July 26th 2013 Newsletter from Margaret Wille
Councilmember, District 9 County Council
Aloha Kakou and Hauoli Makahiki Hou District 9 Constituents and Friends
Council Meetings and Other upcoming Events:
GMO Bill #79 introduced by Margaret Wille will be deliberated by the Committee on Public Safety and Mass Transit on Tuesday July 30th at 9:00 am in Kona at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center
Communication 271.703 is the proposed Bill 79 Draft 2- that would restrict the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms crops
This is the only matter that will be discussed on July 30th. Public testimony will not be heard as this is the continuation of the July 2nd and July 3rd meetings at which over 250 individuals testified (over 500 signed up to testify, but many were not able to wait a day or more to be heard)
I encourage you to attend the meeting to observe the discussion either in person at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center or via video conference from Hilo, Waimea, Pahoa or Ka’u.
Call my office if you have questions. After the Council completes its deliberation, a final Committee level vote will be taken. If a majority of the Council Members approve the bill, along with any amendments, the bill will be referred to the Council with a positive recommendation. If the Bill along with any amendments receives less than a majority vote, the legislation will pass to the Council with a negative recommendation.
It is vital that we as an island community make a decision at this time whether to go in the direction of GMO biotech industrial production as the principal agricultural model on this island or pursue more eco-friendly diversified local farming, including organic, conventional or “natural farming”. The experience both in Europe and in Latin America is that where GMO crop production is permitted, other modes of farming are wiped out.
The related food sustainability/resilience question we are addressing is not how much food we can grow but rather how much nutritious safe food we can grow — for both present and future generations.
This Bill is also about making decisions that affect our island community here, in other words ag home rule. If we do not seize this moment to determine our own future, you can be sure that come January when the state legislature convenes, the GMO lobbyists will be crafting state level legislation to usurp our right to county level local decision-making. For this reason any effort to postpone or create an elite stakeholder task force will for practical purposes equate to killing this Bill and foregoing this opportunity to chart our own future.
Legislation Recap from July 23rd and 24th Committee and Council meetings
Bill 90- Would prohibit Contingency Relief Funds to be awarded to Non-Profits (Introduced by Council Member Dennis Onishi).
This Bill has been postponed until a later date. (Late August or early September I assume). The question is whether the Council’s contingency funds should be available to non-profits (or only for County Departments) based on the rationale that there is already a program available for allocating funds to non-profits – the grant in-aid program. Regardless of what the Council decides, contingency funds must be used for county related purposes. So there is the rub: just what qualifies as a county related purpose? Lots of interesting nuances.
Reso 123, Draft 2- Solid Waste Resolution Introduced by Margaret Wille
Urges the Administration to adopt an approach to the County’s solid waste program that emphasizes composting/mulching (to help our farmers) and increased personal responsibility to reduce, reuse, and recycle, as well as considers all solid waste technologies that best contribute to the reduction and handling of solid waste in a manner that is environmentally sound and cost-effective (i.e. We don’t want the Kenoi Administration to only consider large scale waste to energy proposals).
The Resolution is also asking the Administration to put out RFIs (Requests for Information), and not instead simply jump to RFP (Requests for Proposals). Hopefully in this way the Council will play a more informed role and also allow the public to follow these discussions as well.
This Resolution received positive comments from the Committee members before being referred to the Dept. of Environmental Management Director and the Environmental Management Advisory Commission for their comments and input. This referral to the Advisory Commission is provided for in the Code.
Reso 140 Comm. 343- Accepts a Grant of Easements from Kohala Kai Inc. for Public Access Purposes
This proposed easement would provide for construction of vehicular, parking and walking easements for public access along the Kohala coast makai of Kohala Estates. The proposed development contains seven oceanfront lots on a 63-acre tract north of Kawaihae Harbor and just south of Keawewai Gulch.
Testifiers opposing the public access easements, which are a condition of development of the luxury development, said the public is being shortchanged and the North Kohala Community Development Plan committee wasn’t informed. “It doesn’t seem like our CDP means anything,” said Mike Isaacs, of the Kohala Historic and Cultural Preservation Group. “It seems to me the Planning Department makes all the decisions.” Larry Brown, with the Planning Department’s Long-Range Division, said the Kohala Kai approvals pre-dated the creation of the CDP (the implication of that comment being that therefore the Planning Department does not have to pay attention to the CDP) The Committee voted 9-0 to postpone a vote so that the North Kohala CDP Action committee can meet with representatives from the planning department and other groups to discuss the issues of concern, such as inadequate parking spaces, that a historic trail along the shoreline has been moved to a different location, that parts of a historic trail have been paved over, that the lack of water and luas is a public safety issue, and that the lack of overnight camping and restrictions on night time fishing is contrary to historic public access in the area. The Committee also requested a thorough briefing on the original 1999 agreement and the changes to the SMA permit that have occurred since.
Other Upcoming legislation of interest
Bill 98 – Comm. 345- Accepts $2,500,000 from the State for the Waimea District Park
The county has budgeted the matching funds of $2,500,000 for a total of $5,000,000 to start the design and construction of the first phase of the Waimea District Park. I expect that this will be on the August 6, 2013 Finance Committee agenda.
Other matters of interest:
The Mayor is now working with the Waimea Trails and Greenways Committee, to move all phases of this project ahead. He met with the WT&G committee on Monday July 22nd to assess the obstacles to completing each of the phases. Representatives from the Parks and Rec Department and the Planning Department were also present.
The following day members of the administration and I met, each taking responsibility for certain next steps on several of the phases. The Mayor indicated he intends to pursue an aggressive hands-on approach and will not allow this project to languish.
To View the July 30th GMO Bill 79 meeting on TV-Government Access TV – Channel 55:
Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee meeting – Mondays, August 5, 12 and 19 at 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. These airtimes are subject to preemption by broadcasts from the State Legislature, and are subject to change by Nā Leo O Hawai’i. Please check the current legislative broadcast schedule on the Nā Leo O Hawai’i website at http://www.naleo.tv/tv-schedules/
Margaret Wille- Council Member District 9 – North & South Kohala 64-1067 Mamalahoa Hwy; Kamuela, HI 96743Ph: 808- 887-2069; firstname.lastname@example.org