berners not see it as a "vast right wing conspiracy" to deny Sanders the nomination. The young Berners see it as a "the fix is in" situation because, well, it is.

Here's the bottom like: Most Sandernistas don't really give two tweets about the Democratic Party. And every time they catch another whiff of "the fix" it confirms what they already think they know- Party politics is a dirty, corrupt, circular-firing-squad process from the get go.

And you can't just say "well, it's politics" because what it is is inside-baseball, office politics, not politics as in "electoral politics."

That's what the Democrats are dealing with because even if Clinton has the majority of the total of "elected" delegates, the perception will be that DNC "fixed" the whole process.

The young idealistic Berners don't really care. They have nothing invested in the Party. And the Hillary campaign- and more so her supporters- have dissed the kids at every step of the process.

The Berners may be a lot of things but they aren't stupid. They "get" the fundamental difference between Sanders and Clinton. They see her as a corporate militarist who believes in American Exceptionalism. Bernie, not so much.

Almost half a century ago many Baby Boomers felt the exact same way about the Liberal Lion of the day, Hubert H. Humphrey and peace candidate Eugene McCarthy. And when Hubert was nominated amidst a police riot in the streets of Chicago, the party lost slews of potential Democrats for these 50 years... so far. (and don't nit-pick with us about about McCarthy).

Once again youth is feeling ignored and they hear and they see it in the booming media echo chamber- as Hillary amplifies it and they her with everyone eager to "turn to the general" so they can continue to lead every newscast with the word "Donald Trump."

Democratic Party stalwarts have a bigger problem than getting youth to support Clinton. They have the opportunity to turn them into lifelong Democrats. But if Hillary's campaign and supporters keep it up they'll lose them for 70 years.

We used to say that Humphrey stole the nomination fair and square. Is history repeating itself?

See you in Philadelphia .

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Death of a lobbying bill

(PNN)-- Tues., March 8 -- The corporate takeover of our American republican democracy has been pegged to the sway of "K Street" lobbyists who have more than just the ears of congress. While the final "decision-making" may rest with elected representatives massive influxes of campaign contributions and gifts often produces laws actually written by the lobbyists.

At the state level groups lobbying groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC pass around sample bills which are passed verbatim by Republican legislatures across the nation. And local jurisdictions often have no lobbying or lobbyist gift-giving laws at all.

Kaua`i County is one of them despite the fact that the Hawai`i state constitution requires that counties have lobbyist regulation ordinances. There had been one,on Kaua`i, passed in 1975 but for some mysterious reason that remains unclear, it was repealed in 1987.

Kaua`i Councilmember Gary Hooser noted this discrepancy and drafted the "best bill" he could- a "model law" that takes the strongest measures from other counties and states in order to give Kaua`i a strict regulatory lobbyist bill- one that island could be proud of.

But guess what? If you've lived on Kaua`i for five minutes you won't be surprised that the other six councilmembers managed to amend the bill to the point where it has become a mish-mosh of weak-kneed provisions, all at the behest of- unnecessary drum roll please- the lobbyists themselves.

The new and degraded bill is up for passage at this Wednesday's (March 9 at 8:30 a.m., @ the Historic County Building on Rice St.) County Council meeting- a bill that, despite over 80 written testimonies in favor of passage of the original bill, was changed after a couple of lobbyists showed up to the Feb. 17 Committee of the Whole meeting and whined and sniveled until they got their way.

(The committee meeting can be seen at beginning at the 2 hour 8 minute mark and picks up again again at the 6:30 mark or so.)

Nancy Kana, a lobbyist for the Board of Realtors was the first to testify and tried to conflate paid lobbyists with members of the public saying the council is lobbied every day when they go out to dinner and that lobbyists are just "regular people" like anyone else that have "good intentions for the island."

She made lobbyists sound like god's own gift to legislators who would be lost without the "information" she provides.

Then came former newspaper reporter Jan TenBruggencate who now runs his own "consulting" and PR firm. He was even more demanding of changes in the bill, using often outlandish and many times fallacious and unrelated "what if" scenarios to infer that anything beyond the "old way" of just letting lobbyists "sign in" at meetings before they give testimony was superfluous.

TenBruggencate has played fast and loose with his lobbying activities refusing to release a full list of his clients and how much he is paid by, among others, chemical industry giants like Dow and Monsanto who have been "growing seeds" while experimenting with Restricted Use Pesticides primarily on the West Side of Kaua`i.

The original bill could have been written for him. But now it looks more like a bill that could have been written BY him.

The final draft of the bill was changed from a strict prohibition on any gifts from lobbyists to councilmembers to the well-known mushy, mumbo-jumbo that the US Supreme Court used to justify Citizens' United and other decisions striking down limitations on campaign contributions, known as the "quid pro quo" test. It basically says that unless you can prove that an actual bribe took place, anything goes.

The original bill put the onus on both the lobbyist and the official not to give or receive gifts of any kind although Hooser was willing to accept amending the bill to exempt flower leis and "educational materials."

