Wednesday, May 28, 2014


(PNN)-- Deputy County Attorney Mona Clark told the Kaua`i County Council today (Wed 5/28) that the county clerk does not have to put a proposed charter amendment on the ballot even if it has sufficient signatures if it is determined that the "substance" of the amendment really makes it an initiative.

The amendment, being submitted by the group "Kaua`i Rising" seeks to "Protect From Hazards of GMO Agriculture, Toxins and Testing (and) Establish an Administrator of Environmental Health, and Provide for Enforcement"

Though the Kaua`i County Charter (Article XXIV) apparently denies the council the power to refuse access to the ballot if sufficient signatures are obtained for a charter amendment, a count ruling on the last petition-submitted charter amendment, Nakazawa v Baptiste, said that even if a petition claims to be a charter amendment the county should look at the substance, not the form, in determining if indeed it is a charter amendment or an initiative.

An initiative puts an ordinance or law into effect as opposed to a charter amendment which changes the overall governing document of the county, similar to changing a state or federal constitution.

Clark said she will formally address the matter in writing and the council will meet again next Wednesday to review her opinion and determine where to go from here after the council voted to receive the matter.

The number of signatures for a charter amendment is 5% of the number of registered voters while the amount for an initiative is 20%- a four-fold discrepancy the current charter commission is considering addressing with a charter amendment of their own to either raise one threshold or lower the other.

If it is determined the Kaua`i Rising petition is an initiative it would change the number of signatures required from a little over 2,000 to over 8,000.

The attorney for the petitioners submitting the charter amendment petition told the council that certainly at least some of the document qualifies as a charter amendment such as the creation of a new Department of the Environmental Health but that he wanted to wait until the signatures so far are verified so he knows how many more he might need for an intuitive or whether to modify the petition.

On the matter of sufficiency of and any changes to the petition, the charter says:

"Upon filing of such petition with the council, the county clerk shall examine it to see whether it contains a sufficient number of valid signatures of registered voters...

By petition presented to the council, signed by registered voters comprising not less than five percent (5%) of the number of voters registered in the last general election, setting forth the proposed amendments. Such petitions shall designate and authorize not less than three nor more than five of the signers thereto to approve any alteration or change in the form or language or any restatement of the text of the proposed amendments which may be made by the county attorney."

The provision does not give the county attorney, the county clerk or the council the right to unilaterally change or determine anything about the petition, notwithstanding the count ruling in Nakazawa.

The case was originally infamous because it had the county suing the county with the County Attorney, Lani Nakazawa, suing then-Mayor, Bryan Baptiste.

The amendment "is to be filed "(b)y petition presented to the council" though it does not define what that means, if anything, beyond having the county clerk verify that it has a sufficient number of signatures. The court ruling does not say how to determine what to do if the the content is that of an initiative nor who should determine that.

The attorney for the group said he is not representing the group as far as election law, just for purposes of drawing up the petition. He did say that based on today's proceedings "there will be" an attorney to represent the group. He said he welcomes advice from CA Clark as to how to address the matter in the interim between now and a special council meeting tentatively scheduled for June 4. At that time the council will meet in executive session and consider the opinion and what to do with it.

Clark said that it is up to the council to determine sufficiency but Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura, an attorney, disagreed saying all the council can do is accept it and send it to the clerk- where it should go no matter what the council says, as has been done in the past.

Council Chair Jay Furfaro repeatedly told the council that they had to determine "if it's a cat or a dog" referring to whether it's a charter amendment or an initiative. Clark says that determination should be made by the county attorney.

If it is determined that it is an initiative the matter of "sufficiency" would be referred to Charter Article XXII on Initiative and Referendum which envisions a much more complex scheme for determining content with a back and forth between the petitioners and the county's attorneys.

Councilmember Gary Hooser questioned whether the opinion would be made public to which Clark responded that it is the decision of the council what to do with it.

