A Short History Of Yesterday – Bill 2491 Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms

SB2491 has been deferred until September 9th when a meeting of the Economic Development Committee of the Kauai County Council will hold its second hearing.  This is confirmed and will not change.  The exact time and location will be announced within 6 days of the actual hearing date but the hearing will be held.

After a full day of what I believe was useful and very enlightening testimony by numerous very qualified individuals, I requested that the committee schedule its next meeting on or about August 19th to continue the process of gathering information, evaluating the Bill and perhaps work on any amendments that might be necessary.

Co-introducer Council member Tim Bynum spoke in support of my request but is not a member of the committee and thus could not vote at this meeting.  Vice-Chair of the Committee JoAnn Yukimura and the other non-committee member Council Chair Furfaro were both unable to remain until the end of the meeting due to other pressing matters and did not participate in the final discussion.

In response to my request, Council member Kagawa supported by Council member Nakamura expressed their strong reservations about the legal viability of Bill 2491 and suggested the process be put on hold for at least 60 days pending a final legal opinion from the County Attorney and an opinion from the State Attorney General.

I argued against the suggestion put forth by my two Council colleagues and suggested that we keep working on the measure with an intention of improving and strengthening both its legal and its substantive merits.

In my opinion, successful requests for extended deferrals awaiting legal opinions or perhaps pending some amorphus study or round table discussion will in effect “kill the Bill by deferral”.

Council member Rapozo also expressed his reservations about the possibility of legal challenge and suggested that we compromise with a 30 day deferral.  I agreed to this suggestion but indicated my support was conditioned upon the members returning on September 9 prepared to vote up or down.  While my request is not binding on the members, Council member Kagawa indicated after the meeting that he would commit to voting on September 9.  A committee vote on September 9 regardless of outcome will ensure that Bill 2491 moves to the full council where every member may participate and vote on the final version of the measure.

The fundamental legal issues have not changed since the Bill was originally introduced.  Numerous lawyers from local, statewide and national law firms have reviewed Bill 2491 and found it to be legally sound.  The agrochemical company attorneys whose job is to protect the interests of their employers and who are backed by unlimited resources are threatening to sue the County should we pass the Bill.

Bill 2491 contains basic and modest provisions designed to increase environmental and health protections while having minimal negative impacts on industry.  We are now being threatened by these companies who continue to oppose every single provision.

That these companies would threaten to take the County to court to fight for their right to spray toxic chemicals next to schools and hospitals is an indication of their corporate values and represents the mindset underlying every decision they make.   Why do they do it?  Because they can.

I learned about bullies in high school.  You first try to reason with them; perhaps gain their friendship and respect.  Then you try your best to ignore them and stay out of their way.  But when they push you, you push them back.  Pretty soon they stop pushing.

The fundamental premise of Bill 2491 has not changed:  The people of Kauai are concerned about the excessive application of highly toxic restricted use pesticides and the related agricultural practices conducted by the agrochemical companies. There is tangible and scientific evidence that supports these concerns.  It is the duty and obligation of the Kauai County Council to take proactive meaningful action.

I will continue to request that my colleagues allow the process to continue to a final vote of the full council.

As a result of the ongoing review and public discussion amendments will likely be introduced to narrow the focus in some areas, to clarify definitions and to resolve various issues and concerns that have been brought forth.

This is a customary and natural part of the process.  Killing a Bill based on legal technicalities prior to making a good faith effort to resolve those concerns, is essentially a statement of nonsupport for the underlying substance and intent.  I understand this and acknowledge the rights of individuals not to share my particular point of view, but I am asking that this conversation be allowed to occur and the public process be allowed to proceed.

This is an important issue. At the end of the day each council member should be allowed to cast a public vote, yes or no on the passage of Bill 2491.

*Note – I will not allow comments that disparage anyone.  Please keep all comments respectful.  I believe that individuals can look at the same issue and see things differently.  Please honor that belief.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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32 Responses to A Short History Of Yesterday – Bill 2491 Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms

  1. Choon James says:

    Gary Hooser, the big corporate attorneys are always using threats of lawsuit to bully and preserve their profits. We may as well hand over the whole city and state to them if we’re cowed by their threats and bullying tactics.

    I agree that every council member should vote on this very important issue that severely affects Kauai’s health and environment. Anyone who objects to the buffer zone for pesticides spraying should be asked to live next to these operations; they may gain some empathy for those who do.

  2. tracymadz says:

    Mahalo from the bottom of my heart for ALL your efforts on this issue. When the next election comes around, I can guarantee I will tell ALL my family members who live on Kauai to vote for you and those who are for the health and safety of the people, of the island, and most importantly, of the children.

  3. david katz says:

    Gary, Thank you for all you are doing with this bill. Clearly the agrochemical companies are doing everything they can think of to make it appear that there is popular support for their position: slick TV ads, full page ads in the Garden Island, and dressing their employees in blue shirts and sending them to testify. I can’t believe that anyone is fooled by this. The most common argument the company employees raised at the hearing seemed to be that this bill would jeopardize their employer’s business and their jobs. This may be so, but if someone’s job requires them to harm their neighbors, surely no reasonable public servant would give any weight to this argument. At the time of the superferry debate, people on the island came together to successfully stop the ferry from coming. I don’t know how harmful the ferry even would have been, but just on the mere suspicion that it might cause harm, it was blocked. I didn’t hear anybody voicing much sympathy for the poor sailors who might lose their jobs. Their jobs posed a threat of harm to the environment, so they were stopped. Now the threat and potential threats to the environment of these agrochemical companies are far better proven, far more serious, and far longer lasting. So why is there even any question that your bill should be passed? I don’t know but I find it very troubling. Please keep fighting the fight. You have huge support from every segment of Kauai. It is the main topic of conversation among people of all different types on the island. The popular support for the bill is overwhelming, and if it ever appears that it is not, this is only due to the chemical companies’ deceptive PR campaigns. We are not fooled by them and I sure hope that the Council isn’t either.

    • Jullie says:

      Excellent comment…we r fighting it in Canada too. Dont back down and we all appreciate what u r doing to set an example of conviction and determination. Its sad that people choose to have blissful vacations in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands and yet not open their eyes to the potentially life threatening chem. Use occuring there along with the GMO crops.

  4. Bobbee Downs says:

    Well-spoken Mr. Hooser & absolutely right. It’s easy to jump up & down when someone doesn’t share your views but it moves nothing forward, you’re just left standing in the same place feeling angry. I admit to feeling a bit that way yesterday after another long day. Today I feel like putting one foot in front of the other towards workable solutions. Every successful journey begins with the first step.

  5. Pat Hunter-Williams says:

    Thanks for the explanation. Appreciated. One typo- (THANK YOU!!!gh) . I was disappointed by former Att’y Gen’l Marjory Bronster’s testimony. Have admired her, so am not disparaging. Of course lawyers will disagree on laws/proposed laws. That is what they DO- they argue the merits from each side of the “argument”; they seek to interpret the law by doing so. Your having the proposed bill vetted by several in the legal community is an example. There will ALWAYS be lawyers for/against. Mahalo!

  6. Erika says:

    Mahalo Gary, for fighting the good fight on behalf of the people of Kauai! You are a true hero in our book. We know you are coming from a place of love in your heart for the land and people of this island, ALL people regardless of what color shirt they are wearing. As for the actions of the BioTech legal bullies, I think 13 year old Journey summed it up best when he said, “That is not love, that is GREED.”. Keep on fighting the good fight, you have thousands and thousands of people behind you in Aloha..

  7. Dom Acain says:

    Very well written. If there is anything that we the people can do to see this through or if there is something that you can suggest as a “back up” plan should this bill fail, please inform us. It’s just sad to see all this hard work for the right reasons, backed by legal reviews be stopped cold for reasons that leaves a lot for consideration. Mahalo Mr. Hooser for all you do.

  8. CC says:

    On behalf of my family and friends, Mahalo Mr Hooser for all that you have done for Kauai.
    In all the movies my children watch, the “good guys” always win – so with that, I will continue to keep the faith for Bill 2491 to pass.

  9. YAY Gary!!!!!!!!!!! You are the best thing that’s happened to Kauai since Captain Cooke sailed here.

  10. snoriffej says:

    Great job in fending off a 60 day deferral. We can still get 4 votes! Any No voting council members better get ready for the political battle of their life in the next election. There are far fewer blue shirts proportionately on this island than the hearing audiences reflect. Ross Kagawa is going to learn that with at-large council elections, the entire island elects you and you don’t represent a district. I look forward to seeing him vote NO in both the ag committee and on the bill and subsequently terminate his political career. Mel Rapozo is also showing his true colors and his political future will be bleak as well. The bill you and Bynum have put forward has done an incredible service for the voting public that may have actually been unintentional. It is providing a litmus test to see who on the council is for the majority of Kauaians as a whole, cares about our health and welfare, and will stand up for us no matter how big the bully is. You are absolutely right about bullies. When Hitler was conceded the saar land in 1935, and then the sudatenland in Czech, and then Austria in 1938, Prime minister Chamberlain then proclaimed “peace in our time” and the Nazi’s invaded Poland less the a year later Sept1., 1939. The only thing to do with a bully is to stand up to them and invariably you expose them for being the cowards they are. And remember, the country being invaded always has the edge because they are defending their home soil. Best case scenario: the bill passes and all who voted against it are off the council after the next election. We can achieve this. IMUA.

  11. Harvest says:

    Mahalo Gary for maintaining your position and strength in the face of the chemical companies threats of lawsuits. We stand right along side you in solidarity in passing this Bill. Like Erica said above – there are thousands of us! We will not go away. We live here. WE are passionate ! We will succeed !!!

  12. June Moore says:

    We will use the month to our advantage by informing more of our friends and neighbors about the reality of the poisoning of our land, water and air. We will keep up the conversation and momentum.

