Doing the Hooser Happy Dance (s), The Maui Miracle and More

The Kauai County Council election is an “at large election” with the top 7 vote getters being elected to serve as councilmember’s.

At 9:45pm on Tuesday the 4th of November I was sitting solidly at #11 and essentially looking for another job. Then at 10pm in the blink of an eye I jumped to #7 and ended up winning re-election by a nail biting 92 votes.

You can be sure that there were two and perhaps three sets of “happy dances” going on that evening. My good friends in the chemical industry were for sure high fiving, whooping it up and celebrating my demise during the first and second print-outs (insert facetious smirk).

And then at 10pm when the third print-out was announced the shrieks of disbelief resonated from all corners and all perspectives. If you live in the Wailua Homesteads or anywhere from Haena to Puhi or along the Waianae coast of Oahu, I apologize for the noise my family generated for a sustained 30 minutes or more.

Thank you to all who helped make this win possible. Whew!

Many have tried to characterize the Hawaii election results as some sort of litmus test on the debate surrounding restricted use pesticides and the growing of genetically modified experimental crops.

The actions taken on Kauai, Maui and in Hawaii County attempting to regulate the impacts of the chemical companies and the experimental research they are doing in our State has in fact “kicked the hornets nest” and the industry is pushing back hard on all fronts.

Monsanto and industry supporters spent over $8 million statewide and they lost. This is more money than has ever been spent in any Hawaii election, including gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races – and they lost.

In spite of all the money and all of the industry pressure the people of Maui voted to pass a citizens’ initiative that puts into law a temporary moratorium on the cultivation and experimentation of genetically modified organisms – until they are proven safe via a defined process contained within the law.

Many are calling it the “Maui Miracle” – $8 million plus spent by industry against a genuine grass-roots diverse coalition of individual citizens and community activists who spent next to nothing – and industry lost.

Message #1) Committed grassroots can defeat big money.

Over 50% of the voters on Maui said essentially “prove your operations are safe or stop what you are doing”.

Message #2) To those who say this is a “fringe issue” – phooey on you. Look again.

In addition similar forces led by “Forward Progress” a Honolulu based PAC backed by the carpenters union and large contractors spent additional large sums of outside money attempting to take out Maui Councilmember Elle Cochran and Hawaii County Councilmember Margaret Wille, both of whom led the charge in their respective Counties in attempts to regulate these companies and protect the health and environment of their communities. Like myself, both Cochran and Wille prevailed and were re-elected.

Message #3) As neighbor-island communities grow more assertive, the forces in Honolulu grow more nervous.

The chemical companies are now suing Kauai County, Maui County and Hawaii County.

3 of the 4 counties are already “all in” on this issue and it is only a matter of time before the residents of the City and County of Honolulu step up to the plate and begin gathering their signatures.

This issue is not going away. Government agencies and policy makers at both the State and County level need to recognize that there are valid concerns with regards to the experimental nature of this industry and the resulting impacts on the health of our community.

We need statewide buffer zones, full disclosure, a targeted health and environmental study and a temporary statewide moratorium on the growth of this industry until we can determine and mitigate the impacts on the health and environment of our community.

The 2015 Hawaii State Legislature can make this happen. But of course they won’t.

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On changing the world – starting here, now and with you.

Aloha,

Most of us at some time or another in our life want to change the world. Some of us hang on to that dream and others drop it quickly by the wayside as if its pursuit was frivolous and to some even embarrassing baggage.

At age 60 I still believe that changing the world is possible and am more committed than ever to making that change happen starting here in our home and in our community.

As grandiose as it may sound, I truly believe Kauai can set an example for the world. We are a small enough community where the problems and challenges can be managed and solutions found.

Whether the goal is food and energy self sufficiency, economic diversification, affordable housing, environmental protection or even climate change – Kauai can be a model and help chart a course that other communities might follow.

The strengthening of our local government, community empowerment and the rebuilding of an informed grass roots democracy is the starting point to achieve meaningful and positive change.

The elections of tomorrow, Tuesday November 4th represent a turning point. Kauai residents have a genuine opportunity to choose the future they want to see and live, and a future they want to leave for their children.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Please show up and be part of the change you want to see in the world.

Please show up and vote wisely for those candidates who are willing to stand up for the kind of world you want to live in.

I respectfully ask that you consider casting one of your 7 council votes for me, so that I might work for you toward making our community the best that it can be.

Kauai is a microcosm of this world and changing the world can and must start here.

Imua!

