Archive for November, 2008


November 14, 2008

Today, Thursday November 13, the Hawaii County Council voted 7 to 0 to override Mayor Harry Kim’s veto of bill# 361.

Bill# 361, introduced by Council Member Angel Pilago, will now become an Ordinance and protect Hawaii Island’s Taro and Coffee from Genetic Engineering, in the field or in the lab.

This has been a long struggle.  However, I can proudly say that we were able to win this one because we did it right.  We got to know our Council members and we worked with them.   Over the course of more than a year we worked to educate our County Council.   At the same time we have been educating the public.  Doing events, showing films, hosting forums, tabling, and most importantly building our base.

Our efforts to raise awareness, and to organize is what gave us the strength to win.  During this special session of the County Council, to consider overriding Mayor Harry Kim’s veto, over 100 + people showed up to give testimony in support of bill# 361 and to encourage the County Council to overturn Mayor Kim’s veto.  I would estimate that over 1/2 of the individuals who showed up today, were new faces.  People who had never testified before on this issue.  This is very good.  It means that the County Council is hearing new voices and that our base is growing and becoming more engaged.  It was just a few weeks ago, in mid October, that there was another Co. Council Meeting and we had a strong showing of 100+ people.  Individuals who were willing to rearrange their lives so they could come spend the day at a County Council meeting.

The vote to override Mayor Kim’s veto was not assured.  Our opponents were monied and politically connected.  They pulled out all of the stops, including taking out a full page newspaper ad., and lobbied our council members heavily.  However, the did not have the public on their side. 

We had public support. We had people power.  In the end, this force, and some good strategy, allowed us to win this fight.  There are still many more battles in the struggle to secure safe and sustainable food, but for the moment we can celebrate.

Peace, Paul