Friday, December 28, 2007


Questioning the figures on Superferry performance, and a "Linda Komon" proposal

by Larry Geller

Update: Not reflected in the article below is tomorrow's cancellation:
Cancelled Again
So add another canceled day to the figures below.

The comments on a Blogger blog remain hidden unless you click on them, which is unfortunate when the comments are more informative than the original post!

I don't know if this works correctly, but if you click here it is supposed to show the previous article with comments. Anyway, please check it out if that link doesn't work.

In the anonymous comment signed as Karen Chun (hope this is you, Karen):

The AP wire story on this says, "The cancellations were the first since the Superferry restarted its Maui service on Dec. 13." but, in fact, service started Dec 1.
It was canceled Dec 1-6, then canceled again Dec 7-12. And now canceled Dec 26-28 and most likely the 29th also.

So we have it operating only 13 days out of 28.

Check out Karen's comment in full and the website she references, . Her comment included observations about the costs of the previous and contemplated harbor improvements.

A lot of money has been spent, or perhaps thrown out, depending on how you look at it. Can money just be created out of thin air? Not that I know of. Or maybe, only in Hawaii. If the Superferry proves unviable, who picks up the tab for past and proposed harbor improvements? Even if things work out for the ferry company, shouldn't they be paying for it?

Wouldn't it be wise to make future harbor improvements that benefit the ferry contingent on the ferry continuing in operation, since so far, it hasn't panned out?

I have been wondering also about the passenger counts. The numbers reported by the Advertiser, apparently passing on information obtained from the ferry company without further investigation, may be high. Brad Parsons has been doing a count, and his numbers are so sickeningly low they might make the Governor barf. [Gads, there's an image. I wonder if she'll ever try taking a ride on the Superferry? Hmmm... I'll pick up on this at the end of this article.]

Joan Conrow sums it up nicely in her post today. I'm quoting Joan quoting Brad because her article is very worth reading for Superferry content and much more, so go check it out:

“The approximate number of passengers and vehicles each way for yesterday's [Wednesday’s] trips was 250 passengers and 57 vehicles for the O'ahu-to-Maui trip, and 200 passengers and 50 vehicles for the Maui-to-O'ahu trip.” the [Honolulu Advertiser]article reports.

But even if there was an error, and they were really reporting Tuesday’s figures, there’s a huge disparity between those numbers and the count Brad reported for that day: “18 cars and 55 people got off the ferry at Maui, and 48 cars and two motorcycles boarded for the return trip to Oahu.” He also noted the article’s use of “approximate” figures. It seems if the ferry’s selling tickets, they ought to have an exact count, but since the article doesn’t attribute the numbers to any source, we don’t know where they came from.

We're not there yet, but at what point would it be fair to say that this ferry idea isn't working out?

Lingle in Paradise, the film

Ok, back to "what if" the Governor rode the ferry. This flashed into my mind, why not go with it.

We lived in Japan for many years. A staple of Japanese television is the program Mito Komon (水戸黄門), which just completed its 37th season, well over 1000 episodes.

The program is very formulaic, going like this, taken from the above-linked article:

The main character, Mito Mitsukuni, is based on Tokugawa Mitsukuni, one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's grandsons (son of Tokugawa Yorifusa) and lord of the province of Mito (now Ibaraki prefecture). Born in 1628, he was a scholarly recluse best known for researching the Dai-Nihonshi, a history of ancient Japan. Late in his life, he adopted the literary name "Komon" (Yellow Gate). The stories are based on popular legends about his incognito rovings around Ibaraki. Of course, in the series, he also puts right any wrongs wherever he finds them.


There he is in the center of the picture. Of course, the actor has changed over the years.

Basically, no one recognized Mito Komon, so as he traveled about the countryside, he learned what was happening in the lives of ordinary folk, and of course (because it's television) corrected the evils he discovered with the aid of his cast of accompanying retainers, and then moved on. Each week a different situation, but he always takes care of it. You can count on Mito Komon to stand up for his subjects.

Here's the official website to give you a flavor of the program. In a society like modern-day Japan where life can be tough, working hours are long and pay low, burdened by a complex and sometimes heartless bureaucracy, the program has obvious appeal. Hey—sounds like Hawaii, doesn't it?

"Lingle Komon" doesn't quite click. But imagine for the moment that our distant governor dresses up like an ordinary citizen, maybe puts on a wig, shades, and a big hat, and goes wandering with her bodyguards (maybe even with a discreet film crew) around her domain. This would be good for her to do, especially if she turns it into a TV program, if she is contemplating running for higher office. It worked for Reagan and Schwarzenegger, it could also be her path to success. Especially if she chooses the right wig.

She could certainly take a ride on the Superferry for a first-hand experience, whatever that would be. On the other end she could speak with protestors and perhaps gain an understanding of their position (she'd have to restrain herself on seeing the "Impeach Lingle" signs, but she's made of strong, impervious stuff) (good attributes also to survive her Superferry trip, according to reports).

But why stop there. Lingle could try crossing Vineyard Boulevard at Nuuanu Ave., deftly weaving between cars blocking the crosswalk or ducking those turning illegally in front of her, and visit the Safeway. She could buy a few containers of milk or orange juice, then experience carrying them back across one of the state's most dangerous intersections. Then, like Mito Komon, she would be sure to release the $3 million for pedestrian safety improvements that she is withholding.

If she survived the ordeal, of course. Some don't. 

Imagine that she visited the working homeless on the beaches. Perhaps then we'd have an affordable housing plan, perhaps even real rent control, to keep Hawaii from continuing on this slide into poverty.

Maybe she could stop at the condo across the street and speak with some seniors who live on fixed incomes. She'd learn what it is like to try to pay rent, buy food and medicines on a fixed income. Perhaps then she'd direct Lillian Koller, head of the Department of Human Services, to negotiate with drug companies for the rebates that the law requires as part of the Rx Plus program, another law which she (Lingle) is defying.

Ok, the theme music has ended, she's back at her office, the wig comes off.

How different Hawaii would be if we had a governor curious about Hawaii's problems and in tune with its people.

Ok, I was dreaming.


Larry, your Linda Komon plot is so close to MBWA. Management by walking around practiced by Bill and Dave founders of Hewlett Packard. It worked very well. Sadly, they are both gone now but left a legacy that current management has reinstated. Providing employees with useful training and tools, counting the accountable, demonstrating superb leadership, while respecting contributions would go a long way to repair some of the damage state agencies are responsible for.

Thanks for mentioning that. I didn't know about Hewlett and Packard although I heard about MBWA. I somehow thought it was a Japanese invention, because we studied that concept in Japan and practiced it. For example, I spent several hours each week visiting the parts of our joint venture company. No wig, though. But living in Japan put me in a separate world, so I was missing this information. Thank you!

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