Aloha GMO Free Kaua’i Ohana,
So today I am writing everyone to share a explanation statement from JoaAnn Yukimura about what happened at 3am Wednesday morning in the council chambers , about her testimony regarding the question of the bill’s deferral. This has come about because I got into a conversation with her husband after he replied to the recap of the days events in passing the bill. We got to talking a little bit, and I offered up the chance to offer a clarifying statement about what had happened, if JoAnn wanted to put one out, which she has done and is included in in this email, along with her husband John writing to me.
Now before I post her letter , I just want to say I am doing this for 2 reasons. One, because that moment of time was incredibly powerful for many of us, with a with a strong emotional response from many people inside and outside the council chambers. Two, because I am grateful to JoAnn for helping pass the bill and sending it to the mayor. I know many people are upset with her for how much she trimmed the bill back in places, I am too honestly about some of it. For instance ocean shoreline buffer zones really need to be larger than 100 feet. But, overall, I am grateful to her for her efforts in helping to pass a bill that she could support, I believe she did work hard crafting the amendments and moving the current bill forward. I believe that with JoAnn and Nadine, the bill doesn’t get out of committee, without JoAnn’s statement to not defer, the bill could have been stalled, and JoAnn’s vote was important passing it out of council and sending it to the mayor.
So because it was an intense moment that night, and in gratitude to JoAnn for her work in passing bill 2491, here is her statement. This is followed by John Wehrheim’s letter, JoAnn’s husband, which he has also cleared to share with you.
Thank you for the opportunity to explain my vote against deferral of Bill 2491.
I have always supported the intent of Bill 2491: protection of health and environment. From the beginning I expressed concerns about certain portions of the bill, and as I did my due diligence, learning about pesticides and genetically engineered crops and the existing processes for regulating them; hearing testimony from many about the impacts of pesticides in particular; and grappling with the legal issues, I began to see how to amend the bill to make it workable, easily enforceable and legally defensible. Vice Chair Nakamura was moving in the same direction, so it made sense to work together. Our goal was protection while avoiding unintended consequences and not harming jobs unnecessarily. To do this required careful crafting.
I would not have spent so much time and effort on the bill if I had wanted to kill the bill.
I was particularly troubled by how the county would enforce the bill with so little expertise and staffing. If the DOA was handicapped by limited staffing, how would the county enforce with no staff, no expertise and no enforcement infrastructure? That’s why I tried to get an enforcement commitment from the DOA. As I stated in my guest editorial in the Garden Island last Tuesday, I also thought working with the DOA might help to deflect a pre-emption challenge in court.
In the last several weeks, we were all thrown for a loop when the Governor and his Departments of Agriculture and Health weighed in with vague proposals for addressing the issue. Then the mayor requested a deferral, and Council Vice Chair Nakamura was appointed Managing Director as of December 1.
In a guest editorial printed on the morning the committee meeting opened, I sized up the situation: it would be worth trying to get DOA’s cooperation, only if we could be assured that the amended bill would ultimately pass. I pursued this possibility by trying to get the mayor to promise that he wouldn’t veto the bill at the end of the deferral period. Then we would only need 4 votes. But as the committee meeting progressed, it became clear that trying to get DOA’s cooperation was too risky; with Nadine gone and Jay not wanting a deferral, there was the possibility that Bill 2491 would die at the end of the deferral period. This was not an option for me.
I was trying to explain my reasoning in my exhausted 3:30 am speech. In retrospect, I should have started with my conclusion to vote against deferral, but instead, I led to my conclusion by first outlining my thought process. In retrospect, this was not very smart.
I voted against deferral because I did not want to do anything to jeopardize final passage of the bill. Thank you for recognizing that all my efforts have been directed at passing a workable, effective and legally defensible version of Bill 2491. Congratulations to you and all Bill 2491 supporters on your extraordinary efforts and success.
Okay, thats all for now, see you on Thursday 6pm at Lydgate park for our Halloween Party (Costume optional) with GMO Free potluck, or come earlier and swim too! Please come, costumes optional, but encouraged (any kind, but food/farming/gmo related are fun). We will some have extra lab animal ears for those who need something to wear :).