County Clerk Rick Watenabe said he has been meeting with the petitioners thus far solely to work on the sufficiency of the signatures as the charter commands. He said he never held up the petition for any other reason. He said that a delay today would delay the process of verifying signature.

Hooser said he would prefer the signature verification process for a charter amendment proceed while the CA opinion is drawn up. He said it could always be changed to an initiative at a later date.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


(PNN) Kapa`a (May 27)- Outrage is going viral today on Kaua`i as parents and community members perused pro-biotech, propaganda-filled comic books that were distributed to Kapa`a Elementary School kids as part of a Monsanto Foundation-funded, "GENE-ius Day" program "taught" by the "Biotechnology Outreach Program" in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.

Although details are still coming in the personalized "comic book" pamphlets were given to kids who were apparently took part in CTAHR Associate Professor Dr. Ania Wieczorek's, eight-year-old indoctrination program. A newer “Saturday Gene-ius” program began about two years ago, and according to an April 24 UH Professional Assembly release "(e)ach Saturday Gene-ius class has about 24 students and their parents come to the UH-Manoa campus for two hours of exciting, thought-provoking activities. The classes are also held at Kauai Community College.

According to the CTAHR/"GENE-ius Day" web site "(t)hese GENE-ius Day field trips are aligned to teach science standards and its implications in genetics, agriculture, and forensic sciences in a fun and memorable way."

The pamphlet/comic books include images of children dismayed to look in their cupboards only to find there were no more "chips" and "cookies" because there were no more farmers to grow the ingredients since apparently their job was too hard- a job now miraculously made virtually effort-free through use of GMOs and pesticides, presumably courtesy of the good folks at Monsanto.

According to the CTAHR web site "(o)ur Gene-ius Day Program is funded by various grants, organizations, and private donations. Without the generous support from our sponsors, the GENE-ius Day Program could not be possible."

So who are these generous supporters? According to a November 4, 2010 UH Foundation press release

"Monsanto Supports "Gene-ius Day" at UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

(Honolulu, Hawaiʻi) — The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has received $20,000 from the Monsanto Fund, a private foundation and the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, to support salaries and materials for "Gene-ius Day." Gene-ius Day is a special program that introduces students from grade 4 through 12 to basic genetics and the function of DNA.

"CTAHR is pleased to team up with the Monsanto Fund to build a shared learning experience about basic genetics," said Dr. Ania Wieczorek, founder and director of Gene-ius Day and associate specialist in Biotechnology, Biotechnology Outreach Program (CTAHR). "A primary goal of the Gene-ius Day Program is to build a strong understanding of basic genetics at the elementary school level so that teachers are able to present increasingly complex biotechnology topics in the upper grades."
"We're thrilled the Monsanto Fund is able to support Gene-ius Day, which not only teaches science, but encourages students to imagine themselves as scientists," said Dr. Fred Perlak, vice president of research and business operations for Monsanto Hawaii, and an award-winning microbiologist. "Monsanto is proud to employ thousands of scientists and other talented employees who use science and technology in their daily work. I hope many of the students who participate in Gene-ius Day will go on to pursue great careers in the sciences."

Pages of the personalized comic books with different names on the covers began to surface on social media yesterday and elicited outrage, especially among parents and community members who have tried to tech their children about the dangers of pesticides, the lack of actual data on and chemical company false claims of the safety of generically modified foods and the benefits of eating healthy, sustainably grown, chemical-free foods.

The program is headed up by "Dr. Ania" as she is "affectionately called" using a team of graduate and undergraduate students as well as "volunteers" who are listed at the web site. None are listed as geneticists or students of genetics.

The UHPA press release says:

Wieczorek's love for molecular ecology and biotechnology is clearly evident in the way she serves the community. She may even tell you it’s part her DNA.  She has led the UH Biotechnology Outreach Program since it began in 2002, sharing her expertise in numerous venues across the state, on the Mainland, and in Taiwan.