  13. Nana Jana says:

    Gary, you are following your/ our hearts. and Mahalo for doing so. We can’t do anything BUT that. Know that what you are doing, is the MOST important thing that will ever happen to Kauai. We need your conviction. It is utmost importance…. Much Aloha

  14. Hanakapi'ai says:

    Mahalo nui loa, Mr. Hooser, for taking a stand to protect us!

  15. I think that you should really look at what this whole issue is doing to the community Council Member Hooser. Please read the blog by Dr. Kevin Folta after his recent visit to Kauai. I am so saddened to hear how people have treated him despite his attempts to educate.

    • garyhooser says:

      I agree that the ISSUE is contentious and needs to be dealt with. Bill 2491 is a reasonable request for reasonable regulation that will deal with the ISSUE the community is concerned with. The industry has made no attempt to reach out to the community, to me or to the Council to deal with the ISSUE the community is so concerned about. Instead they simply stonewall. I will read Dr. Folta’s blog but am not interested in promoting it on these pages. People are mistreating people on all sides and I agree it is inappropriate and must stop.

    • jolene ketchum says:

      Is Dr.Folta on the pay roll of monsanto?? In any way? Monsanto pays people to spout their agenda. or threatens their jobs….they have long tentacles.

    • David Dinner says:

      It is contentious. But the illusion of the community being split is a fabrication. There is a small core group of people who fear, whether rightfully or not is in question, that they will lose their jobs; there are several seed companies who are stein arming the community with scare tactics and full page ads; and then there is the entire rest of the island who wants our environment, our children and our citizens to be protected from these toxic substances. All things considered, the dialogue has been exceedingly polite considering how absurd the issues are.

  16. Thank you so much for your continued commitment and all the work you are doing to make this happen. We are truly grateful. Mahalo Nui Loa

  17. Kanaloa Schrader says:

    Aloha no Gary. I’m on O‘ahu and doing an interview with a few UH professors today about the cultural impacts of GMO’s from a native prospective. Any direct concerns/points other than the bill you would like voiced? KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT! Aloha no, a hui hou!

  18. June says:

    If we allowed the fact that people are divided on an issue to stop us from taking action on that issue, we’d still have slavery.

  19. danitza galvan says:

    Very eloquent. I admire your composure! I am filled with respect and gratefulness for your efforts regarding this issue! It’s about time someone took some action to effect change! Someone brave to stand up to this industry that has a track record of “bullying” behavior and complete disregard for the public. Thank you, thank you!

  20. Keep up the good work Gary; your constituency will not forget this. As for these BIGCORP Lawyers, they can threaten and intimidate all they want; it’s a poker game. I hope that our Council does not break rank or blink in this round. The bottom line is there are no rules to anyone’s knowledge which prevent Counties from enforcing their constitutional obligations; quite the opposite, you are elected and entrusted to ensure the safety and well being of your district and constituency. A task that you are executing to the letter. Mahalo to you and Councilman Bynum for standing up and doing the job you were elected to do; to protect the island and it’s people.

  21. Kauaibrad says:

    Good work! ONWARD!

  22. Sandee Phillips says:

    Mahalo Gary for all you are doing on this bill for all people.
    Your courage, ethical tenacity have shown through at these hearings. This bill will affect not only Kauai
    residents but all People Who visit the island from all over the world. God bless you and your family.

  23. David Dinner says:

    Mahalo Gary for this and all your efforts on behalf of the citizens of Kauai. I listened to a lot of the testimony and was especially impressed by the expert testimony. I tried very hard to listen with an open mind, but try as I might, I heard very little convincing evidence that the pesticides were safe and compelling evidence of their damage to our environment, our children and unborn fetuses. The other Council members who heard the same information cannot, in good conscience come to any other conclusion. It seems clear to me that when the next election comes around, the overwhelming number of people who favor your bill will not vote for any Council member who votes against this bill because he or she fears the seed companies or fears that the seed companies may sue the County. There is a sharp distinction here between discretion and cowardice. There is only one way this bill will be passed. Every citizen who is in favor of it must speak out loudly, clearly and often until every Council member knows that their job depends upon their vote.

  24. Wendell Kabutan says:

    Supreme Court (Judge made laws) Santa Clara case of 1886, recognized/declared a Corporation is a person with equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Another Dartmouth 1819, gave Corporations rights over Federal, State or Municipalities under Article 1 section 10 of the Constitution. BUTTTTT, We The People, are the recognized source of ALL AUTHORITY, Federal, State, Municipal. We actually rule but they’ll continue to deceive us – by Legal mumbo jumbo.

  25. Collin Dana says:

    Paul Achitoff was talking before the questioning about how a third party can Intervene on the county’s behalf if suit is brought. We should consider how best to set something like that up and work on getting it funded; it would be a cause many would contribute to, and could help eliminate the hypothetical monetary concerns that seem to have distracted some of our council members from their better selves.

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