Hawaii County Herbicide Ban – Update

Unfortunately, Councilmember Ashley Kierkiewicz one of the key votes needed and who was previously in support of Bill 101, “flipped” and voted against over-riding Mayor Kim’s veto – thus the attempt failed. Mayor Kim’s veto was not over-ridden and Monsanto and the Chemical industry won this round.

It seems beyond comprehension that when the American Academy of Pediatrics testifies in support of the veto override and Monsanto testifies in opposition – that Monsanto wins.

Please note they won this round only and there will be many, many more rounds.

For those who may feel dispirited by the outcome I offer this quote:

“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’” Source Unknown.

I also encourage folks to commend and thank Bill 101’s primary introducer Councilmember Rebecca Villegas and those other 4 Councilmember’s who supported the override attempt.

The entire list and contact info is HERE and Below:

Those who support Bill 101 and the banning herbicides on Hawaii County parks, roads, facilities:

rebecca.villegas@hawaiicounty.gov (Bill 101 introducer and yes to override the veto)

maile.david@hawaiicounty.gov (Bill 101 supporter and yes to override the veto)

valerie.poindexter@hawaiicounty.gov (Bill 101 supporter and yes to override the veto)

karen.eoff@hawaiicounty.gov (Bill 101 supporter and yes to override the veto)

matt.kanealii-kleinfelder@hawaiicounty.gov (Bill 101 supporter and yes to override the veto)

Those who ultimately opposed Bill 101 and supported Mayor Kim’s veto:




ashley.kierkiewicz@hawaiicounty.gov (Councilmember Kierkiewicz was an initial yes vote and then “flipped” her vote and supported Mayor Kim’s veto)

I encourage all to email the Councilmembers your thoughts on this important issue.

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The top 5 reasons not to vote (sarcasm intended)​

1) My vote will not matter as my demographic represent the “fringe” and make up less than 20% of all voters. Most elections are won or lost by less than 10% so why should I get involved? #getrealthengetalife

2) Exercising the right and the opportunity to help select those who control natural resource protection, social justice protections and taxing authority would be irresponsible and only further empower the bad guys. #yathink? #doyouthink? #Idonothinkyoubethinking

3) There is no-one to vote for so why should I bother to get involved and either run for office myself or find someone else to run? It sounds like a lot of work. It’s much easier to stay home, complain about the system and brag about how I don’t vote and thus not part of the system. #winner #notwinner #loserbydefinition

4) The system in place is corrupt and by not participating I will help defeat it and replace it with something that does not require voting but which I cannot quite define or articulate at the moment. #what?

5) It’s easier to simply rage against the machine and not vote. Participating in government takes work and requires a long term commitment to take responsibility for the outcome. #nottrueyestrue

You can probably tell by now that it pains me to hear the “I don’t vote and I’m proud of it” crowd struggle to justify their position. Actually, it makes me angry, and sad – both.

Many from across all Hawai’i are increasingly involved in making positive change happen at the grassroots level. I sincerely thank all for making the personal sacrifices of time, energy and money to make their voices heard, loud and clear – from Hilo to Hanalei.

Please now take that next step. Register to vote, find a candidate to support and then throw your energy into making systemic change – from the inside.

We need both inside and outside strategies, and there is no reason that one should preclude the other.

Our government, whether we like it or not, controls via law, rule and regulation – the protection of our natural resources, the amount of personal freedom we enjoy and the amount of money we have in our pockets.

At the end of the day, the government decides who are the haves, who are the have nots and who if anyone is in between. The people we elect have the power to decide which of our mountain streams should live or die, to accept or not accept the chemical contamination of our drinking water and to allocate our public resources to foreign corporations or not.

A single legislator can make a difference, certainly at the state and county level.

I have seen up close and personal the power of a single vote.  I have witnessed a single strong voice willing to speak truth to power sway the entire vote on critical legislative issues – resulting in the protection of our fragile natural resources.

Those individuals who do put people and the planet first and who are willing to serve in public office need and deserve to have our support and our vote.

Please if you are not registered, I implore upon you to do so today. It’s easy, just visit https://olvr.hawaii.gov/

If you are already registered, please spread the message to family and friends, then find a candidate to help or run for office yourself.

We must engage the system, push-back against the bad and help lead and create a better government and a better planet, for all.

girl crossed fingers
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The death of democracy – and 3 action steps to take NOW at the local level

No time for chit chat – For those interested in personal stuff such as pictures of my family or my dog Maximus Aurelius “Max”, please scroll down to the bottom.  If you want to know about me, you can visit http://www.garyhooser.com

Frankly, there are too many bad things happening and too many things each of us need to do NOW to make meaningful change happen. The planet is burning and people are dying.

Please take the time to “click-through” the below links, read and take action. The change we need will happen only when we collectively take ownership and responsibility for our government.