But the final draft amends the bill to ban only the receiving of gifts and then only if the councilmember decides that the gift constitutes a bribe, using the standard "intent to influence" language contained in other ethics and anti-bribery laws... something that makes the prohibition superfluous.

Somehow Council Chair Mel Rapozo claimed that this made the bill stronger, not weaker, admonishing the public not to use this change to say he was weakening the law.

Other major changes included eliminating a measure that prohibited registered lobbyists from serving on the Ethics and Charter Review Commission or on any commission where the subject matter on which the lobbyist focused was the focus of the commission.

The council deleted this and kept the ban only on lobbyists serving on the Board of Ethics (BOE), although some opposed even this prohibition. The BOE often rules on whether councilmembers have conflicts of interest or are violating gift-giving laws as well as in other matters.

Grove Farm Vice President and Councilmember Aaryl Kaneshiro was the most adamant about allowing lobbyists to serve anywhere and everywhere, to no one's surprise since he often denies he has any conflict of interest when discussing and voting on issues that directly effect Grove Farm, one of the biggest land owners on the island of Kaua`i.

Some critics go as far as calling Kaneshiro "Grove Farm's representative on the council" however he has never voluntarily recused himself from any matter involving Grove Farm. The county charter requires those with a conflicts-of-interest to recuse themselves from both discussion of and voting on measures that cause the conflict.

But perhaps the most surprising support for the amendment came from councilmember JoAnn Yukimura. She described as an example, when she sat on a task force representing the council to draft shoreline setback legislation along with an attorney paid to represent developers and described how she actually allowed him to help draft legislation, saying it was an important part of the process to include all "stakeholders" and claiming it didn't matter because she and the council were the "final decision-makers."

Sound familiar?

For those who want to understand the way the other six council members rationalized stripping the bill of these and other provisions go to the 7 hour 11 minute mark of the February 17 committee meeting, especially the debate between Hooser and the rest of the council on the subject of gift-giving and receiving.

"I'm not trying to be facetious but why would a lobbyist be giving us a gift (if not) to influence us" Hooser asked over and over in many ways. Citing the many "gift baskets" with nuts, honey, coffee and all sorts of "goodies" that councilmembers receive every Christmas Hooser asked "They're not giving them to the public. They're giving it to us because we're councilmembers. Why are they giving it to us (if not to) influence or reward us?"

But it was to no avail and the council resorted to the quid pro quo- literally "something for something" rule established in opinions by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Citizens' United and other campaign finance law rulings saying that corruption can only occur when an actual bribe takes place.

The pervasive influence of money is politics isn't corrupting and is, in fact "free speech" the doctrine claims.

Some polls show that upwards of 80% of the public disagrees- including apparently six pf seven members of the Kaua`i County Council.

The discussion about having lobbyists serve on boards, commissions and most importantly task forces- such as the joint Fact-finding group on Pesticides formed last year- featured a plea from Yukimura as she described the task force on the shoreline setback bill (at the 7:28 mark) with community activist (and volunteer) Caren Diamond and uber land-use attorney Max Graham who would certainly be forbidden from serving under the original definition of a lobbyist and service provisions.

The original didn't forbid having diverse people serving, it just said that they should not fall under the definition of lobbyist.

"I made decisions and council did the final decision-making" Yukimura said but admitted that Graham was being paid to be there and actually helped write some of the bill. Mason Chock, usually a member of the three person progressive faction of the council along with Yukimura agreed.

But Hooser, the third member and sponsor of the bill, didn't saying there was an "inherent imbalance" between having an attorney who is being paid to be there lobbying on one side and a volunteer community member on the other.

One of the unfathomable discussions on gifts is one not unique to Kaua`i regarding the value of a gift and how much should be allowed- as if it's not a matter of IF an elected official can be bought but how much it takes to do it.

Predictably this was the case with the council discussion. Again Hooser kept essentially asking why else would they be giving them gifts if not to influence them while the rest- especially Rapozo- took offense at the notion, not that he could be bought at all but that they could be bought for as little as $25 or say the price of a meal.

In the end they just threw out any restrictions and relied on the ethic provisions in the ethics law that essentially requires a bribe take place to be covered.

There's a really old joke- sorry if you've heard or are offended by it- about a guy who asks a woman if she'd have sex with him for a million dollars. She's about to say no but then she think of her family and kids and how she lives from hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck and how much a million dollars would do to pay off her deep debts and make life bearable.

"Well, a million dollars is a lot of money. I guess the answer is 'yes'" she tells the guy.

"Well, how about ten dollars?" he says.

"Ten dollars! What kind of girl do you think I am?" she gasped.

"Well," the guys says "we've established what kind of girl you are, Now we're just haggling over price."

The physical presence of two lobbyists and the physical absence of the over 80 people who submitted written testimony supporting the original bill says a lot about how important "showing up" is.

We'll see whether it's too late for those motivated to show up and sit there all day on Wednesday (it will probably be taken up in the afternoon but don't count on it) waiting for their six minutes of testimony to try to get the council to revert to the original bill by shaming them into it after 80 people call them crooks.

Or not. As they say half of life is showing up.