It has been a rough few weeks. On November 8th Donald Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States and I was defeated in my bid for re-election to the Kauai County Council.
Then on November 18th the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced their decision invalidating Bill 2491/Ordinance 960. Also on this same day within hours of that announcement my dear friend and colleague Tim Bynum passed away. Tim was the co-introducer of Bill 2491 and fortunately was unaware of the court decision at the time when he last closed his eyes.
Each incident was like a gut punch. Each seemed impossible to fathom or understand at the time it happened and each has made me more determined than ever.
The chemical companies will rue the day they took on this battle with our community.
This is one of our many Standing Rocks — where corporate power and profit collide with indigenous rights, the rights of communities to determine their future, and people’s determination to protect their land and water.
It would have been much easier for them and for our community if they simply would have accepted the modest provisions contained in Bill 2491 – Disclose to us your pesticide usage, don’t spray next to schools, hospitals and homes and let us do a comprehensive study to determine health impacts on our community.
But instead they have fought us every step of the way.
For the record, I do not support any activities that are illegal or cause physical harm to people or property. However, it is a given that there will be more law suits, more marches, more direct action, more letters to the editor and more people packing the halls of government waiting to testify.
The focus now will be on the Governor and the Hawaii State Legislature to put into place the necessary regulations and conduct the needed testing and studies. Broad-based community actions are being planned now to ensure that message is delivered convincingly, consistently and with impact.
Please help by signing this petition demanding Governor Ige act now: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/demand-the-state-of-hawaii-act-now-to-protect-the-people
My personal commitment to pushing back against the chemical companies is stronger now than ever before. Later this month I return on a personal trip to Basel Switzerland, home of Syngenta. I will continue to work with MultiWatch, a Swiss organization committed to ending Syngenta’s practices in Hawaii that are illegal to conduct in their home country.
This 4 minute video of my remarks to Syngenta Shareholders will help you better understand our situation with this particular chemical company.
What 2017 and beyond will look like for me is still taking shape.
I have the freedom today to make new choices, unfettered in a sense from the bindings of elective office. #hooserunleashed😉
In addition to persisting in my work to protect people and environment from the chemical companies, I also am committed to helping organize and build a broader movement in Hawaii in support of a progressive agenda grounded in social, economic and environmental justice.
As its volunteer Board President, the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) and mission to “catalyze change and empower communities” will receive my full time attention. http://www.hapahi.org
H.A.P.A. is a strong and vibrant organization and among many other activities is presently supporting two potentially game-changing initiatives:
The Kuleana Academy – A program whose mission is to identify, recruit and train the next generation of grassroots leaders – http://www.hapahi.org/kuleana-academy/
The Hawaii Peoples Congress – A powerful new coalition that will advocate for tangible policies that address wealth inequality, excessive corporate influence and environmental degradation.- http://www.peoplescongresshi.org
However, we/I need more.
H.A.P.A. is a 501c3 nonprofit whose tax exempt status does not allow it to become involved in the full-throated political and policy actions that I strongly believe are needed now. If we are to achieve the bold change required to push back against the growing institutional and corporate powers now in place, we need to step up our game with regards to both policy advocacy and political action.
So while H.A.P.A. can educate, inform and organize which are critical components in the foundation needed for change to happen, other organizations must step up to carry the ball further and more aggressively down the field.
One option is to create and lead such an entity. This could be a 501c4 or otherwise legally structured entity that could engage aggressively in both political and policy advocacy. This would allow me to utilize and leverage the experience and networks I have gained over the years to advocate for progressive public policy while supporting symbiotic community based political action springing up now on all islands.
Another option that remains even now an unresolved thought continuously swirling in my brain, centers on my potential future in public office.
Whether or not my recent loss is the last and final election campaign of my life is a question that I ask myself daily. Serving in elective office, though challenging and somewhat stressful at times, has been incredibly fulfilling.
Future political options primarily revolve around the 2018 election cycle however sometimes “things happen” in mid cycle that create opportunities for appointments and/or special elections.
A potentially YUGE wrinkle in Hawaii’s political landscape is the rumor of U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard leaving her CD2 seat early for a job in the Trump administration. The CD2 is composed of the neighbor-islands (2/3) and rural Oahu (1/3).
Should this happen, a “winner take all” special election will occur giving candidates possibly only 4 months to organize and run a campaign on all islands. Candidates with existing name recognition and established statewide networks would have a clear off the blocks advantage.
Lot’s of choices.
Frankly I want to do it all.
Mahalo to all for your friendship, support and the kind and generous words many have written to me over the past few weeks.
Please join us in Honolulu this weekend, December 3 & 4, for two days of panels, workshops and speakers that will prepare us to launch the People’s Agenda for real change!
Tim Bynum – Celebration of Life
December 16th, 4:30pm Lydgate Beach Park, Main Pavilion
Article in The Garden Island about a true leader and a dear friend, Councilmember Tim Bynum:
My thoughts regarding the 9th Circuit issue:
‘It’s Time To Visit The Governor”
9th Circuit Court decision regarding Ordinance 960: