Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Lingle threatens children, parents, alienates community, to protect Superferry investors

by Larry Geller
The word is out: Message to Governor Lingle and to the Department of Human Services: Hands off our children.
In the bad old days of the Felix Consent Decree, parents reported that if they wouldn't cave in and agree with whatever schools offered their special needs students,  they were threatened with having them taken away by Child Protective Services (Special-ed parents perceive threats: They say schools are quick to mention CPS if they disagree about educational services). That's a very heavy hammer to use against a parent. Governor Linda Lingle has chosen to use the same weapon against Neighbor Island families in order to suppress protest over the Superferry fiasco.
Threatening families with CPS doesn't make friends or convince people that you are right, Governor--it only demonstrates that you are cruel and heartless. And that you care more for investors than for ordinary citizens. It's also the stuff that lawsuits are made of. DHS should not cooperate in this unsavory scheme. It would only waste taxpayer money paying for legal services, not to mention the damage caused to families singled out for punishment.
There are numerous reports of this threat. For example:
According to  a Garden Island News article, if children are found in the path of the Superferry, parents
...could be subject to an investigation by the Department of Human Services.
From a long report (recommended) in the DailyKos:
if we allow our children to protest this invasion, and exercise their own constitutional right to free speech, the government will not only arrest them, but will take our children away from us and charge us with child abuse.  
In situations where children are taken away, parents have to fight to get them back. It's extremely intimidating, not only to the family affected but to others who learn about it.
While coming down on children and protestors in general, the Lingle administration refuses to look at the games it has played with the law itself.

"People cannot choose which laws they will obey and which ones they will not because of their personal views," [Attorney General Mark Bennett, Star-Bulletin 9/13/2007]

Never mind that courts may decide that the state broke the law by skipping an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

From the Garden Island article:

Jimmy Trujillo, spokesman for Hui-R, said he was in the water last month because "I was compelled to do what is necessary to protect the laws of this state."

Many others agreed, saying it was the Superferry that was breaking state and federal laws, not them.

Lingle's threat to have children taken by CPS should be disavowed by the Department of Human Services. CPS is not a political weapon to be used against anyone.

The state also issued guidelines intended to intimidate protestors of any age. Imagine that just for floating around in the ocean in your innertube you could be charged with "terroristic threatening and assault against a police officer." That's a tactic that Lingle's mentor, George W. Bush, could admire ("Linda, you're doing a heck of a job!").

The tactic makes no friends for Lingle. In an article, ACLU questions timing of protest guidelines, there's a reaction to these planned gestapo tactics:

...But analysts such as ACLU-Hawai‘i Director Lois Perrin and Ira Rohter, a professor of political science at the University of Hawai‘i, question the motives behind the guidelines.

Rohter questioned the context within which the government is disseminating its “summary of consequences,” calling it less informative than it is self-serving.

“It’s not a veiled threat, it’s an explicit one,” he said. “This is crowd-control management.”

In addition to stating the potential criminal charges for demonstrating dissent against the Superferry, the list includes the potential penalties for such related crimes as terroristic threatening and assault against a police officer, both of which are punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Just as George W. Bush is unwilling to use negotiation and prefers to bully opponents with extreme force, Linda Lingle is planning arrests over reconciliation. The way the state has handled the entire Superferry affair calls for making amends, not police brutality.

Nor does police action work. In the end, it only solidifies opposition. Besides, as the protests have shown, the people will not be cowed by fear. Neighbor Islanders in particular have found a calling in defending against the invasion of alien bullies from Oahu.

Update: It's worth adding this snippet from a post on the Kauaieclectic blog (thanks to ilind.net for pointing to this article on his own blog, one of the best places to go for Superferry information):

The governor’s reaction to the Kauai meeting only serves to show how totally out of touch she is with the situation here. I’m not a rude girl myself, and Andy Parx really didn’t need to yell, “F--- you,” (the only profanity I heard) but truly, what did Lingle expect? She was facing a crowd that has never, ever been consulted about the ferry, whose elected officials (well, some of them anyway, the ones with guts and brains) had begged her to let the legal process run its course, and whose members had already experienced two days of land and sea confrontation with law enforcement that resulted in numerous arrests.

And what about Lingle's own message? It was not one of peace, reconciliation, mediation, compromise or respect. Lingle came solely to lecture the crowd on her planned crackdown against dissent, and to threaten everyone with fines, federal prison sentences and even investigations by Child Protective Services if they dared step out of line.

Did she really think, at this point in the game, that 1,000 people (we won’t count the 150 Superferry employees and supporters brought over from Oahu) who took the time to drive into Lihue were going to politely listen to her propaganda, and then meekly obey?

Maybe Lingle needs to leave the deadness of the city and visit the real world more often.

But even if Lingle didn’t get the message, Superferry did. Kauai is a scrappy place, and now a number of its residents feel sufficiently empowered to actively resist.

To paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, We will not be driven by fear...we might remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend worthy causes.


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