Saturday, November 23, 2013


TEXTGATE AND 2491: THIS TIME IT'S PERSONALLY "DEVICIVE": If you want answers you have to ask questions. And if you want the right answers you need to ask the right questions.

But in the spirit of "ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies" if you ask an incomplete question you're likely to get an incomplete answer.

When we broke the "Textgate" story last week we weren't the only ones concerned as to whether or not there were improprieties in the exchange of text messages between Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.'s Communications Director and chief political advisor, Beth Tokioka and then-outgoing Councilmember Nadine Nakamura- who was to become the Mayor's Managing Director, on November 1- as well as Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura, during the marathon October 16 council meeting at which Bill 2491 was passed in the wee hours of the 17th.

Were these "texts" government records and subject to disclosure under state law? In this case the answer was apparently dependent on who was doing the asking and what they asked. But when the answer came in and it was "no" we certainly weren't going to leave it to Tokioka, Carvalho and the county attorney to have asked the question the way we would have.

It seems that councilmember Gary Hooser was also concerned about the texts and sent a memo to Hizzonah basically asking "WTF?"

Here's Hooser's memo including three questions:

It has been brought to my attention and is being asserted by credible members of the community that members of the Kaua'i County Administration may have been communicating directly with a member or members of the Kaua'i County Council via numerous text messages during the active deliberation of Bill No. 2491, Draft 2 and while the Council meeting was officially in session on October 15 and 16, 2013.

Further, it is alleged that the nature of the text conversations demonstrated an intent of the County administration to influence the vote and actions of members of the Council on Bill No. 2491, Draft 2.

Please respond to the following:

1. During the October 15, 2013 Special Council Meeting in which Bill 2491, Draft 1 was being discussed, were members of the Administration who were present in the Council Chambers engaged in texting, or E-mailing Councilmembers while the meeting was in progress?

2. If the answer to #1 is "yes," was the nature of their communications such that they were intended to influence the direction of Councilmembers actions or the outcome of the deliberations? -

3. Did members of the Administrative text then Council Vice Chair Nakamura, during the Council Meeting and discuss or encourage her to encourage other Councilmembers to support a deferral of Bill No. 2491, Draft 1? A response by November 7, 2013 is requested.

Although the questions were of a general nature and just asked to confirm whether the incident took place- perhaps with a subtext of questioning the ethics rather than the legality of the texts- Carvalho, apparently in, let's call it "deep consultation" with Tokioka, chose to respond in detail, admitting, in answer to question #1 that "(y)es, some text messages were exchanged" and described the texts- pretty much as we described them but with a "nothing to see here- go back to your homes" spin to it all.

As often happens when people are asked about ethical matters, they responded with the "we didn't do anything illegal" retort. It's one of the first rules of spin- if you can't deny whatever they are saying, deny something else... as long as you deny something.

The second question, predicated on the a "yes" answer to the first, was about whether the texts "were such that they were intended to influence the outcome of Councilmembers (sic) actions or the outcome of deliberations." If there was any subtext (no pun intended) of a legal question being asked it was whether the texts may have violated the state Sunshine Law had there been a third councilmember involved, thus violating the "serial communication" rule that bans attempts to circumvent the prohibition on three or more councilmembers "deliberating toward a decision" by using a third party to communicate.

It should be pointed out that nowhere did the administration's memo address the question of whether there was or was not a third councilmember involved in the texting that day.

The answer to question #2 was non-responsive at worst, contradictory at best saying "No" but then going on to say the texts were to "clarify and reaffirm positions on the deferral" taken in previous discussions on 2491 which certainly would be part and parcel of "deliberating toward a decision."'s defines deliberation as "careful consideration before a decision."

Of course the administration isn't covered by any of the "open meeting" provisions of HRS 92- aka the state Sunshine Law- anyway and there was no mention of a third councilmember being involved. But the administration is subject to the open records provisions of HRS 92-F, the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA).

The third question was answered- or not answered as the case may be- much as the second. The question of whether Tokioka's texts encouraged Nakamura to support or encourage other councilmembers to support a deferral of 2491 was answered "No." But then they admitted that they had already discussed the deferral and stated that Tokioka never encourag(ed) her to make a motion to defer (emphasis added)," thus answering a different and much more restrictive question than the one that was asked.

A motion to defer brings a meeting to a grinding halt no matter what is going on and if it passes the meeting is adjourned to a later date. There is no debate or further discussion once the motion is made.

But anyway this is all the preliminary to the "one final comment" that was added, unsolicited, at the bottom of Carvalho's memo.

It says that the county attorney contacted the OIP and asked "(i)s it a violation of the sunshine law if a member of the administration texts a member of the council during a council meeting (and vice versa)?"

This rather self serving question is, as we said, impossible since the Sunshine Law pertains to meetings of "boards" such as the council, not to administration members.

But it's the second question that proves the old adage "garbage in, garbage out."

The question asked is: "Must personal (there's that equivocal word) texts sent during a council meeting be disclosed as a public record under UIPA?"

They might as well have asked the childhood conundrum "if you're flying in a canoe and your ears fall off, how many elephants can you fit in a dog house?" (the answer is, as we all know "13- ice cream has no bones) for all the clarity it contained.

But let's have fun and try to make sense of it. First of all these were not "personal" texts, there being no discussion of, let's say, family, the weather or Beth's level of angst and anger after all these years at her ex-hubby, State Representative James "Put-Your-Pants-On, Jimmy (Again)" Tokioka.

They apparently claim the texts were "personal," which could mean- take you pick of the three- 1) those made on what's commonly called a "'personal' hand-held-device," 2) those made on a "phone" bought and paid for by her "personally," or 3) those containing messages of a "personal" nature.

So when they asked the question of the Office of Information Practices (OIP), which oversees both the Sunshine Law and the UIPA, as a group of lawyers of course they answered the legal question that was asked saying:

(P)ersonal texts are not considered government records under the UIPA as long as there is no nexus between the technology used and the County. Meaning that as long as the County is not paying for the phone, does not reimburse for usage of the phone and the method of communication is not part of the County's electronic database, i.e. emails etc., then personal texts are not considered public records.

What this seemed to say to us was that someone would be permitted to get around the UIPA by simply conducting official business on their own personal texting device rather than a county-paid-for phone and storing the texts there.

So we got to wondering what would happen if we asked the question with a little more precision.

We sent an email to OIP asking three different ways whether they could get away with this. We wrote:

"I am writing to confirm what Kaua`i County official Beth Tokioka says is her understanding of an OIP position regarding texts that were sent between her and Kaua`i County Council members during the Oct 16 meeting. (See: at the very bottom).

At issue is whether a text message sent from an official's personal devices- those not owned or distributed by the county- is never subject to the UIPA even if official county business is conducted via that text. However her explanation did not precisely ask the question of whether, if official county business is conducted via a text sent on an official's personal device, that text is public information.

To make it clear, I am asking whether the UIPA can be circumvented by an official by using his or her own personal smart-phone or other texting device (not issued or paid for by the county) to conduct official county business that otherwise would be subject to disclosure."

And of course we got a response that was worthy of the query.

I am responding to your e-mail correspondence below regarding whether the Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), chapter 92F, HRS (UIPA), can ever apply to text messages on agency employees' personal cell phones.

As you may know, the UIPA governs the public's right to inspect or obtain copies of "government records." The term "government record" is defined as "information maintained by an agency in written, auditory, visual, electronic, or other physical form." HRS Sec. 92F-3 (2012) (emphasis added). Ordinarily, text messages on a personal cell phone would not be "government records" because an agency is not maintaining them. However, if, hypothetically, an agency tries to circumvent the Quip’s public disclosure requirements by storing records on a personal cell phone, an argument could be made that these records may be considered to be maintained by the agency as government records under the UIPA.
Yours truly,
Lorna Araucanian
Staff Attorney

So is Tokioka "circumvent(ing) the UIPA's public disclosure requirements by storing records on a personal cell phone?" Given not only her somewhat pathetic attempt to deny that she was conducting official business on the phone but her attempt to get a ruling that she could store communications regarding that "official county business" on her own personal cell phone without having to provide them under the UIPA, we'd say that the case can easily be made that she was intentionally circumventing the law and should be required to provide those records pursuant to a request.

