Earlier today, a federal court declared the Maui County initiative seeking to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops on Maui, Molokai and Lanai invalid.
The county’s ordinance creating the prohibition exceeded the county’s authority, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway said in her order.
The county, which is a major center for research on genetically engineered crops, will abide by the decision, spokesman Rod Antone said. Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co. unit Agrigenetics Inc. both have research farms in the county.
The judge stressed that her order addresses only the legal question of county authority. “No portion of this ruling says anything about whether GE organisms are good or bad or about whether the court thinks the substance of the ordinance would be beneficial to the county,” she said.
A Monsanto spokesperson on Maui said, “We are very pleased with the court’s decision holding that the Maui referendum is contrary to federal and state laws. If the referendum was implemented, it would have placed an immediate and essentially permanent ban on long-standing farming operations in Maui County. It would have endangered hundreds of local jobs and eliminated beneficial options for farmers, such as the science of genetic engineering which led to development of the Rainbow papaya. We greatly appreciate the tremendous passion and hard work of the thousands of local residents and members of the agricultural community who recognized the problematic nature of this flawed initiative.”
The group GMO Free Maui, issued an immediate response. Autum Ness released the following synopsis: “In the wake of the latest decision in the Monsanto vs. Maui case, a coalition of Maui voters have launched a campaign demanding that Monsanto and Dow respect their vote and drop their lawsuit against Maui. In her decision released today, Judge Mollway struck down the GMO Moratorium approved by voters in last November’s election. Appealing the decision to a higher court is estimated to take about a year, during which Monsanto and Dow are not legally required to comply with the voter-approved Moratorium on GMO crops.
“Monsanto and Dow spent record-breaking amounts of money in a deceptive “Vote No” campaign last election. Maui voted yes anyway, and instead of respecting the basic democratic process and complying with our vote, Monsanto and Dow sued us. Monsanto then launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign telling Hawaii what great community members they are. We aren’t buying it.” said Autumn Ness of GMO Free Maui. “Good members of the community would respect the democratic process and uphold our vote. Drop your lawsuit, Monsanto and Dow. Immediately halt GMO crop production, and do the safety studies.”
Mark Sheehan, one of five citizens who sponsored the ballot initiative, said his group will appeal the order. He expressed disappointment that Mollway ruled on what he called procedural issues instead of addressing the substance of their argument.
“The ordinance was specifically written to address issues not found in state statute,” he said. “Further, the law requires the county to protect the health of the environment and the public,” said Sheehan, who is a member of the group Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement, or SHAKA.
Sam Small, a SHAKA spokesman, sent an email blast with a Facebook post saying, “Please join us tomorrow JULY 1 sunrise to sunset for a direct conversation with Monsanto asking them to drop their lawsuit and stop chemical and gmo testing. Meeting in North Kihei, where Mokulele Highway meets Piilani Highway.” He added that gathering time is 5:30 a.m. Sunrise on July 1 on Maui is at 5:48 a.m.
(Audry McAvoy, ABC and AP contributed to this post)
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most recently asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Dear Mr. Mayor,
Q: I saw some pictures on-line about what the new Waikamoi Flume looks like and it looks great. Quick question though, now that there’s a sturdy, aluminum path up there, do you think the county will open up the flume for hikers? It looks beautiful and much more safe now. I’m sure many children would love to walk on the flume and learn about our water resources, could be a great teaching tool for our keiki.
A: Thank you for your compliment on the new Waikamoi Flume. Our new flume replaces the old wooden one, which had been leaking water for decades now. The new aluminum flume retains much more water, and is more efficient at delivering it to our upcountry customers. But, while this flume is much more sturdy and durable that it has ever been before, it is by no means a safe walking path for hikers. Please consider the following: (1) To get to the flume you must drive or walk across lands owned by three different landowners. The flume is located on private land. Our permission to use the roads for access and to walk on the flume is limited only to access by Maui County Department of Water Supply (DWS) employees for the purpose of maintaining the flume. No other access is allowed without special permission. (2) The streams serving the Waikamoi Flume and the flume itself are collectively a source of drinking water for the Upcountry area. It is important that access to this drinking water source be limited to prevent any possible contamination of drinking water. (3) The watershed lands surrounding the streams and the flume are largely pristine forested areas. It is important to preserve this watershed and to protect it from introduction of invasive plants and animals that could destroy the native forest and impair the water source for future generations. The best method of protecting this resource is to prevent access which is not absolutely necessary. (4) There are hazards in the watershed forest, access roads and the flume itself which can present very real and potentially life threatening dangers to a hiker, especially to persons not trained and familiar with the hazardous conditions.
