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.