"She saw a need in the community for greater awareness and appreciation for genetics, and filled it. Dr. Wieczorek felt more individuals, both adults and children, could make sound decisions about biotechnology issues if they were informed about scientific facts. That desire led to her launch of a new field trip program for elementary school students seven years ago called “Gene-ius Day.” Dr. Wieczorek’s goal is to use DNA to inspire students...

"To date, more than 5,000 young students have participated in hands-on activities on topics such as human and plant genetic traits, forensic science, agriculture and DNA research... The Gene-ius Day became so popular that Dr. Wieczorek started another program called “Saturday Gene-ius” about two years ago.  Each Saturday Gene-ius class has about 24 students and their parents come to the UH-Manoa campus for two hours of exciting, thought-provoking activities. The classes are also held at Kauai Community College. 

"Dr. Wieczorek added that in the near future, the Saturday Gene-ius program will be expanded to middle school students, which will greatly expand the reach of this outreach program. 
The Saturday Gene-ius classes fill up quickly."

Kaua`i has nationally been called "ground zero" in the fight against the chemical companies- Syngenta, Dow and BASF after Monsanto pulled out of Kaua`i a few years back- who conduct pesticide experiments in the Westside town of Waimea.

It has been revealed through a lawsuit in federal court (Waimea vs, Pioneer et. al.), that corn, soy and other commodity foodstuffs are routinely doused 240 days a year (with multiple different pesticides routinely used on those days) with up to 18 tons a year of extra-toxic "restricted use pesticides" that have been implicated in a plethora of illnesses by local doctors and nurse practitioners as well as an unusually high number of a specific type of heart anomaly in newborns.

The state Department of Health stopped compiling data on illnesses in 2006 claiming a lack of funding.

Recently citizens recently engaged with paid biotech workers as the local county council passed a bill requiring that the companies disclose exactly what, where and when they are spraying and created buffer zones around the testing fields after years of data-request stonewalling by the chemical companies and state flouting of regulations.

A recent DOH study found pesticides present in streams and their sediment near and around the chemical testing fields but does not plan to retest.

After public outrage threatened his November reelection Governor Neil Abercrombie instituted a "voluntary" partial disclose program while the bill was being debated. Activists called the "Good Neighbor Program" too little, too late and the bill passed after an override of a veto by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.

Carvalho also faces reelection this year and is being challenged by local surfer Dustin Barca, one of the leaders of the "Pass The Bill" movement and an organizer of a 4000-strong march on the county building. The population on Kaua`i is 61,000.

Monday, May 26, 2014


(PNN) A Resolution (2014035) on Wednesday's Kauai County Council agenda from Councilmembers Gary Hooser and Mel Rapozo seeks a council vote of "no confidence" in County Attorney Al Castillo and requests his resignation.

If Castillo does not resign within 30 days of it's passage the resolution requests that Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. fire him.

The resolution says that the council "has become increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of the County Attorney and the advice provided to the Council" and "is concerned about the significantly higher legal costs that have been incurred for special counsel."

The document "requests his resignation" going on to say that "(i)f no resignation that is effective is submitted in thirty (30) days, it is hereby requested that Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., seek his immediate dismissal."

Here is the full resolution



WHEREAS, Alfred B. Castillo, Jr., County Attorney, is the chief legal adviser and legal representative of all agencies, including the Council, and of all officers and employees in matters relating to their official powers and duties; and

WHEREAS, the Kaua’i County Council (“Council”) has become increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of the County Attorney and the advice provided to the Council; and

WHEREAS, the Council is concerned about the significantly higher legal costs that have been incurred for special counsel, now therefore,


The Kaua’i County Council hereby declares a vote of no confidence in the County Attorney and requests his resignation. If no resignation that is effective is submitted in thirty (30) days, it is hereby requested that Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., seek his immediate dismissal

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., and Alfred B. Castillo, Jr., County Attorney.
Introduced by: