On The Creation Of Cynics – Disrespecting Community And The Democratic Process

On Thursday February 19th numerous residents from all parts of our State got out of bed much earlier than normal, took off from work or school, arranged child-care and headed to the State Capitol. For many, the trip meant flying from the neighbor-islands and then taking a taxi cab or renting a car in order to attend an 8:30am hearing. They were going to offer personal testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture on an issue which directly impacts their lives. As participants in the democratic process, they sought to offer two minutes of testimony on HB1514 a measure that would establish pesticide disclosure and protective buffer zones around schools, hospitals, and homes.

The committee’s treatment of this public was contemptible. While the Hearing Notice clearly said, in bold letters that testifiers would have at least to two minutes to testify, many were not even offered that pittance of an opportunity to participate.

Watch the video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7gUJwUVGfc

It is all on camera. Watch and you will see the House Agricultural Committee engaged in a shameless charade of a public hearing. While the Chair begins the meeting with the appearance of fairness and purpose, by the end it is painfully obvious that he had no intention to afford testifiers the public process of which they are entitled. About midway through, even the pretense of fairness and purpose evaporates as the Chair displays increasing impatience with the large number of community members in attendance. The two minute rule is thrown on the wayside and he rushes residents through their testimony, repeatedly cutting them off after less than one minute and in some cases less than 30 seconds, clearly not listening to what the people were actually saying.

Later, you will also see Committee members taking their time and tossing softball questions liberally to representatives of industry. Never do the Representatives seriously challenge the statements made by industry and never ever do they engage in dialogue or question regular citizens whose health is actually being impacted by the use of Restricted Use Pesticides by these same industry interests.

After over 3 hours of testimony, the Chair recessed the Committee took 2 minutes and 56 seconds to “confer with the committee and vice chair” and then announced his decision to defer and kill this measure.

The conclusion and decision to effectively kill HB1514 by this particular committee was, in retrospect, predictable. Those familiar with the historical conduct of the state House Agriculture Committee, and its flouting of the legislative process in general, would say the outcome was to be expected.

What is particularly deplorable in this incident is the Committee’s blatant charade – disregarding testimony provisions in the hearing notice and shamefully disrespecting a community that had sacrificed so much to be there.

Cynics at the legislature may not understand or care – but the fact remains that the residents who were disrespected and whose opinions were so rudely shunted aside actually came to that meeting believing their testimony could make a difference.

They, of course, have every reason to no longer believe that to be true.

By its actions, the House Agriculture Committee brings real harm upon their communities. Not only do they withhold and block protection for children and schools from harmful pesticide drift, they also greatly diminish public faith and confidence in the core democratic process.

Call or email your Representative today and let them know that the action of the House Agriculture Committee is unacceptable.

Ask them to support reopening the House Agriculture Committee hearing on HB1514. Ask that the public be allowed the courtesy to complete their testimony. Demand accountability and respect for the public process.

They will likely tell you, “House Rules” prevent that from happening. Remind them politely that “they make the Rules” and the rules can be waived or amended at any time should the majority want to do so.

Email the House Representative who represents your district first. Then contact all Representatives at reps@capitol.hawaii.gov

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9 Most Frequent Misstatements by Hawaii Chemical Companies

9 Most Frequent Misstatements by Chemical Companies 02-04-2015

Links to source documents are within the text.

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Kauai Property Tax Freeze – Council Public Hearing Feb. 11 at 1:30! Action Needed

Action Needed – Kauai Property Tax Freeze – Council Public Hearing Feb. 11 at 1:30!

Your testimony is needed today.  Please email your support to counciltestimony@kauai.gov

Unless Bill #2574 is passed there will be an automatic tax increase to owner occupied Kauai properties equaling nearly $2,000,000.

Bill #2574  “The purpose of this Bill is to cap taxes with home use exemptions which received substantial increases in their Real Property Taxes (RPT) due to the removal of the Permanent Home Use tax cap, any changes in use, increases in various RPT rates, and recalculation of their property taxes based on current fair market values.”

Read public hearing notice and actual Bill here: http://www.kauai.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=KJCVQ%2bK5uPI%3d&tabid=599&mid=1687

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Why I Am Unable To Support An Honorable Man

Carleton Ching is an honorable man. He is articulate, personable, intelligent, hard working and from all that I know about him, no doubt he is an honorable man.

Mr. Ching may be an honorable man but he should not be confirmed as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Please join me in opposing his nomination by emailing all Hawaii State Senators at sens@capitol.hawaii.gov today and absolutely no later than Feb. 4th

The question before the Hawaii State Senate is not whether Carleton Ching is an honorable man but to whom and to what values is he honorable?

Each of us is imbued with a bias, a certain core perspective that we apply to all things in life. Our work, our friends, the books that we read, the letters we write and the statements and judgments we make daily all reflect the bias engrained within us as a result of the experiences and people that have shaped our life.

Mr. Ching does not simply work for one of Hawaii’s largest real estate developers but his professional career has to a great extent been focused on actively working to eliminate or weaken regulations intended to protect all that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is supposed to manage and protect.

As a Castle and Cooke lobbyist, VP for the Land Use Research Foundation (LURF) and Board Member for the Building Industry Association (BIA) he serves in an influential leadership position in the effort to dismantle key elements now in place to protect public trust resources.

His job at many levels over the past decade is/was to influence changes in public policy to increase the profitability of development interests via the diminishment of environmental, health, cultural and public land protections.

As a Board Member of the Building Industry Association (BIA) Mr. Chings fiduciary responsibility is to support the interests of: developers, general contractors, specialty contractors, suppliers, Realtors, architects and financial institutions.

An even more alarming indication of the deep seated bias in support of development and opposed to environmental protections is his role as Vice President at LURF. LURF’s mission is to “promote and advance the interests of the development community, particularly in the areas of land use laws and regulations.”

LURF touts as some of its major accomplishments:

*LURF fought hard to convince the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service to reduce critical habitat designations and mandated conservation areas.

*LURF successfully lobbied to reduce requirements for developer applicant reviews by the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR/SHPD).

*LURF successfully lobbied to require the Department of Health (DOH) to delete various protections involving native Hawaii rights, historic preservation, coastal zone management and environmental impact reviews for storm water management permits.

*LURF actively opposed the requirement of landowners to provide lateral access along the coast line.

And LURF has been extremely active in what has almost become an annual effort to weaken HRS Chapter 343 (EIS Laws), they were core supporters of the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC) and numerous other efforts to exempt various development projects from environmental, health, planning and public interest laws now in place.

The mission statement of the Department of Land and Natural Resources is to: “Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawaii nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.”

We all have a bias and a unique perspective on life. Hawaii deserves a Director that is biased toward preserving the resource and protecting the public trust, not someone whose bias is clearly that of promoting increased development and profits while weakening those public trust protections.

Over twenty environmental groups are opposing the nomination of Mr. Ching to be Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Among the groups are the Conservation Council for Hawai`i, Defend O`ahu Coalition, Earthjustice, Friends of Lana`i, Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action, Hawai`i Wildlife Fund, Hawai`i’s Thousand Friends, Hui Ho`omalu I Ka `Aina, `Ilio`ulaokalani Coalition, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, Kanehili Hui, Kupa`a No Lana`i, Life of the Land, LOST FISH Coalition, MANA (Movement for Aloha No Ka `Aina), Maui Tomorrow, O`ahu Chapter of Aha Moku Council, Progressive Democrats of Hawai`i, Puna Pono Alliance, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, The Outdoor Circle, Wailua-Kapa`a Neighborhood Association and West Maui Preservation Association.

Please add your voice to ours by emailing a message to all Hawaii State Senators at sens@capitol.hawaii.gov opposing confirmation. Please email your concerns as soon as possible and no later than Feb. 4th.

The Department of Land & Natural Resources Director also serves as chair of the Board of Land & Natural Resources, chair of the Commission on Water Resource Management and as the state’s Historic Preservation Officer, in addition to overseeing many programs.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, headed by an executive Board of Land and Natural Resources, is responsible for managing, administering, and exercising control over public lands, water resources, ocean waters, navigable streams, coastal areas (except commercial harbors), minerals, and all interests therein. The department’s jurisdiction encompasses nearly 1.3 million acres of State lands, beaches, and coastal waters as well as 750 miles of coastline (the fourth longest in the country). It includes state parks; historical sites; forests and forest reserves; aquatic life and its sanctuaries; public fishing areas; boating, ocean recreation, and coastal programs; wildlife and its sanctuaries; game management areas; public hunting areas; and natural area reserves

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SB593 = “Game Changer” for food self sufficiency in Hawaii, Testimony needed TODAY! Hearing is Monday Feb. 2nd.

A “game changer” for food self sufficiency in Hawaii, please support SB593 and send in testimony TODAY! Hearing is scheduled at the State Capitol Room #224 for Monday February 2 at 2:50pm.

Read the Bill, Understand the Process and Testify Here:http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=593&year=2015

“The agribusiness development corporation, by December 31, 2025, shall lease a minimum of 50 per cent of lands controlled by the agribusiness development corporation to operations that support the sustainable agriculture and local food production plan and whose primary business is the production of food for local consumption in Hawaii.”SB593 (excerpt)

Translation: If SB593 is passed into law – it is possible that over the next 10 years over 10,000 acres of public agricultural lands would be made available to local farmers and could only be used for sustainable agriculture and local food production.

Please testify and share your mana’o and your suggestions as to how our State can increase the use of sustainable agricultural practices while increasing local food production.

Facts and Background on the Agribusiness Development Corporation

http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/chairpersons-office/agribusiness-development-corporation/

1) The Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) was supposedly created to help “transition Hawaii’s agriculture industry . . . to one composed of a diversity of different crops.” (ADC website). Yet, while ADC controls over 20,000 acres of agricultural public lands, less than 5% of ADC lands are used for local food production.

2) Hawai‘i urgently needs to become more self-sufficient and “food secure.” According to the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s (DBEDT) “Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy”:

About 85-90% of Hawaii’s food is imported which makes it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and global event that might disrupt shipping and the food supply.

3) Local farmers and ranchers state “the lack of affordable long term leases on good agricultural lands” as the most important roadblock to expanding local food production

4) The vast majority of the over 20,000 acres of state owned agricultural lands that the ADC leases has been leased to non-food producing corporations for very long terms at very low rates.

5) Requiring the ADC to develop and implement a plan to lease a minimum of 50% of the tillable public lands they manage within the next 10 years for sustainable agriculture and local food production is a reasonable approach to utilizing existing public lands to achieve our State’s goal of increased food sustainability.

6) This would also benefit Hawai‘i economically, creating thousands of jobs and infusing the economy with $$millions. According to the Hawai‘i DBEDT’s “Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy”:

The economic impact of food import replacement is significant. Replacing just 10% of the food we currently import would amount to approximately $313 million. Assuming a 30% farm share, $94 million would be realized at the farm-gate which would generate an economy-wide impact of an additional $188 million in sales, $47 million in earnings, $6 million in state tax revenues, and more than 2,300 jobs.

7) The public lands the ADC is managing are held in trust and are supposed to be used for the public good. Sustainable agricultural practices are important to restore and preserve the land for future generations, as opposed to pesticide-intensive industrial practices.

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Where There Is Smoke -

The glimmering coals of a campfire in the mountains, barbequing shrimp and ribs (with cold beer in hand) in the front yard with family and friends and ringing in the new year in front of a roaring bonfire on the beach at Kealia – are some of my fondest life memories.

Even when the memory is so faint you may not remember other details, you never forget the flickering of the flames and the pungent smell of the smoke.

To be clear: I will never ever support taking this away.

Bill #2573 is intended to narrowly address situations in our community where individuals intentionally or recklessly bring harm to someone else through their constant burning.

Unfortunately there are situations in neighborhoods where the homes are very close together, certain residents’ burn wood and other items in their fireplaces day after day year-round, even on the warmest days of summer – flooding neighboring homes with smoke on a regular basis to a degree where medical attention is needed.

Myself and other council members have attempted to engage the Department of Health and other agencies to help resolve one particularly egregious example. Even though there is an abundance of evidence pointing to negative health impacts, these impacted residents have been repeatedly told “there is nothing the agency could do”. These families offered to participate in mediation and they even offered to purchase a gas fireplace to replace the wood burning one – all to no avail.

Two years ago these families reached out to me for help. I explained as best I could the complexity of the issue but promised to investigate and explore different ways that this might be addressed. In my research I discovered that this issue was not a new one and that many communities around the nation have laws dealing with this type of situation including Maui County here in Hawaii.

Bill #2573 which is modeled almost identically after that existing Maui ordinance was my attempt to fulfill my promise to these families that I would try to help. My original drafts did not criminalize the action, limited the ordinance to only neighborhoods where homes were very close together, and required impacted residents to prove harm via an affidavit from a medical Doctor.

However in discussing the options with the Kauai County Attorney it was his recommendation that instead we simply mimic the existing Maui law which has been in existence since 1949 apparently with no negative consequences.

The normal practice involved in passing a county ordinance is that there is a “First Reading” which occurred this past Wednesday and then a public hearing is scheduled (February 11th). After the public hearing is held the Bill is then referred to a committee where the measure is either passed, amended, deferred for further review or killed.

Passing a Bill on “First Reading” merely authorizes the conversation to occur. Unless the Bill is passed on First Reading there can be no public hearing and no discussion of the issue among council members.

It is against the Sunshine Law for more than two council members to meet privately to have this type of discussion. The only way to engage a full, robust and legal discussion seeking solutions to various challenges within our community is to place the item on the table which was done in this case via the introduction of Bill #2573.

The act of putting a Bill like this on the table for public consideration and debate by its nature causes the Council and to some extent the public to think through the various options and implications, and to seek alternative solutions.

The actual additional cost to the County to have this discussion is minimal or zero as most costs are built in to the regular day to day operations.  To be clear I understand we could all be doing other things, but tangible budget impacts are negligible.

I agree that the language of Bill #2573 can be greatly improved.  It is my intention to take into consideration all of the public input and work with the County Attorney and my colleagues on the Council, and ultimately craft language that completely exempts all traditional, customary and everyday cooking practices and keep the focus only on the very tiny egregious incidents where people actually have to seek medical help because of the constant, intentional or reckless burning of a thoughtless neighbor that

Many in our community have raised excellent points as to how this measure might be improved. As the process moves forward many of these suggestions will likely be dealt with via the amendment process as determined by the Council Committee and then the entire Council. Or, at the end of the day if consensus on the Council and in the community cannot be reached, the matter could be deferred for more study or killed completely – such is the process of lawmaking.

Of course my preference is that we pass no law at all, that mutual respect and consideration be the norm among neighbors, and that the golden rule prevails without the need for Bills, public hearings or other such nonsense.

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The Hawaii Movement – Catalyzing Change, Empowering Communities – The H.A.P.A. Plan

Aloha,

As President of the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.). I would like to invite you to join our movement for change and to help if you can. http://www.hapahi.org

We are at a particularly critical point in time and need your help, your support and your active involvement in order to succeed in our mission – we must act now to preserve and leverage recent successes for grass-roots democracy, social justice and long-term sustainability.

Monsanto and their industry friends and supporters spent over $10 million on Maui and around our State during the 2014 elections. Through the Maui miracle and the tremendous success of individual citizens on Maui, we learned that grass roots efforts can win over big money.

Though the industry has successfully tied up the victories in court at the moment, the people of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii County have all challenged the largest corporate interests in the world at the community level and won.

To continue to win – we need to do better in three key areas:

1) We need to do a much better job working with mainstream media and educating the broader community on the issues important to us.

2) We must be better organized and build stronger statewide coalitions while expanding and educating our own local community networks.

3) We must support our friends in the legal environment who can go to battle in the courts on our behalf to defend the laws intended to protect our communities.

H.A.P.A. is designed and intended to provide this key support but to be successful we need your help today. We need the help of donors large and small and we need the help of grass-roots organizers and those individuals who represent the valuable “boots on the ground” – on each and every island.

By donating today and/or by signing up as a H.A.P.A. member today, you will help move us toward a position of strength as we enter the year 2015 and the opportunities and challenges that it will present.

I am a volunteer and our all-volunteer Board of Directors reflects a strong and diverse representation of cultures, occupations and demographics. http://www.hawaiiallianceforprogressiveaction.org/bod

H.A.P.A. is a statewide movement conceived on Kaua‘i and born from the experience of the community’s effort to assert its values and guide its future.

H.A.P.A.’s mission focus is targeted toward three key principles:

  • Revitalizing and supporting grassroots democracy through action and advocacy (“Taking Back Our Government“)
  • Community and environment over corporate agendas (“People over Profits“)
  • Local solutions to global challenges (“Think Global, Act Local“)

As a statewide, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, our action efforts are focused on:

  • Creating and funding media campaigns to inform our community of important issues – A sample is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-YjANUX2-I
  • Building coalitions in conjunction with like-minded community organizations to strengthen awareness and action
  • Launching grassroots action campaigns to galvanize community engagement
  • Supporting legal efforts to enforce laws that protect people and the environment

Please help today or before December 13 by donating $10, $100 or a $1,000 – or by simply signing up as a member of H.A.P.A. at no cost at all.

If you live on Maui, please join us on the evening of December 13 for an informal gathering/reception to meet our Board and to find out more about H.A.P.A., what we stand for and our plans for the future. Email me directly for location details and to RSVP.

H.A.P.A. is a public non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to H.A.P.A. are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.

Filed in the State of Hawai‘i on March 23, 2014, the articles of incorporation for the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) state:

Section 3.1 Purposes: The Corporation is organized exclusively for the charitable, literary or educational purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or the corresponding provision of any future federal tax code, including for such purposes to promote and facilitate the development of alliances that incorporate research, policy development, education and community engagement toward the purpose of supporting and protecting the rights of people and the planet, all of which shall be accomplished exclusively within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

NOTE: H.A.P.A. is not and will not be involved with lobbying or direct advocacy on any issues pending before the Kauai County Council. In general H.A.P.A. does not lobby. We educate, we support grass roots movement building and we support legal efforts to protect and preserve the health and well-being of people and the environment.

Please help if you can. And thank you to all who have already signed up and/or made a contribution.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser – Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, Board President

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