Thursday, October 18, 2007

Musings: Problem Child

With the Lege reportedly closing in on a draft bill that would allow Hawaii Superferry to sail, the issue now becomes how to handle Kauai — the simmering pot that threatens to boil over at the first sight of the ferry on the horizon.

Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa, after spending countless hours hobnobbing with Gov. Lingle and Superferry officials to figure out a way to get around the law, yesterday deftly passed the buck.

"I have told the Superferry that they have got to figure out a way to mend the problems between them and Kauai," Hanabusa said in a Star-Bulletin article that also contains a copy of the draft bill.

"They have got to acknowledge they have a major problem with the neighbor islands. I get a sense from the Superferry that they haven't figured out how to manage Kauai and the strong resistance they feel they are faced with there."

What Hanabusa fails to understand is that Neighbor Island ire is no longer directed solely at Superferry, but the elected officials who are conducting secret meetings to circumvent court decisions to benefit one corporation.

If the Lege, Lingle and Superferry want to turn down the heat on Kauai, it’s going to take more than an “informational meeting” and some Superferry schmoozing.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, remember what the demonstrators were chanting when they turned back the boat: “Hawaii Supreme Court says no.”

And that sentiment isn't going to change just because the Lege and Lingle say yes.

20 comments:

Scott Crawford said...

I would guess that if the legislature tries to allow the superferry to operate without an environmental review, Maui residents who supported the judicial route will feel betrayed by the legislature and will be forced to join Kaua'i in using other means...

charley foster said...

But when the demonstrators evoked the Supreme Court decision, I interpreted it to mean that they were standing up for the rule of law. They at least had a colorable argument that the ramifications of the decision were that the ferry could not legally operate.

But if the legislature changes the law, then *that* will be the new law. And if the demonstrators then block the ferry anyway, it will appear a lot less like a high moral stand and a lot more like a minority imposing its preferences on the community by mob violence.

Anonymous said...

There are several problems with the legislature "changing" the law in this case. I'll mention two:

First, it is bad policy to bail out a corporation that pushed for an exemption, proceeded to act as if there was no court challenge to the exemption and then bemoaned its fate when the court ruled that the exemption was improper.

Second, it appears that there will be little, if any, meaningful public input into the bail out legislation, furthering the impression that the SF is being given special treatment because of its influential connections.

Under the circumstances, I don't see why the demonstrators would be conceding any moral high ground.

Anonymous said...

It's the "high legal ground" that will get you in trouble, if you don't hold it.

The Unified Command will have every single legal right to protect the operation of a legally-operating vessel.

If I were a protester, which I am not, I would do no more than write blog entries, letters to the editor and wave my sign within the designated area defined for protesters.

If protesters do more than than, I would be the first to throw the book at them.

Vote the politicians who approved the upcoming bill out of office, if you feel there is enough votes...otherwise, live with it.

Moving to Fiji is alwsys an option...

charley foster said...

The demonstrators will concede moral high ground if the lege changes the law because, in the first instance, the demonstrators claimed to be upholding the rule of law. If the lege changes the law and the demonstrators block the ferry anyway, they are no longer upholding the rule of law. They just don't like the new law or how it came about. Lots of us don't like laws or how particular laws came about. But most of us don't take that as moral justification for imposing our feelings on the rest of the community. Especially when more of the community disagree with us than support us.

Ed Coll said...

Hawai`i Governor Linda Lingle advised residents to obey the laws as they now exist.

Easy for her to say.

She can just call for a special legislative session to have the law changed if it's not to her liking. Lingle asserted any proposed legislation must be agreed to by the Superferry.

The legislature is there to lend support. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said Superferry environmental law compliance will be left to Lingle.

But Wait! Lingle has already said the Superferry must agree to any proposed legislation. This puts the Superferry in the catbird seat with the power to essentially write laws using their ultimate power of agreement.

The Superferry saga is a shining example of a corporations writing our environmental laws based on their corporate interests. Our elected Governor and legislature have been reduced to an advisory role to the corporate "Decider".

Who elected these guys?

Anonymous said...

Much as I sympathize with the disgust the protesters have shown with the scofflaw attitude of Hawaii Superferry, the Governor and (it appears) the Legislature, I hope everyone will obey the Coast Guard and other regulations to the letter. The Feds have no sense of humor, and convicted violators could end up doing serious time for what they see as an innocent act of political theater.

Anonymous said...

If you disagree with a law or the manner in which the law was enacted then it is your civic duty to protest or demonstrate. When the politicians and the media were cheerleading this country into war, I regret not writing letters to the editor or protesting against the US Senate's authorization. It wouldn't have mattered but my conscience would be clearer. I don't know what is more troubling: the backroom wheeling and dealing that has taken place on behalf of the Superferry or the jaded, "ah, so what" attitude of the general populace.

Larry said...

The buck doesn't pass so easily. If (say) a whale is hit or dies, it isn't the governor's fault. The legislature is changing the law. Guess what--it would be their responsibility.

Anonymous said...

