400 Maui activists say no to TPP. Talks end without agreement

longlinepubywade

On July 29th with the secret Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP) negotiators and ministers sequestered in the plush Mariot resort at Ka’anapali Beach on Maui, 400 conch shell blowing TPP protestors showed up to say “no” to the TPP.

Photo of 400 conch shell blowing Maui residents protesting the Trans Pacific Partnership at Ka'anapali Beach outside the secret TPP negotiations held at the Westin.

On Maui 400 Stop the TPP on Land and Sea protestors sound the kahea (call) with conch shells

Event organizer Trinette Furtado said that in blowing the pū (conch shell),

“we are putting out a mighty kahea (call), past the shorelines of Maui, to connect with others standing up for their ‘āina (land) and people.”

The event which lasted most of the day began with a Hawaiian pule (prayer) by Lorilani Keohokalole-Torio and chants preceding a press conference, during which the former Japanese agricultural minister, Masahiko Yamada, spoke through an interpreter and talked about how he had been fighting the TPP for five years.  Yamada ended with an impassioned sentence about the TPP and shot his arm and fist towards the sky.  The crowd, without waiting for his translation was inspired by his tone to shout and raise their arms with him.

Marti Townsend, the Hawai’i Sierra Club Executive Director spoke about the negative environmental consequences of the investor-state tribunals and said,

“Signing a deal that would restrict governments from taking action on climate change, gut environmental protections, and increase poverty all at the same time is an injustice that will haunt generations to come.”

Long time Native Hawaiian activist (extending back to the 70s when Hawaiians were fighting to stop the military destruction of Kaho’olawe island) Walter Ritte said,

“This is nothing new we’re talking about today. It’s nothing new for us Hawaiians. We don’t need another layer of colonialism and bureaucracy. We had the sugar and pineapple barons, now we have the chemical-GMO barons and the tourist industry. We don’t need anymore. It’s pilau, pilau, pilau (rotten).”

Native Hawaiian Trinette Furtado similarly called the TPP,

“an affront to the sovereignty of all of us as individuals, and also an affront to Hawaiian sovereignty.”

Unite Here Local 5 has been active in Hawai’i social justice issues and participated in the planning for this event.  Although not speaking at the press conference, Unite Here representative Cade Watanabe  added,

“Workers around the world are hurting. We need agreements that lift living standards for all, not drive them down so that big business can make another buck.”

Lorilani Keohokalole-Torio spoke from her indigenous ancestral connection to Hawai‘i,

“Behind me stands my ancestors and my ‘ohana (family). We are not aligned with people coming in and restructuring how we live. It hurts my na‘au, my gut. We are fed up, we are educated, we are empowered, and we are aligned to help this place, mother earth, regain the strength that she wants back.”

After the press conference there were 2 hours of pū blowing practice in preparation for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record in beach conch shell blowing. (There was method behind this noisy practice on the beach fronting the Westin hotel)

At approximately 5:30pm the 400 pū blowers were wrangled into a long line. And blew the pū five times rather than the traditional four.  The final blow was directed to the TPP ministers in a meeting at the Westin hotel.  Pū blowing was directed by another long time Hawaiian activist, Earl DeLeon. Call and response chants in Hawaiian followed.

On Friday it appears that the TPP negotiators failed to reach a complete agreement primarily over agricultural issues.

Ironically one of the sticking points was the U.S. subsidy and price supports for sugar plantations – a controversial subject on Maui where HC&S burns 37,000 acres of cane fields 6 days per week and up to 10 months per year.  Stop Cane Burning with over a thousand members just filed suit against the burning. In an example of the differing social justice organizing joining together, some of the key organizers of this event also belong to the cane burning opposition.

Hawai’i is seeing social justice, labor, indigenous, environmental and human rights movements realizing that joining together in support makes for a louder, stronger voice.

Those who joined to support Wednesday’s action included: Kāko’o Haleakalā, AiKea, Sierra Club, UNITE HERE! Local 5, KAHEA: Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A), Babes Against Biotech, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Kai Palaoa, Hawaii Center for Food Safety, Hawai’i SEED, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, ‘Ohana O Kaua’i, Occupy Wall Street Maui, Public Citizen, Flush the TPP, Friends of the Earth, Shaka Movement, Popular Resistance, MoveOn, CREDO, SumOfUs, and many more.  AFL-CIO put out a call to members to join the action.

This event was organized in only five days due to the secretive nature of the TPP negotiations.  More photos at the event website TPPmaui.com

PS: Many thanks to the Hawai’i ACLU for intervening with the State of Hawai’i so that the 400 didn’t end up arrested.  Note to State of Hawai’i – you need to rewrite you standard permitting for First Amendment activities so that you drop the indemnification clause which the courts have held is an unconstitutional prior restraint of Free Speech.

