After a brief year of the Hawai’i senate being responsive to constituents, a coup led by Jill Tokuda, Michelle Kidani, Ronald Kouchi, Kalani English, Mike Gabbard and Gil Keith-Agaran has returned control to the corporations. Those who listened to the voice of the voters and voted down developer lobbyist Carleton Ching have been ousted by Tokuda’s corporatist faction.
Monsanto, Syngenta and construction interests have regained their control over the senate.
Sen Kouchi was named president of the senate and Sen Espero vice president. The measure was introduced by Sen Kalani English who represents (ironically) a district that voted overwhelmingly to put a moratorium on GMOs. Apparently English and Gabbard acted as the whips to coerce other senators into voting for the coup.
As you may remember we wrote that Tokuda had promised retribution to anyone who defied her and voted against the Ching nomination. Gov Ige’s eleventh hour withdrawal of Ching’s name saved those voting in favor of confirmation from the wrath of their constituents, but Tokuda knows who wasn’t toeing her line.
So out goes Sen Josh Green, the first to call the emperor on his new clothes and have the temerity to wonder if someone who knew absolutely nothing about natural resources law was really the right person to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR.)
Next on the chopping block: Sen. Rusell Ruderman who stymied the chemical companies and didn’t pass their wished-for state preemption of county pesticide disclosure and buffer zone ordinances. No doubt Sen Clarence Nishihara who is replacing Sen Ruderman as chair of Ag will gladly pass any pro-pesticide bill that chemical giants Monsanto and Syngenta propose.
Nishihara was known to be former Sen Malama Solomon’s sidekick trying to stave off repeal of the PLDC and pass preemption against the counties. Solomon was targeted by environmental organizations because of those actions and lost her election.
Tokuda has taken contributions from Syngenta, Monsanto, and chemical company lobbyists, George Morris and John Radcliff. She represents Kāne‘ohe and Kailua on O’ahu.
One of her platform issues is to work “with industry leaders and state agencies to identify those policy and/or regulatory changes that need to be made that can make significant difference for businesses, similar to the work done with the Bureau of Conveyances and the timeshare industry.”
Kudos, Sen Tokuda. You have done a bang up job for your donors, Monsanto and Syngenta. In one fell swoop, you’ve removed barriers standing between them and the schools, homes and hospitals they want to spray.
Apparently turning the Ag Committee over to the chemical corporations was a little too over the top. According to Civil Beat,
“Sen. Mike Gabbard, the fourth member of Tokuda’s group, will be chair of a new Water, Land and Agriculture Committee. Nishihara, a friend of the biotech industry, was slated for the Agriculture Committee chairmanship but leadership evidently decided to merge that committee with the Water and Land Committee, which Sen. Laura Thielen previously held.
Nishihara has been assigned to chair another merged committee, Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs. Public Safety had been Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, chaired by Sen. Will Espero, but he switched his support from the Chess Club to Opihi and is now vice president.
Thielen was assigned to chair another newly merged committee, Health and the Environment. Sen. Josh Green was chair of the Health Committee but will now be majority floor leader, a minor leadership position.”
UPDATE #2: Sen. Laura Thielen has declined the chairship of Health & Environment. She outlines her reasons in her blog.