Besides, you don’t have to actually hike the flume to learn more about it, just watch this Maui County produced video about the need for the Waikamoi Flume replacement project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP3pNPZU0iU
Q: Our police officers seem to have been in the news a lot lately. Two were arrested for DUI earlier this month and another was under investigation for driving around upcountry naked and flashing people according to the news media. We trust these officers with our lives and that they will make good decisions. In fact there was a police shooting on Lower Main Road just a couple of weeks ago. I’m assuming the police had a good reason to do what they did but with their fellow officers under scrutiny like this it’s getting harder and harder to feel safe. I guess my question is, aren’t you and the Chief of Police worried about how our entire department looks when some of our officers go astray?
A: I have great faith in Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu and our Maui police officers. I know I speak for the Chief when I say that our officers have a great responsibility to keep our community safe, and sometimes have to do so by putting themselves in harm’s way. They defend life, protect property, enforce laws, make arrest and render aid. They may need to use force or even deadly force in the defense of human life. Each officer is expected to respond with only the level of force which is reasonable to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
It should also be noted that our officers receive ongoing training to make sure their law enforcement duties are carried out judiciously and with great care.
Yes, some may make poor decisions but problem employees can be found in any workplace. Police officers are not above the law, and those who have broken the law themselves have been disciplined and in some cases terminated. Please do not hold the actions of a few to represent the majority of our officers, who work diligently to serve and protect this community.
Q: Since we (the public) can look up who owns certain property by a tax key number or address, then why can’t we look up who owns a car by the license plate number?
A: That’s a good question, and the simple answer is, because there’s no federal law which prohibits property tax information from being shared with the general public. State motor vehicle records, however, is another matter. According to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act 18, U.S. Code 2721, a “state department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee or contractor thereof, shall not knowingly disclose or otherwise make available to any person or entity personal information about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record.” There is more to the law but it is too lengthy to list it here. If you are interested in reading the entire code pertaining to this issue just go to uscode.house.gov and do a search for “18 USC 2721.”
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.
Honolulu, Hawaii – Governor Ige this morning signed into law HB207 which will require certain state councils, boards, and commissions to attend a course administered by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) on native Hawaiian customs and rights.
The course will be administered by OHA and shall apply to members of the Land Use Commission, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Commission on Water Resource Management, Environmental Council, the Agribusiness Development Corporation, Board of Agriculture, Legacy Land Conservation Commission, Natural Area Reserve Systems Commission, Hawaii Historic Places Review Board, and the Board of Health.
“Harmony among a diverse population and a strong respect for our host culture is what gives Hawaii its reputation of a place of Aloha. Some recent controversies have called into question our state’s commitment to Native Hawaiian issues,” said Representative Kaniela Ing, Chairperson of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs.
“This measure takes basic steps to ensure that the next generation of public servants will be more knowledgeable of the historical and cultural context of the place for which they are tasked to make decisions. After all, Native Hawaiian issues are everyone’s issues, and everyone’s issues are Native Hawaiian issues.”
The law will take effect tomorrow, July 1.
Other measures of note include HB321, the new law that will establish medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. The governor had said – prior to releasing his list of possible vetoes – that he was still withholding his decision due to the short timeline to enact the law. Dispensaries are set to begin opening by January, 2016. By not including the bill on his veto list, it will become law with or without his signature.
And this morning the governor signed HB1007 – the “limited purpose driver license” bill that will now allow Hawai’i residents who cannot produce legal documents of proof of residency to obtain driver licenses that will allow them to legally navigate to jobs, schools, etc.
