Corruption at the top of the Hawai’i Pesticide Division

The large chemical companies are challenging Hawai’i county laws mandating pesticide buffer zones and introduce “right to farm” bills galore because, they say, pesticides are regulated by the Department of Agriculture Pesticide Division headed by Thomas Matsuda.

In an explosive release of phone transcripts, citizen investigators at the Facebook group, “Maui’s Dirty Little Secrets” show that the Pesticide Branch is not enforcing the EPA rules on pesticides and is, in fact, dragging their feet on known contamination sites and spraying regimes violating the label instructions.  It is illegal to use pesticides in a manner inconsistent with label instructions which have the force of law.

Read moreCorruption at the top of the Hawai’i Pesticide Division

Ige makes deal to get his friend a job

Word on the street is that Governor David Ige struck a deal with UH President David Lassner to get the governor’s friend, developer lobbyist Carleton Ching, a job as UH director of land development.  The price?  Vetoing HB553 which would have given graduate student state employees the right to collectively bargain.

Read moreIge makes deal to get his friend a job

Balfour a climate change denier

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

 

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

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?”

 

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.