Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Will Hawaii's legislature put the fox in charge of the henhouse?

by Larry Geller

Today's Honolulu Advertiser reports that our lawmakers may be willing to put the fox in charge of the henhouse and prohibit judicial review of their action:

Hawaii Superferry would have to give "unconditional acceptance" to operating restrictions that protect whales and prevent the spread of invasive species in exchange for being allowed to resume ferry service while the state conducts an environmental review, according to a potential Superferry compromise.

The Lingle administration would impose the conditions and they would not be subject to judicial or administrative review. The state Legislature, however, would have the right to add conditions later if lawmakers were not satisfied.

There are obvious problems with this. Governor Linda Lingle was identified in an earlier Advertiser article as the recipient of  the greatest amount of Superferry largess. In other words, they have invested in her. Instead of listening to residents of Kauai during her now-famous visit, she theatened them, not only with fines and jail time should there be further protests, but with CPS action against their children. Whether she would take a stand to protect Neighbor Islanders against future ferry problems is questionable.

Lingle is so not the best person to enforce conditions the Legislature may set on the operation of the Superferry. She is strongly biased towards operation of the business at all costs.

How many whales would have to be killed before Lingle would stop the ferry?

And passing laws not subject to judicial review is virtually un-American.

The article goes on:

State Attorney General Mark Bennett shared the draft with state House and Senate Democrats over the weekend and lawmakers are reviewing it as they consider whether to back a special session to save Superferry. The draft discusses the necessary balance needed to give Superferry the chance to operate while protecting the environment during the one to two years it could take to complete a full environmental impact statement.

The original Attorney General draft is hardly balanced (IMHO). The Advertiser would be doing readers a service by making it available. They may not be able to get it from the Attorney General, but they (and you) can find it here. The draft simply gives the Superferry everything they want. If there is a newer draft, it should be made available to the public. If lawmakers continue to work on secret laws and blindside the public, their constituents, then they are complicit.

Basically, any new law that makes an exception to allow the ferry to start business (both military and civilian operations) without completing an environmental review is a handout to the company and a betrayal of the rule of law and of separation of powers, not to mention setting a bad precedent. When ferry #2 and ferry #3 want to compete with ferry #1, they might want their exemptions also.

Residents of Neighbor Islands, their County Councils and others have been very clear on what they want. But Governor Lingle has set herself up as the "decider." It's the Neighbor Islands who will suffer the traffic congestion, have to deal with any invasive species issues and the loss of their own resources to Oahu invaders. Lingle will not be affected at all. So I'll close with something she said a couple of years ago, when she was running for governor:

"It doesn't make sense to me that people who don't have to live with the results of their decisions should get to make them." [Linda Lingle, 1998]

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The revised draft that I just saw still puts NO conditions on HSF. Thanks for having her 1998 quote - I think we should use it!!


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