Saturday, October 13, 2007


Don't forget--Superferry wants to take us for a ride

by Larry Geller

There is good discussion in an article The special session is essentially underway already - in secret, over at Poinography! Don't miss the comments. Doug knows how the insides of the Legislature work, he was there.

I wonder if there is anyone who believes that the public is being consulted on this issue, which has grabbed our attention as nothing has in a long time? The fact that the Attorney General's draft legislation was kept secret from the public and had to be leaked in a blog should give us the hint that decisions are already being made for us, but not by us.

Any public hearings are suspect, because so many times, at all levels in government here, they are purely pro-forma. They appear to "listen," but the decisions have already been made. 

And they still like to call this "democracy."

"Everything of importance is decided by the oligarchs, and then packaged and sold to us as being the result of our choices rather than theirs." [from an anonymous comment on]

We should all understand that the Superferry is here not to serve us, but to take us for a ride. They are a private corporation intending to maximize their profit. An island economy is ideal for that. And the governor has confirmed this. In a photo caption in today's Advertiser lead article, Pact sought with Hawaii Superferry (online headline--the print edition is different):

Gov. Linda Lingle at a news conference yesterday stressed that any legislative remedy to help Hawaii Superferry sail would have to satisfy the company.

Arrogance, thy name is Lingle.

Forgotten is that any legislation passed also has to satisfy the people (or it is exploitative) and, as Judge Cardoza and attorney Lanny Sinkin have pointed out, must satisfy the Hawaii State Constitution:

Article XI, Section 9   Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, through appropriate legal proceedings, subject to reasonable limitations and regulation as provided by law.

The Advertiser article starts by hyping only the Superferry position and clarifies whose side our governor is on:

Any legislative remedy for Hawaii Superferry would have to satisfy Superferry executives, Gov. Linda Lingle stressed yesterday, but state House and Senate Democrats said they have not heard what conditions the Superferry would accept to resume service.

House and Senate Democrats have invited Superferry executives and environmentalists to suggest conditions that would allow the ferry to operate while the state conducts an environmental review of the project.

Somehow the unnamed "Democrats" have missed that many people feel the Superferry must not sail until an EIS is successfully completed and any problems it reveals are overcome. The article gets to that later on.

The print edition headline is 3-way Superferry remedy urged. This is more revealing. Continuing on in the article:

"It's important to understand that the agreement that has to be reached here in order for this service to continue is really a three-way agreement," Lingle said at a news conference at the state Capitol where she announced she has canceled a trip to Asia so she could work with lawmakers during a possible special session. "It's not just between the Legislature and myself, but the Superferry has to agree that this is something that will enable them to operate in a way that they can stay in business."

Who did Lingle forget? You and me. No room here for the people of Hawaii. It's a deal to be made in back rooms. And by campaign contributions--don't forget, though we're not supposed to call them "bribes," it's clear that the Superferry is not a charity, it doesn't just give away money. It invests in politicians. They have invested in Lingle.

Oh, wait... there's more:

Lawmakers are also discussing possible informational briefings on the draft that would likely be held on Kaua'i, Maui and the Big Island before a special session. The briefings, particularly on Kaua'i and Maui, could prompt a similar reaction from protesters who booed and heckled Lingle at a Superferry meeting on Kaua'i last month. But lawmakers are sensitive to complaints from some on the Neighbor Islands that their concerns about Superferry are not being heard.

Yeah, after listening to the governor, we're not only concerned that Neighbor Islanders are not being heard, were certain they're not being heard (except by Neighbor Island legislators, who have their work cut out for them).

Notice also that there is no mention (once again) in this article of the threats that were passed out to attendees warning them of arrests, fines, and even Child Protective Services action against parents of children who might participate in future protests. If legislators were to approach Neighbor Island residents with respect and truly listen and discuss their opinions and suggestions, why suggest that they would be treated as Lingle was after she bullied attendees?

If, on the other hand, the "informational briefings" are simply to tell everyone what's already been decided, then public reaction is inevitable. It happens here on Oahu as well when people are dissed by government officials holding fake "informational briefings."

But let's get back to the meat of this issue.

[Conversation over breakfast: we seem to have as much influence over this process as a steer has over its slaughter. It can't even decide if it will be cut up into steaks or ground into hamburger.]

  • Our governor is hand-in-glove-in-pocket with the ferry corporation and opposed to the courts and the reasoned and reasonable opposition by the people.
  • The legislature has already begun to act in secret and make decisions for us instead of with us.
  • The views of Neighbor Islanders are still being discounted or outright ignored.
  • Protestors are being energized, not intimidated.
  • The governor is arming (literally) her troops for what could be a bloody physical confrontation instead seeking a peaceful route for the ferry.
  • Attorneys and many individuals and groups are ready and willing to defend our laws and Constitution.

From a letter in this morning's Garden Island Times:

On the bright side: We have at least one honest judge who cares about the law, several environmentally concerned lawmakers who care about the people, and thousands of anti-Superferry protestors. We can thank our law-breaking leaders, George and Linda, for waking up a sleeping giant: the American people. On Kaua‘i, armed with surfboards and bodies they faced the guns on the bows of the Coast Guard zodiacs and armed men in uniform on the land. They defied the ridiculous fines for their outrageous behavior... 10 years in prison, $25,000 in fines ... and, in open Forum, as the world watched, they spoke out ... and talked back ... to the governor and her crew.

What can the Governor expect from her one-sided approach? More confrontation ahead. Maybe injuries, maybe drownings, maybe worse. She may win over legislators and lose again in the courts.

I hope legislators see the folly of following in her wake.

Switch now to Joan Conrow's post At Any Cost over at KauaiEclectic. Then check out Ian Lind's Saturday post for a copy of Rep Mina Morita’s complaint asking the PUC to stop the Superferry’s until it complies with Hawaii's environmental requirements.


Representative Morita's Verified Complaint filed with the PUC contains the very interesting statement (on p. 6, paragraph 15) that:

"The January 24, 2005 letter agreement between the Hawaii Superferry and MARAD, at Paragraph X(iii) states:

X. Determined that the Closing shall be preconditioned on MARAD's finding that . . . (iii) the State has given all the governmental and environmental clearances (including a confirmation that there is no need for an environmental assessment of the port facilities) necessary to commence and complete the shoreside improvements, the leasing of equipment, the construction of the necessary passenger terminal facilities, and the operation of the ferries by HSF, AND THE PERIODS OF ALL APPLICABLE STATE AND FEDERAL STATUTES OF LIMITATION HAVE RUN ON THE RIGHT OF PLAINTIFFS TO BLOCK THE PROJECT." [Emphasis added]

In light of the fact that Sierra Club et al. filed a timely challenge to DOT's decision to find HSF exempt from Chapter 343, the result of which was the Hawaii Supreme Court's determination that the exemption was unlawful, one has to wonder how MARAD could have made a determination that the quoted precondition to Closing had been met.

I am still confounded by the Governor's draconian push to allow the Superferry to proceed with disregard for the provisions of Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes. I believe that her motives need to be examined. The mainstream news media has not even begun to explore what motives may be moving the Governor to take such extreme measures to ensure that one business gets the green light. Is it because of her upcoming U.S. Senate campaign? Is it because she is trying to protect her former Chief of Staff, Robert Awana and his minions? This Governor is stubborn and cold.

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