“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.” Plato

International – Waiting for the other shoe to drop: This past Friday President Trump ordered the assassination of a high ranking representative of an independent sovereign nation (Iran). I get it that General Qassem Soleimani was a very bad actor, but assassination is a war crime as defined by many international agreements. A U.S. executive order has also been in place since 1976 forbidding the U.S. from carrying out political assassinations. READ Was the drone attack on Iranian general an assassination?  President Trump needs to be removed from office by whatever legal means possible, as soon as is possible.

National – A deep dive into the death of western democracies  Read: This is how a society dies by Umair Haque The reading is a bit dense but is thought-provoking and worth the time.

“People who are made to live right at the edge must battle each other for self-preservationSuch a society has to eat through whatever public goods and social systems it has, just to survive…Society melts down…, as ever-increasing poverty brings hate, violence, fear, and rage with it. Trust erodes, democracy corrodes, social bonds are torn apart, and the only norms left are Darwinian-fascist ones: the strong survive, and the weak must perish…”

Think global and act local – This is the only real way to maintain sanity and hope.  We must fight back and WIN.  The reason I write and send out these emails is that I believe we here in Hawaii can win and set an example for the rest of the world – no hyperbole – no exaggeration.  But it takes work and it takes all of us chipping in. Here are three things I need to ask your help with today – PLEASE

  1. Oahu friends – Join FACE, RaiseUP, PHI, Living Wage Hawaii and many others at 4:30pm this Wednesday, January 8th at the State Capitol Rotunda in support of increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage to $17 per hour.  PLEASE TAKE THE TIME – YOUR PHYSICAL PRESENCE IS IMPORTANT Read more at Raise Up Hawaii
  2. Big Island Ohana – Ditto in support of over-riding Mayor Kim’s veto of Bill 101 banning herbicides on County property!  Please take the time to physically be there @ 9am on Wednesday, January 8th, in the Hilo Chambers. More info on Bill 101 and the current status is HERE at Greener Hawaii
  3. Kauai friends and family – Please comment on the application for a long-term lease (65 years) of the waters from Wai`ale`ale and Waikoko Streams, all comments must be filed by midnight Tuesday, January 7, 2020.  Submit comments to DLNR’s Ian Hirokawa Ian.c.hirokawa@hawaii.gov and copies to SSFM International, Inc. (Consultant), jschefel@ssfm.com; and Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (Applicant), dhuff@joulegroup.com  There has never been an EIS for the Wai`ale`ale and Waikoko (Blue hole) diversions. When water is diverted for commercial use from streams, HRS 171-58 requires and EIS and DLNR should accept nothing less from Kauai Island Utility Coop.  READ Draft EA HERE Bottom line for me: The water taken must be limited to the minimum needed by KIUC, the lease period should not exceed 10-year increments AND sufficient water must always remain in the stream to maintain the ecological health of the stream. Main point – Please demand a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed!

FINALLY – After you have done your reading and taken the action steps listed above – Please think about the upcoming 2020 elections from a local state and county perspective.  We need qualified candidates who support a living wage, who know the importance of protecting our streams, and who will put people and the planet first. Interested candidates should Contact the HAPA Kuleana Academy (2020 dates are forthcoming) and consider applying for the next session.  Candidates are also welcome to contact me directly if they have questions or need more information.

We also need to register our friends and family to vote which you can easily do HERE https://olvr.hawaii.gov

Read from my blog – “Turning Marchers Into Voters” https://garyhooser.blog/2019/11/06/turning-marchers-into-voters-learning-from-the-revolution-of-54/

Please know that I get that the above is a lot to digest in a single email and that 24 hours or even 48 hours is a short fuse and more notice would be much better.  I get it…and am doing the best I can.  So please, just do the same if you can – hang in there with me and let’s do this.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Hooser

NOTE: If you receive this email from a friend and are not on my regular email list – Please consider subscribing HERE.

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My public policy wish for the holidays – bring a little more joy and tangible purchasing power to low income working people

My wish for the holidays is that public policy advocates, individuals and organizations from across the state join together in requesting that the Hawaii state legislature, upon the opening of the 2020 legislative session – reconvene the conference committee for HB1191 SD2, and promptly pass a strong minimum wage bill.

There has been plenty of time during the past 6 months for the House/Senate Conferees to come to an agreement.

The community should not be forced to go through the entire dog and pony show again, only to wind up at the same place.

The steps needed are simple and straightforward:

1. Legislative leadership must convene the existing House/Senate conference committee for HB1191 SD2 – increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023
2. The committee should then remove the “business/health/tax credit” component and delink this aspect of the legislation from the minimum wage increase component. This “benefit to business” component is a separate issue and should be treated separately, and not used as an albatross around the necks of low income workers to further delay increasing the minimum wage
3. The Committee should then amend HB1191 SD2 to include an annual cost of living adjustment plus (COLA+), modest additional annual increases to keep up with inflation “plus”, until eventually over time the minimum wage will equal a living wage.
4. The Committee should then pass such a bill forward for a full vote on the floor of the House and Senate – prior to January 31, 2020.

