FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mayor and Staff Admit Lack of Knowledge on Bill 2491
Presentation Highlights Ill-considered Analysis and Lack of Willingness to Act
LIHUE - The Kauai County Council convened today to hear several matters related to Bill 2491, the
will re-convene on Tuesday, October 15.
In addition to public testimony, a majority of the day was spent on a presentation by Mayor
Carvalho and his staff. The administration took the position that the implementation and
said that he was meeting with the State Department of Agricu
County response: To be clear, we stated that the timeframe for implementation (6 months) was
we believe this is so. We also
based on how the bill
is currently written. We also offered suggestions on how it could be amended so that it would be less
challenging to implement. These statements are taken out of context in your release and should be
clarified on your Facebook post and with others to whom the release has been distributed.
to know what the practical operational implications and impacts were surrounding the
implementation of the Bill. While the legislative branch of the County - the County Council - is
empowered to enact law, i y laws passed. It is not
uncommon for the Council to request presentations by the administration on operational impacts of
There was palpable frustration expressed by both members of the public and council members at the
contained in the presentation the body as a whole did express their appreciation of the breadth of
attempt to provide them the most complete information
possible in the time allotted.
Ill-considered analysis of Bill 2491
Council Member Bynum asked the administration why enforcement of disclosure would be so
complicated if the companies already keep very detailed records about what they do. He added,
went out and did it at night illegally, and then they would be lying not only to the County, but the
County response: This was very troublesome. Councilmember Bynum himself later in the meeting
certain information from them. As with any ordinance that involves enforcement and possible
penalties, it would be irresponsible for us to limit our investigation into reported violations only to
inquiries with the alleged violators. Taking this logic to the extreme, should the police allow alleged
criminals to self-report as to their guilt or innocence and leave it at that? Would our residents
especially those who support Bill 2491 and oppose the seed companies - be satisfied with that level
of inquiry? This bill carries with it significant penalties for violations. The questions we have
raised should signal that we are taking it seriously and intend to enforce it as best we can. The
administration has painted an accurate picture of what enforcement of Bill 2491 will look like.
Andrea Brower, who has followed closely the details of this bill since its inception, said that the
people, several consultants and extensive technical training just to implement disclosure and buffer
zones is simply illogical. The administration expressed overwhelm about dealing with health
complaints, but there is nothing in this bill that is even about that! There were glaring inconsistencies
between what the bill would actually m
County response: The buffer zones are being established to insure that residents do not suffer ill
effects from pesticide use. So logically, if the buffer zones are being properly managed by the seed
companies, there should be no health effects on our people. Once the bill is in force, if someone
because they believe a seed company was spraying within the buffer zone, are you insinuating that
we should not investigate that complaint? There may be issues that Department of Health should
address in this scenario, but the County would be bound by this ordinance to investigate whether
pesticides were being used in the buffer zones. We believe such complaints will be made, and we do
not feel that we will be able to (or should) ignore them if the bill passes as it is currently written.
Brower added that to suggest that the County would need nearly $1.5 million before next July just to
-considered, misleading and clearly not based on analysis of the
County response: This figure included the $1,000,000 that the Council has estimated it will cost to
complete the Environmental Study that is covered in the companion Resolution to Bill 2491. And
this was clarified for Ms. Brower on the Council floor yesterday. There is another $100,000
precede the study. So 78% of the funding we included came from the estimate and request.
The rest would cover the cost of personnel, training, IT infrastructure and investigative tools that we
believe would be needed to provide effective implementation and enforcement that is called for in the
ordinance. We feel these costs were justified in the presentation. A copy of the presentation has
been attached, and we ask that you include it wherever this release is posted or sent.
In regards to funding concerns, Hooser reminded the administration that the County has the authority
to charge companies for regulatory burden, and that as some of the largest multinationals in the
world, the companies should have no problem paying to operate on Kauai. Mr. Hooser also pointed
out that the County Tax Department has found that the companies owe back taxes of $130,000 - an
unbudgeted amount that the administration could use toward implementation and enforcement of
County response: It is not correct to assume that back-taxes would be available for immediate use.
These taxes are billed but could be appealed, and as such may not be available before they are
needed for implementation. In the short-term, the only way to provide funding for these new
expenses is to take them from other areas of the current operating budget.
Lack of knowledge and willingness to act on pesticide concerns
council members who have spent the past months working very hard to think through the technical
County response: The deferral is being requested specifically so that the County can work with the
Department of Agriculture to determine if enforcement can be provided by that agency - which is
assumption is that the Council would then act upon the bill as they see fit.
In response to questioning by Council Member Bynum, both the mayor and Mr. Hue stated that
neither had looked at the information that has been made public about one of the seed companies
spraying 240 days a year. Nor had they read testimony by agricultural specialists who submitted
studies about the effects of pesticide spray on Kauai. There was no straight answer about whether
their implementation concerns were influenced by conversations with the companies.
information and suggestions on how the bill could be amended to provide greater chances of
successful implementation. This was done at the request of the Council Chair. In doing so, the
administration was taking no position on the bill, and was making no judgments on the various
doctors at KVMH? Have you talked to them about the potentially higher rates of birth defects they
County response: Again, we made it clear that we were not being obstructionist or asking the
Council NOT to pass the bill. We were just providing input on the amended draft that we received
on October 1, in an effort to make the bill easier to implement once passed. That includes providing
time to work with the State to determine what way they could participate in the implementation.
Local attorney Elif Beall stated that instead of deferring a vote on the Bill, the administration might
months after it is passed. If the administration needs more time to implement the Bill, they could
have asked for the effective date to be moved out a few months instead of trying to stop the
Council from even considering the matter during a 2 month deferr
County response: We encourage anyone who is interested in this issue to look at our presentation.
The bill is lacking in detail and needs clarification on legislative intent in order to insure that it is
implemented properly. We were very specific about the amendments that we proposed. Those
amendments will hopefully be considered before action is taken.
is not specific enough especially when significant penalties
could be levied against violators.
Influence of companies questioned
Nomi Carmona of the biotech watchdog group Babes Against Biotech testified that it would be naive
to defer Bill 2491 in the hopes that the state regulatory or legislative actors would somehow step in.
given $1,000 on the same day in 2009 from both DuPont/Pioneer and Syngenta. Then another
$2,000 from DuPont as recently as May 22, 2013, just after the State legislative session ended. This
County response: As a governmental entity we feel it is our obligation to work with the State and the
federal government, especially on matters of mutual concern or that involve overlapping
jurisdictions. Mayor Carvalho has done this routinely during his five years as Mayor of i on a
variety of issues with a great degree of success.
County Charter, Section 23.15, Cooperation with other
provate organizations and with organizations of the governments of the United State, the State, and
If discussions with the State fail to provide additional opportunities to address these matters, we
fully expect that deliberations on Bill 2491 will resume as the Council feels appropriate.
Other testifiers noted that the disclosure, buffer-zones and impact study provisions in the current bill
are not things that the State has policy in place for, and suggested that if the State wants to partner
with the County, a good starting place would be in enforcing existing regulations that it has been
County response: The specific elements in the bill are not currently provided for by the State.
However, these activities are currently part of what they do. It could be a relatively simple matter
contained in Bill 2491.
that the companies have had a strong influence in pushing the administration to feel so
-makers need to be firm and bold. We cannot let
the companies bully us into believing that we are incapable of doing anything. Our hands are not tied
County response: The administration is merely trying to be proactive in assisting the Council with
passing legislation that has a solid legal and operational foundation, so that we can successfully
implement when it is passed. We are not questioning whether the bill should be passed. We are
merely trying to provide suggestions on the most effective and cost-