FOR SALE: SLINGS, ARROWS AND OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE: Governor Neil Abercrombie's little attempt at humor in calling for the chemical companies to "temporarily" release some vague information about pesticide use on a "voluntary" basis via some unknown rules (or laws or Kingly decrees) to be promulgated at some undetermined point in the unforeseeable future, has Kaua`i doubled over- although it's unclear whether it's with laughter or pain.
But it did do one thing- it exposed how all four Kaua`i
legislators have sold their political souls to their corporate
overlords rather than represent the views of the 90% of their
constituents who support something a little more specific... like
2491 which is headed for another Kaua`i County Council committee
meeting on Friday at 9 a.m.
But who expected anything else? According to research by Babes
Against Biotech's Nomi Carmona, Abercrombie has taken $34,400 from
the chemical companies and their lobbyists ($58,200 if you include
wives and kids of lobbyists), Rep. Jimmy Tokioka comes in at a cool
$9,650 , Sen. Ron Kouchi has pocketed $6,050 for his campaign
coffers, Rep. Derek Kawakami got $2,000 and rookie Rep. Dee Morikawa
But the good news is that all no one seems to be naive enough to
think that the "proposal" will have any effect on Friday's
meeting. But you can expect bill opponents, Councilmembers Ross
Kagawa and Mel Rapozo to beat their chests and kick up some gorilla
dust, waving around Abercrombie's gambit a few times before they all
get down to business.
When we last left our merry band of lawgivers some thought they
observed a deathbed conversion from Ross Kagawa whose last minute
political pivot found him actually endorsing an "environmental
study"- the third part of the bill which also calls for buffer
zones and real disclosure of pesticide use, including the specific
types used at specific times on specific days at specific locations
as opposed to the "aggregate" total amounts Governor
Abercrombie called for- something that is pretty much required by the
But what we really saw was a different type of conversion, that of
a sow's ear into a silk purse after Kagawa and Rapozo realized that
Councilpersons JoAnn Yukimura and Nadine Nakamura were going to
support the buffers and disclosure parts.
That left the "study" as their only handle to get a grip
on the bill in order to kill it. And therein lies the rub because
something smells rotten in the state of Lihu`e and it ain't bubble
gum masking agent.
Hawai`i state law HRS 343, also known as the Hawai`i
Environmental Protection Act (HEPA), is the state's version of the
National EPA (NEPA) with each describing their respective
Environmental Assessment (EA)/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
And that's the third part of what the bill calls for- a moratorium
on new open-air testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and
associated Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs). pending the county's
performance of an EIS.
Because in fact that's what the facilities out in Waimea actually
are- not "farms" but testing grounds for open air chemical
experiments with people as the collateral guinea pigs. And despite
the obvious need for environmental study one has never been
But Yukimura doesn't want to use the EA/EIS process calling it a
"consultants' retirement plan"- a phrase many of her base
supporters became familiar with in speaking to her in the weeks
leading up to the last committee meeting on September 9.
Instead she and Nakamura- aficionados of the 1990's Steven Covey
"Seven Habits of Highly Manipulative A-holes" (or something
like that) series of high priced books and seminars- have suggested
their own version of an "environmental study" and plan on
introducing amendments to effectuate that version at Friday's
Apparently the thinking must be that if Kaua`i can take on the
feds and state for failing to protect the health and safety of its
citizens, we can also rewrite environmental law with our own version
of the EA/EIS process.
The "Adler Process," as some call it locally- named
after UH Professor and long-time professional "facilitator"
Peter Adler- has been dubbed by many as the "Kumbaya Roundtable"
where all the "stakeholders," including those who have no
intention of negotiating anything, get "a seat at the table"
so they can presumably come away with a "win-win" (put that
in double quotes)... either that or they sit at the table for years
if necessary until they either drown in butcher paper (you had to be
there), drop dead of old age or they find at least one thing they can
agree on- which is usually not to meet any more.
It can be endless and pointless and allows anyone who wants to
obstruct any resolution to be the big winner while the rest walk away
scratching their heads asking "what just happened?".
Instead of being a consultant’s retirement plan it's a
facilitator's career plan.
Oh- did we mention that Nakamura's is professional "facilitator?"
Anyway that explains what Ross and Mel were up to when they
suddenly "supported the bill." By the time Nakamura and
Yukimura had finished describing their amendments that would turn the
EIS into a "facilitated roundtable," two things were
painfully apparent to Ross and Mel.
The first was that Nakamura and Yukimura had earlier indicated
that were going to support disclosures and buffer zones, if not in
the precise form in which they appear on the bill now, then at least
close enough for government work. And that would make four votes
assuming they and the bill's introducers Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum
can find wording that all four of them like- which seems likely.
But Bynum and Hooser are not about to accept the never-ending,
shaggy-dog-story of the facilitated "Barney approach" (I
love you, you love me...) with Bynum saying that if they didn't call
it an EA/EIS but stuck to the precepts described in HRS 343, he- and
presumably Hooser- might be okay with that.
Which left Kagawa and Rapozo an opening to if not kill, then
severely gut what they can by supporting JoAnn's and Nadine's
"make-kissy-face-with-your-opponent" plan, thereby leaving
their corporate masters- and, they hoped, the naive public- all
singing Kumbaya... and with four votes for the interminable study,
one-third of a loaf being better than no loaf at all.
Will JoAnn and Nadine risk their political futures by refusing to
okay an EIS or EIS-based study? Will Ross and Mel heads spin around
three or four more times during the day until somebody (probably us)
throws-up? Will Tim and Gary be able to convince JoAnn and Nadine
that this is one of those once in a political lifetime deals where
doing the right thing actually lines up with it being political
advantageous? And will Council Chair Jay Furfaro feel jilted and
neglected by all this lack of attention and sell his vote for flowers
Tune in Friday at 9 a.m. for another episode of "What Dreams