Most of this article is reprinted from Daily Kos

Posted in Community Activism

TPP Negotiators on Maui Will Be Greeted by Anti-TPP Pū blowers

july29flyerTPP secret negotiations are going on right now at the plush Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali on Maui.

Activists on Maui are preparing to greet the TPP nation ministers with an attempt to break the Guinness World Record in beach pū (conch) blowing outside their hotel.  A tiny group of Maui residents are putting together this national event with backing and help from Kāko’o Haleakalā, AiKea, Hawaii Sierra Club, Hawai‘i SEED Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action H.A.P.A, UNITE HERE Local 5, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, Flush the TPP, Popular Resistance, MoveOn, CREDO, SumOfUs, Babes Against Biotech, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, `Ohana o Kauai, Occupy Wall Street Maui and many more.

In the last four days since discovering that the TPP negotiators were holding meetings on the secretive treaty on Maui, they’ve gotten permission from Guiness World Records to try for a world record, created a website, TPPmaui.com, put out PSAs and press releases and coordinated with the national groups.

Maui’s noisy anti-TPP event takes advantage of Hawai’i laws which say that the beach is public property.

SumOfUs has contributed towards T-shirts for participants to highlight the opposition to the TPP.

Event organizers say:

I ka wā ma mua, ka wā ma hope (“the future is in the past”) – In understanding the past, we look to the future: we rally together in prelude to  Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Restoration Day, when after being temporarily seized by the British Navy, sovereignty was restored and Kamehameha III proclaimed before a large crowd, ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”)

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Posted in International

More documents turn up pointing to real purpose of Community Plan bill

A document presented at the Maui Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by their Construction Industry PAC arm explains exactly why PC-021 has been proposed and how it will make Community Plans toothless exercises in uselessness.

Jencks, acting for developers, is hoping that County Council members will not understand that the impact of this is to invalidate all the Community and Island Plans and leave the public out of the planning process.

Writing the law in the reverse (requiring that the administration change their zoning to match what the citizens have determined in the Community Plans) might be reasonable.  But this cuts out the Community Plans from having any effect on what can and cannot be built and where.

UPDATE: 

The usual process for a bill like this would be for it to come from Planning Department, where Joe Alouette would spend months fine tuning and making sure it wouldn’t cause collateral damage.Then Planning would take it out to the 3 planning commissions, often twice if there are substantive comments. Then it would be sent around to agencies and Corp Counsel.

Only after all this careful review would it go to County Council.

Funny, the man in charge of ordinance drafting and Planning Deputy (who are the two Planning Department watchdogs) are on vacation the next few weeks…
It never went to planning! Planning staff were seemingly not aware of it till today.

Charlie Jencks’ plan to invalidate community

Certain concerned citizen groups on Maui have recently sought to challenge projects on the basis that the community plans provide for more restrictive uses than the corresponding zoning designations. Ultimately, one of these challenges could reach the Hawaii Supreme Court, which could, absent clarifying legislation, determine that more expansive uses allowed in the corresponding zoning are not allowed if not specifically enumerated in the in the community plan land use descriptions. If the Hawaii Supreme Court makes such a nonconformity ruling, then a significant number of existing uses on Maui would in effect be nonconforming structures and uses, because the uses are allowed by the zoning, but not specifically enLimeratectt I the corresponding community plan definition.

A finding of non-conformity would impact a significant number of properties in the areas community plan designated as light industrial and hotel to name a few. Many if not all of these uses can be assumed to have some degree of secured debt attached to them as well as property insurance that would be put at risk if a catastrophic event (such as a fire or a hurricane) were to impact the uses, in addition to a significant impact on County property tax revenues.

Proposed Solution

Corrective legislation will shortly be heard before the Maui County Council Planning Committee (June 18) that would address this inconsistency between our zoning code and the General Plan, by establishing that permitted land uses are governed by the language in the zoning code. As a landowner owning property that could be directly impacted by a bad judicial non-conforming ruling decision on these inconsistencies I am asking for your support when this legislation is heard by the Maui County Council.

Background on Problem

Community Plan Designations Differ from Zoning

Certain Land Use Categories used in all Maui Community Plans differ from the allowed uses in the corresponding zoning…

 

Posted in The Corrupt Construction Industry

Construction Lobbyist: Sneak Attack on Maui Community Plans

honokawai300

On Thursday June, 18, 2015 the Maui County Council will hear a bill introduced by Councilmember Don Couch but most likely written by developer lobbyist, Charlie Jenks and the Maui Chamber of Commerce that will make community plans entirely toothless and irrelevant.

BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 2.80B, MAUI COUNTY CODE, RELATING TO GENERAL PLAN AND COMMUNITY PLAN  says that a developer may ignore the Community plan.