I would further advise the HSF, if it isn't already pursuing it, to acquire the "incidential hit" permit, or whatever they call it, which exempts them from any whale hits/kills as long as they are following reasonable mitegating measures.

Anonymous said...

"incidential hit" permit"

Offsets are a fed term for this. Ordinarily negotiated within an environmental review process.

Of course the state has concluded that customary environmental procedures are not worthy and will proceed as they may find beneficial to their own self interests.

Good point.

Anonymous said...

The US gov bails out corporations all the time. Currently it's the sub-prime daisy-chain. But I love your sentiment. Public input here amounts to "lets have fun on another island" Jeez I agree, so lame! The lege is not changing the law but they, with help gov L and SF are writing new law for this new unique form of transport, as I read it. Ole 343 does not apply. There is even a string of slimy green stuff like sustainable future and reduced carbon emissions for this fuel sucking crate.

Act 7 is about COB, indemnity clauses and Lingle's subterranean legal ground. She and DOT have really dug a hole here so what does the lege get for bailing out their barnacles or did the super ferries sprinkle ferry dust over their brains. Act 7 is reprehensible with lots of blah blah about the environment (under Lingle's low law), no funding and zero accountability.But the tragedy is they are going to get away with this. Powerless panels and drawn out audits won't matter.It is just a convenient way obfuscate accountability.

I feel a song coming on.. written and performed by Act 7 ...."whatever ferry wants, ferry gets and little islands FERRY WANTS YOU". MauiKai

Anonymous said...

Just imagine what all the EIS furor and "keep our way of life pristine" emotion would be like if interisland airplanes made their first apperance now.

The usual "there goes the neighborhood" thing would come and go, and life would go on...a little different than before, but certainly very livable.

I think the same will happen for the HSF, assuming it can make an economic go of it, with or without leasing some use to the military, which I have no problems with.

5 years down the line and all have achieved a new normalicy and people would wonder what a loss it would be if the HSF didn't exist...just like the interisland airplanes.

Anonymous said...

The anti-HSF population segment (a true minority, I believe) is currently within the DABDA cycle...

denial...anger...barganing...depression...acceptance.

Acceptance will win out sooner or later, as the previous post alludes.

Scott Crawford said...

The Kaua'i protesters were engaging in civil disobedience, since according to the state the SF had the right to come into Nawiliwili harbor. If protests start on Maui if the state says the ferry can come to Maui, they would be no different from a moral or legal high ground perspective. Especially given the articles today that a special session law could be challenged as unconstitutional.

I would hope that protesters would be very well organized and clear about their message and tactics, though, to avoid those few negative moments that are played over and over on Oahu media as if that represents the whole protest. And also take very seriously the "unified command" martial law and the real consequences of civil disobedience, which is to accept the penalty that comes with violating an unjust law.

Anonymous said...

Back to the further.... Travel for Timeshares Site announcement:

HFS joins Royal Bowatata Lalu Land Cruise Line and Timeshare Paradice Casinos to announce they now will unload their guests and cargo directly on to public beaches just a short walk from your timeshare. This is necessary because the island harbors are now gridlocked. No more pesky three hour drives from the air/ferry terminal. Capacity has been increased to 3000 passengers and 1000 jet skis. Remember to bring your biggest machine. 100 HP and up are OK since our new unique special low emission, constitutionally mandated ferry, is now exempt from any environmental law. You will have to pay a small fee to gov.see a whale for a cruise by the whales permit. Aren't ferries handy! All things being relative the whales will get used to it. Maui Kai

charley foster said...

I agree with Scott that the issue is civil disobedience. But civil disobedience does not automatically confer moral high ground. Whether one sees blocking the ferry as morally righteous or not will depend on one's point of view. What I'm saying is, a majority on all islands except Maui, and even there a plurality, want the lege to pass legislation allowing the SF to operate during an EA. And once the lege does so, the community at large is a lot more likely to view protesters as not occupying the moral high ground and will have a lot less sympathy and tolerance for blocking the ferry this time around.

But I could be wrong.

josephine said...

gieThe problem with the super ferry is its super size. I wouldn't mind something smaller with less of an impact on whales and where its too small to carry cars. But since the super ferry is Super sized, it means its impacts are super sized and thus an EIS before operating is a must. I don't see how most people keep missing this super sized obvious problem. Duh.

Anonymous said...

We're a car culture. A ferry service for people only wouldn't be a success with the public, in my opinion.

The follow-on to a people ferry is a bank of rental car companies at the dock. And how about the "toys" that people want to bring to play with on the island of choice? For us, it would be lots of scuba equip, underwater camera systems, kayak, camping gear, etc, packed in and on our Jeep. If people own these things, they won't want to rent them at the other end.

And we'd probably bring the dog, too...or are we supposed to pay for a "dog sitter" while we're gone?

jkeliipio said...

Oh thanks for reminding us of our unrelenting addiction to cars. As we can see, the addiction demands larger and larger facilities to accomodate us be it Walmart super centers with acres of parking, freeways, and even super ferrys. Car addiction will be Hawaii's greatest unsustainable downfall unfortunately. jmo.