Anyone who works 40 hours per week, deserves to earn a wage sufficient to provide a dry safe place to live, 3 meals a day, and basic health care.

Hawaii has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation. Nearly 50% of our residents live in or near poverty.

The Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), says a single individual without children needs to earn at least $17.50 per hour just to subsist. Hawaii’s minimum wage sits now at only $10.10.

While minimum wage workers get nothing, legislators will get their raises as will the governor, the lieutenant governor and many other high-ranking government officials.

Business is booming also for just about everyone else. Tourism is at an all time high with visitor-counts at historic levels.

The economic forecast for the future is more of the same. According to the 4th Quarter 2019 QSER released by DBEDT on November 19, 2019, “Hawaii’s economy is expected to continue positive growth in 2019 and 2020. This outlook is based on the most recent developments in the national and global economies, the performance of Hawaii’s tourism industry, labor market conditions, and the growth of personal income and tax revenues.”

It seems everyone is doing better and making more money except for low income workers, whose wages are at best, flat.

Small businesses that fear negative impacts from having to increase their workers wages need only look at the recent history in Hawaii for reassurance.

When Hawaii’s minimum wage was increased from $7.25 to $10.10, nothing bad happened. There were no increases in bankruptcy, no increases in unemployment and no increases in inflation (outside the normal trend).

It is well past the time that minimum wage workers also share in the economic growth, the rest of Hawaii is benefiting from.

A strong majority of legislators including their leadership have in the past stated publicly and in writing their support for increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage to at least a $15 per hour.

These legislators should be given the opportunity to vote publicly for something they all profess to support.

Please join me in calling upon the legislature to do the right thing, and do it in January.

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What does the President of the United States have in common with a Kaua’i Councilmember? Choices and accountability -national/local commonalities

The top of mind issue for those who follow policy and politics nationally is the pending impeachment of the President of the United States.

Locally, the issue most are talking about is the indictment and forthcoming trial of Councilmember Arthur Brun.

While the impeachment of the “leader of the free world” could literally rock the planet both domestically and internationally, a potential felony conviction for a Kaua’i councilmember impacts only the affairs of tiny Kaua’i County.

Depending on what action or inaction is taken or not taken by the Kaua’i County Council, a local impeachment action could also develop here.

On one hand there is no comparison, on the other and in a very sad way there are many similarities.

Neither individual has been convicted of any crime but both clearly have conducted themselves in a manner that is at the minimum unseemly and in clear violation of the public trust.

Neither has publicly denied the actions they have been accused of.

Trump has admitted to withholding funding from the Ukraine government while at the same time pressing them to investigate his political rival. His “defense” seems to boil down to “attacking the process” – accusing the majority in Congress of picking on him unfairly (a witch-hunt).

While Brun has not publicly admitted fleeing from law enforcement and striking a police officer with his car, he also has not denied the crimes for which he has been accused. It appears his “defense” at least accordingly to newspaper reports, will also be based on “attacking the process” – technicalities surrounding alleged conflicts with the prosecutors office.

Attack the accuser and ignore their own misdeeds, seems to be a popular strategy among politicians who run afoul of the law.

Neither Trump nor Brun appear willing to resign from their seats. Neither has made a public apology or expressed any regrets or remorse for their actions.

Both deserve their day in court but neither deserve the public’s sympathy.

Trump has admitted his actions and believes they were “perfect” and that he has done nothing wrong.

Kaua’i residents deserve to hear from Brun. If he is innocent of the charges and did not flee from the police, striking an officer in the process – then he should state this publicly. If he intends to plead not guilty and claim he didn’t do it, then he should say so.

However if Councilmember Brun is unable to deny the fundamental accusations and his intent is to “beat the charges on a technicality”, (which he is perfectly entitled to do) then he should resign his seat on the Kaua’i Council.

While some may claim differently, Bruns colleagues on the Council have a responsibility to take action. As Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Committee, Brun holds a position of legislative and budgetary authority over the Kaua’i Police Department and the Prosecutors Office. At the minimum he should not be serving on this committee.

The political awkwardness of taking action to acknowledge and deal with this situation is not sufficient reason for the Council to ignore it.

A majority of Councilmembers led by the Council Chair need to confront this issue and have a public discussion that includes Councilmember Brun.

It is in the public’s interest that they do so.

If he states publicly that he is not guilty of the actions for which he is being charged, then perhaps simply stepping off the Public Safety Committee is sufficient action at the present to preserve the public trust.