Under current law, the administration can zone areas but even if a parcel is zoned “Hotel” if the citizens who create the community plan want the land to be “Park” or “Residential” the developer cannot build a hotel on the land.  This bill will eliminate the citizens’ voices from planning and make the community planning process irrelevant.

One has to hand it to Don Couch, the Chamber of Commerce and the developer lobbyists: they’ve got chutzpah!

PC-021 Amending Chapter 2.80B

Posted in The Corrupt Construction Industry

Big win for Monsanto/Syngenta in state senate reorganization

shameOnYouSyngenta

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 SyngentaMonsanto, 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.

UPDATE:

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.

Posted in Corporate Control of Hawai'i, Donna Mercado Kim

Balfour a climate change denier

climatechangedenier

Sources tell us that when Gov Ige’s people asked Bill Balfour  whether he thought climate change was an issue to worry about with regard to water, he indicated that he felt it might or might not be real and might or might not be caused by humans, and said if it was,  it was “God’s will”.

And Gov Ige  nominated him to the Water Commission knowing this?  Perhaps we should have asked David Ige whether he is a climate change denier too.

Here are the phone numbers for the WTL Committee. The final hearing is Friday, April 17 at 1:15pm in room 224.

Chair Laura Thielen: 587-8388  senthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Vice-Chair Brickwood Galuteria: 586-6740  sengaluteria@capitol.hawaii.gov
Les Ihara: 586-6250  senihara@capitol.hawaii.gov
Maile Shimabukuro: 586-7793  senshimabukuro@capitol.hawaii.gov
Gil Riviere: 586-7330  senriviere@capitol.hawaii.gov
Sam Sloan: 586-8420  senslom@capitol.hawaii.gov
Russel Rudermann: 586-6890  senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov
Gov Ige  586-0034

 

Posted in Ige's Bad Appointments

Balfour Confirmation continued to Friday

WTL Committee on Balfour confirmation

The WTL committee appeared dissatisfied with Bill Balfour’s grasp of the water code he’s been nominated to administer and asked him back on Friday at 1:15pm to grill him on the two decisions he made that were reversed by the Hawaii Supreme Court.  (GM820 Measure Status)

Balfour appeared uncertain, asking “In two days?” as though he either couldn’t count the days between Wednesday and Friday or was uncertain he could bone up on water law in only two days.

One has to wonder why he would have trouble with water law since he served on the Water Commission previously.  But this could explain why his two major decisions were reversed by the Court as illegally favoring the plantations.

Voters were outraged by yet another of Gov Ige’s corporate appointments to administer Hawaii’s natural resources.  Especially when the Balfour nomination so closely followed the Carleton Ching debacle.  There appears more in common with these two nominees than initially realized.  Both seem utterly clueless about water law.  This is most unexpected in someone like Balfour who actually served on the Water Commission making decisions (theoretically) based on that law.

When asked about climate change he replied that fossil fuels are burning up the ozone (!!) When asked about the 100 year history of streams (whether they were intermittent or diverted and no longer flowing to the sea). He answered that he had only been around for 83 years and so didn’t really know. When asked about a steam in Maui that no longer reaches the ocean, he answered that “sand hills” (dunes) blocked the the passage of the water to the ocean and he didn’t know what to do about that.

We leave it to the reader to spot the egregious errors in every single one of his answers.

Those who oppose this nomination worked with a short deadline.  The nomination was announced less than a week ago.  Despite this, a petition against Balfour’s confirmation garnered 3,524 signatures.  Phone calls exceeded the WTL senators’ voicemail limits and staff for the governor said ruefully that they had received “quite a few calls.”

 

Posted in Ige's Bad Appointments

Tokuda: Tax break for rich OK. No break for poor

taxcorporations

Bart Dame on tax justice:

Nationally, we tend to blame the Republicans for giving so many tax breaks to the corporations. But in Hawaii, the Democrats have controlled the tax structure for over 50 years and low-income people pay about 13% of income in taxes while the very rich pay only about 8%.

The chair of the State Senate Ways and Means committee, a nominal Democrat, just decided to not even hear a bill which would block a tax cut for rich people scheduled to go in effect at midnight, December 31st.

She says there is no money in the budget to increase tax credits for low income people, but gives a $48 million tax cut to those earning over $250,000. She hopes you won’t notice. I hope you do.

HB886 was passed by the house, was making its way through the senate when it came to a screeching halt in Sen Jill Tokuda’s Ways and Means committee.  Sen Tokuda refused to hear it.  Dame explains:

It would have done 3 things:

1) Raise the renter’s tax credit for low income people. This has not been adjusted for inflation since 1981.  Interestingly, the renters tax credit is a pretty effective way to prevent or catch tax cheats who don’t declare their rental income.


2) Raise the Food Tax Credit to (partially) compensate low income Hawaii residents for the general excise tax we pay on food. This has not been adjusted for inflation since 2007.

