Article 33 Charter Amendment: Process and purpose

Here on Kauai, there is a democratic process specifically designed to allow the citizens of Kauai to let their voices be heard by placing a charter amendment directly on the ballot themselves.

As required, we, the “Petitioner’s Committee,” met with the Elections Division of the Office of the County Clerk in November of 2013 where they thoroughly explained the requirements as described in the seven-page document entitled “Fact Sheet, 2014 Charter Amendment Petition Guidelines.” We have carefully followed these guidelines.

This fact sheet states: Upon filing the charter amendment petition with the council, the county clerk shall examine it to see whether it contains a sufficient number of valid signatures of voters. To be deemed sufficient, petitions circulated prior to the 2014 general election must contain not less that 2,037 valid signatures (i.e. 5 percent of the number of 40,738 register voters in the 2012 general election).

If the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures, the county clerk shall place the proposed charter amendment on the ballot at the next general election.

Should the majority of the voters voting thereon approve the proposed charter amendment, it shall become effective at the time fixed in the amendment.

In conversations with the Charter Commission, we have been informed that rules defining the number of signatures required have been in place since the creation of the County Charter and have never been changed. The County Council stated that it has never before questioned the validity of a charter amendment prior to passage by the people on election day.

Since this charter amendment process is designed to allow the people to directly place an item on the ballot there is no provision that requires approval of the County Council or the county attorney in order to place an amendment on the ballot.

The chemical companies, who have made Kauai ground zero for their testing of various combinations of up to 93 different chemicals, are currently suing the County of Kauai because they don’t want to reveal what poisons they are spraying around our schools and in our Westside communities. These chemical companies use the masking agent called “bubble gum” in an attempt to hide the fact that their toxins are spreading into the communities around their test fields. And they have recently succeeded in the installation of a former chemical company attorney, and treasurer of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, to the position of chief executive officer of the only hospital on the Westside of Kauai in the midst of the GMO test fields, at a time when transparency regarding the diseases being experienced in those communities is critical. They fight transparency everywhere.

The guest commentary that ran in Friday’s Garden Island entitled “Don’t be fooled by Charter Amendment” appears to be another volley by the chemical companies to avoid transparency and, more importantly, to stifle the voice of the people of Kauai. Mr. Parachini, as is the tradition of the chemical companies, attempts to create confusion and spread outright lies about the Article 33 Charter Amendment.

Some of his claims are almost ludicrous such as it “would create a new crime of growing food” or his reference to “foods sold on Kauai,” which is not even addressed in the charter amendment. The chemical companies grow no food on Kauai.

Please take the time to visit our website, which Mr. Parachini refers to as “shadowy,” and read the charter amendment for yourself regarding any concerns about Mr. Parachini’s litany of distortions.

We do not mind Mr. Parachini’s attempts to slur our motives or attack us as “drive by extremists,” or accuse us of deceiving you, the voters. These are typical ploys by this chemical industry in every arena and are to be expected.

But we find it sad and extremely insensitive when he speaks derogatorily of the people on the Westside of Kauai who are living at ground zero and just dismisses their suffering the cancers, the birth defects, the asthmas, respiratory infections, rashes and other diseases. He refers to their experiences as “innuendos,” and “emotional” accounts of victims whose experiences are undocumented.

He has clearly never visited with the residents or the medical professionals on Kauai’s Westside. And Mr. Parachini apparently missed the testimony of the naturopathic doctors on Kauai, and the Pediatricians and the Nurses Association and many other scientists and medical professionals who have testified here regarding the effects of the chemical companies’ toxins locally.

This total lack of concern for the suffering of the people is unfortunately also far too typical of the chemical industry both here on Kauai and around the world.

Mr. Parachini asks who is behind this charter amendment. There are five of us on the Charter Committee. We are from Princeville, Kapaa, Wailua and Waimea. We are all longtime citizens of Kauai and very concerned about the health and well-being of our island and its people. And to date, we have been joined and supported by numerous organizations, dozens of volunteers and over 4,000 registered voters, a number that continues to grow.

Mr. Parachini clearly searched for outside funding behind this charter amendment but found none, because there is none. All of our funding has come from the people of Kauai. We are most grateful to the People For the Preservation of Kauai, and the Kauai Community New Years Brunch team, both of whom recently made wonderful contributions toward our efforts. Their donations of $1,150 and $1,000 have been our largest donations to date. Mahalo.

The Article 33 Charter Amendment is designed to give the people of Kauai an opportunity, through their votes in November, to decide whether or not the chemical companies on Kauai should be required to prove what they are doing is safe before they do it. If it is safe, they can continue to do it. If it is not safe for the people and the island, then they must stop. This charter amendment builds upon and supports the successful passage of Bill 2491 (Ordinance 960) and takes the next step toward providing for the safety and well-being of the people of Kauai.

Together, we are at a tipping point. Either we, the people, take a stand and make the health and well-being of all of life the priority; or this industry spreads its cancerous ways further and further. Currently on Kauai, there is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 pounds of toxins dumped on our island daily by the chemical companies. That is 1,000 pounds every day. 

These companies are currently finding resistance to their efforts in the form of “super weeds” or insects becoming immune to their toxic poisons. These insects and these super weeds are Mother Nature striving to sustain life in the face of these companies’ efforts to take life.

Does it seem rational to pretend that an industry, whose every product is designed to kill something, will be the solution to feeding the world? Or might it be more rational to side with Mother Nature’s efforts to sustain life?

Let the people decide.


• The Charter Amendment Petitioner’s Committee: Michael L. Shooltz, Sandy Herndon, Lora Lynne, Joan Porter, Wendell Kabutan


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