However if the Councilmember is unable to state that he did not flee from the Kaua’i police striking one officer in the process, his resignation from the Council is necessary and appropriate.

As to Trump. Unfortunately, he also will not resign. Everyone knows that he was literally attempting to bribe a foreign country to get them to interfere in our election for his own personal benefit- yet far too many make excuses to look the other way.

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2 – 55 second audio messages on increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage. . Listen, take action and share!

Please listen to these two 55 second audio messages on increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage, and then take action!

Pass HB1191 today and put Hawaii workers on a path to a living wage

Nearly 50% of Hawaii residents live either in, or on the edge of poverty

Please call TODAY (and prior to 12/23)
Senate President Ron Kouchi
phone: 808-586-6030

House Speaker Scott Saiki
Phone 808-586-6100
E-Mail: repsaiki@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Then call or email your own district legislators and tell them (respectfully) to convene the conference committee for HB1191 in January, amend the measure as may be necessary and increase Hawaii’s minimum wage to at least $15 with further gradual increases annually to keep up with inflation and eventually reach a true living wage.

Find contact for all legislators here:

All Senators

All House Members

Final note: The above two 55 second audio messages are intended to possibly be converted to radio spots and further combined with video for use as 60 second television ads, and/or of course for distribution on social media – depending on the availability of funding. Please help if you can by making a secure online contribution to the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) by December 22 if possible so we can begin distribution of this message by January 1, 2020. Contributions of any amount, from $17 to $1,700 or more are welcome and tax deductible. https://www.hapahi.org/donate

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Lowering the cost of living & supporting agriculture – a twofer

Politicians and lawmakers often lay the blame for their perceived impotence on the nature of dealing with “complex issues and intractable challenges”.

This is kind of true, but not really.

Many if not most of our state’s most serious challenges, can be resolved or at least greatly alleviated, with literally the stroke of a pen.

Some small changes to current policy could have huge beneficial effects, with many solutions costing zero not zillions of dollars.

Most of the issues and their proposed solutions have been around for decades, debated, studied, and deferred, ad nauseam.

Changes in “public policy” can often be made with zero impacts on the state budget. Simply changing tax policy, by reducing the amount of taxes now paid by local residents and increasing the taxes paid by absentee owners, foreign investors, very high-income individuals and visitors is one tangible example.

With the stroke of a pen our state legislature could lower the cost of living, for all of us who live here.

But to find a majority in the House and the Senate with the common purpose and drive needed to actually stroke that pen, is another story.

Of course with every action done by the legislature, someone’s ox is gored. In the case of lowering the taxes of local residents while increasing taxes on the wealthy and elite, the wealthy and elite will scream very loud.

There are few policy initiatives that will make everyone happy. In this case, making positive changes to help local residents is our priority. The fear-mongering by those who will pay more though will be palpable, and big business and big money will align in opposition.

“We could do this but…”. There is always a “but” standing in the way of progress. There is always fear of the unknown, and there are always excuses for the inaction.

One would think that if politicians could lower the cost of living for hard-working local residents AND increase food self-sufficiency while supporting local agriculture – they would be tripping over themselves to make it happen.

It’s only complicated for those who want it to be complicated. Trust me on this, it’s not.

With the stroke of a pen, the legislature could remove the 4.5% General Excise Tax (GET), including County surcharge, on fresh non-processed food and long-term rents. Voila! The effective cost of living for local residents is significantly reduced, PLUS the market for fresh locally grown food is increased.

That’s fresh non-processed food. We are not talking fast food, canned food, boxed food or restaurant food. You get the picture- fresh, healthy, and hopefully locally grown food, is what we are talking.

And long-term rents mean long term rents and NOT short-term vacation rentals.

Ideally, but yes it does now get more complicated – the GET could be removed from other “essential” items such as toilet paper, diapers, soap, toothpaste and other personal hygiene products.

And those minuscule but important tax credits that currently apply to low income working people? Those need to remain as well. No bait and switch to the detriment of the 48%, please.

The “lost income” to the state could be made up by a modest increase to the GET on all other non-essential items.

Hawaii has 1,400,000 permanent residents, 48% of whom are one paycheck away from being on the streets. 10,000,000 tourists are expected to visit Hawaii next year. Our visitors and others who can well afford it, need to pay a larger share of the GET, and local residents need to pay less.

Think about it as a public policy “twofer” – food and economic justice via the stroke of a pen.

What a day that would be. Imagine a legislature that lowered the cost of living for local residents, and helped our small farmers – all in a single legislative session.

It’s doable you know. We are not talking pie in the sky, fantasy type make-believe policy. This could be real and could be done in a single year – if a majority in the legislature wanted it.

Gary Hooser

Subscribe to my policy and politics newsletter and get regular “action alerts” here: http://garyhooser.com/#four

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