Friday, February 11, 2011


HARD TO SWALLOW: Another characteristic of the true babooze is that he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room but in reality everyone sees through the ploy he’s trying to foist on everyone.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that, after seeing the tape of Wednesday’s council meeting and receiving a copy of the text of Mel Rapozo’s so-called amendment to the plastic bag ban bill, we’ve confirmed that we were right yesterday in asserting that the move is a thinly disguised attempt to allow their ubiquitous use once again.

As we suspected yesterday his bill strikes the definition of a plastic checkout grocery bag that, in Ordinance 885 made for a “de facto” ban by requiring, not just that they are compostable or biodegradable but that they not contain any fossil fuel polymers, since no such bag currently exists. Unlike the outright ban on Maui our bill allows the bags if and when a bag that meets this requirement becomes available.

So the bill simply changes the definition removing the “fossil fuel polymers” part.

The amendment now defines a plastic bag by saying:

“Biodegradable bag" means a bag that is made of a degradable plastic in which the degradation is caused by naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria fungi and algae.

But if anyone had any doubt about Rapozo’s intent they need only have watched the meeting where, although lip service was given to things like “food safety” and “sanitation,” no one who spoke could really say how exactly plastic bags would specifically keep food safe.

Rather, each person - including Rapozo himself- couldn’t help themselves in quickly descending into whining and sniveling about the inconvenience and how paper bags break and are more costly and we reuse the plastic bags and all the other blah, blah, blah arguments made by people who can’t be bothered ending even one little disgustingly polluting habit or putting a small kink in their consumerist lifestyle.

Two fascinating exchanges put an end to any argument of food safety and its relationship with plastic bags. Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura tried to follow the chain of events that would actually lead to food poisoning with and without plastic bags.

Whether or not a cloth bag contains pathogenic – disease causing- germs those germs must somehow get from the bag into someone’s mouth. So the link- admitted by both the “expert” Kaua`i Community College instructor and "chef" and the restaurant owner eventually admitted was that- shock of shock, news of news- people need to wash their hands before they eat, especially if they have had them in a dirty smelly bag that they had previously spilled pathogen-containing materials.

Didn’t these people have mothers?

No one of course ever suggested just using clean, reusable bags when putting their food in them.

The Chef wasn’t even really clear on where germs live, maintaining that metal, wood and plastic contain “no” germs. Actually studies have shown that the most germ-laden things in a typical room are the metal door knobs and the plastic telephone receiver.

The restaurateur- Mark Oyama of “Mark’s Place”- came with a bunch of his employees in tow to oppose the bill. He went so far as to say that no one ever washes their hands before they eat their plate lunch.

And, as we said, they all gave initial lip service to food safety before launching into descriptions of broken paper bags, public inconvenience and the way plate lunches spill on the car seat or get crushed if you stack them.

At one point the seriousness of it all- the inconvenience not the food safety- was described at the behest of Councilperson Dickie Chang who urged one of Oyama’s employees to tell a story that she had told him earlier.

Seems that a stack of plate lunches had been ordered and the one at the bottom had become crushed and spilled- although it was not really obvious how it even had anything to do with the use or non-use of plastic bags.

And whose lunch was that asked Chang?

Seemly on the verge of tears the employee blurted out “Th-th-the mayor’s lunch.” Fortunately there was an extra lunch so the 300-plus pound behemoth didn’t have to skip a meal (god forbid). But it was a disaster nonetheless because they mayor didn’t get the lunch he actually wanted, she explained.

And on and on it went with a bit of initial mumbling about this mythical food safety issue followed by tales of horror, supposedly- but actually tenuously- involving the lack of plastic bags.

One of our favorite non-sequitors was that out of one side of their mouths people wanted to use the plastic bags for when the plate lunch- the ones dripping with extra gravy and sauces, ably described by Chang- spill inside the bag.

But almost all of the Mark’s place staff- and Rapozo himself at one point- just had to state that everyone uses the plastic bags for trash can lines, dog poop picker-uppers, wet bathing suits and the like.

So you’re reusing the ones dripping with gravy? Or is there really a whole other agenda at work here?

Those who care about keeping the plastic bag law the way it is you might want to consider calling Oyama at 245-2522 and telling him that if he keeps it up you’re not going to be patronizing his establishments anymore.

The worst part is that no one at the meeting pointed out either the scam contained in the wording of the bill or called all these people on their obvious real motive in trying to get back their precious free plastic bags back. Some even complained that they would now need to buy huge 13 gallon trash bags even though the small wastebasket size ones are also available everywhere.

Finally we just have to respond to Rapozo’s charge that we “left out” an important part of a Consumer Reports story about the University of Arizona study- funded by the plastic bag industry- calling the health issues “just baloney”.

Nitpicker Glenn Mickens had quoted the report saying he read about it in Andy Parx’s blog. Rapozo responded that we had left out the “important part” which he read aloud.

It stated that:

It’s easy to spread bacteria from meat, fish, or poultry to other foods... So we do think it’s wise to carry those items in disposable bags. Reusable bags are fine for most everything else, but it’s a good idea to wash them occasionally.

There are two problems here. First we did in fact post the paragraph he read. Second, as we said, the reference is to use of disposable (note the use of disposable not plastic) for RAW meats which is of course a use that our ordinance exempts anyway.

After that the whole thing degenerated into a discussion of Andy Parx’s blog eventually ending with a ruling from the county attorney that anything Andy Parx says is not on the agenda and so any discussion of what Andy Parx says must stop immediately.

One more thing- we just love this argument- made by Rapozo in bullying and badgering activist Ken Taylor- that somehow because we’re not banning all sorts of bad things like Styrofoam and other plastics pollutants we shouldn’t be banning plastic bags.

Rapozo seized on the phrase used by Taylor and others that they “support the bill as it is” and absurdly twisted that into trying to say that meant that people didn’t want to ban anything else like plastic water bottles or Styrofoam.

Finally, veins bulging in his forehead Rapozo prosecutorially shouted at Taylor requring him to “answer yes or no” as to whether the environment was more important that human food safety.

Taylor kept his cool saying that it wasn’t a yes or no question and turning the tables on Rapozo asking why he wasn’t amending the bill to ban all sort of plastics. That shut Rapozo up but the attempt at imtimidation was classic Rapozo- a tactic he’d learned at the feet of the master, former Chair Kaipo Asing.

The public hearing on the bill is March 2 at 1:30 p.m. Don’t miss it. Let Rapozo know you won’t stand for this kind of crap.

And bring a plate lunch- with extra gravy. Maybe even two... just in case the mayor is there.

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