We haven't filed a formal "complaint" or asked for an OIP investigation and hope that this article will serve as one, as has happened in the past. Nor have we made an official request for the texts and gotten an official denial, even though the memo could be considered to constitute a denial.

But the sneaky and some might say sleazy way this whole affair was conducted by the administration and the fact that it took a citizen to notice what was going on and blow the whistle- without which the existence of the documents would never have been known- means we should have the right to see all official text communications regarding Bill 2491 conducted during the October 16th meeting and stored on Beth Tokioka's personal cell phone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013



(PNN) Councilmember Gary Hooser was the only one to vote against allowing the KPD to accept computer software designed to allow the sharing of intelligence regarding "domestic terrorism,".

The measure passed the Kaua`i County Council this morning (Wednesday 11/20) by a 5-1 vote.

According to a memorandum from KPD chief Darryl Perry the action allows local police to "accept and utilize CrimeNtel, a Windows based software, through the Kaua’i Police Department’s (KPD) collaboration with the Hawai`i State Civil Defense Division of the Department of Defense, for law enforcement purposes and to bring KPD in compliance with the 28 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 23."

During discussion, members of KPD said hypothetically that one uses of the software could be to track and surveil a suspect in the alleged multiple incidents of vandalism of genetically modified (GM) papaya trees on Hawai`i Island over the past few years.

The Hawai`i Island County Council voted yesterday to ban genetically modified organisms (GMO) but exempted papayas.

According to an attached explanatory sheet also sent to the council by Perry, the federal regulation "governs interjurisdictional and multijurisdictional criminal intelligence systems that are operated by or on behalf of state and local law enforcement agencies and that are funded with certain federal funds."

Hooser indicated he was troubled about the trend toward the sacrificing of people's rights and freedoms in exchange for supposed increased security.

According to Perry's memo "due to its assignment to the Criminal Intelligence Unit, KPD is precluded from publically (sic) releasing any detailed information about the new software."

GM papaya trees have been cut down on Hawai`i Island and representatives from KPD said, under questioning by Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura, that if the Hawai`i Island Police Department (HiPD) told them there was a suspect who was living on Kaua`i they would be able to use the software to surveil the suspect and share the information with HiPD regarding the acts of what they termed "domestic terrorism."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013



It was just before 3 a.m., about 45 minutes before Bill 2491 was passed by the Kaua`i County Council last Oct. 16, when then-Councilmember, and soon-to-be top deputy to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr, Nadine Nakamura, told the assembled that she was going to move to defer the bill based on considerations of her future job rather than her then-current one.

But if the bill's introducer Councilmember Gary Hooser was, as he said "flabbergasted" at what co-introducer Tim Bynum called Nakamura's "highly inappropriate and unethical" intentions, their heads might have spun around a few times with steam emanating from their ears if they had known that Nakamura had been discussing strategy with and taking directions from Carvalho's chief political adviser, Beth Tokioka, with whom Nakamura had been texting all day on the 15th and into the night.

According to Jennifer Ruggles, who was attending the meeting on behalf of "Pesticide Action Network," one of the many members of the "Pass the Bill Coalition," she was sitting behind Tokioka and began to notice something out of the ordinary was taking place.

Ruggles told PNN in an email that she noticed Nakamura and Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura seemed to keep looking in her direction.

"At first it seemed like they were looking at me but then I realized they were constantly making eye contact with Beth. All three of them had their phones in their hands. I could see Beth's phone clearly with Nadine Nakamura's name in big letters at the top and I could see they were texting back and forth. They did this through out the entire meeting. Beth copied and pasted messages received from Nadine and JoAnn and pasted them into a group message with (then County Manager) Gary Heu and Mayor Carvalho. Sometimes she explained to Gary and Bernard what was happening in the meeting."

Ruggles said she jotted down snippets of the conversation as Tokioka and Nakamura discussed, among other things, strategy, how other councilmembers indicated to Nakamura they would vote and what Nakamura had discussed with other councilmembers regarding the mayor's deferral request. Tokioka also exchanged texts with Yukimura pushing her to ask the mayor, as he was testifying before the council, about a potential veto.

"I felt concerned because it didn't seem ethical that the person who works most closely with the mayor, who after his presentation revealed the administration's agenda in opposition to the bill, should be lobbying JoAnn Yukimura and conspiring for a deferral with Nadine Nakamura during a public hearing," Ruggles said.

"The lobbying was especially inappropriate because it was happening during public testimony. Beth initiated these conversations disregarding the many people who had slept overnight to have their voice heard."

The texts made plain that Tokioka was directing Nakamura as to the political machinations that might lead to a deferral of the scheduled final vote on the bill- communications which might well be seen as a quid pro quo and a violation of the county's Code of Ethics in offering her vote to defer in exchange for appointment to the position which Nakamura would take 16 days hence.

"Defer and delay" had been the way proponents of the bill characterized the tactics used by opponents of the bill as it wound its way through a first reading, a public hearing, multiple committee meetings and scores of hours of testimony. A deferral of the scheduled final vote was seen by most to be the potential "death" of the bill.

The revelation of the texts also make apparent that the mayor had already decided that if it wasn't deferred he would veto the bill with Tokioka telling Yukimura to make sure that if she asked the mayor about a possible veto that she put it in the context of a deferral as an alternative.

The bill- which was eventually vetoed by the mayor and is up for an override vote at a special council meeting this Thursday Nov. 14 at 9 a.m.- would require detailed disclosure of the use of "Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP)" and the associated "Genetically Modified Organisms" (GMO) by the five chemical companies at their west Kaua`i experimental facilities where they claim to be "seed corn farmers."

The chemical spraying is alleged to take place 240 days a year with multiple RUPs used each spraying day, on fields adjacent to homes, schools, hospitals, waterways and roads according to disclosures made in a federal court lawsuit against one company, DuPont-Pioneer, on behalf of Waimea residents.

The bill also calls for buffer zones as well as a study of the use of RUPs and GMOs which contain genetic pesticides designed to withstand the poisons used to kill surrounding weeds.

Dozens of Kaua`i physicians have said that they have noticed a spike in illnesses such as skin lesions, respiratory problems and certain rare birth defects which, they say, requires further study.

RUPs are more dangerous than unrestricted pesticides- a term inclusive of herbicides- that can be purchased over-the-counter at any hardware store or garden shop. RUPs require a permit to purchase and use.

According to the real-time captions of the meeting (the minutes are not yet available), shortly before 3 a.m. at the meeting which had begun at 10 a.m. the previous day, the sleep deprived Nakamura told the council of her fidelity to her future employer, the mayor, as opposed to her then-current job representing her constituents as a councilmember, saying:

You know, earlier, and I'm proposing this, just because I know that in a few weeks I'm going to have to be involved in implementing this law. And I believe based on the transient vacation rental experience, that if we do not pay attention to how we enforce the laws that this body creates, we run into a lot of problems. Just in the number of contested case hearings (in enforcing out the law) that is a result of not good implementation, the number of appeals that our county attorneys have to deal with, the hearings for renewals, cease and desist orders all because we did not pay attention to the implementation of a law.

So the mayor asked for time to establish and clarify roles and responsibilities to develop a memorandum of agreement, a cooperative agreement and I just feel that we should -- this is not a political ploy as people have made it out to be. The killing of this bill or standing down to bullies, this is about really taking a close look and developing relationships with the state entities, who we have to work with to implement this law and unfortunately, that is something that I need to consider. So I'm just putting that on the table.

Hooser responded to Nakamura's statement saying that he was:

"flabbergasted to put it mildly after getting here to 10 to 3:00 A.M. And looking through the amendments and having the vice-chair lead the efforts on the amendments and then to hear support for the mayor's deferral after we had such extended discussion earlier. Yeah, flabbergasted, disappointed, you know? It is no question and this is not to put to anybody's personal intent, but a motion to defer in my opinion is a motion to kill the bill.

And again, it's not to intent, if the audience could please bear with me, this is my opinion. I think if we defer this bill, given the circumstances of a change on the council, it will be deferred again. If we wait to the department of Ag, it will be deferred again. And we have come so far and this community has come so far. They have been here for three days, some of these people, okay? 36 hours. Counting on us to do what is our responsibility. We have talked about it for months. The genesis of this bill is about a year. We have crafted amendments which significantly weaken the bill. and we continue to weaken the bill, catering to the industry and I have accepted that.

As disappointed as I am, I have accepted that because the core of what we need to do, the right to know is still intact. And we cannot count on the state to do this. We cannot count on the mayor to do this. We cannot count on Russell Kokubun to do this and it's up to us. So I am hopeful that we will not have the votes to sustain or to carry a vote to defer and I think that would be just an affront is to put it mildly to our community and to the work that we have done on this issue. And that is it. Thank you.

But if Hooser wasn't direct enough, Bynum made no bones about how he felt about Nakamura's shirking of her responsibilities as a council member in favor of her boss-to-be's request for deferral. After asking her if she intended to move and vote for a deferral and getting an answer of "yes," Bynum said:

I don't even know how to respond to that, but I have to respond from my heart. It's no secret that I'm a huge supporter of Nadine Nakamura. I have made positive statements about her leadership and her work many times. I'm disappointed she is not going to be here on the council to provide that leadership, but I honor the decision that she made to work for the mayor. But until you resign, you represent the people of Kaua`i. And for you to say that you have to consider that next week you are going to work for the mayor and have to implement this is highly inappropriate and unethical.

As soon as you resign from this body, then you need to do the mayor's bidding. But until then, you already voted for this bill, Nadine and stated your intention as a councilmember. That is all I have to say.

The mayor had said in earlier testimony that day that he was asking for the deferral so that the state could have time to work out a deal for "voluntary," and broad "aggregate" disclosures by the chemical companies sometime in the undetermined future. That would presumably be done via the HRS Chapter 91 Administrative Rules process which can sometimes take years especially if there's opposition which of course is expected from the chemical companies.

That proposal had been ridiculed by bill proponents after Governor Neil Abercrombie proposed it at the behest of state legislators from Kaua`i in what many saw as an attempt to derail the bill which, on the other hand, requires that the public to be notified of the specific day, time, type and location of each spraying of chemicals.

Abercrombie took $34,400 in campaign money from the biotech industry in the last election cycle.

Carvalho, who recently took $4000 himself, eventually vetoed the bill on the last possible day to do so, October 31st- the day before Nakamura took office as his new "County Manager," the mayor's second in command.

This ensured that the override session would take place after Nakamura left the council leaving it with only six members and little margin for error after the 6-1 vote to pass the bill.

Had the mayor vetoed the bill the day after it passed it would have left plenty of time for Nakamura, who eventually voted for the bill that night, to vote on the override which specifically requires five votes according to the county charter. It was presumed that Nakamura would have voted to override the veto despite her intention to defer it on the 15th especially since she had been one of the two authors of the amendments that so severely changed the bill, including substituting the self-styled, facilitated-roundtable, group of stakeholders type of study that wound up in the bill in the stead of the a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was proposed in the original bill.

But in his veto message Carvalho barely cited the "voluntary disclosure" state proposal and rather, based his veto on a county attorney's (CA) opinion essentially taken from opinions written by the lawyers for the chemical companies, Marjery Bronster and Paul Alston.

Most points in the CA's opinion were refuted in a letter to the mayor and council signed by dozens of local attorneys. No private attorneys not associated with the chemical companies that we could find have said they agree with the CA's opinion while slews of lawyers across the island and country have roundly rejected it.

As to Thursday's override meeting of a six-member council most political observers think that there are at lest four votes to override the veto but the fifth of the six that voted "aye" (Nakamura being the sixth in the 6-1 vote), Councilmember Ross Kagawa, has said he hasn't made up his mind as to whether he will vote to override the veto.

A meeting is scheduled for Friday to pick a seventh councilmember after the council rejected a request from Hooser and Bynum last week that a seventh member be named by the council before the override meeting.

The first irony in all of this, one that Bynum and Hooser intimated at, is that most of the midnight-hours at the Oct. 15-16 meeting had been spent proposing and passing amendments that were written, researched and insisted upon by Nakamura. She and Yukimura had worked together throughout the process since discussion with one other councilmember is permitted under the state's Sunshine Law.

Although virtually every one of the bill's supporters acknowledged that these amendment "watered down" the bill, almost all of the bills proponents still support the bill as a "step in the right direction."

Those amendments were personally rammed onto the bill by Yukimura who, during an uncharacteristic, often contentious and anger-tinged, hours-long "tour-de-force," managed to foist them on the other three "yes-vote" councilmembers because without her and Nakamura's "yes" votes the bill would have only had the three votes- Hooser's, Bynum's and Furfaro's.

Kagawa, based on prior statements and actions, was at the time not expected to support the bill but, apparently at the last minute, he decided to vote against deferral and for the bill. The other Councilmember, Mel Rapozo, voted against the bill as he had indicated he probably would ever since the bill was introduced.

Kagawa and Rapozo were the ones who approached the Kaua`i legislative contingent to ask them to ask the governor for the "voluntary disclosure" measure.

The second irony is that much of the content of the Nakamura/Yukimura amendments was cited by Carvalho in his veto message as being the very provisions that were "legally deficient" and the reasons for his override.

In essence, Nakamura had set up the bill for veto by crafting and introducing the measures that her future boss would use as a reason to veto the bill.

PNN plans on filing an open record UIPA request for Tokioka's texts.

Thursday's meeting is expected to be a long one with public testimony by both the bill's proponents and the chemical company employees and their families and friends taking one more day off to be there and speak. Although each is actually permitted by law to speak for a total of six minutes Chair Furfaro has limited testimony to three minutes throughout the process.

Councilmembers have said that if the mayor's veto is not overridden they will introduce the bill again once a seventh member is appointed. Members of the community have also begun organizing a ballot initiative on the matter.

The county will be live streaming the meeting (at and we will be live blogging and providing commentary and discussion on Facebook starting at 9 a.m.

Saturday, October 26, 2013



While the threat to "real farms" by the Westside chemical companies has sucked up much of the oxygen in the debate over the future of agriculture on Kaua`i an arguably more insidious undermining is going on just above Larsen's beach on the Northeast side.

And, one of the chief facilitators of the theft of our agricultural legacies is about to be appointed as the Kauai representative to the all-powerful Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) if we don't speak out right now and ask our state senators to reject his nomination.

Shawn Smith has been the point-person in charge of the Kahu’aina Plantation Agricultural Subdivision, a 357-acre parcel, which is zoned Agricultural and Conservation, yet has received subdivision approval for more than 80 luxury homes.

A "special session" of the legislature is scheduled for this coming Monday (Oct 28) and in addition to the main subject of marriage equality, many other matter will be taken up, including Smith's potential confirmation.

The BLNR is the "board" that oversees the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Suffice it to say they are the most powerful body in the state when it comes to land use, in a state that, along with county home rule, has another layer of centralized land-use power at the state level.

During Smith's lengthy tenure as General Manager of land developer Falko Partners- one of the biggest and most egregious of the developers luxury residential lots on agricultural lands on Kaua`i- he has shown a strong alignment with, and deep bias towards, the interests that seek to undermine the goals of Hawaii’s land use laws by converting prime agricultural land to residential use and creating rural sprawl, according to critics.

Fake farms like Kahu’aina Plantation and others are plain in their desire to subdivide agricultural lands for luxury mansions- an arguably illegal use of an Ag subdivision subdivision after the "Hokulia" ruling from Hawai`i Island, potentially barring such practices.

In 2003, Judge Ronald Ibarra halted construction of the $1 billion Hokulia project saying 1,550-acre Hōkūli‘a was a luxury-home development and not a farming venture. As part of its decision, the court stopped the county from issuing building permits to buyers, and enjoined developer Oceanside 1250 from providing utilities to the homes already under construction. The Falko Partners Kahu`aina is simply a mini "Hokulia."

Should you want to take a gander at what they have planned, even though they took down their web site- perhaps because it so obviously violated Judge Ibara's Hokulia ruling- there is still a place to view it here 

Having Smith on the BLNR could actually allow him to vote on and influence the approval of this and other similar projects. And even should he recuse himself in the case of Kahu’aina Plantation, he has shown that he is not the type of person we need in the one-and-only seat representing Kaua`i on the all-powerful BLNR, which would be ruling on other such application in the future

The Kaua`i representative on the BLNR, while only one of many on the board, is often looked to for direction by other board members regarding Kaua`i projects. Shawn Smith has, though his actions as Larry Bowman GM at Falko Partners- one of the biggest despoilers of agricultural lands in turning them into Gentleman’s estates and North Shore McMansion- shown that he is the wrong person for the job... someone whose bent is to thumb his nose at the the protection of what's left of the prime agricultural lands on Kaua`i.

Please write or call to members of the senate, especially Kaua`i Senator Ron Kouchi, and ask them to reject Smith. Word has it that this is "doable" with enough phone calls and emails. You can reach Sen Kouchi at 808-586-6030 or via email at and all senators at .

Monday, October 21, 2013


MEANWHILE I WAS STILL THINKIN': With the exception of a few brief shining moments, the local newspaper has been a horrific example of a journalistic train-wreck ever since the 1982 departure of legendary editor Jean Holmes.

And while during the last 30 years the relative proximity of various editorial-publishing regimes to the bottom of the proverbial barrel has been subject for debate, few dispute the fact that the current iteration is would be pitiful if indeed it was worthy of pity.

Seemingly there hasn't been an actual "news" story in the year or so since Editor Bill Burley took over- he of the "all dogs, all jogging, all the time" feature story. Because Burley apparently insists that even island-shaking news must be written as if it were the perennial favorite (and archetypical cub reporter initiation assignment) story about the opening of the flower show.

But today's has to take the proverbial Sweet Marie's cake.

We almost missed the story about the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT)- a state tax on tourists that is "returned" to the counties each year in varying- and usually inadequate- amounts. Why? How about starting with the fact that the headline was "The Business of Aloha" with"Tourism" above the headline.

In recent times the TAT has been the issue that stirs the drink of Kaua`i County's finances and other issues too because the state has been keeping inordinate amounts of it, supposedly due to the "financial crisis." But the county has literally been afraid to ask for their fair share of the TAT- an amount that allows us to provide the infrastructure to "accommodate" all those tourists- so as not to anger the legislature and have them, not just take a bigger share but retaliate by not passing other legislation considered vital to the county.

Yes- it's a bit of Mafioso extortion. "Oh, you want us to help you with you Uncle Joey's funeral (after they just whacked him). Oh, did we mention that protection money might be going up next month? We're sure you wouldn't want someone to steal all your merchandise, oh, let's say, next Thursday at 3 a.m. (don't be here)?"

The county can't impose its own taxes without the legislature's permission. Right now the only tax the county can impose is the real property tax.

But, if the information in the article is correct- and that's a big "if" with this paper- apparently this year the county is going to ask. It's a huge story for anyone who follows such things (probably us and a handful of other Lihu`e Lookie Lous, as the government officials see us).

So it's excusable that we missed the story until we saw the Honolulu Star Advertiser's re-write with the headline "Kauai County Seeks Higher Share of Hotel Tax." and then went back and read the local story we had skipped.

The local paper's actual "lead" of this vitally important story had been "featurized" beyond recognition, beginning the article by saying:

Marie Cassel, owner of Sweet Marie’s Bakery, opened her bakery in Kapaa a few years ago.
In 2011, she moved her glutten-free specialized desserts to a bigger location in Lihue, about a mile from the airport.

Since the beginning, Sweet Marie’s has had a steady flow of visitors, Cassel said, many of whom are tourists.

I have a lot of visitors who come here, and many are repeat customers,” she said.

Those 72 words were followed by another 62 words of ambiguous "transition" verbiage that still didn't mention the TAT.

In all 134 words to get the the point- something that is, in the news story, supposed to happen in the first 25 or so words.

We can't overstate how important the TAT is to the county budget and, as we said, other legislation. The county has been walking on egg shells for years and forgoing asking for all sorts of enabling legislation that only the state can provide, like getting us out from under liability for providing lifeguards which took years of pussy-footing to get passed in the legislature.

The discussion around the council table when it has comes to Hawai`i Association of Counties (HSAC) "wish list" each year- a list of requests for legislation approved by all county councils- as well as the Kaua`i County list of items the mayor and council want to ask for in the upcoming session, is usually focused around the question "should we ask for 'this' or 'that' or will they be less likely to give us more money through the TAT because we asked?"

We kid you not.

Back to the way the local paper covered the story today. We can just imagine what their "local take" on some past "big stories" might have been had the current "No News (Is Good News) Here," "everything is a feature" regime been in charge.

Local Man Likes His Target Practice

Wendell Duarte of Waimea loves to shoot his guns at the target range in Kekaha. And is wife Yukie loves it too.

Every morning you'll find Wendell with his collection if pistols, rifles and even bows and arrows, taking practice at the county range.

"It's a hobby I picked up in the war and my grandson Keikikane loves to come along with his gumpa to the range" said a proud Duarte, mo`opuna at his side.

"I just want him out of the house in the morning so I can do my Pilates," giggled Yukie.

But even though Duarte likes guns he is still upset about last night's assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis who was felled by a bullet... a bullet fired from a gun.....

Yes, yes- everyone wants to see their picture in the paper. And the paper is likely to sell 25 copies when someone is mentioned. And when it’s a business having smoke blown up it''s `okole you can bet it's either a pay-back or come-on for an ad spread in the paper.

But when we have to turn to the Honolulu paper to tell us to go back and read the big story that had originated our local Kaua`i paper it's time to declare a winner- the all time worst paper, certainly in Kaua`i history if not the history of the world.

Who needs plastic grocery bags? The bottom of the barrel has found a new perma-liner.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


HOW FAST CAN YOU TURN ON A DIME?:  There's an old joke about the agent talking to the producer. The agent say "That guy is a total jerk, a two-faced liar, a poor excuse for a human being and ugly to boot. I'd kill him if I had half the chanc...e and..." The producer interrupts him saying "Ah, that's my son you're talking about" to which the agent replies -without missing a beat- "Wait- let me finish."

Go to 17:59:30 on the video of yesterday's Kaua`i County Council meeting at which Bill 2491 passed at 337 a.m by a 6-1 vote and watch how clear it is as Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura reads from her prepared remarks saying that she was going to vote for a deferral, in accordance with the commentary she had in the newspaper earlier in the day.

After a minute or so, when there was no doubt in anyone's mind as to her intent to vote to defer, there was a near riot- people screaming "Pass the bill" and banging on things... dozens of people in the room and apparently many more outside can be heard.

Anyone who watched could not help but envision the crowd spilling out of the chambers and, joined by the mob downstairs- which included many who, despite attempts by cooler heads to discourage it, had issued thinly-veiled threats of violence over the weekend had a deferral occurred- and running amok down Rice St doing who-knows-what... not to mention what some might have thought they might do to poor JoAnn.

When order had been restored JoAnn could be seen continuing to read from her prepared remarks about the need for deferral "until the end of the month." Then suddenly she looked up and stopped reading and said "That is why I CAN'T support a deferral today."

This all followed a four hour display of "because I can" raw politics on JoAnn's part in weakening the bill through amendments one of which actually took the word "pesticide" out of the section on pesticides in the buffer zones. Others knew they could not pass the bill without her vote. So much for Steve Covey and Peter Adler (see some of my previous posts on what that means).

Very strange- strange days indeed... most peculiar mama.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


SUNSHINE SUPERMAN: Another day, another outrage courtesy of the Kaua`i County Council- this time trying to essentially gut the state Sunshine Law.