3) Delay for 5 years a tax cut for those earning over $250,000, scheduled to go into effect, unless the legislature acts, at the end of 2015. HB 886 was the last opportunity for the Lege to stop this tax cut.

Using the excuse, “there is no money,” the only bill WAM has moved forward which gives even a SMALL tax cut for low income residents, is SB555, which would adjust the Food Tax Credit for low income residents.

So there is “no money” for credits for the poor but there is money for tax cuts for the rich?

Who would have thought that a Democrat would support cutting taxes for the rich and letting the poor pay a higher effective tax rate?  Hello?  Isn’t a progressive tax system one of the planks of the Democratic Party Platform?

Posted in Tax Justice

Balfour’s decisions overturned – hey, let’s appoint him again!

balfour

Nowhere on Bill Balfour’s resume does it mention that he previously served on the Water Commission.  That’s not surprising because he probably doesn’t want the WTL committee to ask him about all the pro-plantation decisions he made which were subsequently found to be illegal.  In one he was warned that the decision he was supporting was illegal prior to his vote but went ahead anyway.

As Evan Tector found when he researched Mr. Balfour’s decisions:

Mr. Balfour’s decisions were contrary to the public trust doctrine and other mandates under the State Water Code:

* He voted to give large water companies continued access to large amounts of water at the expense of restored stream flows and Hawaiian water rights in the Na Wai ‘Eha case in Central Maui. The Commission’s decision was appealed to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and reversed.

* He voted against granting Hawaiian practitioners a contested case hearing over Alexander & Baldwin subsidiary East Maui Irrigation Company’s long-standing and destructive diversion of millions of gallons of water per day from East Maui streams. The Commission’s decision was appealed to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and reversed.

* He voted to dismiss a petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer as a Water Management Area before the petitioner, National Park Service, even had the opportunity to present its case. The petition is moving forward and information is being gathered by the Commission’s staff.

There is growing opposition to the Balfour nomination despite the public’s weariness in responding Governor Ige’s numerous bad nominations.  How can one man come up with so many bad nominees?

A petition has garnered over 500 signatures and conservation organizations are beginning to wake up to the damage someone with such a poor record of following the law would do as a Water Commissioner.

But unlike the Ching nomination which was made with plenty of time for review, this last-minute appointment came during a two-day grace period to the original deadline for the governor to submit his names.  As the legislative session winds down, this nomination is not getting the time and scrutiny it deserves.

The hearing is this Wednesday April 15th.  Not the long lead time that the Ching nomination had.  Hopefully the WTL committee will examine this nominee with the same thoroughness that they gave Ching, despite the rush and despite the unwillingness to buck a governor of their own party.

Again, Governor Ige, we have to ask:  “Who is advising you on these terrible nominations?  Did you learn nothing from the Ching debacle?”

 

Posted in Ige's Bad Appointments

Ige once again picks the worst candidate for the Water Commission

How is it that given 3 terrific candidates, Governor Ige goes unerringly for the very worst one – the one that represents developer/plantation/Monsanto interests?  Who is giving the governor this bad advice?

Right now, those who believe in following the water law and following the state constitution’s mandated water hierarchy and public trust doctrine hold a slim majority.

Instead of confirming Denise Antolini’s interim appointment, Governor Ige has picked Bill Balfour, who has spent 39 years as a sugar plantation executive.  He spent 19 years as president and manager of Pioneer Mill Company, Oahu Sugar Company, Lihue Plantation Company and McBryde Sugar Company. He also served as an Amfac executive.  A major portion of his life has been spent diverting streams to sugar plantation uses.

Considering the East Maui Streams case which seeks to return the water that HC&S is diverting from streams to their central Maui sugar plantation is currently before the Water Commission, one has to wonder why the governor would pick yet another nominee with a clear conflict of interest.

Worse yet, Balfour has worked as a consultant for Monsanto.  In 2013 the Water Commission turned Monsanto down for a larger water allotments on Maui and Oahu.  Since then tMonsanto has worked hard to insert themselves into Water Commission business.  In 2013 they managed to get their lobbyist appointed to the water commission nominating committee.

What a coup for the Monsanto lobbyist on the Water Commission Nominating Committee!  It may have taken two years but now they have a seat on the Water Commission.

Antolini is an associate dean and law professor at UH’s Richardson School of Law.  She heads up the environmental law program.  As such she is eminently qualified to sit on the Water Commission whose decisions are based on environmental law.

Here’s the question to Governor Ige:  Do you want the Water Commission to follow (and know!) the law or do you want to turn the majority of commissioners into a rubber stamp for the plantations and their successor development/water operations?

Update: Monsanto lobbyist Alan Takemoto is no longer on the Water Commission Nominating Committee.  Monsanto Attorney Yvonne Izu is.

Posted in DLNR, Governor, Ige's Bad Appointments

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