Gary Hooser

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Campaign Update – 7 days out and the anonymous and negative “hit mail” has arrived

7 days out from November 4th and the anonymous “hit mail” has arrived. My good friend and fellow member of the Kauai County Council Tim Bynum is the target of multiple negative mailers none of which have a return address or other identifiable markings as to who sent them. Sending out anonymous mailers of this type is a violation of state law. Anyone with direct knowledge of who is behind this mailing is encouraged to contact the Campaign Spending Commission immediately at (808) 586-0285.

Councilmember Bynum is a good man and neither he nor our community deserves this.

He is being targeted because he is not afraid to speak out. He is incredibly thorough and tenacious to a fault when he suspects malfeasance or other public harms are occurring and he is currently focused on doing just that. Councilmember Bynum is being targeted because he is doing his job, has angered certain people in positions of power and is perceived as being politically vulnerable.

My daughter texted me last night, “What about you Dad, will they be coming after you next?”

It is a sad day when our children feel compelled to ask this question. The answer of course is yes. The more we ask questions, the more we challenge the entrenched power structure, the more we will get attacked by the anonymous actors and their enablers.

There are many good things happening within Kauai County but also many inequities that favor those in positions of power and influence, both in business and in government.

Councilmember Bynum, myself and others on the Council have been asking the questions that need to be asked. Recently Mayor Carvalho has acknowledged the validity of our concerns, agreed to support a proper investigation and to deal appropriately with the issues that come forth as a result.

Please help us fight back against these last minute negative and anonymous attacks.

You can find out more about Councilmember Tim Bynum and offer support for his efforts to counter these anonymous attacks here: http://www.timbynum.com/support/

With regards to my own campaign, we are pushing very hard and also scrambling to redouble our media push during these critical last few days. I am frequently asked if additional help is needed and “When is a good time?”

The answer: These last few days are unpredictable and additional help now would be most welcome. http://www.garyhooser.com/donate.php

Mahalo to all who have already been so very generous and supportive.

Imua! gh

On a lighter note – read the below to become educated on voting “Kauai style”. Please circulate to friends who are not aware of the particular dynamics in play with an “all at large” system.

The Hooser Blog – On How My Mother Will Vote In The Kauai Election

http://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/on-plunking-block-voting-slates-and-other-such-kauai-county-council-voting-strategies/

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How mom votes – On plunking, block voting, slates and other such Kauai County Council voting strategies

The absentee ballots have been mailed, walk in voting starts on October 21 and emails and blog postings are already promoting strategies and suggestions on how to get your favorite Kauai County Council candidates elected.

I am compelled to explain the importance of block voting, plunking and in general resisting the urge to go “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” and expending on November 4 all seven Kauai County Council votes – some votes on candidates you really want to see in office and other votes on candidates that are “ok” or whom you are not really sure.

The fundamental rule of akamai Kauai voting is: Do not use all 7 votes when choosing your Kauai County Council candidates. Unless of course you feel equally supportive of all 7 candidates you choose or perhaps have your own strategy you believe in.

The ballot will say “vote for up to 7” or similar language. Experienced Kauai voters will use their Council votes sparingly, selecting only those candidates whom they really and truly and positively want to get elected. These voters might cast one vote or perhaps up to 4 or 5 votes but rarely do they go beyond this number.

An example of how casting all 7 votes can work to the detriment of the candidate or candidates you are most interested in getting elected:

There are 14 candidates running for the 7 Council seats. The council candidates’ mother goes to vote.

She votes for her child (naturally) and then pauses and decides to vote for one other candidate who has been especially nice to good ol’ mom during the campaign.  Mom’s favorite candidate (her child) then loses the election by one vote to that other candidate and very nice person mom decided to vote for also.

Bottom line is that in most Kauai Council elections – mom’s, grandma’s, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers and children of the candidate will often only cast one vote in the Kauai County Council race.

This is called “plunking”. Others have their definition for plunking but this is how I have come to know the term.

While I appreciate those who choose to plunk for Hooser and especially appreciate good ole mom for not casting the one vote that could beat me, in general and in particular for this election I am encouraging my friends to block vote rather than plunk.

After all in order to accomplish anything on the Council 4 votes are needed, and preferably there are at least 5. And plunk or not, it can get mighty lonely on the Council if you make it and none of your friends do.

Block voting is an expanded variation of the one vote all powerful plunk. Block voting is usually a 3 or 5 vote maximum but the same principal applies. The voter selects only those candidates whom they truly want to get elected, whom they believe truly represent their core values – and they vote for those candidates only and resist giving their remaining votes to candidates whom might as a result beat their favorites.

This year there has been much talk about “slates”, or a group of candidates who run as a team.

Personally I have never been a fan of this strategy. I believe every candidate must run and win on their individual merits. Yes I have friends whom I hope will win, but each of us must run and win on our own.

A slate is different than supporting an “endorsed list” which is a strategy that many organizations and individuals ascribe to. If an organization or group of individuals want to endorse my candidacy I welcome the support, help and recognition.

The primary and crucial difference between a slate and an endorsed list is that in a “slate strategy” the council candidates themselves lock arms in their support of each other and in opposition to the non-slate candidates.

In the example of the “endorsed list” it is the organization/group that offers the support and the candidates do not necessarily support or even like each other.

An important caveat to slates is that it is against the law for any candidate to spend funds in support of another candidate. So candidate A may not spend his/her campaign funds or incur expenses in support of candidate B, C or D. In addition the expenses incurred in support of any joint events in support of the slate must be disclosed to the campaign spending commission.

This is where things will often get sticky for those candidates who run as a slate.

Each candidate must disclose their equal portion of the expenses of the event and there must be documentation to back up those expenses. Either the candidate must disclose their portion as an expense (paid from their campaign account) or as an “in-kind donation” from an individual (disclosed as a contribution on the campaign spending report). There truly is no free lunch.

This reporting must include the cost of the venue, refreshments and other related costs as nothing is free – it is either an expense paid proportionately by the candidate or a proportional contribution (in kind or otherwise). This can get complicated and become problematic when prying eyes start examining each of the slates campaign spending reports to determine if each candidate in the slate reported the correct amounts and proportion.

A fundamental rule of service in elective office: No matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work, no matter how good you are in your heart – you cannot serve unless you get elected.

Please vote, please research all of the candidates and vote only for those you truly believe will represent your core values and yes, please cast one of your 7 county council votes for me, Gary Hooser.

Thank you, gh

Note: A version of this blog posting was published here in October 2012

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Does Kauai have higher than normal/average cardiac birth defects rates?

In a The Garden Island Sept.16 letter from Dr. Graham Chelius he said “There is not an increased rate of cardiac defects of any kind on the Westside of Kauai.” He then went on to reference the State’s birth defect registry.

According to a letter I received from the Director of the State Department of Health (SDOH) on July 1, 2014 the State is working hard to bring current the most recent few years of Kauai data however 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and 2013 remain incomplete.  2010–2012 data collection and input for Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital (KVMH) is complete and for Wilcox Hospital they have completed 2010–2011, however “records have yet to be analyzed by a geneticist”.  According to the letter the SDOH is also trying “to ascertain if Kauai babies were transferred before birth to other birthing facilities in Hawaii…”.

I sincerely hope Dr. Chelius  is correct.  However other physicians on Kauai’s west side have submitted public testimony indicating their increased concern about high birth defect rates and the need for further investigation into this area.   Thus the urgency that the SDOH has now placed on updating the birth defect registry.

Numerous Kauai physicians from Kauai’s west side and from all around our island testified in support of the passage of Bill 2491 (now ordinance 960).  A majority of Kauai pediatricians signed a letter in support and the Hawaii Nurses Association and the Hawaii State Teachers Association all supported passage of this measure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics in a national report specifically recommends the key components contained within ordinance 960 – basic disclosure and buffer zones.  The American Cancer Institute and other extremely credible organizations have reported extensively on the negative health and environmental impacts of long term pesticide exposure.

The research is clear – people who live and work in areas that are subject to regular pesticide use have higher rates of various ailments including certain cancers.  The Environmental Protection Agency reports: “Laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.”

If anyone is in doubt I suggest you read: American Academy of Pediatrics, Volume 130, Number 6, December 2012 or Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2013 American Cancer Society or UC Davis Autism/Pesticides Study 2013

All we are asking for is basic disclosure, modest buffer zones and a health study.  It shouldn’t be so hard.

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The Ebb and Flow of Bill 2491 – People, Industry and State Neglect (revised from TGI version)

While a federal magistrate judge has ruled against Kauai County and ordinance 960, it appears that this issue is far from being over. While no final decision has yet been made, item C 2014-248 on the upcoming Council agenda of September 17 states “provided that Special Counsel has agreed that throughout the appeal process Special Counsel will only bill the County for costs and not charge for legal fees beyond the $210,000 previously authorized by the Council.”

In essence this means the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP is offering to conduct the appeal for free other than what the County has already allocated ($210,000) and some miscellaneous hard costs estimated at $12,750.

This very generous offer combined with the law firms high level of expertise, motivation and confidence that the core legal issues favor the county position, translate to an offer that I believe would be irresponsible to refuse.

The federal judge ruled that the county of Kauai does not have the authority to protect the health and environment of our community from the long term impacts of the intensive application of Restricted Use Pesticides.

