by Gary Hooser
I wish him well.
It’s no secret that my enthusiastic support in the gubernatorial race was behind Congressman Kai Kahele. I was highly critical of L.G. Greens’ candidacy and shared my concerns surrounding Green Health International, and his close relationship with Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP) and related SuperPacs.
I am hoping he will prove me wrong and that he is the man he says he is.
We, as a collective community, need me to be wrong on this. We desperately need the leadership he has promised.
A recent news report quoted our new Governor as saying one of his top five priorities is to “get rid of the tax on food and medication.” I support this 100% and it’s long overdue. Thank you, Governor Dr. Green.
My hope is the focus will be on locally grown food sold in stores and markets only.
This would incentivize the purchase of locally grown agricultural products over imports. Perhaps the tax benefit would be only for “fresh food” or “non-processed food” or whatever definition is needed to avoid interstate commerce issues.
Food self-sufficiency in general must be a priority for all of us. We must all make that extra effort to purchase from local farmers and eat at local restaurants that serve local food.
While the incoming administration has announced many of the new cabinet appointments, the Director of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) has yet to be filled. My hope is it will be someone outside the box who understands both the challenges and the value of local agriculture – small farms producing local food for local consumption.
Too often, past Directors have “talked the talk” as to supporting small farmers, understanding, and believing in the value of organic principles, etc.
But at the end of the day, they showed their true colors by embracing agrochemical companies and “big ag” as the preferred vision of Hawaii’s agricultural future.
Former Director of Agriculture Scott Enright, a very nice man with a very strong resume, symbolizes the past so well. He could talk the talk with local farmers, and he knew the right words to talk organic as well.
However, his bias became ultimately clear when one of his first customers as a paid lobbyist is the euphemistically named Western Plant Health Association whose membership includes 90% of the “crop protection” (chemical companies) in the western United States. He continues as their lobbyist today and will no doubt be lobbying their interests before the 2023 legislature.
Unfortunately, this organization has scheduled its upcoming October annual meeting on Kauaʻi – ground zero for these companies and a proving ground for the toxicity they bring to the planet.
We need a Director of Agriculture who truly understands and gets it. Small ag and locally grown nutritious food is where the focus should be. We don’t need further wolves in sheep’s clothing who know how to placate the small farmer, but who truly hang with the corporates of big ag.
Ditto with the Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). We don’t need no corporate green-washers. We do need and want someone who understands, supports, and believes in their core the public trust responsibilities that come with this job.
The same goes for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands – I agree getting the land back into the hands of native Hawaiians must be a top priority and it seems an obvious and positive step in the right direction. Thank you again Governor-elect Green.
But let’s look beyond those lands held currently by the DHHL. Let’s take back those lands now occupied by the military, but largely unused (or misused) – on every island.
Fourteen new directors have been named, of which only four of them are women. Hopefully, our new Governor will provide a bit more balance as he moves forward to identify his remaining key cabinet positions.
Please take a moment and either call his office and leave a message, or use this contact form for Governor Green and share with him the type of individual you want to see appointed to these positions – before he chooses. Polite and professional as always!
At the end of the day I am hopeful that myself and others will be able to testify in enthusiastic support for these appointments at the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings.
GARY HOOSER is presently the executive director for the Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI), and volunteer board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.). He is the former Vice Chair of the Democratic Party for the State of Hawaii (DPH) and a past member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
by Gary Hooser