As part of the yearly Hawai`i State Association of Counties (HSAC) package of bills they'd like the legislature to take up next session, a Maui council proposal- which was unanimously passed out of a Kaua`i council committee last week- would create a loophole in the open meeting provisions that you could drive a back-room deal through.

The Sunshine Law's very long section on Permitted Interactions of Members (92-2.5) carefully carves out what board members can and can't do outside of a duly agendaed meeting, mostly a prohibition on more than two members discussing matters likely to come before the council, especially if they are "deliberating toward a decision" and, strictly, on soliciting or offering a certain vote on the matter.

But the proposal would blast that out of the water thereby making a mockery of the Sunshine Law.

It would add this bit of devious dreck at the very end:

(i) Notwithstanding the foregoing, members of a county council may jointly attend and speak at a community, educational, or informational meeting or presentation, including a meeting of another entity, legislative hearing, convention, seminar, conference, or community meeting, without limitation; provided that the meeting or presentation is open to the public.

Though their "purpose" statement says that it "permit members of a county council to jointly attend and speak at a community, educational, or informational meeting or presentation" what it really does is remove all restrictions by beginning the actual change to the law with "(n)notwithstanding the foregoing"- meaning no matter what it says in "Permitted Interactions" section- and ending with "without limitation provided that the meeting or presentation is open to the public" doubling down on the loophole.

Because the term "open to the public" does not even include notification much less filing a six-day-in-advance agenda, a "meeting" can be both open to the public and held in the proverbial "backroom" with no notification of anyone but the councilmembers if they choose not to tell anyone.

The rest is garbage meant to distract the reader from the meat of the change. It doesn't even say another non-councilperson need be present for this "meeting."

Seemingly every year the various county councils try to get out from under the Sunshine Law so they can go back to doing backroom "done deals," the only difference from the bad old days being that they aren't held in smoke-filled rooms any more because no one smokes. But this year they've outdone themselves in trying to make it look like it's just a provision to allow them to attend and speak at community meetings.

Actually that alone- without the "notwithstanding the forgoing" or the "without limitations" provisions- could be used to negotiate via the microphone. That would violate the prohibition on "serial communications" to circumvent the two-at-a-time restriction.

Their "justification" section is an even more cynical attempt to bamboozle the legislature into blowing up the sunshine law. It reads

"Council members are impeded from attending community and educational meetings when it is possible that such attendance will result in alleged Sunshine Law violations or create other burdens. Community and educational meetings provide critically important information on matters that may be addressed by policy makers. If enacted, this bill will permit council members to better serve their constituents in a well-informed, transparent, and responsive manner without fear of violating the Sunshine Law."

Wah wah wah wah wah boo-hoo-boo.

If they really wanted to be able to go to these meeting there's nothing stopping them now as long as they follow the Sunshine Law while doing so. But this feigned, supposed inability to understand the Sunshine Law has been used for years to get out from under it, often with the added "but the legislature doesn't have to follow the sunshine law- why should we?.. wah, wah, wah, boo-hoo."

The final vote on this reprehensible request is scheduled for a final vote at the Wed. Oct 9 full council meeting at 9 a.m.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


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 Bill 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 received $700.

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 state now.

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) processes.

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 conducted.

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 meeting.

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 and candy?

Tune in Friday at 9 a.m. for another episode of "What Dreams May Come."

Sunday, September 1, 2013


AROUND THE TURN AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME: It's crunch time for Bill 2491 as a series of events this week lead up to the big Kaua`i County Council committee meeting on Tuesday September 9, including the ManaMarch and Rally on Sunday Sept 8 when thousands are expected to gather at Vidhina Stadium in Lihu`e at 11:30 a.m. and and noon march up Rice St to the County Building where music and fun are promised.

But before that on Thursday Sept 5 the council will be holding a executive session meeting on the bill that would require disclosure of restricted pesticide use, buffer zones around schools and homes and a moratorium on new experimental Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) tests pending an environmental assessment.

Closed door meeting or not, organizers are urging people to make a showing in their red shirts to show support for the bill. Even though public testimony will be taken (by law), since most everything that can be said to the council has been said, it would seem counterproductive to make it into a repetitive public yak-fest.

So what is The State Of The Bill this week? And what are both the white hats (Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum) and the black hats (Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa) planning?

Near as we can tell despite the fact that the chemical/biotech/just-plain-simple-farmers' massive million dollar PR campaign has put bullet after bullet into their own feet with counter-intuitive shmaltz and "did he really say that" common-sense-defying, expert blathering, there are still at least 17 people left on the island, with the exception of employees and vendors, who actually oppose the intent of the bill.

But for the other 60,742 of us the important numbers are 2-2-3: two yes votes, two no votes and three "how am I going to get through this without killing my political career and/or legacy" votes.

On the 9th it's expected that the noes, Mel and Ross, will put up a fight on a few fronts to give cover to councilmembers Nadine Nakamura and Jay Furfaro to vote to kill the bill entirely and JoAnn Yukimura to water it down with amendments that could allow it to pass but make it all but totally ineffective.

On the legal front all indications are that neither the County Attorney nor Attorney General is going to say there is any type of state law "preempting" the county's state constitutional right to regulate the health and environmental safety of it's citizens. There is no question of preemption at the federal level as even the chemical companies' lawyers have agreed, there being strong US Supreme Court rulings saying that the county has those rights.

It is expected that some other big gun attorneys will show up to support the legality of the bill and it's looking like there's not much the "other five" will have on this front.

Then there are the "medical" issues... for lack of a better term.

JoAnn Yukimura has been making a lot of noise at a pitch only a lawyer can hear, trying to look for the definitive link to an actual proven medical epidemic of pesticide-related disease. This of course is NOT what is required as medical review, unlike law, is a very long meticulous process where "proof" of harm is concerned. But all that is needed legally here is the strong POTENTIAL for harm.

And there's no one but those Roundup-guzzling salesmen denying a pervasive potential for harm.

First there's the American Council on Pediatrics strong disdain of child exposure to any pesticides and the growing undeniable exposure of Waimea children at their schools and residences and other areas exposed to the wind drift. There's the sheer number of days and types of restricted use pesticides (RUPs), which are used in open air experiments 240 days a year, with each day having the potential for use of multiple RUPs. And there's the testimony of apparently all the pediatricians and almost every doctor and other health care provider on the island, all warning of the harm they are actually seeing.

To pooh-pooh this as being "only anecdotal" and not real potential harm is to misunderstand the nature of medical inquiry. It's painfully obvious why there are no "25-year studies" and as a matter of fact a law that requires disclosure is the first step in setting up these studies.

That kind of study is something that our state Department of Agriculture (DOA) seems to be working as hard as they can to prevent, ignoring and even misrepresenting the incidents of poisonings and looking more and more like shills for "Big Chemical" than the state level protector of the health of the people.

Wanna see something really scarey? One of our researches who has seen the DOA's inspection logs says that they made only 175 total inspections of all pesticide users in Kauai county over the past two year period. Of these inspections they have redacted 45% as "ongoing investigations" of "open cases" where violations could supposedly lead to enforcement actions- although enforcement of regulations in government circles is usually more a case of "seeking compliance" instead... sometimes years after the violation.

In these ongoing cases all the information is blank so no one in the public has any idea what the violation even is (or was). Of the unredacted inspections there were only 29 during a two year period that were done on the operations of the four agrochemical companies or 3.625 inspections per company per year... about one every hundred days. And they tell them when they are coming.

Don't forget about those 240 spraying days a year, according to information revealed though the current federal court lawsuit against Pioneer filed by 100 west-side people who say they've been harmed by the chemical companies pesticide practices.

Additionally, the Kaua`i DOA representative said in an open council session that it takes up to 3 years to resolve and close a case. They also said they don't even publicly notify the community when violations occur but only when they are resolved and then only if a member of the public requests the information.

And just ask anyone who has ever requested information from a state agency how easy that is. And that's for agencies that don't have anything they want to hide.

Which brings us to what will probably prove to be bill supporters' biggest challenge next week- one people need to be fully aware of and fight like hell to stop it from happening.