According to this court decision, Kaua’i County is not allowed to step in to protect its citizens nor the environment from the impacts of pesticide use, misuse or abuse – even when the state has failed miserably in its duty to do so.

This ruling by Judge Kurren represents a win by industry.  I am sure the corporate executives in Indianapolis Indiana, Ludwigshafen Germany, Basel Switzerland and Johnston Iowa are “high-fiving” each other over beating our little island on this round, but the win to be sure is ultimately a hollow one.

Residents of West Kaua‘i have been complaining to the State about pesticide drift and the impacts for over a decade.

Despite repeated requests, the State refuses to fund additional inspectors.

It takes 2 to 3 years for the State to complete investigations of pesticide abuse and the State birth defect registry has not been updated since 2005.

Ordinance 960 was a modest attempt to deal with those concerns by requiring disclosure, buffer zones and a study to determine health impacts.

There is no shortage of red flags that point toward negative impacts of this industry and the need for disclosure, buffer zones and a health study.

  • There are medical doctors who treat expectant mothers and deliver babies at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea who believe there is 10X the national average of a rare heart defect among their patients with newborn children. This is part of the public record.
  • On several occasions students, teachers and staff have became ill at Waimea Canyon Middle School and at Kekaha Elementary School after or during times when pesticides were being applied in adjacent fields.
  • There was a “die-off” of over 50,000 sea urchins verified by local aquatic biologists on the shore subject to pesticide runoff.
  • Approximately 150 long time residents of Waimea Town are suing DuPont Pioneer because of negative health impacts they believe are a result of the companies’ pesticide applications.
  • A majority of Kauai pediatricians, the Hawaii Nurses Association, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Local 5 Hotel Workers and many, many other groups and organizations submitted testimony in support of Bill 2491.

Yet the State of Hawaii’s response to these concerns has been abysmal to non-existent.

There is no State or Federal law expressly denying the County authority to regulate pesticides, and until now no court has ever ruled on the issue with regards to Hawaii’s situation. In other words there is no State or Federal law that says Kauai County may not regulate pesticides.

Judge Kurren concluded that even though there is no State or Federal law that says the County may not regulate pesticides, the State intended to retain exclusive authority over pesticide regulation. In other words, even though the State did not say it directly, that is what they meant to say.

Judge Kurren also said, “This decision in no way diminishes the health and environmental concerns of the people of Kauai.”

The issue is far from over and while an appeal will take a year or more to run its course there are many other additional ways to pursue the same ends. To be clear, our community’s resolve to protect the health and environment of our island home has likewise not been diminished but only strengthened.

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I am determined to win, they are determined to beat me.

Aloha Friends,

It has been a rocky few weeks and yesterday a federal magistrate ruled against Bill2491/Ordinance960.

While it is a disappointing setback, the battle to protect our community will continue with vigor.

I am committed to pressing forward via the appeal process, the state legislature and additional County legislative efforts.  If our community needs to sue the State of Hawaii to do its job then perhaps that is also an avenue we must pursue.

One ruling by one federal magistrate does not resolve the legal questions and certainly does not resolve the health and environmental issues.

This is far from over and I remain committed to seeing it through.

Our attention must turn to the elections and we must win in November and we must retain a majority on the Council who share our common vision and concerns.

Will the decisions of the future be driven by industry and large land owners or by independent decision makers grounded in community, focused on building a sustainable future and not beholden to any financial special interest?

The choice is yours.  I ask that you please engage this election and support candidates that support the future you want to see for Kauai.

For me personally this election has been the toughest one I have ever been involved in and without a doubt it will get even rougher in the weeks ahead.

The attacks driven by industry bloggers and their legions of anonymous commenter’s increase daily and the negative campaigning, rumor and innuendo is sure to escalate as the General Election draws closer.

They are determined to take me out and I am determined to win :-)

While I will am running an ole fashion campaign, knocking on doors and holding signs on the highway, it is critical that I also run an aggressive media campaign to counter that of the opposition.

My focus will be on the positive vision of the future we hold for our community and on my track record of accomplishment, experience and leadership.

Now more than ever before I need your help.

Contributions of $100 or less will be matched 100% by the State of Hawaii.

If you are able to make a larger donation of up to $2,000 now would be the time when that is most needed as well.

Online contributions may be made at http://www.garyhooser.com/donate.php or checks mailed to Friends of Gary Hooser, 5685 Ohelo Road, Kapaa HI  96746

As the process to receive matching funds from the State can take up to 3 weeks to complete, it is important that contributions be received by September 2.

Thank you in advance for any and all support you can offer.

Please know that I would not be asking if it was not absolutely necessary to do so.

Sincerely,
Gary Hooser
652-4279

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