Governor Ige: Leadership, Core Values and Resolve Under Pressure

Governor David Ige’s leadership, core values and resolve under pressure was clearly demonstrated by his recent signing into law SB3095.  Hawai‘i residents concerned about their health and the health of their children and grandchildren should thank him.  Progressives and those who fight daily to protect the health of our natural environment should also thank and acknowledge his leadership on this issue.

The measure was simple yet comprehensive and the protections now in place include a phased in ban of the neurotoxin chlorpyrifos, mandatory disclosure of all users of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP), modest buffer zones around schools, pesticide drift studies and increased funding for the Department of Agriculture so it can properly do its job.

The pressure on Governor Ige to either let it pass into law without his signature, or to veto this measure must have been significant.  The largest chemical companies in the world were in strong opposition.  I know from personal experience that the forces aligned against his signing are formidable and they play hard ball.  Over the past 5 years alone, they have spent tens of millions of dollars in Hawai‘i fighting attempts to regulate their industry.  They spend big money on major media promoting their agenda, they invest heavily in local political campaigns and often have a “take no prisoners” attitude when it comes to politics and their opposition to increased government regulation.

However, Governor Ige chose to do the right thing and put the protection of the health of children above the political pressure and the profits brought and sought by these international corporations who produce, sell and use chlorpyrifos and other dangerous RUP’s.

This is the same pesticide that sent a dozen Syngenta workers to the hospital last year on Kaua‘i’s west side.  It has been found in small amounts at Waimea Canyon Middle School and in other areas when testing has been done in the past.  This same chemical has been banned already for residential use, and the EPA was preparing to implement a ban on agricultural use until its new Director Scott Pruitt reversed that decision.

To be real, the Governor could have easily come up with a reason not to sign the Bill, or to even veto it.

You can be sure the companies threatened to sue.  They would have also said that “the science is inconclusive”, as the industry has legions of scientists in their employ whose studies naturally favor their perspective.  And of course they would have argued that this will “hurt small farmers”.  It is ironic that the original proposals only impacted the very largest users, and was expanded to include “all users” only after the big companies (and their supporters in the legislature) insisted that all farmers big and small should have to comply. But the truth is that most small farmers do not use chlorpyrifos at all.

Yes, Governor Ige could easily have side-stepped this issue and derailed its passage. And he could have come up with an explanation for his action, that for many people would have appeared reasonable.

But he did not.  He could have used the standard excuses others at both the state and county level have used in the past to delay and avoid passage of similar measures.  He could have alluded to perceived deficiencies (the Bill is too weak or the Bill is too strong), offered to strengthen the “voluntary program”, expressed concern about the legal status, and/or fallen back on the dependable “this proposal needs more study” tactic that others in the past have used to avoid making a tough decision in an election year.

But he did not.  He looked at the evidence, he spoke to his advisers I am sure and reviewed the information provided by both sides.  Then he took the side of protecting the health of children and signed SB3095 into law as Act 45.

Governor Ige’s own words upon signing demonstrate his desire and commitment to protect health while acknowledging the importance of supporting agriculture, and that these goals are not mutually exclusive.  He should be commended for his leadership on this issue.

“Protecting the health and safety of our keiki and residents is one of my top priorities. We must protect our communities from potentially harmful chemicals. At the same time, Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry is extremely important to our state and economy. We will work with the Department of Agriculture, local farmers and the University of Hawai‘i as we seek safe, alternative pest management tools that will support and sustain our agriculture industry for generations to come,” said Gov. Ige.

First published in The Garden Island Newspaper on June 20, 2018

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person. I presently serve now as a volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org In a 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. “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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5 Responses to Governor Ige: Leadership, Core Values and Resolve Under Pressure

  1. randy fleming says:

    heroes – way to go!

  2. Pingback: Heroes of SB3095 – This is what democracy looks like | GaryHooser's Blog

  3. Bart says:

    Gary, I shared your post on my FB page and added these introductory remarks, reflecting my own opinion. Perhaps mine is a little less diplomatic than yours!
    ————————–
    Whatever disagreements I have had with Governor Ige, I know he will do what he thinks is right, rather than based upon it benefiting his financial backers and cronies as his opponent would do. In the contest between David Ige and Colleen Hanabusa, there is really no choice for progressives. I wish Ige were more progressive than he is. We will have to push him on policies. But Colleen Hanabusa is the continuation of the worst features of the Democratic machine/Old Boy Network in Hawaii politics.
    Ironically, if you want change, vote for the incumbent, Governor Ige and not his challenger, who was talked into coming back from Washington by the Democratic insiders who were shocked when Ige proved to be too independent for them. They know Colleen will do their bidding.
    UPDATE: a friend sent me a PM asking for more detail. Short answer: David Ige was talked into running against Neil Abercrombie by old time Democrats, including the remnants of Team Inouye and the Ariyoshi group. They wanted to punish Neil for not playing ball with them. It is not that Neil was not aligning with bankers, landowners and developers. He was. But not with THEIR bankers, landowners and developers.
    To the surprise of a lot of people, Ige won. But then Ige displayed his independent streak, most pointedly by blocking the acquisition of Hawaiian Electric by NextEra. Ige, an engineer, realized NextEra would have shifted Hawaii to increased reliance on natural gas, which would have entailed a massive investment in supportive infrastructure and meant we would be stuck with LNG for a generation. It just did not make sense.
    That angered important cronies who had stood to make millions from the sale. By blocking the merger, Ige painted a target on his chest and the Old Boys started looking for someone to run against him.
    Colleen Hanabusa was their top choice. Inouye (and/or his top operatives) tried to engineer her being anointed as his successor so the network which had power through him could continue to run everything. But Neil appointed Brian Schatz instead of Hanabusa. A wise choice in my eyes.
    So they talked Hanabusa into coming back to take out Ige.
    Anyone who fixates on superficial complaints about how he handled the missile launch or that he is “not good enough” on particular issues is being distracted from the Big Picture, the underlying “plate tectonics” at work in Hawaii politics.
    We must elect David Ige over Colleen Hanabusa if we want an environment conducive to the reforms we want to push through.

  4. Reblogged this on Dawn Morais and commented:
    Governor Ige’s readiness to align himself with the community, not with the corporations that are inflicting so much harm on our families, is reason enough to give him a second term. I trust him. In this perilous times of dissembling, lying, cruelty , xenophobia and avarice, having a Governor we can trust is one bulwark against the evils flowing out from 45’s administration.

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