Ross and Mel are determined to find a way to stop this bill- all of it. Killing it entirely most likely won't happen although remember what we said about JoAnn (Nadine too in past posts) and amendments. The disclosure and buffer zones look strong unless someone wants to throw away their political career or, in Jay's case, legacy.

The only way to stop it is to kick it upstairs.

We were discussing this with a long time observer and political operative on Kaua`i and, not surprisingly, we saw our own thoughts reflected in the email: It read:


What needs debunking is the laughable notion that "the state or federal government will take care of this for us if only we put pressure on them." It's the old "I'm going to write a letter and we can all sign it" strategy...just plain stupid.

"This is not our job and we will demand that the governor, the state legislature and the EPA and congress (in between voting to go to war)... make them do their jobs."

I can see it now. Kouchi and Tokioka will agree to "draft a Bill". The DOH and the DOA will agree to "look into updating the rules" and maybe the governor will even "establish a task force"...and see, is all handled and several council members will say " is all handled...look what we did we will write that letter... and we will all sign it...demanding that they do something...and then we'll get really tough... we will schedule a follow up meeting to make sure it happens."

As you and I know...nothing will happen except the process will drag for another 2 or 3 years...the industry hacks and attorneys will do their thing at the legislature during the long drawn out rule making process...and at the end of the day there will be bupkis, nada, nothing.

Plus...a quick scan of the campaign spending reports shows several of our legislative people are clearly taking piles of money from the biotech and gmo industries. And...the Chair of the Senate Ag committee (where any legislation will have to pass through) has also taken plenty...including donations from pharmaceutical companies (now why would a pharm company give to an Ag Chair?). I only skimmed very quickly the reports and found the obvious direct contributions and have not yet googled individuals or looked at the lobbyists numbers to see who the lobbyist who was giving money had as clients. I can't imagine what that will show...


All snark aside you get the picture. This little dance is a tried and true way for these snakes to slither out of dealing with political grenades once they've failed to table them with 14 "Star Chamber" executive sessions where they come out and say "We can't tell you what it is but there's a very good reason we're killing this."

To put a fresh spin on an old canard: "We could tell you why but then we wouldn't be able to kill you"

This is really what we have to prevent. Mel is a master of this kind of "it's someone else's fault/responsibility" fake outrage. When you're watching him do it remember what you're watching.

This is going to be a week when everyone needs to play the part they've taken and play it like their life depends on it. It just might.


Other events this week include:

Tuesday September 3 from 5-8 p.m. An informational meeting/"fun event" for south-side people at Po'ipu large pavilion. Nurses and friends of Kauai will answer questions based on new information from the American Pediatric Association about pesticides.

Wednesday September 4 at 5 p.m. Sign making and planning for Sunday's March and Rally- pot luck; dance with DJ at Lydgate Big Pavilion.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


PROGRAM, GET YER PROGRAM: What would a game be without a rundown of the players, the games they're currently playing and what kind of pitch will work on each- and for that matter who not to even bother to pitch to.

Here's the third inning morning line for those betting on passage of Bill 2491 (regarding pesticides and GMOs)... with the prospects for each of the Crudville 7.

Of course Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum are the people's champions. Follow their lead. It's that easy.

Mel Rapozo is with Ross Kagawa and both are in the pockets of the biotexters- don't be fooled by anything either might say or do. The two of them are trying to kill the bill, currently by keeping it in committee where they may have the votes to do so permanently, waiting for a legal opinions that will never come.

Don't let Mel trick you into thinking he is genuinely doing anything but trying to kill the bill. Don't forget- he and Ross both didn't care how much it's going to cost to defend Mel's palsy-walsy Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and both he and Ross said so just a couple of weeks ago. Mel is a snakey-wakey and may slither into some other corner next week but for now he's coiled to delay the bill in committee forever. Don't misunderestimate Mel. Ross would be helpless without him.

Gary and Tim need to get the bill out of committee to the floor of the full council (where the vote count will be tied at 2) and work amendments and votes there. One big problem in committee is that Gary is the chair and cannot make a motion or a second- including to offer an amendment- so even presuming he has a motion or a second from JoAnn Yukimura, unless Nadine Nakamura goes along with what he wants he cannot even get it considered in committee. (Tim is not on the committee; nor is Council Chair Jay Furfaro).

As far as JoAnn goes, she will most likely support most of the bill especially on the pesticide "right-to-know" section. But she could also allow some not-so-great amendments and may even allow Mel and Ross to bamboozle her with the legally non-existent "preemption" crap in order to find the equally non-existent "win-win."

Nadine is not as much of a "no" as her vote to defer last Monday might make you think- she just wants it all to go away and will probably go with the majority on anything, including amendments. She is known for trying "compromise away" the meat of a measure but probably feels powerless to do that on this one. She apparently only voted to defer because that was going to be the outcome anyway- don't forget, technically Gary voted for the deferral too.

Jay may be genuinely on the fence. He is a lifelong corporate man but likes to see himself as a Hawaiian defender of the environment. In terms of his legacy he sees a lot of it as being his grandchildren and a protector of the `aina... that kind of thing. Don't forget he is retiring and probably understands that no matter what he does this will be his legacy- whether he likes it or not he will be remembered for what he does on this bill. He can be convinced but will not like "doing the work" on the council floor (as opposed to in committee). He can be lobbied hard on a "do what's right for your grandchildren" basis.

JoAnn will probably vote for the bill but what amendments she will ask for is anyone's guess. She may even fall for Mel's and Ross' can't-afford-a-lawsuit drivel. She needs to be reminded who her friends are (in politispeak who her base is) but she is always doing her Steve Covey "win-win/keep the end in mind" stuff so if you speak that language, speak to her.

Don't forget- it essential to get this bill amended and out of committee ASAP to get to the real action. And for all you handicappers worried about what you know they they don't know (as opposed to what they know that you don't) remember- it's not like they don't all know this already.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013



(The following quick political appraisal for bill supporters was posted yesterday evening on Facebook)

So what the heck happened at the end (see the 9:58:00 mark) of today's Kaua`i County Council Committee meeting on Bill 2491 related to pesticides and GMOs?

Well for those who didn't get what they saw it was a semi blood bath. JoAnn Yukimura left early so Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa were able to get the bill deferred for a full month in order to try to kill it. Nadine Nakamura was no help either.

Essentially Ross and Mel- yes, Mel is definitely not ...a friend of the bill or its purpose (although he may protest he hasn't made up his mind)- are hoping the attorney general will come up with some BS reason why the law is preempted by either the state or feds, either stated or implied even though it's obviously not (which Mel knows damn well but he will play politics to the end) since the Pioneer attorneys couldn't cite any example while the Earth Justice lawyer cited case after case showing no preemption (meaning the county is able to enact the law regulating pesticides and GMOs).

Ross and Mel (and maybe Nadine) are trying to kill the bill through infinite deferral. Gary Hooser (here's his far more staid "first draft of history") tried to fend them off but didn't have even a second vote or anyone to make a motion for a two week deferral because JoAnn left early and Tim Bynum and Jay Furfaro are not on the committee. And as I said Nadine is scared for her political life and you couldn't pry her lips apart with a crow up until she went with the four week deferral vote (i.e. she voted to defer for four weeks).

While a committee cannot kill a bill outright, they can defer it forever. Gary, as chair, said (to paraphrase) "okay then I want everyone to come with all your amendments and be ready to vote on Sept 9." Good luck.

It's really up to Nadine at this point- it's time to lobby the you-know-what out of her.

This means we will not be able to keep getting and giving factual testimony and keep the ball rolling as it was this afternoon when the real science became apparent during the science and medical questioning of Dr Evslin and Dr Valenzuela of UH (sp?) as well as Kyle Smith (the attorney for the Waimea lawsuit) who is an expert on these restricted use pesticides) and others.

And because they lost the legal round in the morning so badly they are hoping they can get through to the AG to provide a trump card- he will no doubt try his damnedest to make sure the governor doesn't blow his contributions from Monsanto et. al. in '14.

And who knows what the county attorney will do- any honest appraisal will find no preemption either stated or implied either state or federal. And will find SCOTUS on our side (something even Pioneer's lawyers couldn't counter that).

But if they can't get to the county attorney (CA), Mel will try to say it's too expensive for Kaua`i to pay to defend ourselves against Big Biotech. In other words we can't pass laws when deep pockets threaten to sue us back to the stone age over them... something he has said the opposite about when it comes to money to keep defending his pal disgraced former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri Carvalho... as did Ross, even more vehemently...

So we have to wait until September 9 and keep the momentum going while they spend another bazillion dollars on cable ads calling themselves poor seed farmers and continuing to extort and provide lying talking points to their poor employees who are caught in the middle.

Well, at least I hope they get hefty raises after testifying....

Don't forget- the only ones who are saying "the community is being torn apart" are those opposed to the bill. And the only ones against the bill are employees or their relatives or paid the shills like that UC Riverside guy today who managed to slither out of a question about funding, about which he said (under his breath) he "only" got a few private research projects a year (presumably industry funded) although his department doesn't take biotech money.

The rest of us are unified like never before by the lies and threats from the chemical companies.


Saturday, August 3, 2013


We've been posting a lot of shorter "blubs" on Facebook ("Friend" us or follow on Facebook for more). Here are a few from this week...


Us- Why are you against disclosing where, when and what pesticides you are spraying?
Them- We have always disclosed them.
Us- No you haven't. We've tried for years and the only things we've gotten is recently in federal court due to our law suit. You've refused tell us. Dozens of people have asked and gotten nothing.
Them- Are you going to believe us or your lyin' eyes?

Us- Why are you against t...he bill? It's just asking for disclosure.
Them- The bill is unenforceable.
Us- So you mean even if we pass a law saying you have to tell us you're telling us you're not going to do so?
Them: Feed the world, bwak. Feed the world, bwak.

Them- There's no need for a Kaua`i law because there are already federal laws
Us- Yes but you refuse to follow them- we have proof.
Them- The label is the law- we follow the label.
Us- No you don't. There's RUPs in the schools right next to where you're spraying them. Our children are getting sick when you spray. We have doctors and nurses who have treated them. The label says you can't use them where children are likely to be.
Them- You can't prove anything.
Us- Yet.
Them- Science, bwak. Feed the world, bwak.



Just because you have a degree in an area of science- chemistry, biology etc.- it does not make you a scientist- i.e. one that is familiar with the scientific process and has scientific integrity. It makes you a technical engineer.

Nor does it magically confer ethical standards on you or to your work.

Real scientists do not take money from an industry and then conduct studies and give their scientific conclusions in that area... at least not without people laughing at them. Nor do they attest to the safety of their work or work product without eliciting self-same guffaws.

When the Biotech industry funds your research your conclusions in the area of Biotechnology are suspect at best and invalid according to real scientists with integrity.

And finally, something you don't need to be a scientist to understand- the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. When what "everybody agrees" to is voluntarily conducted research approved by federal agency boards stacked with former industry employees for the express purpose of declaring said safety (and so making more money), you don't have proof- you've got bullsh*t.



Apparently with all the lies and obfuscations in the local TV and radio ads- such as "we use LESS pesticide" and "we're just simple farmers" and "all studies show safety"- the Biotrixters on Kaua`i are just going to ignore Monsanto's national PR strategy of "we didn't do it and we're not going to do it again." Here's how the NY Times described the campaign this week

This hilarious attempt to reverse years of lies and obfuscation by the now self-labeled "GMO companies" (seems they weren't having any luck using softer monikers) is obviously the last gasp of the befuddled industry's high priced PR machine.

Imagine- one web site with all the misinformation, half-truths, bought-and-paid-for government safety statements and industry-prepared studies... all in one place.

Our favorite line?

“We have been accused of purposely hiding information,” Ms. Enright said. “We haven’t done that but now we will open the doors and provide information.”

Sunday, July 28, 2013


NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU STILL SEE IT: There's an "Island Voices" commentary in today's Star-Advertiser (don't bother- it's paywalled) by Big Island GMO papaya grower Ken Kamiya headlined "GMO Ban would cripple Hawai`i farming."

His case would seem to be Roseann-Barr-related, basing his commentary on the proposition that her testimony on their GMO-related Bill 79 (which exempts papayas) speaks for the whole anti-GMO movement.

He spends half the article talking about her but he does of course make the familiar claim that GMO papayas "saved the papaya industry" after the "ring spot virus" nearly wiped out papayas in the 90's, a familiar refrain that is presumed to be factual by most.

But riddle us this. If the only way to save the papaya from the dreaded bug was to use genetic modification, where exactly did the "organic" and non-GMO papayas you see on the produce shelves come from? Did they somehow "un-GMO" them? Because presumably if the GMO papayas prevented the regular papayas from being wiped out by the ring spot virus there shouldn't be any organic papayas left.

Well the answer is obviously that it didn't wipe out the rest of the papayas, which were saved by either natural section or traditional breeding techniques.

For thousands of years, as Darwin's "Theory of Natural Selection explains," organisms survived blights or epidemics because the ones that survived had some kind of natural immunity to the bug. When they bred, the result was a species that was no longer threatened because all members had natural immunity.

The fittest survived. And therefore, so did the species.

This was sped up over the past few centuries by humans cross-breeding domesticated species where the resistant plants were bred together. But basically it was the same process as nature had used.

And that's where the organic papayas and non-GMO papayas came from- they either naturally survived the "ring spot plague" or, more likely in modern times, people bred the ones which were not killed off by the virus- the ones with natural immunity.

Were there no "industry" to demanded a salable product for harvest year after year after year, within a few years the "survival of the fittest" would have naturally occurred and we would now, 15 years later, have only non-GMO papayas being grown... the need for any GMO papaya having disappeared.

We don't expect this argument to change Mr Kamiya's mind. As Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald wrote: "what a fool believes he sees no wise man has the power to reason away."

But a miracle is just the science we don't understand yet. Understand?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


A SMELL BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN: Talk about your love-hate affair. Tourism, the numero uno cash cow in Hawai`i and Kaua`i, gets the love but it's also the industry we all love to hate. That's evidenced by our preoccupation with "diversifying"- maybe even finding something to supplant it- that has gone on ever since King Sugar, having slipped to #2, finally went belly up.

But now, in a "the kind is dead; long live the king" twist worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy, the current #2 has been slowly poisoning King Tourism and everyone seems to know it but the King and the minions of the King's biggest rival: the innocuous sounding "seed corn industry."

"Aw shucks folks- we're just farmers," the rival says. And who could be against agricultural diversification?

Well, just maybe the peasants, who are finally figuring out that they're getting poisoned too because the strategy to take over the throne is to simply poison the town's well.

The townsfolk have discovered that the kindly corn-farmers like Pioneer are actually part and parcel of legacy chemical companies like Dow and BASF.

They've started to notice how uncle, who works for these companies, is coughing up pieces of lung and they've seen those nightly helicopter-generated, bubble-gum-smelling showers that have turned out to actually be highly toxic pesticides with an illegal bubble-gum masking agent.

Now, despite millions spent by chemical giants like Monsanto to spread disinformation using fact-masking-agents so we won't smell the lies, 64 people have, shockingly enough, filed suit against Pioneer.

Not only that but the townspeople of Kaua`i have introduced a bill (#2491) before the county council and will be descending on the second largest auditorium on the island (the KCC Performing Arts Center) for a public hearing on July 31 (at 1:30 p.m.) just to obtain the right to know just what the heck kind of poisons they're spraying on us.

So how did we get here- where it's up to Kaua`i to protect itself from outsiders coming in and spraying toxic chemicals and refusing to say exactly what they are spraying?

The fact is that the feds and the state, bought and paid for by the chemical giants, have failed to protect the people. That's practically irrefutable making the politicians' cries of "regulation is the realm of the feds and the state" sound like the complete lunatic fantasy that it is.

