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

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.”

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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

Construction Lobbyist: Sneak Attack on Maui Community Plans

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

Big win for Monsanto/Syngenta in state senate reorganization

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.

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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

 

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

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?

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.