HONOLULU – Governor David Ige has informed the Hawai‘i State Legislature of his intent to veto the following bills:
HB540 Relating to the UH Accounting and Financial Management System: Extends authority of UH to maintain separate accounting and financial management system
HB553 Relating to Collective Bargaining: Allows UH graduate student assistants employed by UH to collectively bargain their wages, hours and other terms
SB105 Relating to the Budget: Requires estimated future debt service for proposed CIP projects to
be included in the budget documents submitted to the legislature.
SB218 Relating to the Order of Succession: Clarifies the order of succession to the Lt. Governor’s office
SB265 Relating to Sex Trafficking: Changes wording in statute from “promoting prostitution in the first degree” to “sex trafficking”
SB349 Relating to Taxation: Repeals ethanol facility tax credit; establishes a 5-year renewable fuels production tax credit
SB569 Relating to Theft: Increases the dollar threshold with respect to property or services, for theft in the second degree from the current $300 to $750
SB1324 Relating to Divorce: Provides authority for Employees’ Retirement System to make direct payments of benefits to a non-member former spouse of a member on order of court judgment, order or divorce decree.
This Intent to Veto list gives the governor the option to veto any, but not necessary all, of the bills on the list by July 14, 2015.
WAILUKU – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) invites the Moloka‘i community and interested parties to an informational meeting concerning a proposed fencing and management project in the Waikolu Valley and Pu‘u Ali‘i Natural Area Reserve areas. The meeting is scheduled for this evening, Monday, June 29, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in Kalânianaole Hall, 605 Maunaloa Highway , Kâunakakai.
The purpose of the proposed project is to protect the natural resources of the Pu‘u Ali‘i Natural Area Reserve (NAR) while improving hunting opportunities within the Moloka‘i Forest Reserve hunting units. The fence will help to prevent entry of pigs, goats and deer into the NAR and help to prevent erosion into nearshore waters, protect fisheries and water supplies, and conserve native Hawaiian plants and wildlife.
“By placing the fence along the steep ridge of Waikolu Valley we are hoping to reduce the movement of game mammals into the valley and beyond, where they impact natural resources and are less accessible to hunters. So in addition to protecting the sensitive resources of the NAR, we are expecting this fence to improve hunting in the Forest Reserve”, said Scott Fretz, DOFAW Maui District Manager. “We have excellent hunter check station data from those hunting units so we will continue to collect that data and monitor future trends in hunter success”, he added.
James Espaniola, a DOFAW field technician on Molokai, is leading the project. He’s scouting potential fence locations and discussing the proposal with individuals and community groups. “We’ve had several small informational discussions with local groups such as the Aha Kiole and the response has been generally positive, so we would like to hold a larger meeting for anyone who’s interested to learn about this and to share their thoughts with us”.
Pu‘u Ali‘i lies between Pelekunu and Waikolu valleys. Established in 1985, the Pu‘u Ali‘i NAR is a representative portion of the Moloka‘i summit. Its wet plateau supports a diversity of native plants and animals and is an important part of Moloka‘i’s watershed. The fence will run approximately six miles, along the rim of Waikolu and protect just over 2,100 acres.
Anyone requiring special assistance, auxiliary aids or services (i.e. sign language interpreter, wheel chair accessibility, or parking designated for the disabled) please contact the Maui DOFAW NEPM Manager Specialist at (808) 984-8110 to request arrangements, or to Telecommunications Relay Services at 711.
UPDATE: As of 9:15 a.m., Maui Electric advises that all customers have been restored to electricity in the area.
A vehicle vs.pole accident around 2:45 a.m. today closed Lahainaluna Road between Kuhua Street and Pauoa Street with power lines down. At 3:07 a.m. today, Maui Electric issued notice that power to the area was lost.
As of 9 a.m., neither the road closure nor the “all-clear” on power restoration have been lifted. More details will be provided when they become available.
Motorists are advised to use Lahaina Bypass as an alternate route.
Copyright © 2015 - Island News Technologies, LLC - All rights reserved