One courageous Kaua`i County Councilmember, Gary Hooser, first spent a year or so trying to get information from the "biotech" industry- all to no avail- then introduced the bill to force kindly Farmer "Pioneer" Brown and his brother Syngenta Jones to tell us what kind of "restricted use" and "experimental" pesticides are being atomized and nebulized, often in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

The bill would create 500 foot buffer zones especially around schools- because the use of these poisons is banned by law from anywhere it's likely to be in contact with children- and other places where people generally congregate as well as institute a temporary moratorium on the propagation of all new outdoor experimental genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the associated experimental restricted-use pesticides until an environmental impact statement is completed.

But you'd think that the bill, focused on disclosure, was somehow a death knell for the "seed farmers" to hear what they are telling their employees, in a disinformation campaign that would make the NSA blush.

And speaking of politicians, believe it or not, despite the overwhelming outcry from parents, teachers, and just about everyone who doesn't depend on the biotech industry for their daily contaminated bread, there is doubt as to whether the bill will pass.

So far Hooser has only one declared ally- Councilmember Tim Bynum who co-introduced the bill- and one opponent, a long-time member-in-good-standing of what's know locally as the GOBAGs (good old boys and girls) Club, Ross Kagawa.

The rest are waiting to see which way the toxic wind is blowing and whether the biotexters smelly breeze is stronger than the oratorical winds of practically the entire electorate.

And why might that be?

While the money from the biotech industry dribbles pretty regularly into many of their campaign coffers the main players here are those who control those visitor industry bucks. And thus far people in the Kaua`i and Hawai`i visitors' industry are tightly balanced on the fence putting passage of the bill seriously in question, coming up on that public hearing.

The tenuousness of passage has of late become glaringly obvious to many vote-counting, long-time government observers. As local news-blogger, journalist and pundit Joan Conrow wrote recently

I'm hearing Councilman Gary Hooser currently does not have the votes to pass Bill 2491, the ordinance that deals with restricted pesticide use disclosure, buffer zones and an EIS for the GMO crops. Only Councilman Bynum is solidly on board. So no doubt the rhetoric will ramp up as both sides seek to convince the other five.

Well she isn't the only one. As if it weren’t obvious from watching the first meeting- where the bill unanimously passed the first of two required "readings" (as bills usually do no matter what the final vote turns out to be)- the word around town is that the third and fourth votes may well come down to the leanings of Council Chair Jay Furfaro whose life-long career in the visitor industry makes his nod dependent on how people like Sue Kanoho, head of the Kaua`i Visitors' Bureau (KVB), sees it.

And she ain't sayin' nuttin'.

The remaining three- JoAnn Yukimura, Nadine Nakamura and Mel Rapozo are eyeballing the 2014 election where the first two will no doubt be vying for council chair when Furfaro retires (as he has announced he will do) with Rapozo ogling the mayor's seat. They need, if not an endorsement from Furfaro, at least his good will.

Well that all got us to thinking- always a dangerous proposition.

The bio-tech industry has been calling everyone on the island this week as part of their mis-disinformation campaign, conducting "push polls," setting up secret, supporters-only, town hall meetings and taking fast talking no-means-yes-and-yes-means-no "surveys"

The rest of the time they spend threatening their workers with losing their jobs if forced to answer the question "what in the the heck are you spraying anyway."

They even have their own social media campaign- where asking the wrong question will quickly lose you your posting privileges- telling us how some of them are ready to drink a teaspoon of glycophosate- the active chemical in the household herbicide "Round-up" which will probably not kill you the same way prolonged daily exposure will.

It kind of reminds you of one of those NY City advertising campaigns where the guy says "if you ain't satisfied, I'll eat a bug."

They don't say how diluted that teaspoon of poison might be (we've got dollars for donuts it isn't undiluted, full strength) nor do they offer to drink any of the really toxic "restricted" pesticides they are spraying 80% of the time according to the attorneys who are suing Pioneer at the behest of those 64 members of the Waimea community where Pioneer's local headquarters is located.

Those attorneys have obtained information that many- including Hooser who unsuccessfully tried to use his elected position to pry it loose- have failed to get, by using "discovery" in federal court where depositions are being conducted as we write.

The video of their July presentation at Waimea Canyon School- where some of those restricted-use pesticides that are illegal to use around children were discovered- is a real eye-opener even for those of us who thought we knew how dangerous the situation is.

It's apparent we need help. So it's heartening to many that recently an article in the Huffington Post by Marin County environmental writer Maggie Sergio went viral across the mainland after she heard about the bill and visited Kaua`i to find out more. Another piece by local PhD candidate in politics and economics in food and agriculture Andrea Brower has been gaining publication in journals across the island and country.

So we though that what what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and what we need is a good advertising campaign to reach the tourists that are flocking to Kaua`i with the truth about what those red dust clouds that they drive though on the west side contain.

We wrote up our idea for such an "ad." And since our graphics skills are non-existent we posted a solicitation on the GMO Free-Kauai Facebook page looking for someone with artistic skills who might be able to work with the idea.

We described out concept this way:

It would say "Planning a trip to Kaua`i?" across the top of two frames, the first frame with a person in a bathing suit with the words "Don't Forget your Bathing Suit" across the bottom and the second frame with someone in a Haz-Mat suit saying "Or your Haz-Mat Suit." The second one also has a sign in the background behind the person in the Haz-Mat suit saying something like "Experimental GMO Pesticide Fields; Breath at your own Risk"... you get the idea.

And, bless their hearts two graphic artists took the concept and created "posters" that have been approaching the almighty "viral" status in the last day or so.

First artist Dom Acain took the ball and ran with it coming up with this:

Then artist Rob Cruz took the concept even further in trying to assure tourists understand what you need to pack for a trip to "paradise":

Feel free to share them on social media or email them to your mainland friends... as a matter of fact, "collect-'em-all." Or do your own... the more the merrier.

Although many among the local "leadership" of the anti-GMO movement on Kaua`i have been reluctant to move off their kid-glove treatment of the visitor industry in the past, it seems they too are beginning to see that we need the KVB and corporate tourism honchos as allies in the efforts to pass bill 2491.

We've tried honey but all the bees died anyway. So they might just need a tart little nudge to get them moving in the right direction.

It isn't as if those who work in tourism aren't behind the bill en masse. Union support has been strong and indeed many if not most of those fathers and mothers who testified at the introduction of the bill- and who will be showing up on the 31st- work in a visitor-industry related job.

That's why many people are up in arms at reports in social media that the "Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association" and other industry groups are pouring buckets of cash into those various disinformation and dirty tricks telephone campaigns on Kaua`i as almost anyone living on Kaua`i with a land line can attest.

It important to understand that unless the tourism industry puts pressure on the council- which will take pressure from tourists themselves- the bill could could be in big trouble.

It stands to reason that people are not going to vacation in a place where they will be driving through toxic clouds of dust and where it rains restricted experimental pesticides.

And they are bound to find out sooner or later. Even if it weren't just the right thing to do, informing visitors of the dangers while the bill is on the table is simply good customer research, showing everyone what is bound to happen when tourists do find out.

Imagine how they will react if they find out about the situation along with the information that we defeated a bill to protect them.

There are some who are naive and fail to grasp what we're up against. Many have never experienced a Kaua`i-style movement. They think that they can control activism when the fact is that on Kaua`i the successful campaigns are not "run" but accomplished through a "do your own thing," leaderless effort, built on the natural outrage... as the Superferry battle can attested to.

KVB is not going to support the bill unless they themselves feel the pressure. They are corporate people whose instinct is to support other corporate people. We're working against that instinct and the only thing that will reverse that attitude is cash- the cold hard cash that they will be losing if occupancy drops when people learn the truth about the so-called"seed industry."

The most important thing any of us can do at this point is to get the word out to the mainland that we are ground-zero for outdoor testing of horrific experiments that are sickening our children and threatening the health of those who visit our fair island.

True leadership knows when to lead and more importantly when to get the heck out of the way and let the people do their thing. Leadership is not what the infamous leader in the French Revolution had in mind when he said "you must tell me which way my people have gone so I can go lead them."

What's your thing? Don't wait for permission- just grab a peaceful pitchfork, go out and do it. Every bit helps.
For more information on a variety of GMO-Free matters, check out thee Stop Poisoning Paradise's web site at